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Money imbalance in relationships (How to make your relationships and money work better)

There are a lot of ways that money can create an imbalance in relationships.

For example, one person may make significantly more money than the other, which can lead to feelings of inequality and resentment. Alternatively, one person may be better at managing money than the other, making one person feel like they have to juggle finances and handle all money-related duties constantly.

Money can also cause problems if couples have different spending habits. One person may be a spender while the other is a saver, leading to conflict over how to use or save money.

Additionally, debt can cause severe financial stress for couples – especially if only one partner is responsible for it.

If you’re dealing with money imbalances in your relationship, discussing it openly and honestly with your partner is essential. Trying to hide financial problems or keep money secrets will only worsen things in the long run. Instead, work together to develop a plan to get on the same page financially. This may involve creating a budget, getting help from a financial planner, or making other changes to how you handle money as a couple.

Read on to hear how you can start solving money imbalances in your relationship.

money imbalance in relationships
To me to you: money imbalance in relationships
Photo by Alexandra Tran on Unsplash

How money can affect relationships

While many factors can affect relationships, money is often one of the most significant. Money can impact relationships in several ways, both positive and negative.

On the positive side, financial security can provide couples stability and peace of mind. This can be especially important during difficult times, such as when illness strikes or a financial emergency arises. Having adequate resources can help couples weather these storms and come out stronger on the other side.

On the negative side, money can also lead to tension and arguments if couples disagree about their finances. One person may be a spender while the other is a saver, or one may have debts that the other does not feel comfortable with. These differences can lead to conflict if they are not addressed and resolved healthily.

The Pitfalls of a One-Sided Financial Relationship

A one-sided financial relationship occurs when one person carries the majority of the financial burden while the other contributes significantly less or not at all.

This imbalance can lead to resentment, strained communication, and a breakdown in trust.

The person shouldering the financial responsibility may feel overwhelmed and unsupported, facing increased stress and limited personal growth opportunities.

Meanwhile, the financially dependent individual may lack motivation to take responsibility for their own financial well-being.

To address this issue, open and honest communication is crucial.

Couples or partners in this situation must work together to find a more equitable and sustainable financial arrangement.

Establishing clear expectations and finding a balance in financial responsibilities is vital for building a healthy and mutually beneficial financial partnership.

How money can affect relationships

Money ImbalanceDescriptionSolution
Income DisparityWhen one partner earns significantly more or less than the other, leading to potential differences in financial contributions.Explore a fair and equitable distribution of financial responsibilities, such as proportionate contributions or pooling resources. Communicate openly about financial expectations and find a balance that works for both partners.
Debt DisparityWhen one partner carries a higher level of debt compared to the other, potentially impacting financial decisions and stability.Develop a joint plan to tackle debt, including budgeting, prioritizing debt repayment, and seeking professional advice if needed. Establish a supportive environment to address financial challenges together.
Financial DependenceWhen one partner is financially dependent on the other, creating a power dynamic that can affect decision-making and autonomy.Encourage financial independence and empower the dependent partner through education, skills development, and opportunities for employment. Foster open communication to ensure both partners have a voice in financial matters.
Unequal Financial GoalsWhen partners have differing financial goals and priorities, potentially leading to conflicts and challenges in planning for the future.Engage in active and empathetic communication to understand each other’s financial goals. Seek common ground and create shared financial goals that accommodate both partners’ aspirations. Compromise and find a balance between individual and joint financial objectives.
Unequal Spending HabitsWhen partners have different approaches to spending and saving, potentially leading to disagreements and financial strain.Establish a budget together that considers both partners’ spending habits and financial goals. Practice open and respectful communication about financial decisions, finding compromises and ensuring both partners’ needs are met. Consider joint and individual accounts to manage finances effectively.
Lack of Financial TransparencyWhen there is a lack of openness and communication about financial matters, which can create trust issues and hinder joint decision-making.Promote transparency and trust by sharing financial information, discussing financial concerns, and setting aside regular time for money conversations. Establish shared financial goals and actively work towards them together. Seek professional help if necessary.
Unequal Financial ContributionsWhen partners contribute unevenly to shared expenses, causing financial strain and imbalance in the relationship.Reassess financial contributions based on each partner’s income and financial capacity. Consider proportional or equitable distribution of expenses. Focus on teamwork and open communication to find a fair arrangement that reduces financial strain on both partners.
Money imbalance in relationships

