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Relationship + Money – Should Only One Control?

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RelationshipDo you believe in a relationship only one person should make the decisions or control the money?

I was watching an episode of Black-ish recently that talked about who controlled the money in a relationship.  One person’s job was to handle the kids and the other was to handle the money.  The money responsibilities were put onto one person because the other was afraid of money and didn’t understand how to manage it.  Since this is a sitcom the misunderstanding, frustration and resentment that ensued was all tied up at the end of the episode.  The reality is that this is something that happens all the time in relationships and causes a lot of pain, dysfunction and unbalance.

Shared Responsibility:

I personally don’t believe that only one person in a relationship should make all of the financial decisions and bare that burden.  At the very least the adults in the family have a responsibility to be equal to the decision making process.  Just as it wouldn’t be fair to have one person own all of the child care or house work, respectively it isn’t fair to have one person make all of the money decisions.

But why give up control?

There are several reasons that I think people give up control of something as important as money.


Tons of really smart people are afraid of money.  Yes I’m aware that in this example it’s only a sitcom and likely an exaggerated plot line however this is a not a made up concept.  In all honestly a lot of people make money out to be more complicated than it should be.  Money is just a tool to be used to exchange for the right to consume goods and services.

You might not LOVE dealing with money and you don’t have to love it, however you should have a basic understanding of what it takes to manage money.   It will also be better for you in the long run.

Imagine you can’t cook?  You could go to a restaurant every day – you still eat but you will likely spend a lot more money and won’t be in control of what you are putting in your body.  If you learned how to cook you would do more of the cooking at home, save some money and have an understanding of what you are actually eating.

The same thing applies to money.  You are likely going to have to spend it and isn’t it better to understand what goes into running your household and make decisions that work the best for you?


What if math or money isn’t your thing?

I get playing to your strengths but sometimes you have to do things you aren’t always good at.  I’m not the hugest fan of parallel parking.  If that is the only way I could get a spot so I could go to an appointment I wouldn’t just bail on the appointment.  I would take a deep breath, park my car and move on with my life.

If you are partnered up with someone who really gets money this is your free all access pass to increasing your skills and turn something you are afraid of into something you can at least manage.

Understanding money is a life skill and will help you at some point in the future.  To be clear I’m not talking about working out compound interest in your head.  The internet has a ton of calculators for literally anything personal finance related.  Also most people have phones with them all the time so they have access to a calculator.  I’m talking basic money management; how to pay bills, budget and save for retirement.

Honest Truth:

The honest truth is that life changes and suddenly people get sick or are not able to manage money.  Either your parents, partner or kids and it’s helpful to be able to pick up the pieces and continue on.  This is not being said to scare you.  This is the truth and there are tons of people, lots of them women who have never managed money.  When their partners pass before them they don’t have a clue how to manage their money.  I have seen it more times than I like to admit.

Age or gender do not limit your ability to understand money and many people who pass up this opportunity to learn and contribute to financial decisions are giving up value experience that might circle back to bite them.

Conflict in the relationship:

Look I get it talking about money is difficult sometimes.  There are so many things wrapped up in our money; pride, self-worth, value just to name a few.  From the stay at home mom who feels that she doesn’t have a say regarding money because she doesn’t make any, to the man who makes less than his partner and some how feels “less of a man” we allow how much money we make define our self-worth.  Your self-worth should be defined by what you bring to the table as a human being.  Compassion, kindness and love; not how much money you bring into your bank account.  If this is something you struggle with, we offer a free guide to communicating about money when you sign up for our newsletter.

[bctt tweet=”Your self worth is defined by your inner being, not your bank account.” username=”coupleofsense”]

You + Them + Money = Success

One of the first steps to having a successful relationship with money is understanding it.  So if you are afraid, think about why you are afraid.  Are you confused by money, scarred from a past experience, or just not sure if it even matters?  Once you figure out why are you afraid then you can figure out what to do about it.

My recommendation would be to talk about it with people you trust or read about it from people you believe are in the know.  There are tons of books, blogs, podcasts that discuss the basics of money management and that’s a great place to start.

You have the tools:

It’s important to understand budgeting, expenses, retirement plans and cash flow. Set a good foundation for yourself and expand out as you learn more to things like investing or estate planning.  You might surprise yourself by how great you are with money and money might then become less scary.

[bctt tweet=”Just remember that you are likely more afraid of money than money is afraid of you.” username=”coupleofsense”] Just park the car and move on.

What do you think?  Would you or do you give up the money reigns to another person.  Why or why not? Let me know in the comment section below.

“You can avoid reality but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality.” Ayn Rand

Take Care – Sarah

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  1. Apathy Ends says:

    I do about 95% of our money management, down to having the UN/Pw to all my wife’s 401k and Other employer accounts – she has 0 interest in figuring how much to save and where it should go.

    We do have the same thoughts however and both fully support the plan, I just put the plan into action

    • Couple of Sense says:

      It took me a while to figure out what UN/Pw meant. I thought it was an american retirement account or something. I think it’s great that you guys are on the same page but you are just putting the plan into action.

    • Couple of Sense says:

      I get wanting to make sure you have more control if the other is a spender but please be careful so you don’t get burnt out! It seems like there is a lot on your plate.

  2. Eric Bowlin says:

    Another point related to conflict… If one person controls the money, then if they make 1 poor decision that loses money (it will happen eventually) then it may create a huge conflict with the other person. If it’s a joint decision, blame can be shared equally.

    In my relationship, we have kind of naturally gravitated toward managing things that uses each of our strengths.

    I focus on the big picture, with input from my wife. I make the call on which investments to buy, when we need to buy (or lease) a car, etc.

    My wife focuses on managing the day to day expenses, checking receipts for accuracy, finding bargains etc.

    We joke and say I’m focused on making money and she is focused on saving money. It’s not 100% that way, but it’s pretty true overall.

    • Couple of Sense says:

      That is a great point Eric! I think playing to strengths is great and as long as the decisions are joint I think that’s the most important. Honestly Scott handles more of the day to day in terms of banking since I get paid once a month but every budget decision is made jointly. We don’t want finger pointing if something doesn’t go to plan.

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