8 Money Questions To Ask Your Partner This Valentine’s Day

“My spatula broke and I need to buy a new one (pauses; frowns). Is that OK with you?” -Mr. Frugalwoods

“Oh the blue spatula? Sad (pauses; frowns for empathy)! Yes of course, get yourself a new one.” -Mrs. Frugalwoods

Me and Mr. FW as shadow puppets

This is a verbatim transcript of a conversation I had with my husband a few weeks ago. I know you’re riveted with jealousy over how exciting our lives are. As the cook of our household, Mr. FW sometimes requires new kitchen utensils and, yes, we discuss each one (along with everything else we buy).

This conversation might seem ridiculous or overboard or, frankly, dull; although hey! we did discuss the color of the spatula, so more intrigue there! However, this exchange is a perfect example of how my husband and I communicate about our money and the shared responsibility we have for ensuring that our finances are in order. Granted, a spatula (he bought this one, by the way, since I’m sure you’re wondering… ) does not constitute a significant purchase, but it’s illustrative of the way in which we consider our money to be shared and our decision-making to be similarly shared.

As it’s Valentine’s Day week, it only feels right to delve into the steamy, thorny topic of relationships and money!! Everyone’s favorite, am I right? Yes indeed, I specialize in bringing up THE MOST controversial issues and then combining them all into one post. Hooray! And I’ve done it many times before! I’m incorrigible. Check out my past relationships-and-money musings for even more hotly debated topics:

Arguments Over Money: Leading Cause of Divorce!

Eek! Really, Mrs. Frugalwoods? Yes, really! Terrible way to start off this section, I agree, but I figured we should begin with the bad news. If you have a partner or a spouse, you have GOT to find a way to get on the same financial page. Not to be overdramatic here, but how you spend your money is how you spend your life. And the way in which we manage, or don’t manage, our money will dictate the type of life we have.

Mr & Mrs FW

Life is not all about money, but life is largely facilitated and made possible through judicious use of money. When we set longterm life goals, such a buying a house, or going on vacation, or moving to a new town, or having children, or pursuing a career we’re passionate about, we’re really setting goals for how we want to use our money. With a partner/spouse, these goals are magnified in the sense that now two people must buy in and two people must be aligned in how their spending and savings will make these dreams reality. Financial and life goals aren’t accomplished by accident, people.

I want to note here that I’m not necessarily talking about combining finances with your partner/spouse–plenty of couples are very happy to keep ’em separated. No problem with that at all. How your bank accounts shake out is merely the technical, spreadsheet-y (aka the easy, math-based) side of your money. The core challenge–the cause of all those divorces, ruptures, and resentments–is how we think about and utilize our money.

Would you tell your partner you love them only at tax time or only after you’ve over-drafted your account? Methinks not. At least, not if you want to stay together. Discussing money should be part of your normal, routine conversations as a couple. It doesn’t have to be a mega, formal, spreadsheet-backed discussion every week, but checking in about where you are with your goals and your projections is a must. If you feel like you need to start at the very, very beginning with your partner, sign-up to take my free Uber Frugal Month Challenge together. That’ll get you talking about money in a non-confrontational, productive way.

You’ve Got To Talk Money Together. Often.

Where we met and got engaged! A lecture hall at our university. Not super romantic, but hey!

I’m not the only one who thinks this, either! The New York Times has an article, 13 Questions To Ask Before Getting Married, and a whopping THREE of these thirteen questions relate (in some way) to MONEY! I was not at all surprised when I read this, although I would’ve added a few more money questions.

Then I remembered that I write a blog and could do so right here! HAH! Since I find “before getting married” too narrow a scope, what I propose (see what I did there?) is a list of FUN! financially-related questions to ponder with your significant other, no matter where you are in your relationship.

I plan to pin down my own husband on all of these questions (even though I already know his answers, I love hearing him talk… ) because I think that no matter where you are in a relationship (although probs not on the first date) and even if you’ve been married for almost ten years like my husband and I have been and even if you run a financial blog together, discussing your finances is something you should do on the regular. Plus, I promised they’d be FUN! All caps, people, all caps.

