7 Simple Rules To Stop Fighting About Money

Want to finally stop fighting about money with your spouse? These are 7 simple rules that you can start applying to your life today that will end those fights about money!...Dissension in marriage is often caused by conflicting financial priorities. So if you want to experience greater harmony and unity in your marriage, you won't go wrong by finding ways to create greater harmony and unity in your finances. While money disagreements can cause stress and strain in marriage, I believe the opposite is also true: Agreement and harmony about money can cause a greater sense of oneness in marriage....Dissension in marriage is often caused by conflicting financial priorities.

So if you want to experience greater harmony and unity in your marriage, you won’t go wrong by finding ways to create greater harmony and unity in your finances.

While money disagreements can cause stress and strain in marriage, I believe the opposite is also true: Agreement and harmony about money can cause a greater sense of oneness in marriage.

Want to stop fighting about money?

Here are some financial practices that can go a long way to help you increase harmony in your finances and oneness in your marriage:

1. Be Generous Givers

I think the most important thing a couple can do to impact their finances is to commit to regular giving back to the Lord. My wife and I agreed to tithe early in our marriage, and back then, giving 10% seemed like a big hardship. I know others must feel that way too, since the average Christian gives just 3% of their income to the church or other causes.

Tithing worked to bring us closer together because we needed to pray that God would take what’s left, after tithe and taxes, and stretch it and make it grow to meet our needs. Somehow, God always did, and our needs were met.

As we’ve grown in the grace of giving throughout our 20 years of marriage so far, we’ve experienced God’s provision, blessing, generosity, and faithfulness in amazing ways. And we’ve found that the 10% giving benchmark established in the Old Testament was a great place for us to start, but a sad place for us to stay. We’ve decided to increase our giving percentage each year as the Lord provides.

2. Set Financial Goals

Setting financial goals together – and creating a plan or framework for achieving them – is a vital key to your financial success. Take the time to dream about or brainstorm what you want your finances to look like over the next one, three, and five years, then identify the steps you can take to achieve those goals.

Some couples I know go away for a weekend each year just to work on their family’s goals for the coming year. My wife and I recently set aside about half the day on New Year’s Day to work through our financial goals and priorities for the coming year.

Here are just a few budget categories you might set goals for:

  • Savings
  • Giving
  • Retirement
  • Education for your kids
  • Vacations
  • Weddings for your kids

3. Create a Monthly Spending Plan and Review Regularly

Once you’ve identified your financial goals, the next step is to create a spending plan or budget that reflects those goals. Some people think of spending plans or budgets as restrictive or negative. I’ve certainly thought that way before, but gratefully, I’ve learned that spending plans actually give you more freedom by helping you achieve your predetermined goals.

You’re more likely to be financially organized, current on your bills, and saving money for the future if you have a plan. Without one, you’ll tend to spend without thinking and will often end up with more month than money.

But don’t just create a spending plan without also setting aside time to review it. My wife and I review ours every two weeks, on my paydays. Others might decide to do it monthly.

4. Keep Joint Accounts and No Secrets

Make a commitment to keep no secrets between each other, and to open joint accounts, not individual ones. Many couples who keep separate accounts get into trouble down the line when one spouse buys more things than the other spouse knew about.

Someone I know recently shared how heartbroken their daughter was to discover that her husband had been racking up thousands of dollars in charges on a secret credit card. As you can imagine, this has caused an enormous amount of financial and emotional strain on the family – and will take years to pay off.

5. Learn to Live on One Income Early

This is my best advice for young couples: Learn to live on only one income. That way, if you decide that one spouse should stay home with the kids at some point, it’s no hardship because you can live on the other person’s income. And the best part is that you should have a really nice savings fund built up!

We’ve known couples who have struggled financially and emotionally when mom wanted to stay home with the kids, because her heart was calling her to stay home, but the lifestyle they were trying to maintain required her to work.

It was a bit of a challenge for us at first when our first child was born and we decided to have my wife stay home. The Lord provided in some pretty neat ways, and we’ve never regretted the decision. But we’ve always wished we had learned to live on one income during our first four years of marriage before our first child, so we would have had a nice nest egg saved up. A few of our friends did that, and they’re reaping the financial benefits today.

6. Give Each Person their Own Spending Money or Allowance

While I believe it is important to share joint ownership of all your financial accounts, I think it is equally important that husbands and wives each have their own budget line item for “pocket money” or “allowance” to cover things like lunches, haircuts, coffee, clothes, hobbies, etc. That way, each person has some flexibility and freedom to make their own choices.

7. Keep it Simple and Organized

Keep your finances as simple as possible, and do your best to stay organized. Bad things happen when one spouse understands what’s going on and the other doesn’t, or when your financial papers are scattered about and no one can find the bills or information they need when they need them.

While you’re getting organized, create a special file or envelope to store important financial information that will be needed in case one of you dies, or in case of an emergency. In it, include info on the location of your wills, safety deposit box keys, keys to your home safe, life insurance policies, bank and retirement account information, etc.

And as a rule of thumb, if you’re considering a financial investment or maneuver that your spouse does not understand, it is probably best to leave it alone instead of leaving them in the dark.

Following any or all of these rules in marriage will help you and your spouse grow in greater financial and relational intimacy and oneness. What else would you add to this list? Leave a comment!

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  1. Austin

    Exceptional advice! I can vouch for the “keep it simple” suggestion personally. My wife and I were getting bogged down in the minutiae of recording every receipt and getting frustrated when our month-end totals were off by a few ($50 to $75) dollars. We relinquished a little control of our daily budget activities and took advantage of a service like Mint to help automatically categorize and track our spending (easy since we put 98% of our budget on plastic). The reduced time spent on the monthly budget has really helped our relationship.

