Fighting about money

by Erika Torres

In our almost two years of marriage, the biggest fights Eric and I had were about money. There’s just so much to fight about: we don’t have enough money, how we spend money, how we save money, what we plan to do with our money, who makes more money, who makes less money, who spends more money, what we spend money on…

Fighting about money is a common theme. So the other day, Eric and I were reminiscing about how far we’ve come this past year and how we haven’t had a fight over money in a long time. And considering we used to argue at least every couple of weeks over some expense (“You spent $4 at Starbucks?! Why can’t you get your coffee for 89 cents at 7-11?!?!?!”) , this is huge for us.

Why we fight about money

We fight about money because we each came into the relationship with different views on how our money should be spent. Eric wasn’t as gung-ho about being debt free as I was. And he didn’t see the financial havoc that his daily $5 purchase here and $3 purchase there was causing on our monthly budget.

Because I was the one crunching the numbers each month and doing somersaults to pay our bills, he could continue to be ignorant about our financial well being.

On the other hand, I was also a bit of a miser. It was hard for me to enjoy anything that cost us money because I knew that was money that wouldn’t go toward our debt.

Our Biggest Fights about money

The biggest fights we have over money involved small purchases. Of course, there were the “big” purchases too, like the time he bought the flat-screen tv without asking me first, or the time he bought a new cell phone when we were paying off his $4,000 in credit card debt.

But for the most part, it’s the small purchases that got to me. He had no problem with buying his lunch every day rather than packing. It was these small purchases that added up that caused our budget to be screwed time and time again.

Another big argument, of course, is just not having money. Eric wanted to keep spending like he did when he was single and racking up debt, except now I was on the hook for his purchases as well. He was messing with my financial security and that did not suit well with me.

What we learned about fighting over money

Over the many, many arguments we had about money, we learned to *gasp* compromise. We have slowly–and I do mean slowly, because it’s taken us 2 years to get to this point–adapted to each other.

I think our biggest moments came when Eric started being more mindful of his small purchases. The other day he bought sandwich meat from Smart N Final instead of Trader Joe’s because, as he said, “I got a lot more meat for less cost.” My heart swelled with pride.

A big display of my progress came this past week, when I noticed he made a $3.45 Starbucks purchase and I didn’t even freak out. Starbucks to me is practically the anti-Christ. It’s not because I don’t love it–I do. But I cannot justify spending $5 for a cup of coffee when it would cost me mere pennies at home. So when Eric goes there, it really makes my blood boil. But I’ve also realized, he works 12-hour shifts, and heck, sometimes a man just wants a cup of coffee, right!?

So this is where I have to remind my bitchy self to let my man enjoy his cup of coffee.

I can admit it.

However, I do still have to keep him in check with how often he eats out.

How we’ve resolved fights about money

I have no doubt that we will continue to have more arguments about money. But I am so happy with how far we’ve come.

There are a few things that have helped us resolve fights about money:

  • becoming a two-income family again has definitely relieved some of the pressure I felt to pay the bills
  • moving into our new home–even though more expensive than the shack we used to live in–has allowed us to feel just SO much better about ourselves and we don’t feel as poor anymore
  • Making extra money has helped A LOT because we are still saving for fun things

The other thing that has helped us resolve fights is compromise. I’ve learned to ease up, and he’s learned to save money.

How do you resolve fights about money?



parmlaniado13@gmail.com June 10, 2016 - 2:26 am

Thanks for sound advice on not only managing money together as a couple but providing the same basic concepts (like resolving not to yell and going over things together) that can apply to all areas of marriage and make it better for both partners!

A blog about newlyweds managing finances in relationships. | Newlyweds on a Budget June 11, 2012 - 4:21 am

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Anna @ Good Cents Savings March 19, 2012 - 10:47 am

I think that eating out, expensive coffee, etc, is such a common source of tension because 1) even though the cost of each incident is small it can easily add up, and 2) because how excited can you get about lunch that someone else ate or coffee that someone else drank? At least with the tv you get to watch it too. 🙂

Thanks for sharing how you two approach this stuff!

eemusings March 17, 2012 - 6:54 pm

We definitely used to fight a lot about money – but now T has his own money to spend no questions asked, and that we have an understanding that we discuss purchases beyond that, things are going pretty smoothly.

Also, please return to full RSS feed posting, or I will probably unsubscribe!

Saturday Afternoon Reading Salon March 17, 2012 - 4:34 pm

[…] Newlyweds on the Budget is Fighting about money. […]

Dave Hilton March 17, 2012 - 11:29 am

I can’t even begin to count the number of divorce mediations where differing views of money management has been one of the biggest issues to resolve. People will spend more time arguing over credit card airline miles than about guardianship or visitation for their children!

Incompatible conflict personality styles, inconsistent values and interests and underlying generational, gender or cultural based views just fuel the financial conflict.