8 Money Questions To Ask (And Answer) With Your Partner

Approach these questions without judgement, without preconceived notions, and at a mutually convenient, agreed-upon time. Don’t be springing these on your partner as you dash out the door in the morning or after they’ve had a horrific day involving a confrontation with a porcupine (happened recently to friends of ours… ). Keep in mind that there are no right or wrong answers to any of these questions. The goal isn’t to “win” this questionnaire or to always align with your partner. The goal is to gain deeper insight into how you relate to money and the ways in which your approach shares similarities with, and differs from, your partner’s approach.

1) Where do you want to be in ten years and in twenty years in terms of our finances, our family/lifestyle, and our careers?

Me and my main (ok, only) man

Ok I realize we started off with a whopper here, but it’s crucial for the two of you lovebirds to know where you’re headed in life. There’s basically no point in creating a savings/investing/debt repayment strategy if you don’t have a clearly articulated destination.

And let me be clear: your destination might be “doing what we’re doing today!” How great would that be! The key is to discover what the other person thinks and feels and how you’ll craft a life plan together.

Don’t be afraid of divergent answers. A number of years ago, Mr. FW’s response was “living in the woods” and mine was “buying a house in the city.” We ended up doing both, so don’t despair! The goal is not perfect unison, but rather an opening to explore your deeply held hopes for the future. Be precise in your goal-setting and be brutally honest with each other. A post for inspiration if you’re struggling with how to discern your goals: How I Figured Out What I Want To Do With My Life (And How You Can Too!)

2) How did your family manage money while you were growing up? Did you grow up feeling financially secure, constantly worried about money, or totally unaware of its role in your life?

Your early money memories will likely influence how you handle money as an adult

Over the years of working with many of you through Frugalwoods, and reading lots of behavioral economics theory, I’ve come to understand the profound role our upbringings play in shaping how we view money. Growing up in a financially insecure home–whether due to low income or irresponsible money management or both–sets us up as adults for a different relationship with our money than someone who grew up in a financially stable home environment.

We often discuss the preeminence of loving homes for children, but too often we overlook the importance of instilling positive financial lessons in our kids from very young ages. Delve into your past and discuss how your early exposure to (or ignorance of) money shapes how you view your finances today. I’ve found that, very often, a divergent money philosophy within a couple is the result of two radically different financial upbringings. See if you can get at the root of your relationship with money through this question.

3) What does money mean to you?

Is it a source of security? Something you stress out about and fear? How do you think about your money? Often, folks fall into one of two categories:

  1. Money is to be spent.
  2. Money is to be saved for the future.

Identifying which camp you fall into, and how that relates to your partner’s natural inclination, can be pivotal in reckoning divergent approaches to money. Being a saver or a spender isn’t a life sentence to always being in debt or always living like a miser, but your inherent tendencies are likely to guide your decision-making. Having this awareness will give you insight into your potentially visceral reactions to the opposing camp.

4) How can I best demonstrate my love for you? Do you enjoy receiving material gifts from me? Or do you prefer other types of gifts?

Mr. FW doing a gift of service: splitting wood by hand

For some folks, receiving a gift–such as a necklace or a book–is a crucial element of feeling loved and of reciprocating love in a relationship. Do not stop buying gifts for each other if this is the genuine case!!! However, my husband and I discovered that neither of us cares much for material gifts and we were buying them for each other (for birthdays, Christmas, yes even the dreaded Valentine’s Day) because we thought we should.

We felt we were supposed to give gifts and so we did. Once we actually discussed it, however, we came to realize that both of us find shopping for gifts very stressful and receiving gifts equally stressful because then we have to DO something with this new thing, which we probably didn’t even want in the first place (torture for us quasi-minimalists)! Plus, total waste of money. Hence, we made the joint decision a few years back to cease all material gift giving to each other.

You will note that I said “material gift giving.” Mr. FW and I still give “gifts” to each other all the time, they’re just not bought in a store. In responding to this question, I told Mr. FW that what I want from him are gifts of service. I need him to do things for me. And he does! As a gift, he picks up toys every night after Babywoods goes to bed. As a gift, he cooks breakfast and dinner for me every single day. As a gift, he builds up fires in our wood stove. And the list goes on and on and on. I do the same for him when I do his laundry every week and clean the house. In this way, we are always demonstrating our love for each other, but with a recognition of the most meaningful way to do so.

