How do you talk about money with your husband?

by Erika Torres

Who manages the finances in your relationship? It’s rare that it’s a 50-50 split, and it tends to be easier to just let one person manage the finances. But what about the other partner? How are they involved in the finances?

It’s one of my goals this year to get my husband more involved in our finances.


Eric has very little to do with our finances. I am the financially savvy one (he readily admits this) and I actually enjoy budgeting. Crunching numbers, re-working our goals, talking about Roth IRAs and 401Ks gets me all crazy sorts of excited. My husband, on the other hand, just wants to know when he can buy energy drinks again at the local 7-11.

These are some of the ways I’ve tried to keep a conversation flowing regarding our finances.

Weekly Emails

Every week or so, I would send Eric an email with the status of our accounts. How much we had on the credit cards, what was in our bank account, how much we had to last us until our next paycheck. He would skim through the email and that was it. We didn’t talk goals. I knew our goals. My husband knew I was taking care of those goals.

Actual Conversations

I heard or read somewhere that you’re supposed to set a specific date and time each week to get together with your spouse and talk about finances. Some people do it over a nice lunch, but since we’re too broke to be able to afford to go out to eat just so we can talk about how broke we are, we I decided we would talk every Thursday evening after dinner.

That lasted one week.

No Conversations at all

And then you have where we are now. No emails, no discussions, just an argument every now and then about how he’s spending too much.

I know this isn’t the best way to handle finances in a marriage. I really have tried to make an effort to discuss our finances, but I find that he’s just disinterested in it. He doesn’t get the high that I do when it comes to crunching numbers, even though he’s the math guy. And then, I also find it hard to carry ona  conversation about our finances. I simply say “so this is what we paid off this week” and he goes “cool.”

I need suggestions. I need concrete specific tips. I want my husband to be more engaged, and I don’t want all the burden of financial planning to fall on me.

So how do you talk about finances in a relationship?

This post, written by me, was originally published on ImpulseSave.


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Moma February 6, 2012 - 10:41 pm

Relationships differ. Growing up, my mom (stay at home mom) handled all our finances/bills/accounts etc. When we got married, I assumed this would be my job… turns out, my hubby is a 1000x better than me at this. When I married him, I still had a student loan, owed money on my (old-ish) car, and a maxed out credit card. Withing 5 years of being married (including having 2 kids) we own 2 brand new fully paid cars, a plot with no morgage, an apartment with a full morgage and a house with about 1/5 of the of the original morgage left. The trick? He owns his own (very small) company, pays himself a very small salary (like an allowance) and saves the rest in bulk – and every 6 months dump the money on whatever bond/morgage/loan needed to be paid. This money is over and above the normal down payments (my responsibility) on all those items. It really is more satisfying to see your morgage reduce by $40k at a time, than just the $4k that you might have manage to add extra if you, say, got a bonus. PAY YOURSELVES ALLOWANCES, pay your morgages/most expensive loan first and SAVE EVERYTHING ELSE. What also helped is that he turned his hobby (skydiving) into something that generates money for him instead of costing him money(he does tandems on one day of the weekend and I babysit)…. and that is our fun-money (all the treats – including some groceries and take-outs). Whenever we talk about money, we used to fight – I firmly believed I was better with managing money, but now I realise it is the other way around!!

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MyMoneyDesign February 6, 2012 - 5:09 pm

Great topic! My wife and I have an ongoing joke that I’m the “financing department” and she’s the “purchasing department”. LOL. It’s funny, but it’s also true. I’m one of those people who emails their wife once a week with an update on how things are going. The whole “let’s sit down and talk about this” has never really worked for us. An email is less formal but still gets the message across.

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Kristin February 2, 2012 - 7:59 pm

My husband runs the finances around here. It’s not that I can’t; it’s that it stresses me out and I’m a saver because I’m always afraid of running of money. He does all the bills, takes care of the debt, and has 15 different spreadsheets going. We both work, but it’s just better this way. I hate numbers and money!

Tim @ Faith and Finance January 31, 2012 - 9:06 am

We usually talk about it in the evenings after dinner – probably on a monthly basis or every 3 weeks. I really like the idea of sending an email with a quick overview of the account. Thanks for the tip 🙂

NoTrustFund January 29, 2012 - 5:54 pm

When we were engaged we discussed our finances every week for a few months and it really helped lay the ground work for our financial future.

