Relationships and financial stress

If there is stress in your relationship over finances, we have tips to help.

Woman and man sitting on a sofa looking at a computer.

Financial issues in marriage and dealing with money issues in a relationship can be stressful. Arguments about money hamper many relationships. Clearly understanding your partner's style and discussing it is key. When couples have financial arguments, many relationships break apart.

Discussing finances before and after marriage helps. Spenders and savers can peacefully coexist if you keep the lines of communication open and understand your partner's psychology of spending money. Couples should address changes in marriage dynamics, children, assumptions about retirement, lifestyle and more. Unfortunately, there is no exact recipe for every marriage or partnership where finances are concerned. That does not mean that some level of success can't be achieved. Here are a few strategies to minimize financial stressors.

Understand your spending habits

Many times spending priorities between you and your partner are mismatched. It can create feelings of resentment, which is why it's crucial to understand each other's patterns and objectives.

  • Recognize your daily spending style. Do you succumb to smaller impulse buys while your partner spends only on big-ticket items? Often, daily spending priorities don't align day to day. Even something as simple as one person packing a lunch to save money while the other buys lunch at work to save time can create feelings of resentment.
  • Discuss goals. Understanding each other's goals (e.g., time spent versus money saved) makes it easier to move forward.
  • Decide on your personal approach. Discuss if you will have separate versus joint accounts, for example. Also, decide which individual responsibilities to your household's short-term and long-term financial health each of you will contribute.

Discuss financial fears

Being honest about your financial fears helps cut down on long-term stress.

  • Fess up to spending fears. Financial fears, such as feeling burdened with a second mortgage or not being able to pay off school loans, can dictate your approach to how you spend.
  • Be honest about the financial pressure. Often, these fears can stress out one partner without worrying the other. This adds additional pressure on the relationship. It pays to open up. Although divulging your worries may be initially difficult, it can keep the relationship healthy in the long run.

Compromise on a monthly budget

Having your spending goals in writing makes it easier to stay within your budget each month.

  • Compromise on a monthly budget. When working out your monthly budget, be sure it includes both parties' needs and goals.
  • Discuss strategies to save. Looking for and discussing small and effortless ways to save money helps.
  • Decide on a financial emergency plan. Discussing how to save for emergencies is a key part of budgeting and may reduce potential arguments or questions. Using a savings calculator can be helpful in determining how much that amount should be.
  • Write it down. Put your budget and agreements in writing. A simple list of who pays which bills allows both partners to feel invested in the relationship and cuts down on arguing in the months ahead.

Define long-term goals

Being transparent about future spending helps keep your current budget in check. Here are a few tips.

  • Define long-term goals. Define your short and long-term financial goals. Whether you're looking to buy a house with a yard or saving up for a trip around the world, discussing your major spending intentions with your partner is key.
  • Align your styles. Once you've defined your goals, work backward from there to better align your spending and saving styles.
  • Prioritize. Everyone's situation is different but defining, balancing and prioritizing your household expenses helps open up the conversation.

If you're in a committed relationship of any type, having a calm, honest conversation about each other's anxieties, finances, habits and goals has great benefits. Some couples get professional advice or retain a trusted financial advisor.

The information in this article was obtained from various sources not associated with State Farm® (including State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company and its subsidiaries and affiliates). While we believe it to be reliable and accurate, we do not warrant the accuracy or reliability of the information. State Farm is not responsible for, and does not endorse or approve, either implicitly or explicitly, the content of any third party sites that might be hyperlinked from this page. The information is not intended to replace manuals, instructions or information provided by a manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional, or to affect coverage under any applicable insurance policy. These suggestions are not a complete list of every loss control measure. State Farm makes no guarantees of results from use of this information.
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