How To Compromise On Finances In Your Marriage

The following post is by MPFJ staff writer, Catherine Alford. Cat is a freelance personal finance writer who blogs at

I write a lot about money and marriage because I think it’s such an important topic. Not only that, it’s something that can be constantly improved and worked on. Much like marriage itself, compromising on finances takes a significant amount of work and communication, and it’s definitely worth all the effort you put into it!

First, when it comes to money and marriage, I think it’s completely natural to want to do everything your way. For example, I always think my money ideas are the best ideas, never mind that my husband may have a few ideas of his own! However, I’ve realized over time that the whole point of a marriage is to work together on challenging issues, and becoming financially independent is one of the biggest obstacles and most rewarding goals in life. So, what’s required to achieve these goals is a lot of compromise, listening to each other’s viewpoints, and talking through important financial topics.

Below are some of the ways that I’ve compromised when it comes to money and marriage, and I’d love to hear some of the ways you’ve worked out money issues as well!


1. Short-Term Vs. Long-Term

When my husband and I got engaged, we had to go to a pre-marital weekend retreat to get married in the church. Instead of grumbling about this minor inconvenience, we decided to actually try to get something out of it, and it was actually really valuable.

One of the exercises that we did was sit back-to-back and answer important questions by raising our hands. For example, the proctor would ask a question like, “Who’s going to cook dinner most of the time in your house?” If you thought it was you, you had to raise your hand then turn around to see if your partner agreed.

We were doing pretty well with this exercise until we got to the questions about money. When the proctor asked, “Who will be handing the finances in your marriage?” both my husband and I shot our hands up. We both thought we should be the one handing it!

It was a funny moment, but it was also an important one. There we were just a few months from getting married after 4 years of dating, and we had never talked about who would handle the money!

The proctors had a great suggestion, one we use to this day. They said to have one person handle short-term finances and one person handle long-term finances. Ever since then, we’ve never wavered. He handles all of our investments, retirement funds, and makes decisions like choosing stocks. I pay all of our bills, handle our savings accounts, make money goals, and keep him updated on our progress. It really is the perfect balance, and it allows both of us to feel like we are contributing to our overall financial goals.


2. Have Your Own Money

Veteran couples swear by this tip. Let each person have a set amount of spending money every month. I didn’t do this at first. I thought that it wasn’t a big deal, until my husband finally told me that it really bothered him every time he had to ask for money. After all, he’s almost 30 years old and in medical school. I think he can probably handle a bit of cash! I didn’t even think about how our system affected to him until he told me that so ever since then, I split my money into envelopes when I get my paycheck, and I always give him money just for him to use, no questions asked.

This makes him feel like more of an adult, and it also helps alleviate the impression that I’m always looking over his shoulder when he buys things. Now, he can go on campus and buy himself a coke without feeling odd about it.


3. Forgive Each Other

When it comes to money and marriage, we’re all going to make mistakes. It’s unavoidable. I’ve paid my husband’s credit card late completely on accident and felt terribly about it. In the future, he might choose a stock that plummets the next day. It happens. It’s life.

Of course, some mistakes are worse than others. If your spouse drained your retirement fund to go to the casino, that’s a different story, but for day-to-day blips, it’s important not to blame each other and remember which team you’re on.

I’m sure there are many more tips out there for compromising when it comes to marriage and money. Essentially, it’s all about maintaining communication and respecting each other when you make decisions. In the future, I know my husband and I will have even more to learn about finances and marriage as we continue on our journey, but it makes me happy to know that I share my goals with someone who is just as willing to work hard to make them happen.

How about you all? How do you compromise when it comes to money in your relationships?

Share your experiences by commenting below! 

***Photo courtesy of


  1. My husband and I split the rent and utility bills, but we pay our own bills, like student loans and credit cards. I just don’t feel right having someone else pay for the debt that I accumulated. Sure, my husband has helped me out from time to time and I will definitely do the same for him. However, we both took extreme pay cuts after we both switched professions, which makes any money we make precious. Even still, my debt is my debt/my fault – I don’t feel right having anyone, even my spouse, pay for it.

    • That’s so interesting!! I love learning about how other marriages make it work!
      Cat Alford (@BudgetBlonde) recently posted…How Much Does Your Guy Spend on Guys Night?My Profile

    • Dear Abby,

      I agree, it’s hard to let someone take ownership of your debt, even a spouse. You feel personally responsible to pay it off. One thing to consider is if one spouse has high interest debt and the other spouse has lower interest debt. You are, at the end of the day, partners. It may make more sense to tackle the higher interest debt together, so that, together you’re out of debt more quickly. Of course, both partners have to agree on how to tackle their debt together. It wouldn’t work if one partner is paying (while the other is racking up more debt).
      Matthew recently posted…Networth 2013My Profile

  2. Emily @ evolvingPF says:

    We do things differently – sometimes for the better (for us) and sometimes for the worse.

    1) We’re both involved in short-term and long-term money management. Our long-term doesn’t require any intervention, and we make mid-term decisions together. We create our monthly budget together and are both involved in paying bills and tracking and such. We still have slightly differentiated roles, they’re just not by short/long-term.