I handle 99.9% of our finances and now we only discuss our finances on an as needed basis and it works out well.
I also try to give Mr. NTF an big picture updated every three months or so.

Randa January 29, 2012 - 10:43 am

I guess I’m fortunate that my husband and I want to talk about it a lot – granted, we started dating when we were teens and so our financial selves have sort of “grown up” with each other. In a way, we were both learning how to budget and such while we were dating so it’s easy to talk about it.

One of the things that we do to keep us both talking is that we sit down at the beginning of the month and pay ALL of our bills for that month together – even if they’re due on the 28th, we pay it then so we won’t have to think about it again. This also goes for savings and such – we pay ourselves then so that it won’t be the end of the month and we’ve spent all the money and so we have nothing to add. We also like to have a 500 “cushion” in our account after bill paying to insure that we make it to the next paycheck [I’m bi-weekly but he’s freelance so he gets paid whenever]. Once bills are paid, everything else is just there for food, gas, random purchases, etc., and we use the accounts whenever we need them, checking them every once in a while and informing the other if it’s too low and we need to be a little more frugal. We do all grocery shopping together because (a) it’s fun for both of us and (b) it helps both of us see how much groceries cost. Also, anything over $20.00 has to be agreed on by both of us before we can buy it – it’s not a real “rule” but just something that we both started doing without even thinking about it. At the last consistent paycheck of the month [aka mine], we double check to see how much of a difference between what’s in our account and what we need to pay bills and then adjust our spending from there – 90% of the time, we don’t even need to adjust.

For your husband, I would try to find something budget-wise that he would find fun. For us, it’s grocery shopping [or shopping in general :0) ]. It doesn’t have to be something intense but something that you can do together that encourages talking about money. You can even make a game out of it! If grocery shopping, maybe the goal would be to stay under 50 or to guess how much your purchase will cost before it’s all rung up – this especially great for when you’re trying to subtly teach him the price of groceries without being preachy. :0]

Sorry for such a long post!

Edwin Goddard January 28, 2012 - 6:17 am

I got a great tip from Dave Ramsey. You need to sell him on the dream. Start talking about what you would be able to do once you were debt free. Think about what he likes. Maybe he enjoys eating out, which you say you can’t afford right now. Let him know if you get debt free then you will be able to afford to eat. You’ll have to go through a bit of pain now, but it will pay off.

Once he has the vision that life will be better then you will get him engaged in taking better care of your finances and you won’t be fitting a losing battle.

With my I was finding it really hard to get my wife involved in our finances. She has a student loan that she was making the minimum payment on and would have been saddled with for another 2 and half years. I was able to show her that if we put our minds to it we could be debt free by the end of the year . Then we would then be able to start saving for a deposit for a home of our own. She is now really on board and is tracking every penny that she spends.

Hope this helps!

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Lea January 27, 2012 - 12:30 pm

I handle all the finances in our marriage. My husband is like yours – he knows he’s not good with money and is fine with me taking the reins.

I think what you need to do is accept that Eric will never been as into finances as you. I’ll tell my husband things in passing (like, hey, our car loan is now at x amount, or I paid your dentist bill), but mostly he doesn’t know or care and I’ve gotten used to that.

What we do is give ourselves an allowance and that’s what my husband can spend (and same to me). The rest is split across bills, savings and money for us as a couple. If the money is gone, no fast food or slurpees for him until the next month.

Kellie January 26, 2012 - 5:04 am

I handle the finances in our house. My husband is great with money, but I am incredibly anal and organzied and I didn’t think I could stand letting this responsibility go! I usually do not explain every pay period to him but occasionally, I will tell him if we are short one week or if we made a large payment on a debt. We’ve had a few times where he gets upset knowing he is bringing in a paycheck and not knowing where it’s going and also feeling like we have nothing leftover. It can be stressful since we are trying to stick to a limited dining/grocery/extra budget but paying off these debts make it worth it!
I have been trying to give him a weekly summary of where our money goes, usually through email at work, but sometimes I’ll just show him our financial binder if he is curious as well.
By the way, I just started blogging about our debt. It’s not much yet, but I hope to use it to be responsible and accountable about our money. You have inspired me.

