finance, Financial Basics, Money Management, Relationships

How to Resolve Financial Disagreements with Your Romantic Partner

June 24, 2024

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I'm Tori!

After successfully saving $100,000 at age 25, I quit my corporate job in marketing to fight for your financial rights. I’ve helped over three million badass women make more, spend less, and feel financially confident.


You’ve heard it before: Money is one of the most common reasons couples split.

If you’ve been in a relationship, or you’re currently in one, you can probably relate that money conversations can become a hot mess, fast. From trying to sort out who should pay for what, whether you should open a bank account together, or whether you should throw down for the organic version of your favorite cheese, money has the potential to be a sticky, complicated topic.

Not only are you both arriving at the relationship from vastly different money mindsets, but you also likely have very different opinions about how much you’re willing to pay for a dozen eggs or an oat milk latte. 

What follows are my recommendations for resolving financial disagreements with your romantic partner. 

Dig into your money stories

We all learn about money from our families, for better or worse. One of the first ways to better understand your partner’s views on money is to ask one another about your money stories. 

These conversations may bring up some uncomfortable truths that expose feelings of shame, guilt, or embarrassment. Diving deep into money stories can feel vulnerable, but it’s a great way to better understand where your partner is coming from.

Coping with different money stories: Gemma and Sawyer

One couple I know has vastly different money stories. 

Gemma comes from a family that constantly spent money they didn’t have, ending up in mountains of credit card debt and multiple bankruptcy claims. As an adult, she adopted similar tendencies, keeping high balances on several cards at once and doing her best to ignore the debt she was racking up. She felt shame about her credit card debt but admitted that she just thought that’s how people used credit cards.

Sawyer’s family had very little growing up—they didn’t have a TV, wore homemade clothes, and bought only the basics. Sawyer’s family didn’t believe in opening credit cards or taking on debt and were suspicious of investing. Sawyer went into the relationship feeling incredibly uncomfortable about spending lavishly on themselves, avoided credit cards like the plague, and had zero interest in investing in the stock market.

This seems like a disaster waiting to happen, right?


When an argument over an expensive meal came up, they decided to embark on a money story conversation. Gemma learned that Sawyer didn’t have any credit cards and was taught that the stock market was far too risky to deal with. Sawyer learned that Gemma was stressed out about her mounting debt and was afraid to talk about it because of the shame she experienced as a kid. 

If Gemma and Sawyer had never talked about their money stories, Sawyer would have been highly critical of Gemma’s credit card debt. And Gemma would have been frustrated, feeling judged every time she whipped out her AmEx. 

But instead, they shared how their family’s money habits shaped their own beliefs about spending and saving. Gemma became determined to eliminate her debt, and Sawyer helped her come up with a plan to do so. Sawyer saw how credit cards could be useful for building credit—they both wanted to buy a house someday—and opened their first credit card. Gemma helped her with the application. 

How to start your money story conversation with your partner

I get it: Just STARTING the money conversation can feel like a massive hurdle! If you’re already in the middle of a fight over money, it may feel incredibly daunting.

So, here’s what you can do:

Plan a money date. 

If you’re both dreading this conversation, book-end it with something fun or rewarding, ideally with an activity that doesn’t cost anything. 

Some ideas: Take a hike, play with your dog, or cook a meal together. 

Come up with a list of money conversation starters ahead of time. 

Rather than sitting down at the kitchen table with a completely blank slate ahead of you, identify a few questions you might want to ask each other to get the ball rolling. 

For example: 

  • What’s your first memory of money? 
  • How did your parents/family talk about money? 
  • Did your parents talk to you about managing money? 
  • How do you place value on material items and experiences?

There’s no right or wrong way to get the conversation going—just remember to keep an open mind and ask clarifying questions along the way. 

If you want to dig deeper, check out my Money Conversation Cards to keep the conversation rolling.

Then what?

Ideally, breaking down your money stories will help you peer behind the curtain and learn more about what financial experiences led your partner to become who they are today. You’ll get a better sense of why they spend the way they do and how they value things and experiences.

After you’ve learned about one another’s money backgrounds, you’re ready to make a game plan.

