How to Stop Fighting with Your Spouse About Money

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Do you fight about money with your spouse? It can be hard on a marriage. Here are 3 key ways to stop fighting about money with your partner.

Nearly half (47%) of people “have different spending habits from their spouse or partner,” according to a recent SunTrust survey that came out last year. Not only that, but people are more likely to consider themselves the saver and their spouse the spender when asked. Come to think of it, I always call myself the saver in my relationship, but perhaps I’m not as innocent as I think!?

Either way, it’s safe to say, like many things in a relationship, money conversations are going to take some getting used to. It’s hard enough to learn how to share a home, decide who will do which chores and who is responsible for walking the dog or reading to the kids at night.

Money conversations add another dimension to any relationship, mostly because more likely than not, you and your spouse are going to have different money views.

If you struggle through money conversations with your spouse, here are some of my top tips for having them go smoothly.

Understand the Root of Money Habits


It took me years to understand that the core differences between my spending habits and my husband’s spending habits date all the way back to our childhoods and the way our parents handled money.

We each watched our parents handle money differently, and we each learned money lessons from them including what to do and what not to do.

We had to decide together what parts of our upbringing we wanted to keep and it’s still a tough compromise sometimes. However, when we get to a tense moment in a money conversation or my husband wants to buy something I think might be too expensive, I try to understand the root of that money decision or money desire.

It’s amazing how much of our money choices today harken back to what we had or didn’t have as a child or what we liked or didn’t like about how our parents handled money.

Find the Best Time to Talk


My husband knows not to ask me hard questions right when I wake up. He wakes up extremely early and has a lot of time to greet the day before I even begin to function.

We also know that we have to talk about hard money topics when our kids are asleep. No one can get a full sentence out when they are awake without being interrupted by, “Juice?” “Milk?” “Berries?” “Mama. Mama. Mama.” “Cheese?” Seriously, all they want is food, food and more food. So, needless to say, they have to have their little eyes closed if we are actually going to flesh out something challenging.

My advice is to plan a money date and force each other to sit down and go over a bulleted list of money topics that you have to get through. Share in the responsibility of leading the meeting, and if certain tasks have to be done, like enrolling in healthcare plans or rolling over an IRA, make sure you leave the meeting clear on who will be responsible for which task.

Do you fight about money with your spouse? It can be hard on a marriage. Here are 3 key ways to stop fighting about money with your partner.

Forgive and Learn


I won’t say “forgive and forget” because as we all know, money fights can truly break a marriage. So, just know that when you’re dealing with hard money conversations, sometimes you will be productive and make good decisions. Other times, you’re going to fight and storm out of the room.

When you feel that things are getting tense or you’re really not seeing eye to eye on a topic, don’t force the conversation. Sometimes you both might need time to think on your own before coming to an agreement.

So, instead of forgive and forget, I say forgive and learn. Each time something goes wrong in a money conversation, try to figure out why. Were you too aggressive? Was your spouse too tired to talk? Did the suggestions come across as an attack? Could you just not find any middle ground?

All of these things are very normal when it comes to hashing out some of life’s toughest money decisions. Stick with it, and you will find that tough money conversations will eventually be a thing of the past as you learn how to work together and improve your communication when it comes to money topics.


How do you have tough money conversations with your spouse? What are some ways that you get through money fights without too much resentment or stress? What have you learned about how you and your partner approaching spending? Saving? Investing? What about your backgrounds is different? What’s the same?

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Catherine Alford is the go to personal finance expert for parents who want to better their finances and take on a more active financial role in their families.


  • Rhonesha says:

    My husband and I used to disagree on certain aspects our our budget but we’ve implemented some of these same techniques and it’s helped us tremendously!!

  • Amanda @ centsiblyrich says:

    Great advice, Cat! I think the most important thing is to start the conversation. And you’re so right about the importance of getting the timing of the conversation right. My husband and I have money conversations almost daily – they just naturally happen, but we’ve been together for 23 years. It’s not always been that easy, but having that mutual respect, even if we have differing opinions, has been crucial.

  • Money Beagle says:

    Finding some common ground and using that as a starting point for discussions or disagreements is important.

  • Rhonesha says:

    I love this post. My husband and started implementing some of these tips a while back and it’s really helped our relationship as a whole. Talking about money doesn’t have to be uncomfortable.

  • Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank says:

    I and my wife try to understand where each of us is coming from so that later on we are on the same page with regard to solving money issues.

  • Millennial Money says:

    This post is very insightful to look at the emotional reasons behind a lot of our spending. The solution that is proposed – to forgive the failings of our spouse will redound back to us when we need to be forgiven for our own transgressions. This atmosphere will lead to greater understanding and ultimately more conservative fiscal decisions down the road. Fantastic post.

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