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How Money Impacts Relationships

budgeting financial literacy how to talk about money money and relationships money stress Mar 15, 2023

Money is something that can create conflict and also can create a lot of freedom. When you think of the word relationship and money, I'm guessing the first type of relationship that enters your head is a romantic one. Be that with a partner, husband or wife. A lot of couples do not talk about money. There is an age-old taboo that we don't talk about money because it's not considered polite.

The thing is, the less you talk about it, the bigger an issue it can become over time, even if you are aligned in many ways. There will always be some areas that partners will disagree on when it comes to money, be that their own finances, or how to teach their children about money.

I will be doing a separate article on how to teach your kids about money, because I'm on that journey with my 7 year old daughter, and it's an interesting journey to go on. However, it is worth more than just a brief glance over.

There are 7 main areas that impact money and relationships.

The first three are more humanistic:
1. Values and lifestyle
2. Beliefs and habits
3. Time (which is when you want things whether it's now or future, and whether you're willing to wait).

The next four are more specifically related to money and are impacted by the first three:
4. Spending, also known as budgeting
5. Saving
6. Investing
7. Retirement.

Values and Lifestyle

This one runs deep, because understanding what your values are is very important. To clarify what I mean by “values”, these are not just what and whom you value. It is the inner compass inside you that directs your life and the decisions that you make (preferably consciously). However, this isn't something that we are taught or guided through. So it becomes a trial and error process. This is why I offer Values Discovery as part of all my private and group programs, PLUS on its own.

Once you understand what your Core Values are (mine are Creativity, Discernment, and Control), it makes making aligned decisions on anything SO much easier!

Once I came to understand what these are and how they play out in my life, it was a game changer. It also helped me understand better how to communicate my needs to my husband and also to those around me, because I understood myself better. Having that understanding makes the discussion around lifestyle also a lot easier.

Having a conscious discussion with your partner about what kind of house you want and why; what kind of car you want and why. Clarifying those expectations, while also understanding why you even have those expectations, is vital. Otherwise, you will be two ships heading in different directions and wondering why the other one does not understand what you're trying to do. Plus, you will both be wondering why you aren't heading in any real direction because essentially you're both aimlessly heading somewhere that you may or may not be consciously aware of. This is where a great deal of financial conflict occurs in relationships.

Beliefs and Habits

What we believe to be true about ourselves is the truth. This identify is built up during childhood, from things we saw and heard, and what we were told by those around us – parents, grandparents, teachers, friends, etc.

Our behaviours then were formed around these beliefs, and with enough repetition they became our habits. Then those habits would reaffirm the beliefs we had and we then just “knew” those beliefs were true.

Money beliefs and habits can be a minefield, as when they were formed we weren’t yet conscious aware that this was happening. The years and years of conditioning became ingrained without our conscious “permission”. It’s only as an adult that we can start to become aware of these. Awareness is the first step to making any changes.

It’s not realistic to jump right into this with your partner, but you can start to become aware, and then observe your partner and the languaging they use around money.

You can also start a conversation on this and see how deep you can go…

Timing (when you want things)

We live in such a “now” culture. Everything is available immediately, and the concept of delayed gratification has almost vanished.

In terms of money, Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) has amplified this exponentially.

It’s important for you and your partner to be clear on what expectations you have in terms of whether you’re willing to wait for something (and for how long). It clears up any misunderstandings…

Spending / Budgeting

This is a HUGE one, especially if your finances are combined. The best way to tackle it is to have a separate bank account each, and to have the same amount of money go into it each month. That money is then completely that persons to do with what they like – guilt free.

We all have spending triggers too, which are often routed in childhood experiences. Perhaps you or your partner did without when a child, and that may show up now as wanting to get your kids everything that could need or want.

Having clarity on what is essential and what is discretionary is important. That way there will be less arguments on what is important and what isn’t (as no doubt you won’t completely agree on this!).


This starts as a discipline and can become a habit. Getting you and your partner used to saving for things instead of putting things on credit is where you want to be headed towards. There will come out of the blue expenses (that is why you save into an Emergency Fund), and holidays (why you need a Fun Fund), and a new car (which you can save for in a Car Fun).

See where I’m going with this?

Figure out what you want to save for and how much you think you’ll need (discuss this as a couple), and then figure out how much each month you can put into which Fund and automate that saving!


Investing is something that we all can do, regardless of how much debt you have. There are some qualifications to that (such as if you have a lot of personal debt), however, generally speaking, it is possible (and necessary) to invest small amounts regularly outside of superannuation.

When it comes to investing, understanding your expectations and risk profile is very important. Equally that your partner understands theirs as well.


That vision of what life will be like when you are child-free, debt-free, and work-free. Sounds idyllic? It could very quickly turn out not to be if you aren’t clear on what sort of a retirement you each want and how much that lifestyle will cost.

You and your partner really need to be on the same page with this one. Understanding the expectations you each have is a start, and then finding out how much you need to have put aside in superannuation and other investments is the next step (and this will depend on what age you each want to retire at).

In my case, this is complicated by the fact that my husband is 10 years older than me and wants to retire before he turns 60! Needless to say we have had numerous conversations on this topic…

Start by writing out where you’re at with each of these areas, and then introduce your partner to this little by little. Set some time aside – maybe go out for dinner and agree to spend some time discussing this. It’s important to schedule it in and make it regular.