Love & Money: Ground Rules for Fighting Fair

“You ALWAYS spend too much!”

“Your ridiculous budget gives me a migraine!”

From loud fights to passive-aggressive comments, most couples fight about money in one way or another.  Add major debt, lack of funds, and financial insecurity to the mix, and today’s money fights can quickly spell disaster for couples.  When discussing and managing financial matters as a couple, it is crucial to maintain respect, exercise patience, and trust each other.  The following ground rules can help prevent money issues from ruining relationships:

Know each other’s money style.  Spenders typically marry savers, risk-takers typically marry cautious-types, and when it comes to money, these opposites-attract couples are prone to knock-out, drag-down fights.  Build understanding and find common ground by discussing the following questions:

  • Are you a saver or a spender, and which money style is your partner?
  • Should you share finances or keep them separate?
  • What does money mean to you—freedom, security, adventure, power?
  • How were you raised to handle money, to talk about money?
  • Do you trust your partner to make good financial decisions, or do you feel the need to stay in control?
  • What does the word lifestyle mean to you and to your spouse?

Remember, no one is the enemy.  Talking about money can be frustrating, and downright infuriating.  The blame game ensues, someone starts yelling, another shuts down, and before five minutes have passed, the discussion has turned into World War III.  But this typical pattern of polarizing positions and pointing fingers only makes money problems worse.  Start working like a unit, find each other’s financial strengths, and use those to create a financial management plan that makes sense for your shared goals and values. If expectations are clear, couples will be more likely to understand each other’s spending habits and avoid a finance war before it begins.

Avoid the spend-hide-lie trap.  Couples typically lie about money to avoid conflict, or because of underlying issues like fear of rejection, disapproval, or repercussion.  At best, lies may turn into funny anecdotes later. At worst, it might be considered ‘financial cheating.’ Build money trust by agreeing on basic parameters for financial decision-making:

1. When to inform: one person makes the decision, and informs the other.

2. When to consult: one person consults the other before making the final decision.

3. When to negotiate: discuss and decide together.

Perhaps all expenses exceeding $500 require negotiation, whereas daily expenses like groceries stay in the “inform” category.  When in doubt, practice the ACBD rule – always consult before deciding!

About ACI Specialty Benefits

ACI Specialty Benefits ranks in the nation’s Top-Ten providers of Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), corporate wellness programs, student assistance, corporate concierge, and work/life services to corporations worldwide. ACI partners with clients to Perk Up employee engagement and performance with benefit programs that improve morale, productivity and the bottom-line. With a 95% customer retention rate and over 7 million lives covered. ACI remains a privately-owned specialty benefits corporation, headquartered in San Diego. For more information, visit or call 800.932.0034.
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