If instead of cooking dinner, Mr. FW presented me with a diamond necklace, I’d be like, “what do I need a diamond necklace for? I live on a homestead!” It would be a total disconnect from what I need and want from him. Hence, I encourage you to have this potentially awkward conversation with your partner and find out how they want you to “gift” to them. More of my thoughts on this are enshrined here: A Frugal Valentine’s Day: Do Instead Of Buy as well as I Need A Gift For My Anniversary Like Frugal Hound Needs A Bicycle

5) What do you most enjoy spending money on?

A terrible selfie we took on a kid-free date: definitely something we both love spending money on

This one is a great entré to exploring how you both view needs, wants, luxuries, and fulfillment. It’s also an opportunity to identify areas where you’re spending money in ways that don’t deliver a high return on your investment. If neither of you really cares about having cable, for example, here’s your chance to cancel cable and instead put that (whopping) dollar amount towards saving up for the trip to Iceland that you both want to take.

Identify what you both value most and consider eliminating any expenses that don’t make it onto either of your lists. Why spend money on things that aren’t ultimately fulfilling or important to either of you? Conversely, respect what the other person values and have an understanding for why they want to keep their CrossFit membership or monthly dinner out with their friends. Seek to understand, with empathy and an open mind, why your partner spends on things that you don’t personally value.

6) What do you think about charitable giving? Where would you like to donate money? How do you see this fitting into our longterm plans?

I am a huge fan of strategic charitable giving, which starts with a conversation about how you both view philanthropy and its role in your life. Determining how–and if–you want to donate to charity is a wonderful way to expand on your values and insights. More than just a financial consideration, setting giving priorities as a couple allows you to create goals beyond your family unit and that encompass your broader worldview. For guidance on how Mr. FW and I handle our charitable donations, check out:

7) Is our money shared? Is your debt my debt and vice versa? Do we want to combine our finances? If our money is already combined, do we both have access, control, and an understanding of how to manage this money?

Family hike!

Addressing the technicalities of how you manage your money may provide a window into how you each perceive the role of money in your relationship. One person may naturally be the money manager, which is totally fine, but does the other person feel as though they understand the system for how your money is taken care of? Are there any underlying resentments in how shared money is spent and saved?

Every couple will chart a different methodology for how money is handled, but it’s important that both parties at the very least:

  1. Know about and have access to all accounts, including: checking, savings, credit cards, retirement, and investments.
  2. Understand how and when bills are paid.
  3. Be aware of your complete net worth, including any debts.
  4. Know your investing and retirement savings strategies.
  5. Understand your longterm financial goals.

Demonstrate respect for one another in how you handle your money. One person shouldn’t dole out “allowances” to the other or scrutinize spending or otherwise harass based on financial decisions. Make it a shared conversation and an opportunity to collaborate and learn from one another. Enshrine respect in how you discuss your money, just as you would in conversations on any other topic.

8) What would you like to tell me about how I handle money that you think might upset me? What bothers you about how I manage money?

Mr. & Mrs. FW

I saved the best for last! This is what I like to call the hot button question–it’s designed to be a tad controversial because the intention is to expose any underlying resentments or issues surrounding money in your relationship. None of us is 100% happy with how our partner does everything and money is no exception. The goal of this question isn’t to reform the other person, but rather, to open up a dialogue in the hopes of avoiding longterm grudges or rifts to develop.

By having an awareness of what bothers your partner, you’ll have insight into how you might broach the issue in the future. For example, if it irks you that they sigh loudly every time an Amazon box is delivered, ask them what’s underneath that frustration. Be honest without being mean and explore how you might resolve these differences. Or, mutually acknowledge that you will learn to live with, and accept, whatever this particular habit is that you don’t care for.

Commit To Each Other

You owe it to your relationship to talk about money. Not once a year, not just when I harp on you to do so, but on a regular, repeated basis. Mr. FW and I don’t have formal finance dates anymore, but we used to. We’d sit down side by side at our Craigslist-sourced wooden dining room table, open up our accounts, our spreadsheets, and chat. We’d review our expenses (which we track using Personal Capital–a free system that I highly recommend), discuss upcoming big purchases, and generally talk about all things money.