A good number of my new conflict coaching clients have started to have a financial theme, too.

It’s great to see the two of you have been able to compromise and cooperate recently!

Not My Parents Relationship March 16, 2012 - 1:42 pm

I grew up with my parents fighting about money, a lot and loud!! 🙁 So trying to be married without those fights started with us having discussions before we got married. It is different with the single income scenario. I know the important work is raising and teaching our kids 🙂 and unfortunately that falls so much on my wife. But it takes some effort and energy to concentrate on bringing income from our own business too!
Have any of you been accidentally modeling your parents in the fights about money?

Canadianbudgetbinder March 15, 2012 - 10:31 am

My wife and I have never fought about finances likely because we are on the same page when it comes to spending, saving and investing for our future. It’s best to learn about each others finances,spending and saving habits before making the plunge into marriage. It’s better to learn before than after. Cheers Mr.CBB

Canadianbudgetbinder March 15, 2012 - 10:29 am

My wife and I have never fought about money. We are both on the same page when it comes to spending, saving and investing. We both like to be frugal and shop at second hand stores. I think couples should talk about finances before making the plunge. It’s better to sort it out before then later. Cheers and great post! Mr.CBB

Matt March 15, 2012 - 8:38 am

My wife and I have had more disagreements over finances than anything else. What has helped us is sitting down and doing a budget before each month begins and we both agree on where our money is going to go as well as how much individual “blow” money we each get. I would add that everybody must have some money to spend however they wish.

Amandalynn Sawyer March 15, 2012 - 7:26 am

I read this quote yesterday, and I have to say that both Jeremy and I both agree that its true!

“The only people who don’t argue about money, are those who have too much of it”


Jeremy & I argue about money all the time, mainly because I am ignorant when it comes to saving – my parents didn’t save a stitch! – and hes the king of all things financial. I have learned to defer to him and only ask if its something that i really need or if its something that i REALLY want, and then we figure out if we can swing it in the ‘master plan’. It works out… haha.


Shannon March 15, 2012 - 3:50 am

I’m so lucky we have managed to combine our finances and have me take control of them all without a single fight. Perhaps some frustration but I can’t blame the guy. As a single man the responsibilities were different compared to the fact that there is a kid that WONT stop growing and needs new shoes every five minutes.
However, we are still working on this eating out for lunch everyday habits too:) Slowly but surely.

Aloysa @ My Broken Coin March 14, 2012 - 7:42 pm

We don’t fight about budgeting, or about saving. We mostly fight about me spending and him trying to save. But it is so seldom that I don’t even remember when we fought the last time. However, I remember us having quite a lot of money conversations in the beginning of our relationship. But we are pretty much on the same page. Most of the time. 🙂

Christopher @ This That and The MBA March 14, 2012 - 7:25 pm

Woooo hooo finally someone else that is driven crazy by the small purchases. My wife used to think i was crazy for nit picking at the little purchases. It drove me crazy she would just stop and get coffee and I would see the full coffee in her car later that night. Barely a few sips gone. That wasnt all the time but it happened enough thate every small purchase drove me crazy.

Adrienne March 14, 2012 - 4:32 pm

We rarely fight about money, but we’re still newlyweds, so we still fight about everything else, and the conflict resolution is still the same. Understanding, compassion, and the dreaded- compromise- eek! go a long way. I love that you’re looking back to see how you’ve grown- that’s fantastic! 😀

Teacher Girl March 14, 2012 - 3:29 pm

It sounds like you guys have had the same issues many couples have when making a life together and that you have managed to handle them in a healthy and effective way. You should be very proud of that!

KendraD March 14, 2012 - 2:25 pm

We don’t fight about money. We originally set up a plan to have a joint account that all money went into and all bills were paid out of, and then we would each have a private account for our monthly allowances. We were just too lazy to actually do it that way. So we just use the joint account and then spend our money the way we want to. I do more of the planning over us paying off the loans I brought into our marriage and he does more of the saving.

We always talk together before making super big purchases (like cars), but we never have to check in with each other. So if I’m out with a girlfriend shopping, I can spend whatever I want. And if he’s out with the guys and comes home with a new surround sound system, that’s his call.

But then, both of us do a lot of research and wait for sales before buying anything.

Bijee March 14, 2012 - 1:00 pm

This was cute! Me and hubby never really fight about money cause I e’er the impulsive one and he was the more practical one. I felt an accountability to him son add we joined our finances and I asked him to let me handle it so I could learn. I have gotten much better, I knew what he was doing was making more sense ultimately. But on the compromise thing-my hubby said instead of marriage it should be called compromise, so he referees to our marriage add the compromise of july 2010….lol

shopping2saving March 14, 2012 - 10:18 am

OMG! Yes lots of couples fight about money. My parents got divorced when I was 2 because money played a huge factor in their daily arguments.