Megg January 25, 2012 - 8:15 pm

My husband manages 90% of our finances, haha.
We tried weekly emails and actual conversations too, and it didn’t go over well. Now we do send emails, but usually it’s “FYI we have X amount in the checking account, so be frugal until Wednesday”.
One thing that works for us (and may or may not work for you) is using mint.com. It’s helped a lot because we can both log in and see what our budgets are looking like (I love that part), how much we have in all our accounts, stuff like that. This works because I check it too, though, so if Eric isn’t into checking into your money situation, then that might not work. I like it because of the budgets, that helps me a lot.

Vlad January 24, 2014 - 5:12 pm

Hi,I pushed the buy butotn about on the dot (well, less than a second after). I got to the paypal logon screen, logged on and then onto the payment screen .the circle just went round and around. Luckily I had the time, and forethought, to start another purchase and that one was succesful while the 1st one just went round and round, waiting for what I do not know.Greg

shanendoah@The Dog Ate My Wallet January 25, 2012 - 6:56 pm

I manage the daily finances. C cares about our finances, but not about every little thing. He’s a big picture guy. We don’t have a weekly anything when it comes to money. It is a topic that is always open to talk about, but what happens most is this:
Roughly every quarter, I review our finances and our current plan. I look at what the plan currently is, determine if anything has changed, and look at alternate plans. I then send C an email (cc’ing myself) that says “this is the path we are on, if we keep on it, x will be done by y date, z will be taken care of by a, etc” and then I present a couple other plan options, letting him know what would need to change and how those changes would effect the goals laid out in our current plan. That way he has all the numbers in front of him, and when we’re both home, we can discuss and decide if we want to change anything.
He also asks questions pretty frequently. If we’re talking about something that can have a significant financial impact, he’ll ask good questions about how it changes things.
And every once in a while, he just wants to know how much we have in savings. And if it’s different from what he thought we should have, he’ll ask why.

This method works for us, because it works for our personalities. We’ve always discussed money openly (we combined accounts before we were even engaged) and it took some time, but our current pattern works really well

Tushar@EverythingFinance January 25, 2012 - 10:43 am

I would start the conversations in a positive way. like “Guess how much Money we saved this week? ” and then show him Mint.com.

Nicole January 25, 2012 - 7:14 am

I handle the finances too and I have to admit we don’t talk about it as much as we should. However, we do consult on how much we are saving, what our savings goals for the year are, etc. But as far as day to day spending we aren’t good at that. Maybe if you got him more involved he would become more interested though? How’s his new job going?

Ashley January 25, 2012 - 6:50 am

We are going through Financial Peace University right now. It’s definitely helped us to open up about finances. Even though the material being taught is fairly basic, it’s smart, and it’s good for starting a discussion between the two of us. But we’ll see if we continue talking about it once we’ve finished the class…

One Frugal Girl January 24, 2012 - 7:56 pm

Read The Family CFO! The book outlines an easy way to discuss money with your partner. In essence it focuses on easy ways to discuss your financial goals and making certain that you are both on the same page with them.

That book completely changed the way my husband and I talk about money. We used to hold an annual meeting, (a suggestion in the book), to discuss our goals and then followed up monthly to determine where we were with them.

We talk about money all the time these days so we aren’t so strict about our annual meeting, but if you’ve never had one before I think it’s a great way to start the discussion.

I know I’ve written about this many times on my blog but I can only seem to dig up one post about it right now.

Nichole C January 24, 2012 - 5:42 pm

Since it’s a new year and all, I have finally forced the hubs to merge bank accounts with me. It makes more sense and will hold us BOTH accountable for our spending. That was 3 weeks ago. No lie, tonight I have made sure there were no distractions so we could sit down, look at our bills and go from there and set a budget…and wouldn’t you know he just left to take the dog for a walk. I know he so does not want us to talk about this but we so need to.

Adrienne January 24, 2012 - 3:55 pm

This is great- thank you! I love the weekly email idea. As for conversations-er, uhm, we’ll work on that. I too manage the finances and hubband, well he spends them. I LOVE to budget, but like your husband, mine just wants to know how much he has! Thanks for the tips!

Lena at frugalandthankful January 24, 2012 - 3:49 pm

My husband is not very involved either. We keep planning those family “financial meetings” but they either never happen or I feel like I talk to the walls. He’s great in not spending anything, we usually discuss pretty much every dollar we SPEND but savings, investments, bills, ways to cut -it’s just not him!

