Free Ebook.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

« Tips to Remain Debt Free | Main | The High Cost of Debt »

March 31, 2010


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

I know that financial differnces were a huge contributing factor to the break up of relationships in the past. My problem is how and when do you start discussing finances. Anyone have any advice?

Our marriage of almost 54 years was between a Saver and a Saver - that has been a major factor in its success.
It seems that there is no "one size fits all", it has been my experience that couples tend to use a system that is based heavily upon each other's strengths and weaknesses and then modify it as the years goes by and their lifestyle transitions from newly weds, to young parents, and finally to retirees.
Total trust in each other cannot be overstated if the relationship is to last. Without trust it's just a matter of time before the relationship is over and it's time for the attorneys to come in and do their thing.

Managing the finances are much less contentious when both spouses have earned money, built up 401Ks etc. and receive monthly checks in each of their names (as in the case of retirees). This way each individual's personal expenses are solely their business and minimal discussion is required.

Major expenditures such as homes, automobiles, furniture, vacations, remodeling etc. should be discussed at length by both parties and complete agreement reached before the purchase is made and loans undertaken.
Managing investments is a very big deal. In our case my wife has zero experience and I have been actively managing our investments very successfully from the beginning but obviously every couple is different.
I have excellent math, computer, and finance skills and my wife has excellent people skills so we each do what we do best and it has worked out very well. We are each well aware of our own strengths and weaknesses and use them to advantage in almost everything we do. Teamwork is the key to success and not competition.

I second Jay's question----when do you bring up this sort of thing when dating?

While someone's overall "type" tends to be obvious (based on the things he suggests we do, the level of restaurants he suggests we go out to, whether he ever pays with anything using a credit card, etc), it seems like you'd have to ask to find out other money facts(like the amount he donates, the amount of his income/debt, how much he pays for for his grown children etc). Yet, asking about these things seems rude.


Interesting list. Based on what I've experienced so far, I think the list is pretty much right on the money. At least for me anyways.

As for when to start discussing money, well, I personally believe that money is involved in most everything that we do, so it's going to come up naturally. When it does, we should take the time and care to work those issues out.

However, I also believe that by the time you start considering a serious relationship, such as co-habitation or getting engaged, you should have a pretty good idea of what to expect by then. And if not, it's definitely time to sit down and have a formal talk or two about how the money will be handled.

I don't really have a solid opinion on this one, but I can say this much. Over the years, what I find amusing is that every couple handles money slightly differently. And many of them will stand strongly behind their method of doing things as the best way for them.

Now, this is once you reach a point where the relationship is financially-healthy. This does NOT apply to those are not even reading the same book, nevermind the same page.

Anyway, I'm inclined to believe that what works best for every couple will be slightly different, and it's a part of that relationship process to find out what will work and what will not.

Lastly, I don't think the rules are quite the same for dating as it is for serious relationships. For dating, the man should be prepared to pay for everything. We can debate the nuances here, but trust me, it's easiest to go just go with that assumption.

As to when you should have the money/finance talk:
The first date is too soon;
After you are engaged is too late;
After you are married; roll the dice.

@EugeneK I have to agree with men paying (or as you more correctly say--be prepared). At some point, she will offer to cook or pay. If she doesn't and it bugs you, well that's a good sign that it is time of have that conversation.
Ladies, what's your view of when. I'd say that about the time you ask him "Where is this relationship going?" you should have the money talk.

This gets into the "when" question a bit:

A relationship needs to be built on trust and teamwork, as Old Limey says, and that teamwork needs to extend into all financial matters; I think it helps tremendously when you are like-minded in terms of saving vs. spending. I also think it's good to learn together rather than to have one member always touting that he or she is the 'expert' right from the start. Hear each other out.

My husband and I learned (good and bad) financial lessons together and after 15 years we are still learning, but we have been equal partners and ask for advice from one another, and implement strategies together.

@ Jay: Just my opinion...It would be okay to broach the subject of finances w/anyone who is 'fiscally' fit, since she will likely be eager to discuss the same. If it doesn't end well, then you know you are not compatible as money mates.

@Eugene your last line...

"Lastly, I don't think the rules are quite the same for dating as it is for serious relationships. For dating, the man should be prepared to pay for everything. We can debate the nuances here, but trust me, it's easiest to go just go with that assumption."

Yes this is very true. This is the one area that I have noticed that feminist are not demanding equality on. ;-)

@ Jay and DH:

Oh, BTW...again, my opinion...asking about $ can be rude if it's done in a rude way. When there is genuine concern behind the questions, and if the other person is okay about opening up about her issues/problems related to money, then lend a sympathetic ear.

