How To Deal With Money Issues While In A Relationship

Updated February 19, 2021

Medically Reviewed By: Tiffany Howard, LPC, LCADC

Money And Relationships Can Be Complicated
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Money and relationships are two interesting subjects that intertwine with each other. One of the big reasons why marriages end is because of financial issues. Meanwhile, money can also be a reason why a relationship starts in the first place. In this post, we're going to talk all about financial issues and what you can do to deal with them.

Money And Dating

When you first get together with someone, you never know how much money they have. Some people dress humbly but have quite a bit of money. Others may spend their money on expensive clothes and goods, but are quite poor in the end. For many, financial stability can be a contributing factor in a relationship.

Some would say that you should love someone no matter how much money they have. There is truth to this. You should give someone a chance if their income isn't that great, especially if they are making an effort to try to improve their life.

However, it's understandable that not everyone would want to date someone with little income. Money problems can cause drama in the relationship, which can lead to it ending. The quality of life will go down if the two of you live in poverty, and not everyone wants that. And if the person doesn't want to improve, it can be difficult to live with them.

Here are some tips for dating when it comes to financial issues.

  • Tell the truth about how much money you make. Do not try to lie and act like you make more money than you do. First, they will find out, and it will be hard to justify that lie. You may attract some more people, but someone who loves you shouldn't make your income a deciding factor. On a dating site, it may be tempting to say you make $100,000 a year when you barely make a quarter of that, but don't lie.
  • Don't date someone just because they have a lot of money. You may feel like you'll have a more secure life, but you may be subjecting yourself to being under the person's control. If they are in control of all the finances and end up abusive, it can be a hard relationship to escape from.
  • Date according to budget. Sometimes, a date in a burger joint can be just as effective as a nice, sit-in restaurant.
  • Figure out who is going to pay for the date. Society seems to want the male to pay for the date when it comes to heterosexual dating, but there is no shame in letting the woman pay for the date if she has more income.

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Discussing Financial Plans While Dating

When you are seeing someone, it's worth it to have discussions about your finances, and what the financial plans will be if the relationship gets serious. Here are some things to discuss.

Career Ambitions

This is one of those subjects that will be mentioned, but having a heart to heart about your career ambitions is important. One partner may be an aspiring artist. While they should work on their dreams, there is a point when they should not make it their focus if it's not financially feasible. Couples can help each other with their careers as well. Maybe one partner has the desire to own a small business. The undertaking can be expensive, but worth while in the long run.

Saving Vs. Spending

How often do you check your checking account? Some people are big spenders. Once a week, they may spend some money on something that makes them feel good about themselves. Meanwhile, other people are big savers. They always take the cheapest option whenever they can, and put as much money in the savings account as possible. Then, there are those who are a bit of both. A saver dating someone who is a spender can spell disaster. However, it's possible to have a discussion and come to an agreement on both sides.

Debt

No one likes debt, but many of us have debts. From car payments, student loans or personal loans, many of us have different levels of debt. Sometimes, our payments are a minor inconvenience. Other times, they are crippling. Be honest about your debts, what is your financial situation? Don’t be embarrassed, as your partner may have debts too. It's possible for the two of you to figure out a way to help pay them off and make the debts as easy to manage as possible.

Vacationing

Everyone likes a good vacation, but different people have different visions. Some are content with going on a cheap trip to the beach, while others may want to see the world. Travel expenses and plans are a good thing to discuss. Be realistic about your financial situation to avoid financial stress. Again, the two of you may be able to come to an agreement and figure out a vacation that satisfies both your needs.

Credit Score

One day, the two of you may want to buy a house or a new car. However, if one person has a bad credit score, it may cause some drama in the relationship. Discuss your credit scores. Even if they are bad, there are ways to make them recover. However, if you ignore your bad score, it could come to bite you in the back. In a relationship, personal finance becomes collective.

House Buying

Money And Relationships Can Be Complicated

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Speaking of houses, figure out if the two of you want to buy a house sometime. One person may be a traveler who likes the easiness of rent, while another person may want to buy a house at some point. There may be an agreement that can be reached here, where the two of you make plans to get home sometime in the future.

