Jamie Bosse

For the Love of Money

We spent HOW MUCH on that?” How often have heard this or said it yourself?

Money is an emotionally charged topic, so it is no surprise that many couples fight about it.  In a survey by Orion, 42% of American adults said they have disagreements about money with their partners and 27% said it happens as frequently as weekly or monthly.

Why does money cause so much tension in a relationship?  Money is such a complex topic and manifests differently in our experiences and memories.  To some, money may symbolize freedom, power, and joy.  Others may associate money with shame, greed, and sin.  Many of our biases around money are set before we are even out of grade school and are further shaped by our life experiences along the way.

Everyone has a past with money, so when people couple up in a marriage or partnership, there is often a disconnect between their views that they must work through together to find common ground.

Here are four steps couples can take to have more productive discussions about money:

1. Discuss your past experiences with money.

Be curious about and try to understand your partner’s past experiences with money.  It’s good to ask questions of your partner like “What do you remember learning from your parents about money?”  “What is something you are proud of financially?”  “What is something you regret?” 

It’s important to withhold judgement and let your partner share their story.  Understanding your partner’s history will help you understand WHY they are the way they are with money and what is driving their feelings behind it.  This creates a good foundation to start from as the two of you move forward together.

2. Have “money talks” on a regular basis.

Couples should talk about money often – at least monthly or even weekly.  Discuss your financial priorities as a family and where you stand.  The key is to set aside time to do it, or it won’t happen.

It doesn’t have to be an hour-long comprehensive review – just a discussion of upcoming expenses, any short-term goals you are working on, and what long term savings looks like.  If you are saving up for something specific, like a vacation or a remodel, check in on savings balances and celebrate your progress.

Always come to these conversations with openness, empathy, and curiosity – not fear or blame.  Remember that you are on the same team and are working together for the greater good.

“Financial conversations are essential for strong relationships.”


3. Evaluate ALL Household duties and who is responsible for them – annually.

Handling the household finances is a chore and usually one person in a couple bears the brunt of the responsibility.  There is nothing inherently wrong with that if the other spouse is privy to what is going on, has a baseline understanding of the situation, and agrees on the couple’s common goals. It’s also important to note that this can be a draining and time-consuming chore that may cause resentment or decision fatigue in the person handling it all.

Be sure to review all the other household chores and who is responsible for them.  There seems to be a lot of “unspoken” rules and expectations on who does what, so it is better to address them directly and proactively.

As family dynamics change, the allocation of responsibilities should be revisited.  For instance, when children are brought into the family, household responsibilities increase dramatically and often fall on one person in the relationship.  This uneven distribution of responsibilities can cause bitterness and additional stress that can hamper communication.

4. Create a vision you can both get behind.

Work together to create a compelling vision of what you want your life to look like.  You can do this on a vision board or jot down short- and long-term goals for your family.  Whenever you start to argue about money, zoom out and consider the big picture.  Is this behavior getting you closer to your family goals or further away?  That can help put the day-to-day money conversations and arguments into perspective.

By having transparent money conversations proactively, couples can address issues sooner, prevent expensive mistakes, and avoid future money-related problems.

*Orion study –

Read the article on The Kansas City Star.

Jamie Bosse, CFP®, RFC, CCFC is a Financial Planner at Aspyre Wealth Partners and is an active member of the Financial Planning Association of Greater Kansas City.  She is the author of the Milton the Money Savvy Pup Children’s book series and Money Boss Mom, Helping Young Parents Be the Boss of Their Financial Future.