I also wouldn't just automatically discount someone if she is faltering financially. Finding someone who's in a rough patch doesn't necessarily mean she can't be straightened out with guidance. But be careful -- because both people need to agree to work together in order to reach common goals.

Another one is debate over how much to give to parents (whether as assistance in old age, supplemental income, as gifts, etc). This is particularly difficult when both spouses are earning paychecks. I don't see this as prevalent in the Western/American culture, but it is a factor affecting many couples out there as well...

As for when to discuss - the earlier the better (when things start getting "serious"). There are a few very blessed souls like FMF that we envy. That said, we do not choose our partners with finances in mind (for the most part). Finances should be a big discussion and consideration factor, but there are several others to consider as well.

At the very least, it is suggested to have a discussion how bad things can potentially get (and all the stress that can be caused) if both spouses are not on the same page when it comes to finances. A candid/open discussion of such nature should yield some positive effects.

A number of years back, we set up a household budget. I came up with the numbers because my wife's eyes would glaze over whenever we spoke of finances. When the money ran out before the month was up, my spouse would keep spending. She felt she was working hard, buying on sale and buying what was needed and deserved. In discussing the shortfall, she understood it as admonishment. The discussion quickly became a conflict. Until my wife is willing to deal with her emotional wounds, the burden of keep our financial house in repair falls mainly on me.

You only have to look at the divorce rate statistics in the USA to see that whatever young people are doing these days it isn't working for over half of them.
50% of 1st. marriages end in divorce.
67% of 2nd. marriages end in divorce.
74% of 3rd. marriages end in divorce.
The main reasons are Infidelity, Incompatibility, and Money problems.

Times have changed a lot since I was dating but in retrospect I can see that the presence of really great role models throughout my English upbringing between 1934 and 1956 played a major role in establishing my values with respect to the reasons why so many marriages fail these days. I also grew up in a society where in almost all cases the husband was the breadwinner and the wife was the homemaker. Everything has changed dramatically since those days and further reinforces my view that a young couple today need to really know their future partner very well indeed before they tie the knot - physical attraction is essential but so are a whole host of other factors, a main one being each other's saving and spending habits. As a male I would be very turned off by a female that spent most of her disposable income on her hair, cosmetics, clothes and accessories. I have a gorgeous, 21 year old, very high maintenance, granddaughter just like that and hope that when she finally finds the love of her life that he can afford her.

@old limey
as always, I enjoy your posts. Ever since our first disagreement which we resolved amicably. I'm on my third. And the first two ended in the order you listed. 10 years on my third, money won't be the issue. and there is no reason in the future. I love your story, it is a good one for all who follow FMF. the coffee story is straight out of a good novel.

Any chance you or the missus can talk to the granddaughter? Sorry this is way off topic. but I'm having my own g. daughter issues;
All other posters, sorry for the side track.

Back on track; do not marry without a financial discussion. a good friend married and his wife had huge college loans. It came as a shock to him. They are still married, but still he took on a huge debt, the sting last 20 years later. You have been warned.

We both have a very close relationship with this grandaughter, partly because her mother is on her 3rd. marriage and we did a lot with the child from a very early age. We are treating her to a 2 week vacation in England in September with my youngest daughter. Although we disapprove of some of her actions and spending habits we have been reluctant to interfere and feel that it's up to her parents to do that. She currently lives with her father but is getting ready to give up a great job here as a paralegal and move to Hawaii with a girlfriend. It's difficult to put an old head on young shoulders and also you are only young once. Maybe it will work out, a great personality and great looks can take a very athletic young woman a long way in this world.

Although my spouse is deceased and I don't have a significant other, I am privy to discussions on money and the disagreements that other spouses have. In fact, yesterday was a typical discussion. One spouse was off and decided to go house shopping. The one viewed had a mortgage of over a $1,000 which my co-worker wasn't willing to negotiate on since they also have four children, a car payment and other expenses. The game plan was to have my co-worker look at the house after work. It didn't pan out; however, since they went to the mall and shopped for Easter outfits for the children instead. Eventually, the house discussion will come up again since they are renting. I wonder what direction that will take on.

We had a lot more disagreements before we started "fun" money accounts. Now I don't feel like I have to watch my husband's hobbies like a hawk. Yay budgeting!

For the question of when should you talk money, we talked about it a little from the very beginning but really had the nitty-gritty talks when it was obvious we were long-term (about 3 months after we started dating).

The comments to this entry are closed.

Start a Blog


  • Any information shared on Free Money Finance does not constitute financial advice. The Website is intended to provide general information only and does not attempt to give you advice that relates to your specific circumstances. You are advised to discuss your specific requirements with an independent financial adviser. Per FTC guidelines, this website may be compensated by companies mentioned through advertising, affiliate programs or otherwise. All posts are © 2005-2012, Free Money Finance.