Money Talks, So Should You

Q&A: Why both spouses should be involved in finances

Deborah Frazier
by Deborah Frazier, NAPFA

In my practice it seems as though one of the spouses does all of the investing, bill-paying and other financial chores. The other spouse remains uninformed of the family financial situation. Maybe he or she thinks they have more money and their spouse is being stingy. Or maybe he or she thinks the opposite and they are headed for total ruin.

READ: How do you divide the "fun" money?

I recommend a monthly financial meeting to go over the income, bills and plans for one-time annual costs. It gives the couple a sense of teamwork and avoids over- or under-spending. Your monthly meetings don’t have to be Power Point presentations, just a simple review of how much was spent on various items. Try to stay calm and reasonable. Don’t throw blame around. 

Opposites attract, we all know that. It goes for how money is managed as well. One spouse is a spender, the other is a saver. The spender usually feels the “stink eye” from their spouse every time a new item appears in the house. The saver is called miserly or “cheap.”

READ: Understanding your spouse's financial priorities 

In our marriage, I am the saver, my husband is the spender. After a few knock-down, dragged-out fights, we discovered that we needed both ways of looking at money. If I wasn’t married to my husband, I wouldn’t travel, own art work, or entertain. If he wasn’t married to me, we would never be able to retire. 

Money is one of the main reasons for fights in a marriage. If one of you is spending too much, it could signify a deeper problem in the relationship. People overspend for a variety of reasons: boredom, status or anger. Knowing how much is available to spend every month is helpful to everyone. 

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Deborah Frazier has been a fee-only financial adviser since 1986. Frazier is a member of the National Association of Personal Finance Advisors (NAPFA), a fee-only professional association and a Dimespring knowledge partner.