Hiking together is our idea of a perfect day.

Over time, our finance dates have become a bit less informal, but no less important. As the spatula conversation illustrates, we check in with each other about all of our purchases. It helps that we don’t buy much and ensures that we’re always on the same page about what we need and want to bring into our lives.

I know couples who–I am not kidding–communicate about their finances via email. It works best for them to each take the time to put their thoughts in writing and then allow their partner to review and respond at a time that’s convenient. Other folks like to sit down over dinner or chat while taking a walk. There’s no correct venue for these conversations, they just need to happen.

Since money is the leading cause of divorce in our country, it’s clearly an issue that’s underrepresented in conversations between partners. Although most of us construct our lives around something other than money, it’s undeniable that money is the undercurrent of our lives. It’s how we achieve major goals, create stability for ourselves and our families, and ultimately, how we free ourselves from–well–needing to worry about money. Money can be a source of pain and friction, or it can facilitate the life you want to live. Let it be the latter and start this conversation with your partner today.

P.S. I WROTE A BOOK! I’m a little bit excited, can you tell?!? My book is now available to be pre-ordered, for which I will mail you a signed bookplate. Check out this post for all the details.

How do you and your partner discuss money?

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53 Responses

  1. Great questions, Mrs. Frugalwoods! Mr. FAF and I have discussed those questions at some point in our marriage, and we have arrived at the answers that both of us are happy with.

    We used to fight about money a lot more when we first got married and were not on the same page about our saving and spending habits yet. Over the years, we have gradually mutually agreed on our finances, especially after Mr. FAF started working. It was just stressful with me being the bread-winner for years while hubby was in school.

    Happy Valentine’s to you and Mr. Frugalwoods! 🙂

  2. I really like #4… especially with Valentine’s Day coming up. It can be hard to gauge a partner/spouse’s expectations when it comes to gifts or showing affection. But frank communication in this area can help avoid tension or stress over expectations vs reality.

    I remember Mr. AR coming over to pick me up on our first Valentine’s day while dating with a semi-panicked look on his face explaining that he did not bring flowers because he tried last minute and they were too expensive… and then he didn’t make dinner reservations because he wasn’t sure what I was expecting. We both had a good laugh and grabbed delicious $4 burritos at our favorite hole-in-the-wall Mexican food stand. We now try to chat about upcoming events in advance (Valentines, Birthdays, Anniversary) to make sure we are on the same page and are comfortable with our plans.

  3. Steph says:

    Great questions to ask! Luckily, my husband and I have always been on the same page with money. We used to not save a dime and ignore retirement accounts, but the last year we both decided to get serious. I’ll have to bring these questions up over dinner 🙂
    And can’t wait for the post about Littlewoods!!! I was holding my breath that today will be the day 🙂

  4. My wife and I are always communicating whether it’s money or other things that involves time. We have had too many friends fight and break up over money issues that escalated into bigger issues down the line. Like you said money is to be spent and saved but there has to be a conscious balance between the two, which each partner on the same page with how much to spend and save 🙂

  5. Mrs. Kiwi says:

    My hubby and I have never had regularly scheduled conversations about money, but we too discuss nearly every purchase and have regularly talked through these questions.

    While talking about each purchase isn’t something we formally set as a rule, a few months ago I realized that my partner was getting stressed out about a few small and large purchases he made in a short period of time. They were all related to upgrading his bike and one project. From that we redefined our loose rule to talk about every (non-grocery/household) purchase to a more flexible project based discussion. Since I review the credit card bills, I realized he was feeling like he may be on the receiving end of lots of scrutiny, so it doesn’t really go both ways naturally. Having had many money conversations before made this one super painless and natural.

  6. What a great post! I especially like that last question.

    I sense yet another money conversation with Mr. E. in our future.

    Happy Valentines! 😉

  7. Andy says:

    My favorite is #7, though I think the whole list is great.