Living Expenses

When the two of you are living together, how will you pay the bills? There is a different answer for different people epending on your financial situation. Not every living situation is 50/50. Sometimes, the person making more may want to pay more or pay more if they are using the residence more often. Discuss how the two of you should split the bill.

Bank Account Joining

Joining bank accounts can be a good thing, but not everyone wants to do it. Some don't like having all their eggs in one basket, and may not be comfortable with one account. You shouldn't feel forced to put all your money in one bank account if it doesn't make you feel comfortable. You could still keep an emergency fund for yourself. Regardless, you should talk with your partner and come up with an agreement.

Children

Discussing whether or not you want children with your partner is important for many reasons. Some want to have children at some point, while others believe children aren't for them. Not only that, but a child isn't cheap, and is a financial issue that should be discussed in order to avoid any excessive financial stress.

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Money And Marriage

What one of the many reasons marriages fail is because of finances. It's a bit ironic, as divorces are expensive, but many people in marriage feel like they will be more financially stable in the long run if they have a divorce. Some people are more attached to their money marriage than their real one.

Financial issues that can arise include:

  • One spouse spending money without consulting the other spouse first. Splurging on a new car can be great until the spouse finds out and the two of you are in a lot of debt as a result.
  • For example, if one person suffers from alcoholism, it can be a costly habit and one that can ruin the marriage in many different ways.
  • A disease. A married couple promises each other they will be there in sickness and in health, but when the hospital bills start accumulating, it can test the marriage.
  • The loss of a job can be a reason for a divorce. A couple may have a stable income, and then one person loses a job and doesn't get one that is better. Stress arises because of this, and before long, the couple has a divorce.

Discussing all your financial issues before your marriage, with the tips mentioned above, can help you prevent a messy divorce. If you do have a financial issue, it's best that you talk about it with a cool head and try to come up with an agreement.

However, there are sometimes when the financial issues arise later on in the marriage, leading to the divorce.

Seek Counseling!

If your marriage or relationship is having financial woes, it doesn't have to be the end. If the two of you love each other and are willing to work it out, it's still possible to recover. Talking to a relationship counselor can help the two of you sort out any financial issues.

If the two of you have different spending habits, the counselor can help you reach an agreement. If you have debts, the counselor can teach you how to refinance and make the debts more manageable. If you feel angry because your partner spent money on something without permission, the counselor can help you work things out.

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In the perfect world, money wouldn't need to buy happiness, but a good relationship needs financial stability to help it succeed. It's not the end all be all, but it's still important. Discussing your finances can save a lot of heartache, and wallet-ache, in the future.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • How do you overcome money problems?

Financial stress can completely unhinge our sense of security. No one wants to feel money stress, nor the long term effects. Unfortunately, there’s no quick fix to overcoming money problems, but that does not mean all is lost. Take a larger look at your financial situation, and develop a plan.

  1. Evaluate your financial goals.
  2. Create a budget to assess a spending plan. Put aside money in your budget for things like fun spending, emergency, and investment in a retirement fund, like a Roth IRA or 401K. (Roth IRA’s are recommended if you don’t have an employer who matches everything you save, and 401K’s are often set up with your employer, who also contributes to the account. If you do not know which is best for you, then speak with your boss or company about what options they have for a retirement fund.) 
  3. Talk to a financial advisor, or someone in your life who has a better sense of money management.
  4. Find out if your money is working for you. Have you heard of rewards? Credit cards often offer travel rewards, or cash-back rewards for spending.

One of the greatest and most simple steps that you can take in the right direction when it comes to money issues is tracking everything you spend. Use an app, or even just a notebook. It can be tedious, but it is worth it to find out exactly where all your money is going. You may be surprised- those small daily expenses really add up.

Another very important financial key is staying out of debt. It is not worth it to have the fancy toys and cars when you are young just to be shackled and limited by debt for the rest of your life. If you are already in this situation, do not worry. Lots of people have the same problem. It is a problem better dealt with late than never. Dedicate yourself to paying off your debt, quickly if possible, and do not let it pile up with interest rates. Having good credit will be very important if you want to buy a house or property later in life.

A side hustle might help you bring in a little extra money. Look into online freelancing or help a friend out with a part-time gig. You may think that you can only do one thing well, but do not limit yourself. Be open to trying new things if it means bringing in some extra cash. And do not spend it all the moment you get it!

