Money & Marriage. What happens when spender meets saver? Before you say “I Do”

By Jennifer Thompson


June 25, 2020

“Money can’t buy love, but it puts you in a great bargaining position”– Christopher Marlowe


Jennifer Thompson What happens when spender meets saver - Opposites Attract – Before you say “I Do” …

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Personal Finance is rarely an issue couples discuss while dating. Sarah and Ethan were on the extreme sides of the spending/saving spectrum. She came from a financially secure home. His family worked hard to make ends meet. He was extremely ambitious – having bought four condos. She was averse to debt. Even ‘good debt‘ made her uneasy. She told him he needed to sell the condominiums before she would marry him. She was uncomfortable with that level of debt. Unfortunately, this was at the time of a real estate market crash.


Money and Marriage Jennifer Thompson

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Couples rarely discuss finance before marriage, it seems to be the main issue when couples choose to separate. Conflicts around the issue of money are one of the leading causes of divorce, crossing all socio-economic groups. Money is a highly emotional subject: connected with feelings of safety and security. 

Differing or competing goals and values, along with power and control, make it a catalyst in marriage problems. It’s an incompatibility in their approach money that creates the problem. Money touches many aspects of our lives. Bring two people, each with a different approach to personal finance and there will be some conflict.


What you need to know about Money & Marriage


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Each of us has a distinct financial blueprint. This comprises of our beliefs around money, our experience with money, and our personality type.

The qualities you were attracted to in each other may be different from what you possess. You may be attracted to his bold, risk-taking ways because they complement your conservative approach to life. Or, her drive may be attractive in comparison to your laid back attitude to things.

However, these different personality types also exist when it comes to how a person manages their money. High risk-taking ways may mean he might be more aggressive with his investments. Will you be willing to see him manage the family finances? Many women still defer major financial decisions to their husbands.


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How to manage your money in your marriage


● You come from different backgrounds. Discuss what money means to you personally – this will shed light on your relationship to money. How did your parents manage their finances? Were they generous, cautious, prudent, or just lived for today?

● How do you feel about debt? Just as people have different levels of tolerance for risk, some people are more comfortable carrying debt than others. Some are so averse to any debt that they may not want to buy a house until they have a sizeable down payment. 

● Discuss whether you want joint accounts or would prefer to keep things separate.


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● How will you share the costs of running a home? Create a budget together.

● Talk about your past experiences with money. Do you share similar values?  

● Unless you decide to keep your finances completely separate, it would be the honest thing to do to disclose your debts, assets, and financial obligations. It is one way to get real!

● What amount of debt will you be bringing into the marriage? How will you deal with it? Especially if one of you has substantially more debt than the other, e.g student loan debt?


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● See a financial Advisor you both like. Have a written financial plan.

● Discuss with your partner the issue of control – how much control does each person feel they need in this area. How much do you feel you need to tell each other before making a purchase and how much does your partner want to know?

● Decide how you will deal with conflicts regarding money.

● Discuss your goals – individually and as a couple. Prioritize those goals.

● Do you want children before you can afford a home?  


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Like everything else in any partnership, open communication is imperative! Does your spouse know how much debt you have?  Even if you decide to keep your finances separate, as long as you are a couple, one person’s financial decisions will invariably affect the other person’s life.

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosure here.

Other Resources

The attorney’s guide to credit repair.

Jennifer coaches people on how to live life on their terms. After twenty years in banking and finance, she discovered another passion – a passion for writing. She has written numerous self-published books on money: Women and Money: 7 Principles Every Woman Needs to Know to Be Financially Prepared in Any Economy and Growing Up With Money: Raising Financially Resilient Kids in an Age of Uncertainty. You can reach her at


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