    I think often couples feel that merging their money is just what happens when you get married, but it’s way better to talk about it and decide what works for you. My wife and I, while technically co-owning all of our money, mostly still keep our account separate because it’s what we’ve found works well for us. There shouldn’t be any default right way to handle money as a couple, it should be about what makes both parties comfortable and happy.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I appreciate the nod towards separate finances here. It is perfectly okay if you prefer to do everything jointly and check in with every purchase–it’s also okay if you want more independence. I disagree that both partners need to have access to *every* account. On the contrary, everyone should have at least a small amount of money that their partner cannot touch. It’s not a pleasant topic, but if you wind up getting divorced you will be a lot better off if you have money in your own name so that an unscrupulous spouse cannot clean you out. My husband has no access to any of my accounts and we do not have to ask permission for any purchase. That’s peace of mind.

    • Allison says:

      I support each person doing what feels best to them (of course!) – I have however seen difficulties arise when one partner dies unexpectedly and the other partner doesn’t have access to the bills or an important savings account. Naturally access will be obtained eventually (if legally married, and I’m speaking only about the US here – I don’t know enough about other countries’ laws around this sort of thing), but there can be delays. If partners want to maintain that separation, I would suggest just making sure to have some sort of plan in place for this sort of emergency. Another unpleasant topic, I know.

      • Allison says:

        My husband and I have one joint account that we pay all of the big bills out of (mortgage, etc.), but we each also maintain separate individual checking accounts. What we do for peace of mind is that we have each made the other POD on our separate accounts. Just a thought…

  9. These are all great questions for discussion. Honest, respectful, and regular communication goes a long way towards avoiding conflict.

  10. Some of those questions scare me. I remember I was with my ex and I was afraid to ask him money questions like those. I didn’t think at the time that….that was simply not a good sign in the first place! Better get comfortable asking those questions or there’s no real relationship there!

    My husband (for now :p) just told me yesterday he dipped into our emergency fund and bought some stocks (due to recent events in the markets last week). I was a bit taken back but he’s done this before with prepaying the mortgage without telling me.

    I’m not too happy about it but we do have a lot if emergency fund in cash. I just wish he told me! But then again I’m happy he’s more attuned as an investor.

    • Anna says:

      I understand. Sure, I would appreciate the thoughtfulness to buy if there was a dip. But I would be pretty pissed off about dipping into the emergency fund without any discussion. What’s the point of an EF if you’re using it for stocks? It’s not really designed for that. It’s for actual emergencies.

      And on top, to not mention it at it until afterward? Maybe I ask for too much permission and not even forgiveness…but I agree with you Lily. I think these things have to be discussed. I can read the emotions in your comment that you might feel the same way I do.

      Hope you two sorted it out.

  11. Torrie says:

    Great questions! I was pleased to find that we had, in some form or other, asked *almost* all of these questions of each other (and fairly recently, too!). One thing that really opened my eyes though was that as I myself am the “natural money manager” of our household, I was unintentionally creating all the monthly budgets myself and just handling everything on my own. Since my husband and I are both savers, he trusted that I was making smart decisions, but he recently confessed to me that it bothered him that he didn’t know on a day-to-day basis what was going on. Now, we make it a point to have monthly budget meetings, which are a good chance for us to make sure we’re always on the same page (whereas before, I was just always assuming we were).

    At first, I tended to get a little defensive when he questioned some of what I was doing, but then he explained he just was asking questions because he genuinely hadn’t understood my philosophies behind what I was doing, and so it gave us a lot of good chances to discuss a lot of these hot-button points you were talking about.

    A question I might add is, “How do you feel about debt?” I realize this might come up as a natural result of some of the other conversations around the questions you have, but debt specifically can be such a trigger issue, and it can also have totally different effects on different people. Another question might possibly be, “What your priorities when it comes to how we spent our money each month?” There have been months where we have barely been able to cover the bills, so it’s been valuable to know exactly how my husband prioritizes certain spending to see if we’re on the same page about where any discretionary spending should go.

  12. Gwen just sent me this and she said we are going to go over all of these questions this weekend!

    I’m not too worried, luckily we have a similar mindset… Thanks for sharing this list and becoming a part of our Valentine’s day 🙂

  13. CPJC says:

    Get a 100% silicone spatula. It will last forever. I love mine.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Unfortunately, that’s what we had! And it ripped!!!

