Managing Money In Your Relationship

The evolution of our relationship and money, and the lessons learned.

Our relationship has transformed many times since 2005 and so have our bank accounts. Like every couple we’ve had our arguments about money, but with constant open and frank discussions,  and a solid budgeting plan we’ve been able to keep money a minor issue and become stronger both financially and as a couple. We’ve also come with a fun little financial exercise for you to do with your partner HERE. Read on for our tips on how to keep your relationship and finances happy. Read ahead to learn how managing money in your relationship will make you a stronger couple.

managing money in your relationship

 Be open about your financial situation

Even at the beginning of a relationship, money can be a huge stressor, causing feelings of guilt, anxiety, confusion, and anger. Stress caused by money is an unavoidable part of life. Being open about your financial situation is a simple way to resolve some of those worries.

  • Do not “fake it till you make it”! Pretending to have more money than you actually have will only lead to unrealistic expectations from your SO. You don’t have to divulge what you have in your bank account, but you should present your financial situation truthfully.
  • Katie
    When Chris and I started dating I was the definition of a broke college student and couldn’t even afford to buy him a beer on his birthday. I was 19, living at home, in school full-time, and working a crappy minimum wage job. Chris was aware of my situation and I made it clear that I was not interested in expensive dates where I could not help pay for anything. Ice cream and people watching became a common theme throughout our first dates.
  • Be open about what you’re willing to spend money on. Just because you make a six figure salary doesn’t mean you want to eat at 5 star restaurants every weekend, or maybe you do. Either way it should be clear from the beginning.
  • If your situation changes, like losing your job, don’t hide it from your partner. They should be there to support you. It’s a great test of a relationship and can help build good financial communication for the future.
  • Your expectations for each other should be clear from the beginning so you can concentrate on the more important matters like getting to know each other.

Evolving Money Roles while Managing Money In Your Relationship

Money roles are defined by what you and your partner spend on and with each other. Your roles in a relationship should be fluid and be able change with the circumstances.

  • There is no right formula when it comes to the money roles. Whether you follow the “traditional” man pays for everything, split things 50/50, or alternate on dates, you have to look at your relationship and see where your roles have settled. There is not necessarily a right or wrong answer, only one which you both have agreed upon and feel comfortable with.
  • Just like your relationship will evolve over time, so will your financial situation. Your money roles need to openly develop along with your relationship.
  • Chris
    When I started dating Katie, I was 23 years old, working full-time as a network administrator, making a very good salary, and living with my parents; which meant a lot of disposable income. Katie was a poor college student. I had no problem paying for the majority of our dates. As our relationship progressed, and Katie started working full-time as a nurse, our roles evened out. There was a point in 2010 where I was unemployed and she worked full-time. Katie took on more of the expenses during this period. Because we were always open about our situations we were able to adjust our roles accordingly and make money a minor issue in our relationship.
  • You are always growing and changing and therefore so are your roles with money. Going from a student to a full-time employee, living alone to living with your SO, or from dating to married with children; these milestones all change the way you have to deal with money and force you to re-evaluate your roles.

managing money in your relationship

Finding someone who has similar financial values as you is going to make the transition from dating, to being a serious couple, to marriage, and then having children, much less stressful.

  • There isn’t a right opinion, but you should be clear about your philosophy. To some people, money is just a means to living life day to day. To others it means success and power.  Money is one of those issues that people are very stubborn about. Be open minded with each other’s philosophies to avoid potential conflicts.
  • Your upbringing not only instils you with your cultural and ethical values but also your financial ones. We all look at the importance of money differently and have our own opinions about the right ways to handle it.
  • Katie
    Chris and I are both pretty frugal people. We are not ones to spend a lot of money on clothing, restaurants, or home décor but when it comes to travel; we have spent thousands of dollars. Luckily we both value the same things in life and often agree on large purchases like our 1984 Westfalia van.
  • Chris
    As a child my parents infused really strong money management philosophies in me. I shared my views on personal finances with Katie very early in our relationship. To my great pleasure we shared many of the same financial values, which really helped me fall in love with her even harder. The fact that she is adorably sexy helped a little too!
  • Some people value buying a home, having nice clothes, or spending money on good food. There is no right way to spend your money; you should just try to find someone who is similar to you.
  • That being said, there is always room for compromise. If your financial values don’t match up you can still have a happy relationship, you just might need to communicate more frequently and allow each other financial freedoms separate from your joint finances.

managing money in your relationshipYour Money, My Money, Our Money!!

As your relationship evolves and grows you will get to a situation where “my money” starts to become “our money”.     

  • Are you moving in together? Getting married? Taking a vacation? Starting a business? Define when it becomes “our money”, and what it is to be used for. Don’t leave any grey areas up to interpretation; make sure it is clearly understood what “our money” is for.
  • Chris
    Katie and I kept it very simple when we moved in together. All expenses that go towards living together like rent, internet, groceries, etc all come out of our money. When I want to buy a new video game, a nice bottle of scotch, or some new running shoes, it comes out of my money.
  • Using this system also allows couples with different Money Philosophies to find a good balance.
  • Katie
    Chris and I have often had to re-evaluate what the definition of “our money” is. When I started working full-time, I had a lot of disposable income and was a little more liberal with my shopping than usual. Chris noted this with the commonly used phrase “did you really need to buy that?” After an open discussion we realized that my higher income meant that I now had to invest more into “our money”. After this was established we felt more confident that “our money” was well managed and we could both spend our personal money freely.
  • It’s important to keep clear financial boundaries. You are still two people with separate parts of your lives. Realizing this will empower you as an individual and bring you closer together as a couple.
  • There isn’t a right or wrong way to use “our money”. What is important is that the trust is there for it to be used properly.

Set a budget

Money comes and goes very fast, proper budgeting can reduce a lot of stress. Start planning a couples budget early. If you are thinking about moving in together or getting married now is the time!

  • The budget you define for your relationship should be done with a financial goal in mind such as a wedding, a house, a vacation, or moving in together.
  • The budget you set should be seen as a framework. It’s the guide you’re going to use to help ensure you’re putting money in the right places for the future of your relationship. However, if possible, your budget should also allow you the flexibility to make spontaneous purchases, without sacrificing the bigger picture.
  • Review your budget, spending, and savings every 3 to 6 months to ensure they still meet your goals. Your budget should be evolving along with your relationship.
  • Chris
    We feel it’s best to treat our finances with a business like attitude, and that means a leader has to assume responsibility. I am in charge of our finances and budgeting. My job is to pay the bills every month, do our taxes, and meet with the financial advisor. But that doesn’t mean I make 100% of the decisions. Everything is discussed with Katie and we ensure we are on the same page in terms of how to spend and save our money.
  • Using an app like Mint can help you keep track of your spending, they also have a lot of great financial advice here.
  • This isn’t a financial blog, so we won’t get too specific, but we do recommend visiting a financial advisor. Ours helped us setup a budget that allowed us to save money for our wedding and get our savings on track.
  • Once you have a financial plan set up, there should be no nasty, fight inducing surprises, leaving you lots of time to cuddle and eat ice cream.

If you want more help on managing money in your relationship go try our Couples Challenge on money management and learn how to handle a big purchase as a couple.

Authored by: Katie & Chris

Chris and Katie are the LoveTripper’s. They have been together for over 9 years, and got married in April 2014. They believe that the key to a healthy long-lasting relationship is constant work and effort. The Love Tripper’s share their advice on how to keep that sexy fire burning, avoiding pointless arguments, and finding a deeper love for your partner every day. Love is a trip, enjoy the ride!

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