How to solve money issues in a relationship

Money can be both a blessing and a curse in relationships. Communicating openly with your partner about your financial goals and expectations is essential to help avoid potential problems down the road.

Money is one of the most significant sources of stress in relationships, so it’s important to have a plan for how you’ll handle it. Here are a few tips:

1. Talk about money early and often. Don’t wait until there’s a problem to start discussing finances. The earlier you start talking, the easier it will be to resolve any issues.

2. Be honest with each other. If one of you has more debt than the other, or if one of you earns more, be honest about it. Trying to hide financial problems will only worsen them in the long run.

3. Set some ground rules. Decide how much each person can spend without consulting the other, how you’ll handle joint expenses, and so on. Having a plan will help avoid fights down the road.

4. Make a budget. This will help you track your spending and ensure everyone is on the same page.

5. Talk about your financial goals. Do you want to save up for a house? Retire early? Travel the world? Knowing each person’s goals, you can work together to make them a reality.

6. Be supportive of each other. If one of you is trying to get out of debt, or save up for something big, be supportive. Offer encouragement and advice, but ultimately let them make their own decisions.

7. Seek professional help. If you’re having trouble managing your finances or can’t seem to agree on money matters, seek a financial planner to help you plan your path to financial freedom.

What’s the purpose of your money?

Your attitude to money is likely playing a big part in any money imbalances in your relationship.

The classic battle is between the saver and the spender or good and evil as I like to say.  

The Force vs the Dark side or vice versa depending on your outlook, i.e. you can’t take it with you, no, but it would be nice to have some of it on the last day (maybe?)

There can be a constant tension between who and how you earn money and then spend it.

One person’s investment in football stickers or shoes is another person’s version of burning it. Its seen as more or less the same outcome. The money has gone, and there is nothing worth showing for it.

And now you need to return to work to pay it off or buy more crap/useful items.

Who’s is who’s and what’s what – right, that’s all clear.

How you decide to spend, save and invest your money is crucial to working together on an agreed plan.

If there is no joint plan or vision of what your money is for, you may pull in opposite directions.

Have you agreed on what the purpose of your money is?  Is it for more stuff or more freedom?

Money imbalance in relationships can be a significant source of anxiety and stress.

For richer or poorer was the promise – OK, maybe it was a suggestion of how you could live your life together, but not if one would be richer and the other poorer.

Money issues in dating relationships and marriages can play a leading role in the ending, so here are a few ideas to try and ease the financial tension.

All I know is one of us is right, and the other one is you


Money imbalance in relationships
Financial imbalance in relationships

The big relationship killers (how many do you have?)

Not exactly a cheery bingo game but here goes

  1. Money – we get to that in a minute
  2. Family & Friends – do we have to see them again?
  3. Children – you can have as many as you like, just not with me!
  4. Sex – we’ve done it once this year that’s your lot.

In short, who decides how often, when and how all-cause tensions and arguments till death us do part (or divorce, then you can start having them all again with someone else)

It’s not my fault you thought I was normal – that’s on you


Does money affect your relationships?

Err yes, it’s always someone’s money that is getting spent and it better not be mine, I hear you say.

  • It’s the starter ordered when we said we were only doing mains!
  • The additional Alexa for the bathroom to stay connected!
  • The new shoes because the old ones don’t work in the autumn light!

All these microaggressions or slights can slowly chip away at your relationship.

If you find that one person controls all the money or thinks all the money is theirs, there might be an imbalance that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.