Start investing a very small sum into a Roth IRA, a 401K, or another type of retirement fund. These build up with something called compound interest. A 401K also offers the added benefit of some employers offering a match for everything you put into the account. Just small amounts over time build up to make a huge difference, and by the time you are 59.5, you may be a millionaire, just because you were consistent when you were young.

Some people have something called a low financial IQ. This does not mean that they do not know anything about money, it simply means that they have a low threshold of money that they know how to manage. For example, have you ever heard of someone who won the lottery, then within a few months they had spent all the winnings? That person was probably returning to their financial threshold. They were returning to the amount of money that they knew how to manage. Up your financial IQ! Watch videos and read books. Money is a skill that anyone can pick up on, and you can always put yourself into a better position. 

  • How can we get rid of financial crisis?

The most intimidating and common money problem is frequently debt. You can avoid long term financial crisis by working to keep debt low, whether that means reassessing your student loans, paying off credit cards, or reevaluating your home or car insurance.

If you can work remotely, you should definitely consider moving to an area where the cost of living is lower. Many people try to budget so that they can earn more, but they forget that the other side is budgeting so that you can spend less. By spending less every month, you can give yourself a huge pay raise!

Of course, you cannot cut out unnecessary spending if you do not know what you spend. Try asking for a receipt every time you spend money, then keeping a log of everything you have spent. You will be surprised how the small expenses add up.

Learn how to make money online. Learn how to make money freelancing. Invest in a new course and make yourself more valuable, or even just learn a valuable new skill on YouTube or a free website like Khan Academy. There are plenty of ways out there to increase your financial value.

Take your anxieties and turn them into fuel. Take the time to read about money. Learn about how to start a business, how to invest, how to start managing large sums. Anyone can make enough money to live comfortably, and it is never too late to start.

  • How do I stop stressing about money?

Personal finance anxiety is completely normal. If you are worried about money stress affecting you for a long time, it would be a good idea to work towards an emergency fund. An emergency fund will do exactly what it sounds like — provide you a safety net in case of emergency. 

Remember there are two ways to feel more relaxed financially:

  1. Earn more
    1. Earn more by learning a new skill, or putting time into your own website, a YouTube channel, affiliate marketing, coding, design, online freelancing, translating, anything! Learn a new skill and make yourself valuable. And when you earn cash, do not spend it all at once, but rather use it wisely, either to save, invest, or pay off debt.
  2. Spend less
    1. Spending less is the often-forgotten side of gaining more money. Pay close attention to where your money is going, how you are spending it, and ask yourself what you can be doing better.

In general, investing is a great idea, because it allows your fund to grow exponentially over time with something called compound interest. The most common recommended percentages for investing are:

  • 80% in an SP500 Index Fund (These are the top 500 public American companies, the big ones like Netflix, Facebook, and Microsoft. As these companies make money and fluctuate, you will make money along with them)
  • 10% in an international index fund (This diversifies your portfolio and allows you to invest in international countries outside of the US. So, for example, if a developing country improves, you could see you fund go up)
  • 10% in the bond market index (Essentially, when stocks go down, bonds go up, so investing in bonds is your safety net if all else fails)

By investing in a diverse portfolio like this, you can simply invest your money, then watch it grow.

And remember, a rich person is not someone who has it all, but rather someone who wants for nothing. Edit your mindset. If you have everything you need to be happy and comfortable, then you do not need to feel bad about your earnings. Stop comparing yourself to other people, and never let anyone make you feel embarrassed about your paycheck.

  • How do I get out of debt with no money?
    • First and foremost, you need to make paying off this debt your number one financial priority. Debt is normalized, but it is a massive financial burden. Debt can prevent you from buying a property, from investing, essentially from making money later on in life. The longer your debt sits there, it will grow, and soon it will feel like you are running on sand trying to pay it off. Paying off your debts means buying your freedom, so it must be a priority. Do not spend money on frivolous things that you do not need. Stick to the essentials. Learn a new skill for free online then pickup a freelancing gig or a side hustle. Sell things that you have. You could even sell something that you do not own yet, receiving the money from someone, then buying the product at a lower price, and delivering it to your client. Hustling will be worth it when you have no more debt and you are completely free. Then you can start investing, and start making some real money.
    • One option that does not necessarily solve the problem, but delays it, is taking out another loan to pay off your debt. It may sound counter-productive, but what this does is prevent interests from building up on the older debt and gives you a “new” debt that does not have accumulated interest rates.
    • One of the easiest things you can do to avoid accumulating debt while your income is low is to stop using credit cards. If you have no money, a credit card can be really great for moments when you’re in a bind or need to develop credit. But the misuse of credit cards can put you in debt fast without a way out.
  • How can money cause problems?

