How to discuss finances with your partner

Couple discussing finances

When you first meet someone and start seeing each other, money is probably the last thing on both of your minds. However, once a relationship gets serious, money can quickly become a main topic of conversation.

Many often state that money is a common relationship problem. Many of us will have experienced it first-hand.

To help, we explore how to discuss finances with your partner, including addressing money imbalances in relationships, considering joint savings accounts, and talking to your partner about money problems.

What are the issues?

There are many ways that money in relationships can cause arguments. Below, we’ll discuss ways money problems can be ironed out, such as how to talk to your partner about money.

Moving in together

Moving in together is a big step, financially speaking. It does come with certain benefits, like lower bills, rent or mortgage payments. 

A couple will share responsibility for all of the above expenses depending on how the bill is paid and who pays it. Defaulting on one may affect both partners if both are named on the account. Do you have a plan to stay on track?

Money imbalance in relationships

In almost every relationship, one partner earns more than the other. Some accept it and it makes no difference to their relationship. For others, it causes resentment that grows through time. 

For the partner with the lower payslip, what started out as a feeling of being “looked after” can turn into a dependency. That can put a strain on a relationship.

Another problem is when the higher earner differentiates between “my money” and “your money”. That may be acceptable at the start of a relationship. However, when children, mortgages, bills, and investments enter the picture, it can become problematic.

The lower earning member of the partnership can also feel guilty about their contributions. The wealthier one might not care about it because they love them, but it’s still a real feeling that is hard to overcome. 

Divergent backgrounds

Even if a couple earn similar amounts, their backgrounds still play a part. If one half is from a comfortably off family and the other has grown up in poverty, it can affect the way they think about money. 

It can also play a part when “the bank of mum and dad” is invoked, and one family is better able to help.

Differing financial goals

Everyone has their own dreams. But what if one person likes saving money and their partner is more of a spender? And what if that spending is on credit cards and loans? 

The saver wants an emergency fund to feel secure, while the other person needs to spend money for entertainment and creature comforts. Are such differing spending habits compatible traits in a relationship?

Having a baby

When a baby arrives, everything changes, and money conflicts can start. In many cases, one partner might want to give up work to become a full-time parent or take a wage cut for maternity or paternity leave. 

But what if the parents can’t agree on their roles? What if both want to be stay-at-home parents or if neither does?

Secret stashes (or debts)

Unfortunately, people sometimes keep financial secrets from their partners. They might have a joint budget, but one person isn’t playing along truthfully. It’s called financial infidelity, and it can go in either direction.

They could have money that they are not letting their partner know about. They’ll often use it to have fun, but it could also be to feed an addiction.

Alternatively, they could have debts that they are not declaring. Whether through embarrassment or fear, the effects are the same. These debts can remain unknown until a couple tries to get credit together, such as a mortgage. 

A credit check would reveal the debt, and the feeling of betrayal can damage a relationship. The good news is that your partner’s bad credit score shouldn’t affect yours. However, it may be considered by a lender if you have a financial association with them and apply for a form of credit.

Losing a job or long-term sickness

All sorts of life events can turn up to affect financial security. If one half of the couple places a lot of importance on their career, losing their job can cause real pressure. 

They might feel worthless, and the other half might actually feel like the security their partner offered has gone. Hopefully, the unemployment will be short, but there’s no guarantee that past earnings will continue. 


Retirement should be a time of relaxation, bucket lists, or family time. But it can lead to money issues. 

There’s often a period when one partner has retired but the other still has several years of employment left. 

Are contributions distributed as they always were? And what if one partner has strong retirement plans backed up with pension funds and investments, while the other never cared about saving for retirement?


Unfortunately, money is a taboo for some people. In the UK, we are generally quite secretive about our incomes. But if you’re making a life together, it’s a misgiving you need to get over.

How do I approach my partner about money?

The list of potential financial problems above can seem daunting. However, trust and openness are part of any successful relationship, and that applies to money too. 

The sooner in your partnership you start having conversations about money, the better things will be in the long term. Here are some tips.

Open a joint savings account 

Joint accounts are a great place to start with clearing the financial air in a relationship. Both of you are named account holders, and both have equal access to the account. 

You don’t have to close your personal accounts, but you can both commit to putting a certain amount of money into it each month. That can be split equally or according to income.

Accepting different roles in a relationship

A sole wage-earner in a relationship often thinks the household money is theirs, and that they should decide how it’s spent or saved. They often forget what the other person is doing when they are working. 

This could include looking after the home, bringing up children, caring for relatives, or starting a business. In other words, they are allowing the wage earner to work. It’s worth remembering this when discussing how money is shared and spent.

Goal-setting agreements

To make sure you’re both on the same page, talking to your partner about your financial aims is never a bad thing. One of you might want holidays and cars, while the other wants babies and extensions. 

If your budget only covers one or the other, you’ll both need to make your case. Now you can set aside certain amounts each month to fulfill each other’s dreams, even if that means a slight compromise.

Schedule a time to talk about money

Does the subject of money only ever come up when you’re arguing about something? It’s pretty common among couples and is usually the result of pent-up frustrations. 

The heat of the moment is no time to discuss something so important. Why not put some time aside, maybe once a month, to talk about money? 

It only has to be for 15 minutes, but you can look at your savings, mortgage, bills and so on. It can even just focus on making sure you’re on track for your long term goals.

What do you do when your partner is struggling financially?

However much you pool your resources as a couple, if one is having a tough financial time, it’s difficult. The obvious factor is the impact it has on your collective income. But there are also psychological issues stemming from their perceived commitment, trust and perhaps even pride.

It’s never too late to start talking about money with them. Reassure them that you’re there for them, and ask if they would help you if the tables were turned. Hopefully, the answer will be yes. 

There’s plenty of solid help over at Citizens Advice, so that’s a great place to start.

Talk it through

Hopefully, you and your partner will get into the habit of taking money seriously, and talking about it. 

Half the problem is usually that one partner is scared of making a commitment or a sacrifice. But those are the exact things that make a relationship strong. 

Just because it happens to be about pounds and pennies doesn’t make it less so. Keep the conversation going, and you’ll be glad you started.

This article was written on 9 November 2023; all information was correct at the time of writing

Related Articles