Amy January 24, 2012 - 1:17 pm

I am the ubergeek about money in our marriage. Before we got married, he was drowning under huge debts from his divorce, creditors calling his house, etc. This totally scarred him and he wants nothing to do with budgeting, paying bills, etc. His eyes totally glaze over when I talk about money and he immediately gets a headache! After a long slog on his part (paying off $30K in credit card debt, finishing child suport payments for his 3 daughters), we are now at a place that we have no debt (car and condo paid for) and we save, between retirement, HSAs and non-retirement accounts about 70% of our salaries. I ask him “How can you NOT want to know what’s going on?!!” He responds that he trusts me that I’ll pay the bills (definitely) and he knows that I love stirring around, making budgets, saving money, scrimping, etc. Bottom line – I email him once a month with our updated net worth figures. He truly doesn’t want to think about money because of the past problems.

Kris@SimpleIslandLiving January 24, 2012 - 12:07 pm

My husband isn’t interested either. Well, not that he’s not interested, he’s just not interested in seeing where every cent goes. I am. He likes knowing we’re saving, likes knowing we have money enough to pay bills and for him to get a burrito every once in a while (not now though).
One time he told me what a former manager told him, which was “everyone in a company has a job – make money or save the money”. We’ve kinda adopted that philosophy at home – he focuses on making money, I focus on saving it. Obviously those two overlap, but those are our focuses.

From Shopping to Saving January 24, 2012 - 10:45 am

It’s easy to talk to BF about finances but it took me awhile for him to sign up for Mint (he’s 31 so he still thinks it’s not safe), to sign up for a 401k and to open a Roth IRA. Thankfully his new employer forced him to open up a 401k and then during tax time he was $1,000 away from the lower salary bracket so he opened up a roth. Hehe! We’re pretty good at discussing money since we are planning to buy a place together. We discuss money matters for big purchases and savings. It’s always great to have a common goal especially since we have separate accounts for now. Once we get married I don’t anticipate it changing much except for combining most of our accounts and I will probably be the sole person handling our bills. I’m just more computer savvy (as much as he hates to admit that).

Jessica @ Budget For Health January 24, 2012 - 10:26 am

I found that Mint.com has been very helpful since you can choose the option to have a summary emailed to you weekly or monthly. You wouldn’t have to worry about sending him anything and Mint shows where you overspent and what categories your spending was in the past 7 days. We are both living very simply right now while paying off student loans, so it’s easier to keep each other posted when a payment is coming up. Mint also has reminders that let us know when a payment is coming up, even if it’s auto withdrawal. Have you asked what his thoughts are on being involved? Maybe he’s not interested in being involved with every decision, but if he can identify what areas he doesn’t mind helping out in, it would relieve some of the burden of carrying your finances by yourself.

Jeff @ Sustainable Life Blog January 24, 2012 - 9:04 am

I think that you’ve got a framing problem, and I was going to suggest about the same thing that shellie did.
Dont talk about numbers, getting out of debt, etc. While that works for some people (like you) it doesn’t seem to be working for your husband. Frame it in terms of goals, worry free vacations that you both can take more frequently with the expanded cash flow – show him a budget where you’re making 0 debt payments and say we can put all this to our honeymoon or a weekend away or whatever.
Perhaps he wants something else other than vacations – try to figure out what that is, and present in terms of that.
good luck!

KendraD January 24, 2012 - 8:42 am

I’m incredibly lucky that my husband and I have been super forthright about our finances since before we got married. When we first acknowledged how serious we were we discussed income, debt, and financial planning.

We manage our finances by having a joint account that everything is paid into and out of. We each have our own account connected to the joint account that is just ours. Originally those were going to be our allowance accounts, but we’ve never actually used them that way. They just sit here for now. We also each have our own separate credit card. This is because he had an Amex card and I wanted us to have a credit card more readily accepted everywhere.

Right now, since we live in Germany and have to pay bills in Euro we also have an account at a separate bank for that. My husband completely manages that one from transferring the funds there and making sure that payments go through. Those are all set amounts though, so it’s not that difficult.

