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5 Tips on How Couples Can Deal with Differences around Money and Investing

Written By Millen Livis

Do you fight with your partner every time you talk about money?

Or do you have open, candid “money conversations” with your partner?

Or do you avoid talking about money with your partner so you can avoid fights and frustration?

Research has shown that couples that avoid fights about money, often end up having less wealth and not being prepared for a successful retirement.

No one wants to fight, of course. Howevere, money is the #1 thing couples argue about. And you probably heard that fighting about money is often an early predictor of divorce.

So, why would couples get sucked in into the argument about money when it causes so much stress, tension, and destruction?

While nobody wants conflict, avoiding communicating and working through disagreements with your partner can hurt the relationship and put your future financial security at risk.

I’ve met many women who shared their frustration about not being able to “talk money” with their partner in a constructive and candid way.

“I love my husband and don’t want to get into big arguments over money. So, I stopped talking about money with him all together. And now I have my secret money accounts.”

“I was sick of fighting about money. Now we both avoid these conversations.”

“We can’t ever agree when it comes to investing. He does his thing and I do mine.”

While many couples default to “not talking about money”, this solution usually comes back to haunt them.

Here’s why.

Men in a couple tend to have higher confidence and higher appetite for risk than women.

Because men usually have more risky investments and higher balance, women tend to keep substantial amount of cash in case of  emergencies.  In other words, to balance her husband’s high-risk investments, a wife often compensates it by keeping a high balance in FDIC-insured bank accounts, which provide safety but little or no return. This allows her to sleep at night and avoid arguments.

While it may work for some couples, this strategy may cost couples loss of opportunities in the end. If they invest $100,000 in a super-safe bank account earning 0.5%, rather than a conservative balanced index fund that may have earned 3.5%, they would have passed up 3% per year in earnings for each year the funds are invested.

On a $100,000 account, that’s $3,000 a year, and $30,000 over 10 years (not including reinvested dividends and capital gains.)

On the other hand, husband’s high-risk investing strategy may lead to significant loss of family wealth that he is trying to build by taking higher risk.

I believe, there are better ways to managing money as a couple than fighting over it or avoiding talking about money. Here are a few tips to get couples started on the road to creating wealth together:

  1.  Communicate

I believe in candid and transparent communication in the relationship. Have a candid ‘money talk’, be open about your concerns, and share your preferences when it comes to investing ideas. Don’t avoid ‘difficult conversations’ – find a way to have them in a constructive and respective way.

Work through your financial conflicts (rather than fighting about them or avoiding them altogether). If this seems daunting, you may consider talking to a financial planner, even if you are a do-it-yourself investor. If you can’t seem to work through financial arguments and have very different risk tolerance with your partner, get independent help to work through your differences and overcome communications’ challenges.

  1.  Set financial goals as a couple

Determine the return you’ll need to get on your investment in order to meet your financial goals. You may not need to take on additional risk to reach your financial goals. Calculate your annual lifestyle spending to determine what your rate of return on your investments needs to be, based on the amount you are currently saving. Don’t take more risk than you need, however, don’t be overly conservative either. Your investment returns must be adequate to meet your goals.

Set goals as a couple and develop investment strategies around those goals. For example, are you going to invest in the stock market?  Rental real estate? In your growing business? If so, what percentage of your total assets you want to invest in each asset allocation?

If one of you wants to trade or invest in high-risk investments, limit the amount you allocate into high-risk investments and integrate these investments into your overall plan.

  1.  Compromise

I like to remind women that they should “pick their battles.” While some things are definitely worth fighting for, some things aren’t worth the argument. Your financial future is definitely worth fighting for.

When you have a “money talk”, listen to your partner, really hear his point of view when it comes to investing family money, and see if there is a way to find a common ground. Willingness to compromise is important for the healthy relationship. However, never compromise on your core values in life.

For example, if Freedom is your core value and you feel that your current employment is totally draining your energy and health, although paying you a very good salary, leap your way out of this situation even if your partner feels it’s wrong for your family finances.

When you force yourself to do something that you utterly resist, you compromise on something that is deeply important to you and can make yourself seek.  Money is important, but your health and vitality are more important than money.

  1.  Dream together

Your money talks don’t need to be only about bills you have coming up and debt you need to repay. These conversations do need to take place, of course. But you can also share your aspirations that require you to save and grow you money – maybe a new house, or a trip, or a business that you’re passionate about. Whatever it may be – dreaming together, having common goals will help you get closer and inspire you as a couple to work toward your goals.

Do the “Five-Year Exercise.” If you only had five years to live, what would you like to do, have or experience?

Don’t overthink or censor yourself. Just start writing it down. If you are married or in a relationship, each of you should write your lists separately. Then, as a couple, choose what you’d like to do, have or experience, both together and individually. It’s hard to fight or argue about money when you are working together toward important goals. Don’t give up on your dreams!

  1.  Become Financially Empowered

Invest in yourself – let go of your inner blocks, become equipped with knowledge about strategic investing. Although having a MBA in finance might be nice, you don’t need it to be financially successful. Having a solid base of financial knowledge will take you a long way. Couples who both understand financial fundamentals, can make better financial decisions, especially when they make them together.

Besides, it’s quite likely that at some point you may be 100% responsible for your own investment and money decisions. Now is the time to upgrade your skills and knowledge about savvy money management and investing.

To Your Health, Wealth and Freedom!


p.s. Download my wealth building tips-packed book “A Shift Toward Abundance” HERE


About the Author

Millen is a Wealth architect and Financial Independence Coach, entrepreneur, and a bestselling author. Being a Possibilities' Catalyst, she uses her intuition, business, and investment expertise to support entrepreneurial women (like you) who want to master their money, live their purpose achieve financial prosperity and freedom. With her physics and business education, corporate and entrepreneurial experience, money management know-how, mindfulness practices and transformational coaching skills, Millen has a unique ability to guide and support clients in achieving extraordinary success in their lives.

  1. Love your insights shared in this post, Millen! In the generation I come from, more often than not, the woman in the relationship deferred to her husband to be the person who looked after all things finances. As someone who was the more financially inclined in my marriage, my ex-husband deferred to me and I looked after all things to do with money.

    I have seen many women when they split with their husband or when their husband passes, have no idea how to manage money or where to even begin. I imagine in younger generations women are more independent and financially savvy and want to be equal partners in money matters. I’d venture to guess that some women even manage their own money and have joint accounts with their partner/spouse. Communication is always essential and being educated is a must!

    1. Beverly, thank you for you thorough comment. I love how eloquently you described the challenges that many women experience when their relationship falls apart or their partner passes. Sadly, most women are not equipped with savvy money management skills. And I dare to say that, from my observation, the younger generation is not in much better position as it comes to managing their money. That is exactly why I am so passionate about financial empowerment of women.

  2. Since my husband and I are edging closer to 60 and thinking about retirement more, I read your article with interest. Great advice. I really loved the idea of the “Five-year Experiment.” Giving that one a try!

    1. Julie, yes, it’s a good idea to plan for retirement in advance and together with your husband. And the 5-year time-frame is a good milestone to start with. Glad you loved this idea and want to use it.

  3. This is a great read with practical, down-to-earth strategies that allow for better communication around money. It can definitely be a divisive topic and your post presents ways to have more meaningful money conversations between couples. Thank you, Millen, for your recommendations. Happy to share with my network.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Yvonne, glad you found some useful tips in this post. And I appreciate you sharing it with your network.

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