      • Anna says:

        I have had so many different types of spatulas. The best way that I’ve found which has changed my life is the all clad 100% silicon all around. Best purchase ever. I gift it for Xmas and bdays now because it is that good.

        By the way, I think that 1st pic is the first time I’ve seen Mr. Frugalwoods without a beard. I had to do a double take! it was awesome.

  14. JD says:

    Oh, yes, my husband and I grew up in two totally different financial households. It made finances a real problem for a long time. In case you can’t guess, I’m the saver who reads finance blogs, he’s the spender. Finally, we are more alike on our finances — he mentioned the other day that he didn’t buy something because “he didn’t need to spend that money,” which, trust me, you would not have heard from him years ago. In turn, I’ve learned from him not to be so fearful with money, or afraid of giving.
    This post rings so true. I know a couple who were married 30 years, and always had separate finances, down to even saying “she pays for the kid oriented stuff, such as day care, groceries and clothes, he pays the house payment and for his hunting supplies.” In their case, it reflected an attitude of emotional separation as well — after 30 years, they finally threw in the towel and divorced, and you better believe that divorce’s financial settlement was contentious. On the other hand, I know of a couple married almost 40 years, until one of them died, who always kept separate accounts, but conferred together on everything, and had shared goals. They were devoted to the end. Attitude, communication, and commitment go a long way in handling finances in a relationship. This post has some really good points.

    • Stephanie says:

      The first couple you mentioned sounds just like my husband and I. We will be married 30 years this August. I am contemplating divorce. It’s like having a roommate, not a spouse.

      • JD says:

        I’m sorry to hear that! It was quite a surprise to many people when they divorced, but their kids were not surprised, nor was I, as I had been privy to some of their issues. Still it was very sad. When it came to who gets what, the husband started claiming that since he made all the house payments, he should get the house completely to himself. I guess it never occurred to him that her covering other bills meant he could pay the house payment out of his check. Or that, using his reasoning, since she paid all kid-related bills, she should get total “ownership” of the kids! Her lawyer had to point that out to him. It was bad. I hope and pray you won’t have to go through any of that!

  15. Great post as always. A very good friend of mine almost got divorced because of rampant lifestyle inflation. The weird thing is, they were both part of the problem, buying stuff they didn’t need and agreeing to the massive house with unused rooms.
    Each thought it was the other leading the way, and that they were just along for the ride, but not happy about it.

    It turns out that neither one really wanted all that stuff, but they never talked about it! So it wasn’t until they had been separated for 6 months and marriage counseling that it came out. They just didn’t talk about money or stuff, and assumed the other person wanted more.

    In the end they stayed together and have downsized, a happy ending.

  16. Matt Severn says:

    This is internet gold! I love your writing style and you hit home on some very important topics! I have to laugh that some of these questions are so simple/basic that you’d think you could guess for your spouse or significant other. BUT, you could also be very wrong and not fully realize it. My wife and I are ridiculously careful with our money but also have a few hobbies where we intentionally splurge. But even with all that, I will definitely pop a few of these questions to my wife on Wednesday! 🙂

  17. I love this post, Mrs. Frugalwoods! I’m going to sit down with Mr. ThreeYear on Valentine’s Day and delve in! He and I are definitely in different money camps, having grown up in households where money was spent and treated in very different ways. We have to have lots of conversations about money now, to make sure we’re both on the same page. And yes, we would totally have the spatula conversation. We tend to check in with each other about almost every purchase too. Happy Valentine’s Day! And could there maybe be a Valentine’s Baby?!!

  18. What an important post! And I know people who communicate about their finances via email too! It doesn’t matter – as long as it happens and it is effective. I also know many people how leave money to one person and that has caused problems. The other partner has just gone along believing everything was fine – when it wasn’t… As a couple, this should be a huge priority. We meet about finances once a month – and it doesn’t take long now. But we want it to be a partnership – so we’re always on the same page.

  19. michele cadogan says:

    All good questions to ask – I would also include when was the last time you ran your credit report and may I see a copy of it.

  20. Yessss, there’s so much truth to this. These are especially great questions to ask before you’re married. You’ve got to be on the same page before you legally commit to each other. It would be horrifying to tie the knot and realize your sweetheart is a spendthrift.