Relationships are like a walk in the park, Jurassic park


Money imbalance in relationships
Money imbalance in relationships

Money imbalance in relationships can be pivotal in affecting them for the better or worse.

Who earns the most? Tensions over money, especially who makes the most often sees one starting to control the others access and use of money. “My husband is controlling with money” is the classic case where the husband is earning the most leading to financial inequality in money and its use.

Who controls the money? If only one person makes all the decisions, it can feel like a dictatorship with the other “allowed” an allowance to live! Without equity in decision-making and access, resentment and growing tension will lead to resentment.

Are you keeping money secrets? Trying to keep secret what debts you have or how much you are spending is like a drunk driver looking for a wall to hit. Growing debts and spending without the income to pay it off will come to light sooner or later. The longer it goes on, the worse it will get when it comes out.

How do you decide to split the bills? Is it 50/50 or weighted on who earns what, i.e., who makes the most pays the most?

The restaurant bill is a classic example of this”, but you had two glasses of wine, and I had a soft drink!” “right hands up who had a starter and a sweet?”

Who does what in managing your household finances? Is there a clear separation, delegation and sharing of duties? Do you both feel in charge of your financial facts?

The above situations and questions highlight where tensions over control, transparency, clarity and accountability can arise over money and finances.

What’s the purpose of your money?

Your attitude to money is likely playing a big part in any money imbalances in your relationship.

The classic battle is between the saver and the spender or good and evil as I like to say.  

The Force vs the Dark side or vice versa depending on your outlook, i.e. you can’t take it with you, no, but it would be nice to have some of it on the last day (maybe?)

There can be a constant tension between who and how you earn money and then spend it.

One person’s investment in football stickers or shoes is another person’s version of burning it. Its seen as more or less the same outcome. The money has gone, and there is nothing worth showing for it.

And now you need to return to work to pay it off or buy more crap/useful items.

Who’s is who’s and what’s what – right that’s all clear.

How you decide to spend, save and invest your money is crucial to working together on an agreed plan.

If there is no joint plan or joint vision of what your money is for then you may be pulling in opposite directions.

Have you agreed on what the purpose of your money is?  Is it for more stuff or more freedom?

“Before you marry a person, you should first make them use a computer with slow Internet service to see who they really are.”

Will Ferrell

What’s your money script? (The right one, of course, there’s is wrong obvs)

Research by financial psychologist Brad Klontz has identified four money scripts or ways you might think about money. Are you any of these?

  1. Money avoider: Do you avoid money, thinking it is evil or something to be wary of? Rich people must be greedy, so you want nothing to do with them or become one.
  2. Money worshiper: More money will solve all my problems. They will never have enough money; the more money they have, the more happiness and power they will feel.
  3. Money status(er): Stuff, costly stuff, will bring you more status. Status brands are the must “oh is that the time” you say glancing at your Rolex.
  4. Money vigilant: Are you like a hawk watching your spending and budgeting? Frugality is your middle name; you like to save more than you want to spend.

Whichever one or more you are might help explain why you do what you do with your money and why they do what you do with YOUR money.

“My wife gets all the money I make. I just get an apple and clean clothes every morning.”

 — Ray Romano

How to deal with money issues in a relationship

Right here we go into the viper’s nest of relationships, standby

Tell the truth 

ARE YOU SERIOUS!!! Right that’s it I am outta here!

No, I’m serious tell the truth about what you earn, what you owe and what you spend your money on. OK, maybe not on the first marriage date, but soonish when it looks like it may be serious.

When they tell you how much they earn, notice how it makes you feel, do dollar signs light up or are you thinking, hmm, I ain’t paying for those poor choices? Better to know before you tie the knot.

Discuss your lifestyle ambitions

what are you aiming for, and is it compatible with them?

This may help prevent you from pulling in opposite directions of the spender and the saver, FOMO vs jomo (fear of missing out vs joy of missing out).

Do you want to buy and house, travel and or have kids all the things that will require money one way or another, and how would you like t plan for this or just wing it?

How will you balance spending vs saving? 

