Smart SpendingSmart Spending

3 money mistakes couples make

Communication is an important part of any relationship, and communicating about finances should be at the top of the list.

By Jun 3, 2014 12:11PM
This post comes from AJ Smith at partner site

Everyone makes mistakes. And almost everyone has made mistakes when it comes to finances. Once you start sharing your life with another person, sometimes those mistakes can be magnified or more mistakes materialize. Here are some common money mistakes couples make and how you can sidestep them.

No. 1: Avoiding the topic

A reluctance to talk about money is common -- people don't generally do it in polite conversation. But discussing financial goals and potential issues with one another can empower you as a couple to make smarter decisions now and in the future.

Couple arguing © Randy Faris, CorbisIt’s a good idea to talk about this early on,  with the goal of stopping any conflict before it starts. As with any topic, you don’t necessarily have to agree on financial issues, but sharing your views, past experiences and goals about money can start a dialogue.

Ignoring money problems won’t make them go away. It’s important to acknowledge the challenges so you can create a plan to solve them.

No. 2: Not looking at all options

There are many ways for couples to handle finances. Of course, there’s completely combining finances and keeping them totally separate. But there’s a lot of gray area in between.

For example each person can have a separate account for daily spending with joint accounts for major expenses like rent or mortgage payments and vacation savings. Or you can have one of you in charge of all bills due at the end of the month and the other look after the bills due in the middle of the month. There are lots of options worth considering to determine what works for you and your spouse or partner.

When it comes to managing the money, you may have someone who does it all and another who handles other non-financial responsibilities. Or you could each handle part of your finances. You may take control of monitoring savings for example (like ensuring you are saving enough toward retirement) while your partner takes on the day-to-day budget.

No. 3: Forgetting to revisit

No matter what your arrangement, it’s important to discuss it periodically to determine if the current system is working or needs changing.

There are certain times in life when one of you may be too busy to take on some of these financial roles (back at school or going through a stressful time at work) and the other person will take the lead. But that doesn’t mean it always has to stay that way. If one of you feels left out of the decision-making, this could lead to hurt feelings or resentment.

One way to avoid this is to talk over your financial plan frequently. This also can help you discuss any changes to the financial situation or to your goals.

Raises and bonuses can bring an unexpected boost to your budget but they can also bring tension. One of you may assume this will be a great way to top off the emergency fund while the other will want to plan a celebratory weekend getaway. But talking about it before acting can help you both to feel involved and valued. And that’s important for not just your finances but your relationship overall.

More from

Jun 3, 2014 2:25PM
It's almost impossible to save money when you have a wife that wants new clothes every other month, $100 haircuts, finger & toe nails done all the time, massages, going out with her friends to "talk" & spend about $60 on food & drinks for herself, redoing kitchens, bathrooms, etc. that were all completely done less than 15 years ago.  And if you think the solution is "divorce" she will clean me out that way as well thru the lawyer....if only i knew then what i know now.
Jun 3, 2014 4:51PM
Neither party should ever be taking out loans, opening credit card accounts, or spending large amounts of money without the other's knowledge and consent.  Each should have the ability to spend small amounts on their own, for gifts, haircuts, etc.
Jun 3, 2014 1:33PM
The way my wife and I decided to handle our money was to have 3 buckets of it, Hers, Ours and Mine.... she claims buckets of hers & ours as hers and half of mine is under her control....doesn't seem fair to me.
Jun 3, 2014 2:17PM
I have two friends and a sister who thinks money grows on trees. My sister being the worst. She secretly took $20,000 out of her 401-K account to pay off a credit card so my brother-in-law wouldn't find out. But, then the spending sprees didn't stop there. She gave everything and anything to both of my two spoiled nieces so they could keep up with their friends at school. Both will need to marry either a doctor or high power attorney to continue their rich lifestyles. I learned recently, that they owe $60,000 on a mortgage of a home they own that should have been paid off years ago and this is the forth one! But, it doesn't stop there, she has given me as a reference to three loans and now three collection agency are calling me. So I forward them back to her, plus, they are calling our brother too. My brother-in-law just recently found out about all this recently. This has been going on for many years. How could he have not known this? A friend who is an Elvis fanatic spends hundreds of dollars on Elvis junk and lives off credit cards. I learned that it was the cause of her third divorce. Go figure. She is in so much debt that she had to let a very old house she owned foreclose that she borrowed money against to remodel the one she is living in now so she could buy a new car. Then another friend who has a bi-polar disorder and OCD has spent thousands of dollars on antiques and had them all stored in four different warehouses across the country each time she transferred from one job to another in the federal government. She ended up letting go of the contents of one huge storage go to the owner of that storage facility for back rent owed and selling everything out of the other three at a huge loss. We are speaking of over $100,000 worth of antiques! She is still spending money she doesn't have on more antiques she does not have room for and has accumulated other debts, as well. Her common law husband has no control over her spending at all. Geez! My head is spinning now. I need to come back up for more air....
Jun 4, 2014 10:34AM
I too have a wife who can only seem to find any kind of joy and happiness in shopping! Then she gets upset at me if I call her out on it. She does work and make money too, but 2 bankruptcies later, I'm hoping she can learn that she doesn't need every pillow or nic nac that Home Goods has to offer!
Jun 3, 2014 2:21PM
The worst money mistake a couple can make is getting married !

Oh let's face it, it's the worst mistake, period.
Jun 3, 2014 4:25PM
Research has shown that married couples have approximately 4 times the net worth of single or divorced people.  That single fact makes your sentence erroneous.  

According to the Census Bureau, in 2010 the median net worth for a married couple between the ages of 55 and 64 was $261,405. That compares to $71,428 for a man heading a household, and $39,043 for a woman heading a household.
Jun 4, 2014 4:03PM
A fool and his money are soon parted. I would pay anyone a lot of money to explain that to me.
Jun 4, 2014 9:57AM
The #1 biggest mistake they made right from the get go was getting married. Too much free pootang out there to be stupid enough to attempt to will all of your attention to one woman.
Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?


Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.


Smart Spending brings you the best money-saving tips from MSN Money and the rest of the Web. Join the conversation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.