Talking About Money with Family Doesn’t Have to Be Stressful

by Jeremy Hartley · 9 comments

money talk
Words like “budget”, “bills”, or “expenses” can instantly raise the stress level in some marriages, but the common family spends and receives money on a weekly if not daily basis. At the end of the day, the more communication about it, the better. Here are some helpful tips on how to get on the same page with your fellow significant consumer (err…other) in your life.

Recognize Each Other’s Strengths

Recently my wife said no to an impulse buy she’d been eyeing. Sometimes it’s possible to spoil, but other times I have to remember the bills and expenses and have to say no. My wife does a terrific job at watching what she buys. Instead of just noticing, I’ve found it helpful to praise her for such self control. As a mother of toddlers, she needs to shop quite a bit. This means giving her trust in our finances and me taking the time to acknowledge and thank her for handling our budget well. If your spouse is particularly gifted in a financial area, acknowledge it! Don’t let strengths go unnoticed. This will help as you both plan and prepare for financial goals.

Find the Page You Both Need to Be On

I didn’t do a great job of communicating the goals I had for our finances at the beginning of our marriage. This became a domino effect of chaos as our expenses began to pile up. I was left with two options. Continue to try to tackle our goals on my own, or start communicating well with my bride. I chose the second option and I am so thankful for it. Your spouse will be blessed by having you sit down with them and talk about the goals you guys have for the family finances. Work as a team and give each other specific tasks to tackle debt, save for the future, and find areas where frugality could be strengthened. Don’t try to be the sole caretaker of your finances. If you do, you may feel overwhelmed and burdened while your spouse sits on the sidelines waiting for you to talk. More often than not, your spouse will be ready to work with you as you two live life together.

Spoil Your Spouse

You never spoil your utility bill and you never splurge your water bill either. Remember, your spouse isn’t a bill or line item in your budget, so don’t treat him like one. My wife does have a budget, but I’m still able to spoil my favorite person on Earth after putting a little bit of my portion aside. This act is a blessing to give and it’s a blessing for her to receive. If you have a little stash available, splurge every once in a while. This is a healthy way to say “I know we have a budget, but you’re worth it.”

On the other hand, if you’ve been spending all your money on your family and spouse, take a little bit and splurge it on yourself too. You never want to feel like you are working and working just to make others happy. You are important too!

Money can be a stressful part of a marriage but it doesn’t have to be. I understand that a variety of people may be reading this who aren’t in this category, but I think it’s an important dialogue to have if you are married or getting married one day. Money doesn’t grow on trees, but it doesn’t mean it has to be hard to talk about. Take time to praise your spouse’s financial awareness, work hard to get on the same page, and splurge every once in a while.

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  • hris says:

    nice tips and sharing, its true we need balance our needs, bills, and some happiness for self and family too

  • Ariba says:

    Great article! It’s so much important to have an open conversation with your partner on these things.

    One thing that I and my husband exercise is to be honest with each other about our expenses. We both know what we are getting most of the time and if something is really out of the budget at the moment, we try to save some money aside each week or month and get that thing on a nice deal. This is how we have been saving a good amount of money each month and will continue doing so.

  • Dian Schons says:

    This article has some good points, however, it is so overwhelmingly patronizing towards women its very difficult to take any of the good points seriously. Where do you live ? Women today are full partners in marriage and most women I know wouldn’t tolerate being treated is such a demeaning way. It’s so condescending towards women’s contrbutions and efforts or their understanding of finance this it renders the article one to be dismissed.

  • John Kane says:

    Well said.

    One tip I find most helpful is to talk with your spouse before marriage. I set my expectations before getting married and I feel that helped made the transition easily.

    I generally make most of the decisions but that’s part of the original conversation we had.

    • David @ says:

      The earlier you can speak to your significant other the better. If anything, the both of you can start to learn how to work things out together.

    • Natasha says:

      Agree so much with the talk to your significant other about finances BEFORE getting married tip. Knowing how the other person budgets, what debt they have, how credit cards are used, joint versus separate bank accounts, etc. are such important topics to discuss. With financial disagreements being one of the top reasons behind divorces, being on the same page before tying the knot is essential.

  • Mary Anne Van Zuyle says:

    Oh my gosh. What a patronizing article. Your wife’s labor allows you to work without having to deal with any childcare, and my guess is also without any household shopping, food shopping, and cooking. The money you make is your shared income. The idea that you get to use it to spoil your wife demeans the real work she does to support you and your family. Ugh.

    • David @ says:

      I’m not Jeremy but I believe Jeremy fully understands that his wife’s work around the house and her taking care of their child is what allows him to go out and earn an income. If not, he definitely should.

      And it’s BECAUSE the money is shared that he gets to say he can use it to spoil her. On the other hand his wife can also use the money to spoil him. In their household he even says his wife is the one who does the budget, so it would seem like she’s in more control of what’s going on with their family finances than Jeremy.

      Sorry you are getting the vibe that Jeremy demeans his wife but I don’t get that feeling at all.

  • Xyz says:

    Great article! I like the part “You never spoil your utility bill, and you never splurge your water bill either. ” Haha!
    Great one.

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