How ‘Spender & Saver’ Couples Can Get Back on the Same Page

So what do you do when you and your spouse can’t seem to get this money thing figured out? It's time to act before this thing breaks up your marriage.

Could it be that the leading cause of divorce are financial matters?

So some say, but I’m not entirely sure.

Whether or not it’s the leading cause or number two (wouldn’t think it would be further down the list) isn’t really the point.

The point is that when you’re not consistently on the same page with your spouse about money, you need to be on high alert. Your marriage could be in danger.

I’m not talking about a difference in opinion here and there about the grocery spending. I’m talking about deeper issues of how you both view money. Some people were raised in frugal families that tried to “save every penny“.

Others were raised in families where “spending it all” was the first priority. Mix these many different backgrounds and experiences together and you’re likely to have some friction in your relationship.

So what do you do when you and your spouse can’t seem to get this money thing figured out? It’s time to act before this thing breaks up your marriage.

Dealing with the money isn’t easy for the best of marriages so let’s take a look at some ideas to get things on the right track.

Honestly is the best policy.

I’m going to start by saying you can never get on the same page and work through money matters unless you are completely honest with your spouse. Everything must be put on the table. No secrets!

You have to know what each other is spending, debt, credit cards, etc. That’s why I recommend that people combine checking accounts when they get married. You become one in marriage, so why not become one with managing your finances?

If there are deep trust issues I recommend seeing a counselor. Work on the marriage first; insure a solid foundation and the money management will come easier.

Get financial values straight.

Assuming you can both be honest in your relationship; you have to then look at values and background. Is your spouse a spender and are you saver? That’s likely the case as most relationships have one of each.

Have an open conversation about this and admit what benefits you bring to managing money as well as where you have weaknesses. Look for ways to work together. A budget helps both the saver and spender.

Spenders can have money to spend (as long as it’s in the budget) and savers can have money to save and not squeeze every penny from the budget for their savings goals.

Use the right tools.

Many people get into heated abstract discussions. “You always spend too much money!” What does that mean, anyway? The best way to deal with financial challenges is to get them on paper.

Tracking your spending each month (which only requires about 5 minutes a day if you use money management software) provides a record of where all the money is going. Creating a spending plan with your spouse insures you both have a plan you can agree to at the beginning of the month.

Think someone is spending too much money? Have the conversation by reviewing the spending record. If it exceeds the budget you both agreed to then you have to work through the matter together without an attack.

Remember, husband and wife are there to help each other. Next month it may be you who commits the financial foul.

Whether we like it or not, money management responsibilities are part of everyday life. We can choose to work together with our spouse or decide to run things separately. The latter leads to a whole heap of trouble and it might damage your relationship forever.

If someone doesn’t want to play on the same team, it’s time for a much deeper level of marital counseling to get to the root cause. Once that’s dealt with, the money matters will usually start getting better too.

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  1. Great advice, I’m not married yet, but when I do finally tie the knot I hope to manage things like two of my best friends, Simon and Sarah. They basically treat the financial side of their marriage as a business, all of their money is pooled, and they meet regularly to set and review goal on spending, saving, acquiring assets (and new toys) etc. It seems to work amazingly well for them and prevents a lot of issues that most of my other married friends seem to encounter.

  2. AverageJoeMoney says

    Good advice. More than tracking pennies, I think successful budgets for married people are about communication. 

  3. OneSmartDollar says

    I think finances are a huge reason for divorce.  People who are on different pages when it comes to money are on different pages on what is important to them.  My wife and I are both savers because we want to make sure we are always financially secure while still able to travel the world.
    If two people are on different pages it can really cause tension.