Expert Advice on Dealing with Awkward Financial Situations in Relationships


Ah, the beautiful happiness of finding the love of your life, moving in together, (eventually) saying “yes,” and heading off together into the sunset, where you’re done with the dating drama. It’s cloud nine now. Why kill the mood by getting sucked into pesky little talk about silly, realistic things like money?

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Yes, talking about money – an inherently stressful topic for most – with your precious soulmate isn’t the most desirable idea, but the importance of doing so cannot be overstated; after all, money issues are the number one cause of a breakup. Ideally, you’ll want to have deep, vulnerable discussions about finances before you start cohabiting or even consider walking down the aisle, but if not, there are almost always ways to solve any money problem you’re facing. .

Here’s a look at a number of common money issues that finance and mental health experts often see couples struggle with, along with their ideas on how to overcome them so you can get back to that glorious bedtime. sun on a new cloud.

Combining funds too soon

“Couples who combine accounts before they know each other well enough risk their hard-earned money falling into the hands of someone with poor money management skills,” said Dr. Carissa Coulston, relationship expert at The Eternal Rose. “Building mutual financial trust is something that evolves over time, and you don’t want to find out that your partner has a compulsive spending habit that consumes your savings.”

Your best bet is to wait until you enter into a legally binding union before mixing funds.

“Couples who aren’t legally married generally have no protection,” Coulston said. “Therefore, it might be wise to wait until you get married to consolidate your finances.”

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Bringing debt into the relationship

“A common financial relationship issue that often tends to complicate the relationship is the current debt you had before the relationship and how it is addressed and repaid,” said Lisamarie Monaco, co-owner of

The best way to solve this problem is for each person to write down all unpaid personal debts and keep track of what is owed and how they plan to pay it off.

“Also, write a list of everything you are responsible for in terms of money, such as groceries, car bills, electricity bills, phone bills, etc.,” Monaco said. “What it does is first give you a glimpse of reality, but also gives you both a chance to come together at this point and come up with a strategy. You should also update this every months, it gives you both an idea of ​​what’s coming in, what’s going out, what’s needed, and how close you are to paying off any outstanding debt.

Automatic 50/50 expense splitting

“One problem I see all too often is that couples automatically split expenses 50/50,” said Chloe Elise, Certified Financial Coach and CEO/Founder of Deeper than silver. “Because when it comes to the relationships and the workload of each party, it might not be as simple as you think. We have to think of money as a form of currency.

Instead of diving into a relationship hoping for everything to be split up neatly, consider what works for each person’s respective income. If you make $90,000 and your partner makes $45,000, it’s not fair to expect them to split the rent on your expensive condo. How can they contribute to the household in other non-monetary ways? And what are you comfortable spending per month as a “breadwinner”? These are key questions to ask to anticipate this problem.

You only have one bank account

‘I think couples who only have one bank account – that’s a recipe for disaster,’ says personal finance and tax expert Buffie Purse. “You should have a joint bank account for household expenses, groceries, bills, all that sort of thing. And each partner should be allowed to have their own personal checking and savings accounts. When you receive your direct deposit from your paycheck, you can choose which percentage you want to deposit into the joint household account and the other percentage into your personal account. The rest should go into your savings. This approach allows you to still have a kind of independence as part of a couple.

A person spends too much

“I’ve found that spending is the number one issue that causes relationship issues for couples,” said Doug Carey, owner and president of WealthTrace. “When one person spends more money than the other feels is appropriate, it can lead to serious arguments. This is especially true if it means the person is not saving as much money as the other person thinks they should be. This can become particularly controversial if a person feels that overspending and lack of savings are causing them to postpone retirement.

To address this common problem, Carey recommends couples talk in depth about their views on money, savings, and financial goals.

“It’s also important to have some type of money management system in place,” Carey said. “Couples should discuss which system works best for each of them. For example, should they put all their money in a common bank account? Come to some sort of agreement on how the money will be managed and where it will be placed, and then stick to that plan.

Raising children with a parent at home

“Having a partner working outside the home and a partner who stays home and works inside the home to care for children etc. is a common money issue in relationships that can lead to complications,” the therapist said. Heidi McBain, LMFT, LPC, PMH-C. “It can create a power differential in the relationship if not resolved, because if the money-making spouse is seen as more important, then as a family, that person’s wants and needs can take precedence over everyone else’s wants and needs.”

To eliminate this problem, McBain recommends that couples keep in mind that there are many ways to appreciate themselves and others, and that money is only one way. If you try this – or indeed any of the above techniques and you’re still not making progress, it’s probably time for couples therapy.

“If you have money issues in your relationship, therapy can be a great place to talk about those patterns and how they manifest and to learn how to create healthier patterns that take better care of your family in life. whole,” McBain said.

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About the Author

Nicole Spector is a writer, editor, and author based in Los Angeles via Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in Vogue, The Atlantic, Vice and The New Yorker. She is a frequent contributor to NBC News and Publishers Weekly. Her 2013 debut novel, Fifty Shades of Dorian Gray, received rave reviews from Fred Armisen and Ken Kalfus, and has been published in the US, UK, France and Russia – well let no one know what happened with the Russian edition! She has an affinity for Twitter.