  2. Adam

    #4 on your list is so key. Too many families think that separate accounts let them have “some” autonomy. That’s not why we get married! We are to become one, and having secrets, even if it is “just” a checking account, can so easily lead to other problems.

    Great list.

  3. Brian @ Luke1428

    I love #6. My wife and I call it “Blow Money.” We each get some allocated to us in the monthly budget and we can spend it on whatever we want. This really helps the free spirit person in the relationship who wants to spend. They now feel they have the freedom to do so without the nerd coming down on them.

    Thanks for the great list!

    • Brian, yes, this has been really good for us. In our marriage, I’m the free spirit, and my wife is the nerd. Or as our 6-yr old daughter said a few years ago, “Dad’s the fun one, and Mom’s the real one.”

    • Jose

      How much do you think could be a fair amount for #6? let’s say a 5%, 10%? any advice is greatly appreciated, my wife and I just got married a few months ago 🙂

  4. Kirby

    Joint accounts can be a tough debate as there are pros and cons with either method, and there isn’t a one size fits all solution. For some couples, it works to have separate accounts while for others the joint account method is better. We have joint accounts (mostly due to my initial insistence to have it easier to track and make overall finances quite a bit easier), but it can be difficult to get used to. My wife has always been independent and done a great job of managing her own finances, so merging them was not without some initial struggle. While our list of positives for having a joint account far exceed the negatives, the main drawback is it can make it a little difficult to do surprise gifts. What usually happens if I’m doing a surprise gift is I plan way ahead to have a detailed checklist of exactly what all needs to happen and get purchased, and then I make the purchase the day of or day before. Joint accounts improves communication and cohesiveness as a couple as you communicate more regularly and don’t have expenses you are ‘hidding’ from the other. There are some serious trust and maturity issues in trying to hide expenses or habits from your loved one, and separate accounts often furthers those habits. Managing your finances is a two person job, and it works far better when both people are on the same page!

    • Kirby, yes, surprise gifts can be tricky! For Christmas, my wife and I made purchases for each other with our debit cards, but then kept the receipts until after Christmas, instead of putting them in our file to be reconciled with our bank statement, so the other person didn’t see what they were getting. But we could definitely tell, from accessing our account online, where purchases were made.

  5. Tom Strauss

    Adam, you are so right! This is a terrific list, but #4 is vital. Keeping separate finances will drive a wedge between two people.

  6. Magenta

    Great article! Thanks so much for all the wisdom. I’m not married yet but it’s so good to hear of these pieces of advice and personal experience especially. I like the part about living on one income from the beginning of marriage.

  7. Lena @ WhatMommyDoes

    I couldn’t agree more with your advice to learn how to live off of one income early on. My husband and I didn’t do that and regret it to this day! When I left the workforce to become a SAHM, it was a HUGE adjustment, but 5 years into it I have no regrets – only lots of memories with my children.

  8. Monica Toress

    Living on one income is the best way to go but not every couple can afford that. Sometimes the salary of just one person is not enough for the whole family. But it is a good advice for people who can do it and a great way to save money.

  9. Jon Beaty

    After my wife and I had been dating for a while and weren’t yet engaged, I let her have a look at my checkbook. I had never balanced it against my bank account and didn’t know how to. As it turned out, she discovered I had $100 more in my account than I thought. My father-in-law had learned some hard lessons in personal finance and when he learned a better way of personal finance from the late Larry Burkett, he made sure his daughter learned them to. It begins with knowing how much money you have! We’ve followed this rules now for over 25 years, are blessed to be debt free and own our own home.

  10. Ricza

    I loved to have Joined account but didn’t work well with us we tried it once but my husband withdraw the money without asking so all my free authorized payment got NSF 😞 I prayed Me and Husband have mutual understanding when it comes to money😞 even in tithing we have different view I always wanted to give10% but always telling me I am just doing it because Im waiting something to get back but thats not my reason and he to pay whats really important credit card, groceries etc… because God will understand whatever we give comes from our heart.

    • Ebenezer

      Bob, thanks for the great article. God certainly understands. He is principled and we have to just understand that. tithing helps you calibrate your financial growth. A millionaire is someone who gives in millions. Let your husband know that financial growth first reflects in your giving. It is a system God has in place and he must understand giving as a life style. Poor standard of giving will result in poor standard of living. Apart from the tithe, there is the first fruit and a few others. Read more at giverslounge.com. Stay blessed.

  11. Valerie

    Great article! I learned all these lessons by fire…doing the OPPOSITE and making colossal mistakes. I wish I had taken the time to seek advice early on instead of thinking I was invincible. I remember telling someone that being in debt was the American way. I hope that person didn’t listen to me!

    For anyone that just got married or is getting ready to be married, print this and highlight #4 and #5. Trust me! Been married 12 years and I’m begging you to.

  12. Kim

    Great advise but it’s hard one your spouse “chooses” not to stay within their financial means and hides things. When the other finds outs and calls them on them on it, it’s super ugly. I experience this all the time. Tough row to hoe when your spouse refuses to answer regarding long term goals and plans. It rather forces me to tithe, plan set goals on my own. If I didn’t, there would be no savings or funds for taxes, emergancies, etc.

    • Lauren (SeedTime Editor)

      Thanks for the note, Kim – I’m sorry to hear that but keep doing your part and hopefully your partner will see the light eventually!