    2) We don’t have any separate money and right now I don’t want any (nor does my husband). Certainly there are times when compromise is difficult, but if you can’t convince your spouse that you should spend some money, you really don’t have a good argument (assuming a good-willed spouse). For us it’s a philosophical matter of: if we paid for some things out of individual money, where would we draw the line between what we should be responsible for individually vs. together. We see it as a slippery slope toward partial pooling, which we’re not interested in. Maybe when we have a higher income we will be motivated to find a way to make it work, but not for now.

    3) I’m terrible at forgiveness over dumb mistakes (my husband is much better). Just a few months ago we had a series of bad fights over a fee we were about to be charged in an account. I wanted to avert the fee and my husband didn’t. I basically was thinking, “If that fee goes through I will be so mad because it’s an I-told-you-so moment!” But when it finally went through, he got it waived so there was nothing to be mad about in the first place! What wasted energy. But I definitely demand perfection (no interest, no fees, no missed transfers) from myself as well as him and that’s just over the top.
    Emily @ evolvingPF recently posted…Edging toward Quality Food: ProposalMy Profile

  3. “The proctors had a great suggestion, one we use to this day. They said to have one person handle short-term finances and one person handle long-term finances.”

    Hmm…I’m curious to know how that could work so smoothly. Maybe I’m missing the point, but if the spouse in charge of the short-term finances is not managing things well enough to produce a surplus to be used for the spouse covering the long-term decisions, then couldn’t there possibly be some consternation? Perhaps the answer is to have open communication and provide thorough updates, but with strict delineation of duties I can see the potential for some conflict.
    Mr. Utopia recently posted…Bad Financial Advice: 6 Ways to OvercomeMy Profile

    • Oh I’m sure it would not work for everyone, only those who have a good track record in those departments. This just works really well for us given our different talents when it comes to finances. He just has a real knack for investments, and I enjoy being organized and handling the day to day. I’m sure for other couples it’s different. I don’t think my husband would trust me with the day to day finances if I wasn’t super organized and diligent with them. It’s actually a huge gift to him since managing bills and planning goals takes a lot of work and time. He doesn’t have to worry about it, and he can just focus on his studies (he’s currently in med school.) We definitely keep each other updated and chat about things over lunch, but for the most part we keep the duties separate. It only works because I trust him not to choose really bad investments and lose all our money, and he trusts me to keep the day to day on track. Hope that helps answer your question!
      Cat Alford (@BudgetBlonde) recently posted…How Much Does Your Guy Spend on Guys Night?My Profile

  4. My husband and I talk about our short and long term goals together to decide what we want to achieve. I usually mull over something I want to do for a few days to decide if it’s what I really want before suggesting it. He has a bad habit of keeping silent and then one day popping out an objection or different course to a goal. Even if I’ve been talking about it for a few days. We’re both working on communication.

    As for who takes care of finances, we both check our checking account and decide where the money should go. I take care of accts that were originally mine, and so does he. We’ve put each other under credit cards, but not all accounts can have two names. So I have 2 credit cards I take care of, 1 online savings account, and my original retirement fund. He has 2 credit cards he takes care of, 1 online savings acct, and his retirement fund. So far so good!
    Christine @ ThePursuitofGreen recently posted…A Wedding Gift GuideMy Profile

  5. Sharon J. Gilman says:

    This is a great topic, and I love the tips you give! My boyfriend and I have not yet talked about money, although we plan on getting married. But we both know that I am better with handling money between the two of us., and I’ll be the sole breadwinner of our family. I plan on having the money talk shortly after getting engaged, so that it doesn’t seem like I’m trying to rush things. I like the idea of both people having money separate from ‘couple money.’ I have been thinking that we will both have a credit and debit card linked to joint accounts, and each have separate prepaid debit cards so that we can each buy things on our own. I like this idea because as opposed to splitting up some cash between the two of us each week, we both have the opportunity to buy things online (such as gifts, surprises, etc).

  6. I think the have your own money tip is a great one. It doesn’t have to be much, but its adding this is a recent change to our finances… and a big improvement.
    Michael | The Student Loan Sherpa recently posted…Budgeting for FunMy Profile

  7. I think every couple is unique. My wife and I share finances completely, and I’m lucky because she’s pretty frugal. Fully agree with your bit on forgiving each other. Every once in a while we each do something that can “irk” the other (like the $175 haircut my wife recently got!!!!!!!!!!) But I let it go, and I know when I play golf sometimes the credit card purchase opens her eyes quite a bit. Its a 2 way street!
    Chuck@Tortoise Banker recently posted…Add Saving to Your DNAMy Profile

  8. Brian @ Luke1428 says:

    “Let each person have a set amount of spending money every month.” This tip was a revelation in our budget when we started implementing it years ago. It really helped me (the natural spender in our relationship) to have some freedom to get things I wanted without having to ask or feel guilty.
    Brian @ Luke1428 recently posted…“I’m Rich!” – How to Handle a Lump Sum of MoneyMy Profile

  9. My wife and I are both pretty frugal. We usually talk about any purchases that will be over $100. It’s no big deal if we spend more, however. Other than retirement accounts, all our assets are joint ownership. We do not keep our money separate. We started out with separate checking accounts and a joint account for household bills. After one month, we decided that 3 checking accounts were too much hassle, so we closed the two individual accounts and have never regretted it. Since we both have account access, we know how much money is in our account. We also talk about our money goals and list our net assets once a month. That includes checking, savings (emergency fund), taxable investment, and retirement accounts. It only takes a few minutes and keeps us both happy.

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