Money and relationships: how to work better as a team

Posted by TEBI on June 10, 2023

Money and relationships: how to work better as a team



Money can be one of the biggest sources of conflict in a relationship, so how can couples work better on their finances together?


Money is an essential part of our lives, but it is also a major source of tension in our relationships.

A 2012 paper by Jeffrey Dew and Sonya Britt-Lutter found that financial arguments in a marriage are stronger predictors of divorce than any other common disagreements between partners.

That is a significant finding, when you consider research commissioned last year by the Mental Health Foundation in the UK that found that a majority of people in Britain feel under some degree of financial stress.

“The survey of 3000 adults aged 18 and over, conducted by Opinium between 7 to 14 November 2022, found that 29% of adults experienced stress, 34% experienced anxiety and 10% said they felt hopeless because of financial worries during the previous month,” the foundation said.


Honest conversations

With people feeling this degree of stress about money, and the risk that finances are a primary cause of conflict in marriage, it’s clear that couples need to have ways to navigate this minefield. Having a shared approach to dealing with money is a crucial component of a successful relationship.

That starts with open communication. As soon as couples move in together or start sharing any significant aspect of their lives, they should also start having honest conversations about their finances.

It might sound crude, but it is important to discuss what each partner earns, how much debt they have, and what their wealth goals are. This is not about judgement or comparison. It’s necessary to set a clear understanding of each other’s financial situation as the first step in building a solid foundation for financial planning.

Having these honest conversations from the start also means that there is less incentive to hide or diminish problems that may emerge. Establishing candid, open conversations early will make any issues that do emerge much easier to face.


Gender roles

It’s also essential for couples to recognise and challenge the legacy of defined gender roles when it comes to managing finances.

There is, unfortunately, still a widespread assumption that men are better at managing money than women. This can lead to male partners feeling like they have to take responsibility, even if they don’t have the necessary skills.

It can also lead to female partners thinking that they are being supportive by not questioning what is being done. The result is that neither really has a handle on the couple’s finances and that causes mistrust.

Even in same sex couples this can be a problem as the lack of defined roles might result in both partners abdicating responsibility.

There is, however, no inherent difference in financial management abilities between genders. Working together to develop a shared understanding of your financial situation is always the best approach.


Shared budgeting

Budgeting together is another crucial step. Even if couples keep separate budgets, they still need to agree on who will pay for items such as groceries or insurance, and what is appropriate to spend on non-essentials like streaming services.

To ensure that nobody feels they are contributing too much or that their partner isn’t pulling their weight, couples could contribute to paying a share of expenses in line with their incomes. That way each partner is left with a similar amount of disposable income each month.

A practical way to manage this is to set up a joint bank account into which each partner pays their share at the start of each month. All the expenses are then paid from there.

This approach makes it easier to reconcile spending and helps to ensure that both partners are equally responsible for household expenses.



Having regular check-ins to ensure that you are on track in terms of managing your goals is also important. To make this exercise more fun and engaging, these monthly check-ins could even take the form of a date night so that there is less pressure around them.

This can also be linked to rewarding yourself to make your financial goals more tangible. For instance, to celebrate reaching a savings goal, one monthly date night could be upgraded to a weekend away. This approach can create a positive atmosphere around financial planning, making it feel less like a chore and more like a shared goal.

Other reward ideas could be having a nice dinner together, or buying something special for the home. They don’t have to be big things, but just having the acknowledgement of a real reward can help to motivate couples to stick to their budget and reach their financial goals.

Ultimately, the key to successful financial planning in a relationship is open communication and a willingness to work together. Whether couples choose to have joint accounts or separate accounts, whether they share all responsibilities or apportion who pays for what, what is important is that they make financial decisions together.



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Before now, most people of working age didn’t really have to worry about saving for retirement. They had defined-benefit pensions. In other words, it was up to their employer, and to some extent the state, to ensure that they had enough money in retirement.

But there are hardly any defined-benefit schemes still open to new members. Most working people have defined-contribution schemes instead.

So it’s up to you, the employee, to ensure that you’re not going to run out of money in old age.

In their new book, How to Fund the Life You Want, Robin Powell and Jonathan Hollow explain what you need to do get on track — and stay on track — for a comfortable retirement.

It’s published by Bloomsbury and is primarily aimed at a UK audience.

You can buy the book here on Amazon, or, if your prefer, here on, and please do write a review.


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