Having been married for almost 4 years now, my husband and I have fought about a lot of things—and money isn’t one of them.
Ask a contestant on Family Feud, a researcher, a counsellor, a new or decades-long married couple, and this topic would probably land in their top 3 (most often/worst) fights.
Money issues between couples: How to avoid fighting about money in marriage?
But we’ve minesweepered our way around this particularly horrible marital pitfall (so far). And these 5 things play a huge part in how we’ve managed to avoid fighting about money in marriage. Hope this helps you out!
1. Always say yes to FREE MONEY
When we were planning our wedding, there was a point when my mother-in-law started to take control / “lovingly grab the wheel” / hijack the preparations. My husband was considering just paying for the wedding so the parents would no longer have a say on major details.
My married friend gave us the sage advice of not paying for something when your parents already are. There will be more, many more, expenses down the road. Talk to them about the meddling, compromise, but accept and thank them for the help. You’ll need the money later on.
And it turned out to be true. Running a household is expensive; raising kids, more so. And we had a fantastic wedding anyway. To this day, when our parents—or anyone for that matter—offer to pay for a meal, a trip, birthday parties, concert tickets… we just swallow our pride, say “thank you”, and save the money for later.
2. What’s mine is ours… but we still have separate bank accounts
Early on in the marriage, my husband and I already agreed that when it comes to money, “What’s mine is ours.” But that didn’t mean we were physically moving our money earned during singlehood to a joint account.
We still maintained our separate bank accounts and though the tradeoff is transparency, we operate on trust and get to enjoy the privacy of personal spending.
So it doesn’t matter who shells out money for what. I’m not spending “my” money when the groceries are charged to my card – I’m spending “our” money.
But the thing is, I have control over accounts he doesn’t, and I just feel more comfortable withdrawing from them for things I want but the household doesn’t really need (like that cute headband for my bald baby girl and the top on my wishlist that finally went on sale).
This arrangement may not be for everyone, but it works for us!
3. Splurge with approval
Speaking of things I want, we’ve sort of figured out a spending amount (PHP 10,000) that merits a marital discussion. Anything above this, we have to at least get the other person’s opinion on.
Avoiding a money fight and managing couple finances don’t translate to scrimping and sticking to an ironclad budget.
We all get that urge to splurge sometimes and denying ourselves that pleasure may just lead to resentment. So go ahead, salivate over and save up for that awesome gadget, luxury cruise, ridiculously priced tote, Michelin-star meal… but get the spouse’s buy-in while you’re at it.
4. Figure out what your money situation is early on
My husband read about this cool budgeting app called Expensify and he made me use it too. Hated it at first, because it was such a hassle to log every expense. (We eventually made a rule that anything below PHP 50 didn’t have to be logged—yay for parking fees that stayed at PHP 45).
But as we crunched the data per month, it was interesting to see and track our monthly spending. We realized the “Gifts” expense was high—perhaps that was an area we could reevaluate our spending on. “Uber” and “Restaurant meals” were also increasing month-on-month so we needed to cut down on those too.
The best part of the exercise was that we were able to establish a baseline for our expenses. We knew when we were over/underspending and how much we were able to save based on our net salaries vs. monthly costs.
Eventually, these numbers helped us figure out if we could afford to have a kid already or not.
5. Be a dual income household but never compare
I was talking about this with my aunt who’s been a homemaker all through her married life. She never had a job, but was in charge of the household budget from the allowance her husband gave her.
She couldn’t understand why I’d stress myself out still holding down a full-time work-from-home job, if I could just do the same and rely on my husband for money.
I told her that funds-wise, it’s just more comfortable this way. And that I liked earning my own money. Worst case, if I ever got really really stressed, I could just look for a part-time position, but I’d still like to be earning.
I do bring home considerably less bacon than my husband, and I get insecure about that sometimes. But he’s considerate (and smart) enough to have never thrown that in my face.
The result? Marital peace and comfortable spending, though we do have to contend with having hectic schedules.
If this scenario sits well with you, then by all means, heed my advice (and all the other nuggets of wisdom I’ve shared above). But as always, take it with a grain of salt. There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for couples—find what works best for you.
The basics are: crunch your numbers and be open, trusting, and communicative with your spouse about money. Adjust according to the dynamics of your relationship, and tadaaaaa that’s how you avoid fighting about money in marriage.
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