    We talk about money all the time. We do our once weekly budget check-in and check with each other before buying anything.

  21. Joe says:

    This is a great guide for young couples everywhere. We’ve talked about most of these and we’re settled in our ways now. Communication is extremely important when you’re a new couple.
    We know each other very well at this point (19 years) and our finance is good. Always good to talk, though.

  22. Anne says:

    it really is the best spatula…America’s test kitchen recommended even! our first one melted and we splurged and got the same one we love it that much.

  23. Laura says:

    Yes big conversations about finances are very important, even when you realize that after many years of marriage- that u completely disagree on how to manage the money! Sometimes divorce isn’t the worst option when your whole financial security is continually being jeopardized by your partner!

  24. Jess says:

    This post is especially relevant for us because my partner and I are about to combine our finances! One relevant thing related to point 7 is whether you live in a community property state, where assets obtained after marriage are owned 50/50. I think that might influence the discussion of sharing and access to money.

    Personally, what my partner and I argue about most is investment strategies. One of us is more aggressive, and the other more conservative, so we try to strike a balance when picking funds to invest in.

  25. I told my fiance a few days ago, and reminded him today, that all I want for Valentine’s Day is a hand written letter, or a card from him.
    I DO NOT want material gifts!! When we were married before, yep, 2nd time around!, money was a huge struggle.
    And he would buy me $75 glass things from Hallmark for Christmas. I always hated them. When I finally told him, after about 5 years, he was upset. He was doing his best to show me love. But, I didn’t want those. sigh
    This time we’re talking more about money BEFORE the wedding! And sat down, and actually discussed our budgets together. Progress!

  26. Carol says:

    Love this post and will forward it to my two adult children. My husband and I discuss money more now after 40y rs of marriage than ever before. # 2 is so important. Years ago I read a book about love languages. When you have the same ones it makes for a contented marriage. Ours were almost identical with gift giving the least important. Spending time together, doing things for one another (like make a cup of tea or wash up after dinner) are so much more important to us than a fancy ring or box of chocolates. If you aren’t on the same page with your love languages then you need to work out what makes your partner content and feel loved. For those that love receiving gifts doesn’t mean that they have to be expensive ones. A single delicious chocolate, a bunch of wild flowers, a pretty shell you picked up on the beach. When you both feel loved discussing the hot topic of how money is spent is much easier.

  27. Oldster says:

    This is a great piece and one that I’m sharing. We’d be happier as people if we could honestly relate on these points.

  28. Kris says:

    My wife and I discuss our finances about once a month when I go over monthly income and discuss how much we spend the last month. We elaborate about if it’s a concern to cut down on certain categories(mainly groceries). Other than that, we go over how much we saved and if I could transfer some of the money to our investment account. Communicating about our money is crucial and has is normal to us, hopefully lots of other couples do the same thing.

  29. itsjustme says:

    It really is critical to keep up the conversation. Unfortunately, while at the beginning of our marriage my former and I had shared goals and discussed finances, over the years of family life our discussions became fewer and fewer and our priorities drifted further and further apart. I really didn’t realize how different our views were becoming until the (very) ugly last couple of years of our marriage. And yes, we were a couple who split due to finances. So keep on talking and keep on making sure you recheck with each other. And if your partner becomes reluctant to discuss your joint finances in detail, take it as a major red flag. I now believe finances tie into every part of the marriage in a way I simply didn’t appreciate bbefore.

  30. Elle says:

    As someone who spends so much time thinking about money, I can’t imagine being with someone who I am incompatible with in terms of money.

    I think it is amazing and HEALTHY to be open, to be transparent when it comes to money.

    Money is either taboo, or a nice open conversation. I prefer it to be an open conversation.

    Great post!

  31. Allison says:

    I love that you and Mr. Frugalwoods met and got engaged in the same spot! My husband and I shared our first kiss in the same spot we met, which like you, was a classroom (which, by the way, I think is super-romantic)!

  32. It’s so important that each partner understands the household finances, even if the other spouse takes the lead on a portion of it. I’m a divorce financial analyst and I can’t tell you how many people are in for a rude awakening because they didn’t pay any attention to the money during the marriage.

