Budgeting for Couples: A Guide to Manage Money and Budget with Your Partner

by Kenneth Medford III

According to numbers that Wilkinson & Finkbeiner Family Law Attorneys have amassed from 115 different studies about divorce rates, how you spend money is closely related to the success of your relationship.

For instance, when it comes to divorce rates:

  • An annual income of over $50,000 can decrease the risk of divorce by as much as 30% compared to those with an income of under $25k.
  • Feeling that one’s spouse spent money foolishly increases the likelihood of divorce by 45%for both men and women.
  • Couples that argue about finances at least once a week are 30x more likely to get divorced.
  • The same study also found that couples with no assets at the beginning of a three-year period are 70% more likely to divorce by the end of that period than couples with $10,000 in assets.

Long story less long: money matters, mate.

If you want that happily ever after with the partner of your dreams, you need to have your money mindset on point. As someone on the north side of a 15 year relationship… Yes, 15 years… Let me give you some of the tips that have helped my better half and I navigate the minefield of money.

Income as a couple

Track spending with transaction swiping.

This is more of a you thing than a them thing. You need to decide where you want to be and where you want your partner to be. If you are a more traditional person and you believe your man should have the higher income and be the one bringing home the bacon, let it be that then. If you’re down with being a house husband while your missus is bringing in the bread, go for it. Communication is key no matter which way you want to do it.  

The second note when it comes to income: decide how it will be divided. My better half and I actually have separate banking accounts (I know, scandal, right?). My account is used primarily for fun/trivial purchases (liquor, games, random “I just want it” things). Hers is used for our savings account, bills, and other more important purchases. Understanding our financial roles leaves little room for arguments and gives us a peaceful place to start any monetary discussions.

To recap managing income as a couple

  1. Communicate financial roles in the relationship
  2. Consider separate accounts to facilitate clarity
  3. Communicate financial roles in the relationship (it bares repeating)

Need some flat-out tips for budgeting? Check out this free downloadable guide.

Saving as a couple

As I mentioned before, we share our savings account. However, that’s not 100% accurate. More specifically, our main savings account, which we use for trips and other large scale purchases, is shared. I keep a second smaller savings account in an Acorns (a “micro-investing” app). It’s my way to have more money stashed for emergencies that also has growth potential. Having multiple income streams is necessary for achieving financial freedom, and this is one of our little ways of getting there.

We try to drop money into our main savings account every two weeks (when she gets paid). It’s currently set to auto-deposit, so it’s kind of like taxes. The money just comes out. Automating savings has been super helpful to get our account to where we want it to be much faster than having to remember to actually transfer the money. There’s just something about moving the money and watching the numbers go down that just. . .doesn’t sit right with her. 

Learn more about Money Mindset.

Spending individually and together

This is the big one, and one of the main reasons we have separate accounts. I. . .like things. I’m big on gadgets, games, and such, and I’m not always as prudent with money as I should be. Again, communication is key here. Even being the “fun money” guy, when I buy new toys, as long as it’s my money, we’re fine because we have established our financial process and roles. Basically, I’m just lucky (and I don’t spend myself into debt). Having an honest conversation with your partner about what is expected and necessary of you financially can keep you from having a falling out over that watch you just HAD to have.

Whether you’re spending jointly and discussing every purchase or separately, you’ll both need to watch your money. It can be a delicate balance though. Being on either extreme of never wanting to spend money or always wanting to spend money can be taxing on your mental health, financial health, or both. Finding the golden middle of enjoying the fruits of your labor and still progressing in your financial journey can become that much easier when you can rely on your partner. Be willing to listen, be honest with your expectations, and you can duck and dodge the pitfalls of most financial fights.

Communicating about money

It’s been running theme throughout this entire post: communication is the number one key to maintaining and managing your money and your relationship.

Talking money in general is kind of taboo, but you can’t let that barrier exist in a relationship. We’re all adults here. Adulting means tackling challenges like financial obstacles and difficult conversations. No, you may not be obligated to share every little thing you do with the money that you make, but you can either talk now or explain later. Also, you’ll get to your goal twice as fast if you and your partner are both working towards the same ends. However, you can’t expect them to telepathically understand what you want to accomplish. 

Having a common financial goal in your relationship

My lady and I saved $10K to take a trip to Japan back in 2019 (right before the world fell into the fire). We knew how much we wanted, when we wanted to travel, and how long we had to make it happen. Though we used some travel saving tips, we also had to cut back on some nights out, purchase things on sale, and constantly communicate what adjustments needed to be made to the budget. It was this teamwork that made the dream work. After a Christmas bonus that hit while we were on vacation, we actually came back with $3500 still in our account – better than projected.

Creating an Auto-Save is a great way to tackle your financial goals.

If there’s ever anyone you should feel comfortable talking about money with, it has to be your partner in paper, your friend in finance, your girl/guy in gil. Whether it’s about your income, saving, or spending, you need to talk it out. I’ve been doing the research on this and living it for over a decade and a half. If nothing else I’ve said works for you and your relationship, communication will.

Related Reads

Talking About Money with a Partner

Advice from Money Experts: How to Talk Money in a Relationship

Debt, Love and Life Goals

Planning Ahead from Finances to Feelings


Kenneth Medford III

Writer, rhymer, gamer: the easiest way to define the man known as Kenneth Medford. I’m a simple man who loves to learn and loves to help and I wander the digital world trying to find ways to sate my hunger for both. Basically, I’m Galactus but helpful.

Check out my other work here or reach out to me on LinkedIn.

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