6-Steps On How Couples Can Manage Their Money

Have you heard of this saying 'What is yours is mine, and what is mine is also mine' in a marriage? Haha, we tend to laugh about this when the wife says it to her husband. But when the husband says that, we tend to perceive that the husband is a male chauvinist. So does the phrase holds any truth to it? Does it mean that the man loses everything when he goes into marriage or a relationship?

In many relationships and marriages, money is the biggest problem and cause of divorce. Two people with different spending habits, lifestyle and priorities coming together as one is not going to be easy. Some find that it is so easy to be transparent about family, work but when it comes to money, that is a no-no (you don’t touch my money I don’t touch yours) zone.

No wonder that many marriages and relationship ends up breaking because of this. When there is something that both cannot agree on or understand about each other, there is bound to be accusations, distrust, feeling of unfairness and stress. Sometimes one of them will feel the burden of being the sole breadwinner in the family, while the spouse does not do his/her part in money at all.

Here is how a couple can be successful in managing their money. Follow through these 6 steps. These steps do not guarantee that you will not have financial problems, but at least you will have lesser problem managing your finances.

1) Understand each other’s spending background.

2 different people will have different background in handling and viewing money, and of course this is part of their attitude towards money. Are they a big saver or a big spender? Can you imagine if one loves to buy stuff and while another loves to invest, they will have disagreement on how money will be used. The question is not whether they should spend or safe, the question should be how they spend or save.

They should talk about their believes on money (..money brings happiness, money is not everything,…), what is money to them (..is money a necessity, status,…), how did their parents handle money (a lot of our beliefs on money is learned from our parents), what is their personal goal for money (..millions,billions,mansion,…), how far they are willing to go to get money (..work 24hours, rob,…)

When these spoken, the couple will be able to see where they are coming from and will then be able to agree on their finances together. Of course if your spouse is thinking of robbing and killing to get money, you must give him some counsel and not encourage him.

2) Build communication and trust.

The key to a strong partnership is communication. When done effectively, it will be as a strong seal that will weather through the storm. In life we will face all sorts of storms, sweet moments and adventures. It takes strong communication to bring them through all sorts of seasons.

The same goes for money, in different phases (wedding, house, kids, and retirement), money is required in different ways and magnitude. Communication will bring about understanding, planning and agreement, with this, they can face life together.

3) List down your priorities.

After communication, the couple can right now sit and make a priority list. This list should include long term and short term goals that they would like to achieve, long term goals will be like house, kids, investments, insurance, whereas short term goals are groceries, holidays, buying a TV, and …. When preparing this list, both should be sincere in voicing out their needs and wants. Be as detailed as possible in listing down these. Any surprises will cause a shock in your relationship. Can you imagine one day your husband coming back with a new car, and it was not even in your priority list.

With all the items in the list, go through it and plan which should and can be done first. Fulfilling these items one by one will strengthen your relationship. Just as how it gives soldiers the sense of brotherhood when they complete missions together.

4) Be open with each other’s income.

The moment of truth is here. Let each other know how much you are making. This is by no mean a comparison to see who is better, or who should take command. Each of us has different earning capability. The one who makes more money should be humble, and the one who makes lesser money should be grateful.

Once you have known each other’s income, you should also know each other’s current commitments such as phone bills, gym subscriptions, car loans, …. Be gentle with each other when discussing each other’s spending and commitment. Don’t judge, but encourage.

5) Select a method of managing your money together.

Now that you have come to this stage, you are ready to choose a method on how to manage your money together. There are a few ways.

Center pool – Works for couples who are both working or with income. Both agree to contribute an equal amount/percentage of their salary towards a pool (or a joint bank account). This money will be used to tackle the items in their priority list. Whereas the remaining money from their salary, they are free to manage it for themselves through investment, savings and funds. Of course if one of them chooses to put in more into the pool, he/she can do that, but this does not give him/her more power or say in how the money is to be used.

One party manager – For this, you will need to identify who is better in managing the money, this person should be responsible in making sure that the money is well invested, budgeted and kept. Usually a large amount of money for the family will be passed on to this person and he/she will disburse and plan for the family. This method is helpful when one of them is too busy or does not have relevant knowledge in handling money, or when there is a sole breadwinner. Even if he/she is empowered to handle the money, that person should update the spouse in the progress of how the money is managed.

Movie Popcorn style – Remember how some people will go-Dutch in getting things when watch a movie (one pays for the ticket, another pays for Popcorn). This method is also practiced by some couples. Where they will decide on who pays for what in a family. The one who earns more may pay for house-loan, car-loans, whereas the one making less can pay for the utility bills and groceries. This method requires good communication and trust, or else we will have a situation where one is unhappy because he pays for the expensive stuff while the other is not as stressed. I would recommend caution when using this method, marriage may not be as easy as ‘going to the movies’ at times.

Combination – This is a combination of the 3 styles above. Using communication, discretion and planning to choose which style to use for which situation. I know of a couple who uses the one-party-manager style when it comes to investment and important stuff, center-pool for kids education, toys, holiday airtickets, Movie Popcorn style for shopping and holiday purchases.

6) Hardwork and sacrifices

Finally, everything takes time and hardwork. We are to work out our marriage and relationship. Without effort, nothing works. But the good news is, with practice in time it will become a habit and things will seems effortless. Persevere and grace will make it all work.

My mentor taught me, no matter which style we use, it is important that there is agreement and accountability between the couple as to how they spend the money. The most important ingredient in a family or relationship is not money but love. Love comes from trust and commitment.

Sometimes ladies tend to be more meticulous and detailed and naturally better in managing money but the man should also take responsible to know and be aware of the financial situation at home. If the opposite takes place, the husband should update the wife on financial situation and spending. Well all the best, and may these steps work for you.


  1. This applies to people who make minimum wage and for people who make $500,000 a year. You are in debt if you spend more than you make.

  2. Hi Sayan, when a couple combines their earnings together, they will be able to fair better in their finances. Truly we must be careful with spending. Check out this page http://moneytraits.blogspot.com/p/savings.html

  3. Hi Rev, you are welcome. I am glad you like it.

  4. i wish to have lost money but....no have....
    i want to make but i dont know , i need a half to can teach me how :) ty

  5. Hey Panda, we are all in the same situation, but working hard and smart is a good method to follow. Will continue to write and share some tips on how to make and manage money.

  6. This is indeed a very relevant post especially married with 3 children, my husband and I are always open as to how we spend our money. Very agree TRUST AND COMMUNICATION is the most important factor in a marriage beside love. We always keep a budget file in our household and make sure that we spend within that budget. Anyway, your post is very usful. Thanks.

  7. Well, my son just came along and there are different sets of financial needs and challenges. Now its more of budgetting for risk management and kids future. In Malaysia the parents have to really provide some sort of Financial support. It is tough for the next generation because everything is inflating very fast.


Most Read Post