I will say that I am very happy and lucky that my BF was understanding of my spending habits but he never once got mad at me even after realizing I had a problem. Instead he had me research and realize what I got myself into and he watched me pay back all of my debt, with lots of reinforcement. Now we are on the same page and we rarely fight about money.

I can’t wait to move out of our little shack too so we can feel better about ourselves and not feel as poor. I can really relate to what you said about that. Looking forward to it!

frugalportland March 14, 2012 - 9:57 am

I appreciate your honesty! Posts like this are why I subscribe. When my parents were young, they fought about money all the time. So, they got a divorce. Or rather, their finances did. They split bills according to earning and Mom could buy clothes and dad could buy lunch every day. I’ve never heard them fight about money in my memory.

Elizbaeth @ Broke Professionals March 14, 2012 - 8:46 am

I would KILL my husband if he bought a big-screen TV without checking in first!!! My husband and I both came from savings-minded families, although he didn’t really know that; his parents lived a very frugal life, and my husband always just assumed they were broke. Nope – they were saving EVERY PENNY to renovate their dream home, which they did: IN CASH!

CeCe @Frugalista Married March 14, 2012 - 8:40 am

We don’t fight about money. I think it’s because he is very conscious about wasting money and while not as extreme as me he gets it. Also, he knows I’m the money person. I set up our budget. He transfers what’s expected into the joint checking and savings and what’s left is up to him. He did buy a flat screen TV….well actually TWO without consulting me and it freaked me out the first time but I just had to learn to step back and trust that he knows what he’s doing with his money. I can’t control EVERYTHING!! Even though I really want to. Glad you two have made great strides in learning to compromise on money. It’s always something to be dealt with so you have to learn how to deal with it.

Jordann @ My Alternate Life March 14, 2012 - 6:56 am

My fiancée and I don’t fight about money too much, but there are a few topics that get us discussing…passionately:
1) When either of us spends our personal “play money” on things the other doesn’t consider worthy. He thinks my lululemon collection is silly, I think the same of his vinyl and blue ray collection.
2) How much to save. Being a business student, I take the total amount I want to save, divide it by the number of weeks left till the goal date, and that’s what I save. He’s more loose and doesn’t appreciate my rigidity. However, he’s recently come over to the “pay yourself first” side so this should change in the future.

Jai Catalano March 14, 2012 - 6:34 am

Can I tell you how cool this post is? I am so happy to read this. I love family so you guys working it out “slowly” is super cool. My wife and I don’t fight over money. The reason is that my wife has very little emotion on it so it keeps us from arguing. I am always trying to control her spending and in the last few months she has appreciated my efforts. Sometime we splurge together but lately we have come up with more of a game plan and I credit team 3 and yakezie for that.

I am not going to lie… If you guys have kids one day make sure you both are on the page you are now because some of the arguments that one has while having kids are sometimes ridiculous. Here is what I mean. My daughter was SCREAMING at 6 am and I screamed over her voice to my wife and said wtf is wrong. She screamed over and said htf am I suposed to know. I screamed because your the mother. Where she replied well who’s fault is that?

By the way my daughter was hungry.

Daisy March 14, 2012 - 6:30 am

The boy and I have only had one fight about money, which was that I wanted to travel and he wanted to save. I convinced him that we could do both, and he’s now starting to see that it’s a possibility.

We don’t fight much about money simply because we’re both pretty good with it. He makes a lot, so his spending (which is pretty high actually) doesn’t impact us that much. I don’t make as much but I am pretty good at budgeting and saving.

Mysti March 14, 2012 - 5:45 am

Our fights are usually in the category of me freaking out and he apologizing and just keeps doing it.

For us…the way it started to get better was when G-man changed his part time job hours, and he was home an extra night. The money was the same…just re-arranging the hours. Once he started to get a taste of what “real” life was….to hang out on a Saturday night…..to not be on a schedule….he realized that THAT was what we were working for.

I just have to remind him that once we are debt free….we won’t need the part time job income, and he will have ALOT more family time.

Amanda @ Newlywed Trek March 14, 2012 - 5:37 am

Putting “allowance” categories in our budget of each of us has really helped. We’ve actually been spending less, especially on eating out, now that we know if we buy that combo for lunch, that’s less money for clothes (or whatever). I wouldn’t say we really have fights since we’re both committed to paying off debt, but my husband doesn’t want to give up as much as I do in order to make that happen. I’ve finally decided that it’s okay to spend a little money while we’re still young!

Michelle March 14, 2012 - 5:24 am

We don’t fight too often, but when we do, it’s about our eating out. We’ve been a lot better lately.

Paul @ The Frugal Toad March 14, 2012 - 5:12 am

Having a separate account for our personal expenses has made a difference for us. Bottom line, if you don’t trust your spouse you are bound to have conflict.


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