  33. Completely agree. We both talk to each other about most purchases before going ahead with it. It’s very important to be completely transparent in the relationship.

  34. I think another good one – in addition to the long term financial goals – is short term goals as well. When my husband and I first started our journey to financial independence last year, we had a big tune up to do. Things like actually combining our finances, getting rid of the PMI on our mortgage, and opening up a brokerage account with recurring payments, among others. Last year, getting those things set up was the short term goal to set us up for long term success in meeting those 10-20 year goals. I think knowing those short term goals will help make sure you are moving towards those long term goals!

  35. Kayla says:

    The right spatula is game-changing. This exact conversation happened at our house two weeks ago. 🙂

  36. For my husband and I, we actually do give each other a small ‘allowance’ every month. All of our money is together, and we both discuss all purchases for the family. But in Mint we each have money set aside for if/when we want to purchase a recreational item from which only one of us will get utility or enjoyment. My husband likes video games, so this comes out of his allowance. Craft stuff comes out of mine. This way, we do not have to ask each other if we can buy something for a hobby or guilt trip each other if one person spends $60 semi-regularly and the other buys a $200 something once. If we do not have enough money in our roll-over ‘allowance budget’, we save up for it. We still know when the other person is spending money on something, but we don’t have to ask for permission to do so. It is something that has worked really well for us for almost 7 years.

  37. Silver says:

    HI! My darling sweetheart and I keep separate accounts due to his child support payments. When we first made our wedding plans I was very candid declaring that my very hard earned money is for our household and our household only. He completely understood my position and has been very supportive of my stance, especially since otherwise I try to be good and kind to his kids and ex.

    Every few weeks we hold a financial summit to keep on track, and since I manage the money for our household, I keep him in the loop. I also make sure I reserve a little of our funds for simple dates and our individual treats are pretty simple, too.

    We both love Valentines Day, and usually we have a special dinner at home on the actual evening, with our table decked out with candles, silk roses and our fancy China, and I love displaying all the Valentine candy boxes I’ve collected from our years together, and he always spoils me with lots of chocolates!

    Then we enjoy going out for a lovely restaurant dinner the following Saturday night, and exchange gifts when we return home.

    Because we live modestly, this is our splurge, because we’re very proud and grateful to be each other’s forever Valentines. I waited a long time to meet my soulmate, and will always enjoy each and every Valentines Day with him.

  38. This is a great list because it goes beyond the basics. Number 8 seems especially good. Instead of underhanded criticisms not each other’s day to day spending, just put out there what bugs you. I’ll have to go over this list with my husband J at our next finance date night (we are doing them monthly these days). Thanks in advance for helping spice up our next discussion. 🙂

  39. My husband and I are pretty much on the same page, financially. We have joint accounts for our shared expenses, but also keep a little bit of fun money each month in our own accounts to spend on whatever we’d like. We enjoy giving each other birthday and Christmas gifts (usually practical things or experiences), but are not really into Valentine’s Day. We’ll still do a small thing like make a card or share a bottle of wine, but we don’t go over the top.

  40. You guys sound so incredibly financially compatible! The spatula conversation made me laugh. Luckily my husband is more of a saver than a spender as well (I would have a hard time being with a big spender-haha). We generally don’t discuss small purchases and I’ve been fine with that. But, I’ve noticed more of those creeping in since our daughter was born. We have a small house so I really like to be judicious with what we buy so we don’t get consumed with clutter. It might be a good time to go through some of these questions together!

  41. We talk about money almost all the time and – luckily! – it never turns into a heated discussion!
    We don’t keep a budget or have any plan that require a serious sit-down-and-discuss session, but I’d say I’m lucky to have someone by my side who’s on the same page 🙂

    PS: we use wooden spatulas and spoons for cooking. Never had any trouble so far 😀

  42. Tiara Joseph says:

    Love the article. My partner and I talk about money whenever required. I think after love (actually lack of love), money is the most powerful thing which can ruin a relationship. so, it’s better to know each other’s money mindset and discuss about it to get into an equilibriam. I don’t know why some couple consider money talking as a taboo.

    BTW, love you gift giving idea. 😉 Will give it a try for sure!

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