Lots of people experience financial stress for reasons ranging anywhere from credit cards, personal loans, insurance (home or otherwise), to even retirement planning. Money can be problematic for people individually, or frequently within romantic relationships and family dynamics.

Remember that money is not the end- money is a means to an end. Think about the things you really want in your life and what is important to you. Do you already have these things? If not, how can you achieve them? If you have concrete goals for your life and budget, you will find the way to make enough money to achieve them. But if you just want more money, you will never be satisfied.

Put a specific amount on how much you want to earn, then make a plan for getting there.

  • What is Money Anxiety?

Money anxiety can look like depression or generalized anxiety, but it is a thing all on its own. The cause of this anxiety is important to identify, because it can inform major life decisions. Do not let financial stress run your life. Even if you put $1 per paycheck towards your emergency fund, it is more than nothing. Giving yourself an emergency fund can assist and help you deal with financial stress. 

Money anxiety can also happen when you prioritize money over other, important things in life. Remember, money is a means to an end. It is not the end. And you do not need to feel pressure to spend money beyond your needs. Money is necessary to have food, shelter, water, warmth, relaxation time, and a few luxuries, but some of the most simple and wonderful things in life top money in terms of importance. One of the biggest regrets that people have while dying, as shared by a hospice nurse, is that they worked too hard. 

Do not feel guilty about wanting extra money. Some extra money can be great for peace of mind, because it ensures that you have an emergency fund to fall back on. Just don’t let that ‘extra money’ take away from the more important parts of life. 

  • How do you stay positive during financial hardship?

Saving and investing are not always possible amidst financial hardship, but you can learn. Do research about how to invest money, and create a savings plan. That way, when you are out of financial hardship, you are more equipped with money tips to avoid repeating that experience in the future.

It is important to prioritize your mental health, even in times of financial stress. Becoming angry, irritated, depressed, guilty, or self-hating will only make your situation worse. Arguments about money do not help anyone, so if you and your partner have major differences in ideas about how to spend money and what to do with your money, try to speak about it in a calm and empathetic way. This will be especially difficult if someone in your relationship has a problem with credit card debt, or gambling, but these problems should be approached with empathy. Be honest with each other about your finances and keep close track of your budget. IF either of you has a mental problem, seek out help and invest in your mental health. This will help you be wiser with money in the future.

Do research online about how to handle your specific money issues. For example, if you are dealing with debt, this is a very common problem, especially in the United States and you are not alone. Look up how to deal with debt online and reach out to other people with similar issues and learn from their mistakes and successes. Try to be open and honest with each other, because if problems are hidden in secret they can grow beyond repair. If you are part of a couple, you should be comfortable sharing your finances and being honest about that aspect of your relationship. 

Before you enter into a serious relationship with someone, talk to them about their money personality and find out if you share the same values. Ask questions about your partner’s money so that you can both understand the financial situation of the other better. Be specific and ask, are you a big spender? Do you prefer to save? How much do you save per year? What is a big purchase you would like to make down the line? Do you have any debt? It is especially important to be open with talking about money before you get married, because you do not want your differences to cause problems later down the line. Once this person is your spouse, your money issues become their money issues and vice versa. You do not want money problems to ruin your relationship. 

Try to focus on things that have nothing to do with money. Find things to be grateful for in your life. Remember that you have one life, and it is short, and you do not want to spend it worrying about things that are not ultimately important, or things that you cannot control.

Money issues are a very normal, very common problem, and nothing to be embarrassed about. Good people, especially your children, will not judge you for losing money or having money issues, but they will notice how you handle those hardships, and how you deal with financial stress. Fighting about money can put some serious stress on any relationship. Your mood affects the other people around you very closely. Your children, your partner, your friends, and family might need you to be strong. Do it for them.


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