Are you and your spouse on the same financial page? Money is a leading cause of marital problems because conflicts are often about more than dollars and cents. How we save and spend money ties into our life experiences, level of financial education, self-perception, values, and emotions. The stakes are also high because our finances can have a serious and long-standing impact on all aspects of our lives. To effectively resolve financial disputes with your spouse, it’s essential to address the causes and the effects of the problem. Here are some practical tips to help you get started:

1. Begin the conversation with your goals

    Instead of arguing over how much to spend or save, start by discussing your longer-term goals. Do you want a house and children, to save for retirement, to pay off debt? Are you looking to stay home to raise children, change careers, or retire early? Once you jointly agree on your priorities, you now have a shared reason to figure out how to manage your finances effectively to achieve those goals.

    2. Engage in open and honest communication

      Many of us learned from our parents, employers, friends, and others not to talk about money. Discussing finances can make us feel embarrassed, ashamed, insecure, or judgmental. However, if you don’t communicate about money with your spouse, you will likely run into problems. You both need to disclose your income, expenses, assets, debts, savings, spending habits, lifestyle expectations, goals, and values about money. Transparency builds trust and enables you to deal with conflicts more effectively.

      3. Be respectful toward each other and create a judgment-free zone

      You and your spouse may have very different views about money and financial circumstances. If you start judging each other’s financial decisions, it will be difficult to resolve disputes. You need to respect each other’s perspective and situation while also considering how you can work toward a compromise.

      4. Create a financial plan and budget

      Once you know your goals and current financial situation, you can work together to draft a financial plan that outlines how you’ll achieve your objectives. You should address day-to-day finances (i.e., decide on a budget and track expenses) as well as investing for the future. Having a clear plan reduces misunderstandings and keeps both of you accountable.

      5. Agree on individual and joint financial responsibilities

      Often, couples will have separate and joint accounts. Both should be discussed. For example, how much will each of you contribute to the joint account to pay household expenses? Splitting costs equally may not be fair if there is an income disparity or other circumstances. Also, consider setting limits on how much a spouse can spend on an individual or joint expense without checking with the other spouse.

      6. Divvy up financial tasks

      One party should not be in total control of the finances. While each spouse can have primary responsibility for a particular task (ex. paying joint bills, managing investments, doing tax returns, etc.), it’s critical that both stay abreast of all financial matters and participate in decision-making.

      7. Seek professional guidance

      If you cannot resolve your financial disputes, it may be helpful to seek impartial advice. Depending on the nature of the problem, a daily money manager, financial planner, financial counselor, and/or accountant can provide an unbiased view of your finances and guidance on how to achieve your goals.

      A daily money manager or financial counselor can also help improve your financial literacy, teach you how to build a budget and track your finances, and develop strategies to manage your finances as a team.

      If you want assistance with managing your daily finances because of lack of time or other reason, a daily money manager can provide those services as well, which may minimize some disputes.

      In some cases, financial issues are symptomatic of deeper relationship problems. In that case, marriage counseling can help resolve underlying issues and improve overall communication and cooperation.

      8. Check in regularly

      It is important toschedule time on a regular basis to review your budget, track your progress, and discuss adjustments as needed. This also allows you to address any conflicts as soon as possible before they get worse.


      Financial disputes don’t have to undermine your marriage. Openly discussing your finances and working through your issues rather than hiding from them will make your marriage and financial future stronger.

      If you need help with managing your daily finances, contact me for a free consultation.