How to cope when money worries put pressure on your relationship

Struggling with money is tough enough without the added stress this puts on your love life or relationships with friends. If your money troubles are affecting your relationship then read on to find out how to take control of the situation.

couple walking along beach looking moody

It’s tough when you’re both struggling with money but it’s even worse when you have different attitudes about how to deal with it. Here are some common scenarios:

“They want to pay off debts, I want to save.”
Both of these are super important when it comes to having healthy finances and it’s hard to really know which one to tackle first. As a rule, it’s always better to pay off debts first as the interest you’ll be gaining on those debts will be more than interest you can earn on savings !

“They don’t see the point in saving money at all.”

If your partner feels like they’re in a constant battle with money, it’s fair that saving seems like a waste of time. But it IS important and can be done. If they’re open to a discussion about it, let them know they don’t have to save loads – just a pound here and there will do. Try and come up with a savings goal together. It can be for a new TV, a long weekend away – anything you’ll both enjoy.

“They would rather just have fun now rather than think about future.”

Ah, wouldn’t we all? There is some sense in focusing on the here and now, but equally it’s sensible to save a bit for a rainy day. With some careful budgeting you can do BOTH. We promise.

“They don’t keep up with paperwork.”

Arrggh, life admin. Bills are boring, statements are dull… but unfortunately, not being in control of any paperwork can land you in serious trouble. How about you make it into a game, with a reward at the end? Check over your bank statements together = watch an episode (or two) of your favourite recent TV binge.

They’re wasting the limited money we have

Coming home from an extra-long shift and finding your partner playing the newest Xbox game or eating another takeaway is so frustrating. If you’re sharing the finances there need to be some ground rules. Communication and understanding is key.

Make a list of priorities. Bills, debts, food, and toiletries all come first. If they’re not paid for then you can’t really be paying out for the most recent gadget – and sadly takeaways are out the window too.

How can we stop this affecting our relationship?

It’s understandable that struggling with money can affect your relationship but remember that you’re a team and you can work through this together.

Make sure you’re always communicating about the practical stuff AND how you feel in order to find solutions and work together. Break down your solutions into long term (more work, better work, better benefits) and short-term, for example, are there ways you can sensibly cut back – perhaps by changing mobile provider, making a household budget or prioritising better?

Remember to make time for your relationship, too. Set aside a day where you don’t talk about money and you spend time for yourselves.

How can we balance out the responsibility?

It can often be the case that one person in a relationship brings in more money and that’s ok. Never feel guilty if you bring in less than your partner. It doesn’t make you a bad person. It may, however, mean that you can balance out the responsibility in other ways – especially if you have more time.

If that’s you, then:

  • Offer to do some cooking, cleaning or tidying – deliberately pick the jobs they can’t do if they’re out of the house more.
  • Do the school runs, if you have children.
  • Use your free time to sort out some bills or arrange for broken stuff to be fixed at home.
  • Emotionally support your partner, especially if they’re stressed. Be a good venting sponge.

Having this balance of responsibility will ensure that you feel useful and keep you motivated, all while having a tidy home and happy partner!

It’s so awkward talking about money in a relationship

Ironically, taking about money can be harder than discussing supposedly more ‘personal’ things, like contraception. But it’s important so just has to be done. Grit your teeth and see it as something to be ticked off the list.

If you’re feeling hot-headed about the subject, be sure to not shout, blame, and throw accusations. It doesn’t help anyone. Instead, have reasonable conversations about whatever’s on your mind, then make sure you do something fun afterwards! Looking after yourself and your relationship is so important when you’re going through tough times.

More information

  • Go to Money Advice Service for free and impartial money advice.
  • The National Debt Helpline offers free, confidential and independent advice on debt issues. 0808 808 4000
  • The Mix is a free, confidential multichannel service giving young people in the UK the support, information and practical tools they need to be healthier, happier and more resilient.