What’s on your horizon, and when will you need the money?

Working together on a lifestyle financial plan will be a great way to share your vision and agree on how you will jointly reach it, balancing today’s needs with your future vision.

What type of holidays will you go on and how frequently?

Will you chase the Jones’s next door or live your own life?

Come clean about your debt

What you’re planning to do about it.

Debt is going to be the treacle you try and swim through to get to your ideal lifestyle if you take more on, it’s going to become more and more difficult.

How will you manage your debt, and how will you decide if or what more debt to take on and when?

How will you jointly manage your finances?

A joint account could be a suitable method just as well as separate accounts if you both have transparency about what is happening.

One app available that will let you do this is Money Dashboard* which it brings all your financial info together to track and review.

Figure out your credit scores

Many free credit check agencies will give you your score and a few tips to increase your credit rating. Here are two CreditKaram and Clearscore

This type of check will also help uncover any skeletons in the closet or things you need to change to remove old relationships from your record.

Wanna see how people really are? Wait till money is involved…


FAQ: Money imbalance in relationships

How to handle money in relationships?

It’s essential to be honest with each other about money from the beginning of the relationship.

Money is often a source of stress in relationships, so it’s best to be open and honest about your spending habits and financial situation from the start.

If you’re in a long-term relationship, having regular money talks is essential to ensure both partners are financially on the same page.

Couples should discuss budgeting, retirement savings, and debt repayment. Having regular money talks can help prevent money-related arguments down the road.

How does money affect relationships?

Money can affect relationships in both positive and negative ways.

For example, money can help couples to feel more secure and stable in their relationship, and it can provide a sense of comfort and convenience.

However, money can also cause tension and conflict between couples, mainly if one person handles the finances while the other doesn’t or if one is the spender and the other is the saver causing conflict over how and what to use the money for.

What are financial red flags in a relationship?

Financial red flags in a relationship are indicators that there might be underlying issues with money management between partners.

One of the most common red flags is where there is a money imbalance in a relationship.

This happens when there’s a significant disparity in earnings or financial contributions, and it’s not handled well.

It can create tension if one person feels burdened or if the other feels disempowered. Other red flags include hiding purchases or debts, an unwillingness to discuss finances openly, having vastly different financial goals, and irresponsible spending habits.

It’s crucial to address these red flags early on to ensure a healthy and transparent financial dynamic in the relationship.

How do you deal with a financial imbalance in a relationship?

Dealing with a financial imbalance in a relationship, especially when you’re earning less than your partner, can be challenging. It’s not uncommon for money issues in marriage to arise from this imbalance. Here’s how you can tackle it:

Open Communication: Start by having an open and honest conversation about your financial situation with your partner. It’s important to communicate how you feel about earning less than your partner and discuss any money-related issues in marriage.

Set Financial Goals Together: Work together to set financial goals. Whether it’s saving for a vacation, paying off debt, or planning for retirement, make sure both partners are on the same page.

Value Non-Monetary Contributions: Recognize and appreciate each partner’s non-monetary contributions to the relationship. This can include household chores, childcare, or emotional support.

Create a Budget: Develop a budget that takes into account both partners’ incomes and expenses. Be fair and realistic in allocating responsibilities for bills and savings.

Maintain Some Financial Independence: It’s healthy for both partners to have some level of financial independence. Consider having a joint account for shared expenses but also maintain separate accounts for personal spending.

Seek Counseling if Necessary: If money issues in marriage are causing significant strain, don’t hesitate to seek counseling. A financial advisor or marriage counselor can provide guidance and help you work through these issues as a team.

Remember, a successful relationship is built on mutual respect, understanding, and teamwork. By addressing the financial imbalance head-on and working together, you can build a stronger and more financially secure partnership.

What is unequal financial responsibilities in a relationship?

Unequal financial responsibilities in a relationship occur when there is a disparity in the financial contributions made by each partner towards shared expenses and goals. This can take various forms and is often a source of tension.

