There’s no doubt that relationships take work, and some seasons are more difficult than others. As a woman, there’s a constant balancing act between the health of your relationship and your own personal wellbeing. That balancing act is never more prevalent than when it comes to money. In this article, we’re sharing 12 pieces of relationship advice for women when it comes to money and how to approach finances with their partner.
1. Discuss your financial histories
When you go into a relationship, it’s important to remember that your partner has an entirely different financial background from you. And your unique backgrounds impact the way you view and approach money.
One of the best ways to get on the same page with your partner is to talk about your financial history. You can each share how money was handled and discussed in your home.
Chances are you’ll be able to see how your partner’s financial history has impacted how they approach money today.
Questions to ask each other include:
- How did your parents talk about money?
- Who managed the finances in your home?
- Was money a point of stress when you were growing up?
- Did your parents approach money with an abundance or scarcity mindset?
Being able to discuss your finances with your partner is probably the most important relationship advice for women when it comes to money. Check out our expanded list of money questions you can ask your partner.
2. Take baby steps when talking about money
As you and your partner begin talking about money, keep in mind that it doesn’t have to happen all at once. You can slowly ease into the subject.
It makes sense to start with more big-picture topics, such as your financial histories and your future financial goals. As you get further into your relationship, you can talk more specifics such as how much debt you each have, how much income you both make, and more.
Knowing how much to share and when is a delicate balancing act. It’s important to be open with your partner. And if you plan to spend your lives together, you’ll have to lay out your financial situation for your partner.
At the same time, it’s important not to cross any boundaries that make you feel uncomfortable. Being open and honest with your partner is the best course of action.
3. Don't lie about your finances
When it comes to relationship advice for women, this is a big one! When you’re in a new relationship or even one you’ve been in for a while, it might feel uncomfortable to share every detail of your finances. And that’s okay. But there’s a difference between keeping certain aspects of your finances private and outright lying.
Honesty is one of the foundations of a healthy relationship. And considering that money is one of the leading causes of marital discourse and divorce, it’s not a surprise that lying about money can be incredibly harmful to a relationship.
A study by the National Endowment for Financial Education found that 76% of people had their relationship harmed by financial infidelity, and in 10% of cases, financial infidelity led to divorce.
Even if you’re not married, lying about money can be harmful. Instead of being dishonest about your finances, work on setting healthy boundaries as a couple.
As long as you don’t share your finances, you can acknowledge together that it’s okay for each of you to keep certain parts of your finances private.
4. Acknowledge different spending styles
Not everyone approaches spending the same way. Some people are spenders, while others are savers. Some people value spending on experiences, while others prefer to spend their money on things.
There’s no right or wrong way to spend your money. As with most things, everything is okay in moderation, but potentially harmful when it’s done to the extreme. Being an extreme spender can cause problems, but so can being an extreme saver.
When you’re in a relationship, it’s important to acknowledge each other’s spending styles. It’s important to accept and respect the other person’s style, as long as it doesn’t become harmful.
If one person’s spending is causing legitimate financial issues, then it might be time to enlist help, such as from a financial therapist or a money coach.
5. Identify shared financial values
You and your partner don’t have to agree on everything to have a successful relationship. But it is important to have shared values. And since money is such a central part of most people’s lives, it’s especially important to share financial values with your partner.
Even if you and your partner don’t agree on everything when it comes to money, it’s important to identify those values you do have in common.
6. Ignore traditional gender roles
Traditional gender roles rear their ugly heads in all areas of relationships, including finances. Historically speaking, men have been the primary breadwinners and have made the big financial decisions for the family, while women manage the day-to-day spending.
While it would be nice to think times have changed, the change is happening more slowly than most of us would like to see.
In 2020, just 30% of heterosexual couples have a female breadwinner and half of American women still hand over handling of their household finances to their husbands.
Whether you’re married or not, now is the time to stop assigning household duties based on gender. Certain individuals naturally gravitate to certain tasks, and that’s okay.
But it’s important that no matter who updates the budget or oversees the investment accounts, both partners be equally involved in the decision-making. This will help to provide security in your relationship.
Additionally, if you’re a high-earning woman, feel confident in what you bring to a relationship. Sure, there are men who are still uncomfortable with the idea of being with a woman who earns more than they do. But do you really want to be with one of those men?
7. Decide as a team how you’ll split expenses
If you and your partner don’t share a bank account, it’s important to have an honest conversation about how you’ll split expenses. This is especially important if you live together.
There are two primary ways to approach this. First, you might decide to split everything down the middle. You could split each individual bill 50/50, in which case one person would make the monthly payment and the other would reimburse them for their half.
You could also split up the bills so that you each cover roughly half. That might look like one partner covering the rent, while the other covers all the other household bills.
The other way you could split expenses is to have each partner pay a portion of the bills that correspond to the percentage of the household income they earn.
For example, if one partner brought in 60% of the household income and the other brought in 40%, then they would split the expenses on a 60/40 basis.
8. Don’t combine finances too early
When you find someone you want to spend your life with, it can be easy to jump in with both feet. But when it comes to combining your finances, caution is imperative.
When you’re married, you have some legal protections. Either through your prenup or your state’s laws, a predetermined amount of your combined money belongs to you. If the relationship ends, you’re legally entitled to your share.
But when you’re not married, there are no such protections. And with a joint bank account, there’s nothing that precludes a partner from withdrawing money without your consent.
Until there are legal protections in place, it’s best to continue to hold separate finances. This piece of relationship advice for women as it relates to money is something to definitely keep in mind.
9. Prioritize your own financial health
In a relationship, many people — especially women — are tempted to put their partner first. But when it comes to your financial health, it’s okay to be selfish. When you and your partner aren’t married, both of you have to prioritize your own financial health first.
Imagine an example where your partner has made some poor financial decisions and you’d like to help them out of it. It’s okay to do that, as long as you’ve secured your own financial oxygen mask first, such as making sure you have a fully-funded emergency fund and have prioritized your debt over your partner’s.
10. Set financial goals together
One of the best ways to get on the same page financially with your partner is to set shared financial goals. Even when you and your partner don’t have joint finances, setting goals together is a great way to make it seem like you’re on the same team.
Another benefit of setting shared financial goals is that it can help to keep you both on track financially. It can be incredibly difficult to save money without a goal in place.
There’s always something you’d rather spend the money on. But when you’ve identified a financial goal you’re both excited about, it will easier to stay committed to your budget.
11. Avoid judgment
Money can be a sensitive topic, and it’s easy to feel regret or embarrassment over financial decisions you’ve made in the past. Those negative feelings are compounded even more when you feel you’re being judged for them.
When it comes to relationship advice for women about money, not placing judgment should be a priority.
If your partner has made financial decisions that you disagree with, avoid judgment. When you judge their choices, you’ll only drive a wedge in the relationship.
12. Approach conflict with empathy and respect
Conflict is inevitable in a relationship, and financial conflict is incredibly common. Sometimes you might even have a jealous partner. It’s important to always remember that you’re on the same team.
Even when you and your partner disagree, approach the conversation with empathy and respect. Doing so will ensure that no matter the outcome of that one argument, you still have a healthy relationship.
Leverage this relationship advice for women about money!
Dealing with money in your relationship doesn’t have to be painful. While there will always be challenges to deal with, approaching them with the right strategies and the right mindset can make the world of difference for your relationship.
Above everything, just remember that you and your partner are on the same team. The more open and honest communication you have, the healthier your financial relationship will be!