Managing Money as a Couple

Posted: February 3, 2021

A couple sits together on the couch as they talk with a financial advisor.

What’s more romantic than an evening spent discussing a budget spreadsheet? Okay, maybe budgeting isn’t your idea of the perfect date night, but establishing open communication about your finances is a great way to strengthen your relationship. Money can be a top stressor for couples, but here are a few tips to make sure it doesn’t have to be one for you and your significant other.

Be an Active Partner

Even if you tend to split up the chores, where one person cooks and the other person cleans, when it comes managing finances, it’s important that both of you are active participants. It’s okay if one person takes the lead, but make sure that both of you are aware of what is going on with your money. You wouldn’t want to hand off the task of managing finances to your partner and later discover that you were working toward different goals. When you both take responsibility, you can feel good about being in the know and on the same page.

No Secrets. No Surprises.

Have you ever spent more than you intended at the store and tried to sneak your shopping bags inside the house while your partner wasn’t looking? Or has your partner ever surprised you with a big purchase you didn’t think was necessary? If you share finances, it’s important to be open and honest with each other about how you’re spending money. Before you buy a big-ticket item, talk it over with your partner to make sure they are on board. Then you can enjoy shopping guilt free—even if that means you buy the 40” TV you agreed to instead of the 70” one you wanted. The accountability that comes with sharing finances can be a helpful way to keep your spending on track.

The Couple That Budgets Together, Succeeds Together

If you don’t already have a budget, start here. Whether you prefer a spreadsheet or an app, track your income and estimate your monthly expenses. Set time-based goals together about how much debt you want to pay down and how much you would like to save. It’s a good idea to revisit your budget together on a regular basis. You can set a certain night of the week to look over your budget and add in a fun element. For example, you could start a tradition of Taco Tuesday and Budget Night or review your budget and then watch your favorite TV show together as a reward. By setting it up to be a pleasant experience, you’ll be more likely to stick with it.

Create a Fun Fund

When you think about budgeting, it might make you think about what you can’t spend money on, but it also tells you what you can spend money on. Set aside money in your budget for each person to use as they please, no questions asked. Maybe it drives you crazy that your partner loves fancy lattes from the local coffee shop. Perhaps your partner thinks it’s a waste of money when you buy a new pair of sunglasses. By allocating even a small amount like $25 each per month to use as you want, you can enjoy some spending without judgement or resentment.

Managing finances together might not come easily at first. You could have opposite money management styles or different ideas about how to best use your resources, but by taking the time to consistently and openly communicate about your finances, you will be much more successful in meeting your financial goals as a couple.