In any marriage, even one where both partners have similar money management styles, family finances can occasionally create conflict. But when one spouse is a saver and the other is a spender, financial disagreements can be frequent, emotional, and divisive. For these couples, achieving financial harmony — where both personalities contribute to a balanced approach to the family finances — requires compromise and communication.

One key to achieving compromise is learning to appreciate and respect the differences that attracted you to your spouse in the first place — rather than trying to change them. Although you might feel your spouse’s behavior is disrespectful to your feelings, how your partner spends or saves their money is probably not a reflection on you or the relationship. Ongoing communication about money is crucial if you're to avoid misunderstandings about your motivations.

A solution that works for many couples is to have three accounts: one for yourself, one for your spouse, and a joint account. Each of you puts a percentage of your salaries into the joint account each pay period. Then use that account to pay household expenses, including mortgage or rent, utilities, insurance, and car and home repairs.

To figure out each spouse’s percentage, add both monthly incomes. Then divide your monthly income by the combined total. That gives you your percentage. Do the same with your spouse’s income to calculate their percentage. Next, figure out your total shared monthly expenses. Multiply that amount by your percentage. This will tell you how much of your paycheck to put into a joint account.

If there's money left over, split it into your personal no-questions-asked accounts. It's from these accounts that you can pursue individual wish-list goals. For a spender, that might mean paying for a family dream vacation. For a saver, it could mean beefing up an IRA (individual retirement account).

Make sure to have frequent discussions about your finances and remain open-minded; try not to insist that your partner do things your way. Set goals together and make a few of your own. Make agreements — they add weight to your intentions and keep you on track. And, if you reach an impasse, consider working with a professional who can help you move forward.

For financial planning assistance, Hiway offers our members up to six free, confidential sessions annually with a certified consumer credit counselor at LSS Financial Counseling Services.


Finger puppets of a married couple talking about their finances