For instance, if one partner says, “I make all the money in my relationship,” it means that they are the primary or sole earner. In such cases, the financial burden may fall heavily on them, and they might feel responsible for covering most or all of the expenses.

On the other hand, a scenario where “my boyfriend earns more than me but wants me to pay half” of the expenses, despite a significant income disparity, is another form of unequal financial responsibility.

In this situation, one partner may feel they are contributing a disproportionate amount of their income compared to the other, which can lead to financial strain and unfairness.

In both scenarios, it’s important for couples to communicate openly about their financial expectations and find a balance that feels fair to both parties.

This might include creating a budget, setting shared financial goals, and discussing how to equitably divide expenses in a way that takes into account each partner’s earning capacity and financial commitments.

It’s also essential to recognize and value non-monetary contributions to the relationship and foster teamwork and shared responsibility.

Can money issues ruin relationship?

Yes, money issues can indeed ruin relationships if not handled properly.

When you’re entering a relationship or marrying someone with no money, it’s important to understand that financial stress can put a strain on the relationship.

Money often represents more than just currency; it can symbolize security, freedom, and sometimes even self-worth.

If one partner enters the marriage with little or no financial resources, it can create an imbalance that leads to tension. The partner with more financial resources might feel burdened with supporting the household, while the one with less might feel inadequate or dependent.

Furthermore, differing financial habits and goals can exacerbate the issue. For example, conflicts can arise if one partner is a saver and the other a spender. Similarly, if there is a lack of transparency and communication about finances, it can lead to mistrust and resentment.

To prevent money issues from ruining a relationship, especially when marrying someone with no money, it’s critical to:

Communicate Openly: Have honest discussions about finances, expectations, and goals.

Set a Budget: Create a budget that reflects the financial reality of the relationship and stick to it.

Be Supportive: Understand that money isn’t everything, and be supportive of each other’s career and personal goals.

Seek Financial Advice: Consider speaking with a financial planner or coach to plan for the future effectively.

Work as a Team: Remember that marriage is a partnership, and it’s important to work together to overcome financial challenges. By taking these steps, couples can work through money issues and build a strong foundation for their relationship.

Summary: Money imbalance in relationships

Without a few changes in your money behaviours and habits, you might continue to have money issues in a marriage or your relationships.

Control over money is never a good way to start or continue a relationship. You need to figure out how the spender and the saver can coexist – maybe you need a financial lifestyle plan?

Come clean and share the damage. Better to come clean asap and start paying off the debt or get a refund for what you maybe could have done without buying.

Share responsibilities for managing your joint money leading towards your hopes and dreams for a good life together.

Decide what you really really really want and how to use your money to get it.

Plan for what you want, how to get it and deal with bumps in the road, i.e. redundancy, house or car emergencies, oh yeah and global pandemics when nearly everything stops.

Separate – will you keep some AGREED money separate for you to splurge without the guilt?

Need a Helping Hand with Your Finances? 🤝💰

If you’ve made it this far, congratulations! You’re already taking steps towards a healthier financial future. But maybe you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed. Maybe the thought of budgeting, saving, and investing still makes you break out in a cold sweat. Don’t worry, you’re not alone, and help is available.

At Financially Happy Money Coaching, I understand that money isn’t just about numbers. It’s about emotions, behaviours, and life choices. That’s why we’re here to help you take the stress out of money and build wealth in a way that aligns with your values and lifestyle.

Whether you’re just starting out on your financial journey or you’re looking to take your finances to the next level, we’re here to guide you every step of the way. I’ll help you understand your financial behaviours, set realistic goals, and create a personalized plan to achieve those goals.

So, why wait? Start your journey towards financial happiness today. Remember, the best time to start was yesterday. The second best time is now.

Click here to schedule your consultation and let’s make your money work for you, not vice versa. 💪💰

Remember, financial freedom isn’t a destination; it’s a journey. And every journey is easier when you have a guide. So, let’s embark on this journey together and create a financially happy future. 🚀💸

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