Financial Planning
April 18, 2024

Finances for Married Couples: Stop Arguing & Start Growing Your Wealth

February means love is in the air! A key to a happy, successful relationship is to be in alignment about life’s important decisions.
Stewart Willis

This Valentine’s Day, thousands of people will be getting engaged. Looking forward to an upcoming wedding is an exciting time, and it can lead to some important conversations. There are many things couples can do to give their marriage a better chance at long-term success. One of those is to come to an understanding of their finances as a married couple.

Money can cause intense disagreements even in otherwise happy relationships. One survey found that money issues are the third leading cause of divorce, only slightly behind infidelity!

5 Questions to Ask Your Partners about Money and Your Relationship

Once a relationship starts to become serious, it’s important to get on the same financial page. To start, there are questions each partner should ask about money and marriage.

1. What are our financial priorities, and how will we determine them in the future?

It’s so common it has become a trope in popular entertainment. One partner hides financial information from their spouse. Financial infidelity, whether hiding bank accounts, purchases or lying about debts, is a surefire way to cause conflict.

It’s often said that the key to a successful marriage is honesty, and nowhere is that more true than financial integrity. Before tying the knot, each person needs to understand the financial picture of their partner. Discuss banking, savings and investment accounts.

If one or both partners carries debt, they should disclose that, and the pair should set a plan for paying it down. Come to an agreement on which purchases require input from both partners. For example, it’s unlikely that buying a cup of coffee without consulting your spouse will lead to conflict about finances for married couples. On the other hand, buying a car without looping in your partner is very likely to cause difficulties!

2. What should our retirement look like?

Having an uneven vision of retirement is a recipe for conflict about finances for married couples. If one person envisions sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch most of the time, while the other wants to travel the world and buy expensive things, that’s automatically going to cause conflict.

But it won’t just cause disagreements about what the couple will do in retirement. It will also cause fights about how the couple prepares for retirement. If one person enjoys spending lots of money on possessions and experiences but neglects to save for retirement, while the other person remains frugal so they could put 10-15% of their salary into their employer’s 401(k) plan, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the couple ended up fighting. They both have different attitudes about money and marriage.

It’s very important to agree on retirement desires and planning as early as possible in a relationship, not only for marital health but for your financial well-being as well. Long-term financial planning for married couples requires input from both spouses.

3. How will we resolve financial disagreements?

As with anything in a marriage, financial compromise is important. Finances for married couples often require negotiation to balance your different spending habits and your financial priorities. You’ll never agree on financial matters 100% of the time, but when those conflicts do arise, it’s important that neither side refuses to budge on their position.

If one spouse wants to remodel the kitchen while the other wants to invest that money, consider meeting in the middle. Perhaps a less costly kitchen remodel so there’s money left over to invest. Give and take is very important to a happy and financially sound marriage.

4. How will we approach taxes?

Once you’re married, you can choose between filing jointly, or married filing separately. Which is best depends on your unique situation and can change from year to year. For example, suppose a couple has uneven assets. The wife has $1 million in inherited money that will generate interest income, while the husband does not.

If the couple files jointly, it’s possible the husband’s income will bump the couple into a higher tax bracket while choosing married filing separately could keep both in lower brackets. It’s a good idea to consider which filing strategy will result in the lowest tax burden each year.

5. What are our wishes for our legacy?

Quite often in relationships — especially second marriages — I see disagreements on the legacy a couple will leave. Sometimes one partner will want their kids to inherit, while the other isn’t interested in passing money down to children, preferring to spend it on having a great retirement.

Estate planning is uncomfortable on a number of levels, not the least being that few wish to spend time contemplating their own death. It’s important enough that it should be taken seriously, but complicated enough that it shouldn’t be done without help.

It’s very wise for a couple to get advice from a financial professional when planning their legacy. Being on the same financial page is a major key to prosperous marriage and finances. At Asset Preservation Wealth & Tax, I like to initiate financial compatibility conversations with my soon-to-be or recently married clients.

How do you solve money problems in a marriage?

Addressing issues about finances in a marriage requires a foundation of transparency and candid communication. Money and relationships shouldn’t be complicated; don’t add another stressor with a lack of openness.

Both spouses need to open about their concerns and intentions. Regular discussions on budgeting and expenses can help everyone to avoid conflict in the first place. Setting joint financial goals makes it easier to make decisions about financial planning for married couples.

How can I be financially stable in my marriage?

Everyone wants stability in their marriage. Achieving this financially means having strategic financial planning for married couples. This would include budgeting together, saving for future goals, and managing your debts. Both partners should be equally involved in finances in marriage, so everyone understands and agrees on significant financial decisions.

Is money very important in marriage?

Love and compatibility are central to marriage, but money also important. Marriage and finances go hand-in-hand. You can’t be fully present in a relationship if you’re constantly stressed about excessive debt or your retirement future. While money can’t buy you marital bliss, finances in marriage can affect everything.

From daily life to long-term goals and security, marriage and finances depend on each other. If you are handling money and marriage responsibly and proactively, you can prevent many common conflicts and stresses that pop up in relationships.

How do you solve money problems in a relationship?

Even if you aren’t married, money and relationship problems can be prevented by open communication. If there is an existing issue, have a frank and open discussion about it. Partners should feel comfortable talking about money.

Solving money problems in a relationship requires transparency and mutual respect regarding money and relationships. Establish clear financial roles, agree on spending limits, and have consistent financial meetings.

How to invest in marriage?

Investing into your marriage is about more than just being there for each other. It also means taking care of your shared money. When it comes to finances for married couples, think about big investments for the future.

Are you looking to buy a house? How are you saving for retirement?

Don’t forget about smaller things like saving money for vacations or setting aside cash for unexpected needs. Making wise choices with your money helps make your marriage stronger and happier, so you both have a sense of safety and steadiness.

Take Control Over Your Money and Marriage

I feel it’s important to stimulate conversations at a convenient time for everyone involved rather than let them fight on their own; it’s better to have a financial fight at your financial advisor’s office than in private! Throughout the process, I work to help the couple reach agreements on

how to blend their finances so they can concentrate on other aspects of their marriage.

Get your free portfolio review today!

Stewart Willis is the founder and president of Asset Preservation Wealth & Tax, a financial planning firm in Phoenix, Arizona. Investment advisory services offered through Foundations Investment Advisors, LLC, an SEC registered investment adviser.

The commentary on this blog reflects the personal opinions, viewpoints and analyses of the author, Stewart Willis, providing such comments, and should not be regarded as a description of advisory services provided by Foundations Investment Advisors, LLC (“Foundations”), an SEC registered investment adviser or performance returns of any Foundations client. The views reflected in the commentary are subject to change at any time without notice. Nothing on this website constitutes investment, legal or tax advice, performance data or any recommendation that any particular security, portfolio of securities, transaction or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person. Personal investment advice can only be rendered after the engagement of Foundations for services, execution of required documentation, including receipt of required disclosures. Any mention of a particular security and related performance data is not a recommendation to buy or sell that security. Foundations manages its clients’ accounts using a variety of investment techniques and strategies, which are not necessarily discussed in the commentary. Any statistical data or information obtained from or prepared by third party sources that Foundations deems reliable but in no way does Foundations guarantee the accuracy or completeness. Investments in securities involve the risk of loss. Any past performance is no guarantee of future results. Advisory services are only offered to clients or prospective clients where Foundations and its advisors are properly licensed or exempted. For more information, please go to and search by our firm name or by our CRD # 175083.

Ready To Get Started?

You spent all your working years accumulating this wealth. Now it’s the time to make the most of it.