Both of us check our accounts daily and we talk regularly about how things are going. We do not wait until there is a problem but rather keep money part of a regular dialog so that nothing ever becomes a problem. We’re both constantly aware of what has to be paid and how much money we have left. Rarely, if we start to get tight then we’ll set a spending limit until our next pay check.

Little House January 24, 2012 - 7:11 am

I recently had this conversation with my husband and I signed up for Mint.com so he could see all our finances. I’m still in charge of paying bills and budgeting, but at least he has access to the accounts (in a read-only view!). We don’t really argue about money, but I do set goals that he doesn’t know about. 🙂

Emily @ evolvingPF January 24, 2012 - 6:56 am

My husband is just as capable as I am in handling our finances (more so, in many ways) but I am more interested so I stay a bit more engaged and usually end up paying off the credit card on my schedule (nearly all our other bills are on auto-pay) and transferring money in and out of our short-term savings accounts.

I guess you guys approach the situation differently than we do because I don’t really understand why you need all these formal communications. Do you use Mint or another auto-tracking software that you both can access? When my husband and I talk about our finances it’s rarely an actual exchange of information (balances, budget status) because we both check Mint on a pretty regular basis. It’s more about making decisions – “Should we go out to eat?” “Can I buy some new jeans?” Every few months when our budget shifts up we sit down together to tweak it, but that’s it for formal conversations.

I guess what I’m saying is, would it work to give Eric access to your information, for instance through Mint or something similar, and then not do any other information-transfer communication, only decision-making? Would he look at the information on his own?

Dave Hilton January 24, 2012 - 6:50 am

For a long time my wife handled the finances & she’d only come to me when there was a problem. That worked for a while, but it got to the point where there were problems all the time.

The longer she’d wait to say something, the more upset I’d be when she finally did, which made it so she didn’t want to tell me at all. It was a horrible downward spiral that could of ended very badly.

When I noticed the alarming trend- I had to suck it up and adjust how I responded. I was making the situation worse & needed to adapt to her conflict style.

Now we complete our monthly/quarterly money plans together. We discuss all purchases, identify possible issues, plan for future needs & go over what actually happened as a team.

She still pays most of the bills…but we’re both aware of what’s going on at all times. Money fights/arguments/problems are very rare.

Michelle January 24, 2012 - 6:28 am

I handle our finances too (nearly 100%). I want to get him more into it also. It’s hard though. He is not financially savvy (and he admits that also).

Shellie January 24, 2012 - 6:14 am

I’m the money boss too. I usually pay the bills on Saturday night (I know, awesome social life I have) from the laptop while on the couch. My husband is at the other end of the couch watching TV. I talk to him about what I’m paying and how we are doing. (Thank God for TiVo. How did people survive without being able to pause TV?)
Anyway, I have a spreadsheet of our weekly bill schedule and another of our total debt. I show it to him so he can see how we are doing. I make him stop and focus on it for a few minutes.
He is mostly un-interested but I make sure he always knows what is going on. I don’t ever want him to be surprised but us being out of money or feel like I am the only one in control of our financial future.

My little secret? It’s kinda childish, but I often talk to him about what he wants to do once we are out of debt (11 MONTHS, wahoo!). Getting him excited about new things to get or upgrade really helps keep him focused!

krista January 24, 2012 - 5:18 am

I am not sure how you and your hubby get paid but one week I get paid and one week my hubby gets paid so everyday sunday we sit done together and pay the bills together. This has worked so good for us because we are saving and only now have one credit card to pay off.

Jane January 24, 2012 - 5:13 am

Michael’s not very interested either. We have no joint accounts – he writes me a cheque once a month for his share of our expenses but I do all the bill paying etc. To tell you the truth I prefer it this way – I like to have CONTROL! BUT it would be nice to chat about it once in a while. He’s never been that great with money but I am rubbing off on him and he’s really started to save and also to budget!

Travis @Debtchronicles January 24, 2012 - 4:50 am

I used to take care of all our finances, but I had a huge problem saying “no” to things we couldn’t afford. Then, as our credit card debt mounted, I hid from my wife how bad it was so she wouldn’t worry.

It didn’t work in any sense of the word. Now, we’re digging out of debt together, doing finances together. Each week we discuss our spending plan for the next week, and make sure we’re on track.

We withdraw cash for the spending, and when it’s gone, we’re done spending.

Life is so much less stressful when you do things together!


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