Separate or joint bank accounts: The great debate

The decision to combine finances is a MASSIVE one for many couples. Not only do you each come into a relationship with different incomes, debts, and investments, but you also have to navigate different value systems around money. 

While there’s no one-size-fits-all method for navigating finances with your partner, let’s explore three options: separate, combined, or blended accounts.

Method #1: Separate accounts


  1. Total independence with your finances: No one can tell you that you spent too much on those shoes/sunglasses/jeans.
  2. Can maintain financial equality between couples: You can split things equally, such as taking turns buying dinner or groceries.
  3. Potentially less conflict-causing because you still have control and privacy over your spending habits.


  1. May be more difficult to access each other’s accounts in case of an emergency.
  2. More communication about finances may be necessary to ensure shared expenses are paid.

Method #2: Combined accounts


  1. You’re never going to have to figure out whose turn it is to pay for dinner.
  2. If you live together, joint expenses like rent and utilities will be relatively straightforward to cover, with only one bank account to deal with. 
  3. Some extra financial security knowing your partner is helping contribute—this can be nice if shit hits the fan and you need help paying for an emergency or a large expense.


  1. Individual spending gets a little more sticky. It might be harder to feel comfortable spending money on yourself—what’s a reasonable amount to spend on clothes? Or going out with friends? These conversations will be important if you completely combine accounts.
  2. Combining accounts makes every little purchase something that may need a bigger discussion, and that can cause a LOT of disagreements between couples.
  3. If you and your partner have vastly different income levels, there’s room for resentment to breed if one partner shoulders the burden of the bills.
  4. Your financial independence is on uncertain ground. Unfortunately, 99% of domestic violence cases involve financial abuse. If you don’t have separate accounts, it can make it near impossible to get out of dangerous situations.

Method #3: Blend of separate and combined accounts

This method requires a bit more explanation. 

Rather than fully combining or keeping your accounts separate, you might try doing a mix of both.  

Here’s how this works:

Determine your monthly joint expenses

As a couple, determine how much you spend on a monthly basis. Look at the past three months’ spending and categorize each expense as either a joint expense or an individual expense. Take an average of those three months of spending and let that be your baseline for your joint expenses each month.

A note on this exercise: Do this TOGETHER. You might have differing opinions about what constitutes a joint expense, and it’s important to define those expenses together so you don’t run into issues later.

Determine your contribution levels

Determining your contribution levels is where things can get a little more complicated. There are two ways to do this: Either a 50/50 split or a split based on income.

For couples that have a relatively equal income, a 50/50 split is likely the easiest option. At the beginning of the month, you both deposit an equal amount of money into the joint account to pay for that month’s expected expenses. 

For couples who have a large difference between incomes, you might want to determine your contribution level based on how much you earn. For example, if one person earns $150,000 per year and the other earns $50,000 per year, you might opt for a 70/30 split instead. 

Choosing how much you each contribute should be handled with some care: If one partner greatly out-earns the other, it may bring up some sensitivity. 

Keep your individual accounts for personal expenses

For everything not deemed a joint expense, you each use your own bank account.

Let’s look at the pros and cons of this method. 


  1. You gain greater clarity into your monthly spending.
  2. Joint expenses are covered based on a predetermined split, so there’s rarely a question over whether someone is over- or under-contributing. 
  3. Your personal spending remains just that: Personal. You can do whatever you want with the extra earnings, whether that’s to buy some index funds or a new pair of sneakers.


  1. Takes some work to set up: You’re going to have to dedicate some time to work through your expenses with your partner and determine how much you each can contribute. However, this isn’t really a con, because it’s encouraging healthy, open conversations about money with your partner. 

Set some goals together

Money management with your partner doesn’t have to be all about bickering over how much to spend on organic kale or your Hulu subscription. It should also be about dreaming up big plans together and scheming for your future.

Beyond setting goals around daily finances, take time to talk about what you want for your future. This could be setting goals for vacation savings to go to Greece on your honeymoon or to Hawaii for your 30th. Setting and putting into action fun, future-oriented goals is a great way to build momentum around positive money conversations with your partner. 



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