Five Common Money Mistakes Couples Make

Recently, I sat down to talk with Ruth Lane-Wierzba, Money Coach to learn how couples can have a great relationship around Money.  I wanted to know about common mistakes couples make when it comes to managing their money.

Denver Couples counseling money arguments

Money Mistakes Couples Make

Here are Five Common Money Mistakes Couples Make:

Money Mistake #1-Debt

When people are in debt, it means they aren’t saving. Not having a safety net for unexpected financial hits is very stressful. Debt itself is very, very stressful. When couples are under financial stress, particularly debt, they are more likely to argue.

Money Mistake #2-Not talking about Money

Couples sometimes don’t communicate about money.  Instead, they argue about it.

Having no plan, having no agreement or structure to talk about money often results in couples avoiding the topic.  If couples are not proactive in communicating, money comes up in context of stressful moments, such as arguments about spending, the stress of opening a bill that you didn’t know was coming or you don’t know how you will pay. Avoiding the topic until it explodes results in a negative context and start to the conversation, making arguments more likely.

Also, don’t make assumptions that your spouse or partner is doing the budget, planning for retirement, paying the bills or preparing the tax filings.  Both partners in a relationship need to be knowledgeable and aware about their financial situation.

Lastly, creating a budget isn’t enough.  Budgets are tools that we have to use on an ongoing basis.  For couples, that means regular, constructive check-ins about budget and finances.

Ruth recommends setting an appointment to talk about your finances.  Review the “Hard Side” of your finances such as budget, savings, debt reduction, retirement, etc.  Consider exploring questions like:  “How are we doing with our finances?”  “What’s our budget looking like?”  “Are we where we want to be with retirement saving?”

Denver couples counselor, Money Mistakes

Money Mistake #3-Ignoring or not talking about the Emotions around Money

As a CPA and financial planner, Ruth learned that if the focus was only on the dollars and cents, the real core issues around a couple’s money difficulties was overlooked. If couples want to be financially successful, it requires looking at both the Hard Side (budget, retirement planning, debt, saving, etc) as well as the Softer Side, such as:  Are there emotions driving spending, debt or lack of communication? How does the couple get along when they talk about money? What does it feel like for them to talk about money together? If we ignore the emotions or assume we know what our partner is feeling (we get it wrong a lot!), we will likely begin to have problems communicating about money.

Spending:  People can get into the trap of filling emotional needs with spending.  You can do a budget, but if you haven’t dealt with your emotions, you can find yourself doing things like spending when you’re anxious or lonely.

Debt:  If there’s debt, couples can be avoiding talking about it due to embarrassment about that debt, guilt about the debt, or even fears.  In fact, there can be a lot of fears that stop partners from talking about their finances.  When you avoid communicating out of fear, it almost always results in a bigger blow up later.

In sum, if couples can have regular check-ins about money and include both the Hard Side and Soft Side of finances, they are much more likely to be happy and healthy in both finances and our relationship.

Money Mistake #4-Neglecting your Relationship with Money

Pay Attention to money.  Treat your financial relationship with the same attention and care as you do the rest of your relationship

Don’t be negligent with your money.  Keep track. Educate yourself about what to be looking for. Some people feel intimidated by the topic of money management, but having a sound financial picture doesn’t require advanced calculus.  Personal finances involve math you can do with your cell phone.  You can have a great relationship with your partner around money with simple math, and some direct, consistent and open communication.

Money Mistake #5-Neglecting Your Relationship in General

It probably goes without saying that the better your relationship is, the easier it is to navigate the sometimes tricky topic of money.  Ruth says she can always tell when a couple has been to therapy and/or has a strong relationship with good communication.

I think about arguments around money as a warning sign of emotional disconnection or unease in the relationship.  The more you can work to strengthen your bond and feel secure with your partner, the easier it will be to talk about finances and the fewer money mistakes you will make.

Check out my video interview with Ruth Lane-Wierzba here:

Couples Counseling Can Help you Avoid Money Mistakes with your Partner

Contact Allison Rimland, Licensed Professional Counselor today to begin having a successful relationship with your money and with your partner.  Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy will help you get to the emotional issues driving the spending, debt, lack of communication and conflict.  I offer couples counseling in Denver and Greenwood Village, Colorado.  Schedule your couples counseling appointment now or call 303-513-8975.

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About the Author

Denver Tech Center Counselors specializing in Couples Therapy, Marriage Counseling, Pre-Marital Counseling, and Individual Therapy for Relationship Issues.


  1. Allison Rimland, LPC Says :

    Posted on August 1, 2014 at 8:18 pm

    Thanks for the inspiration @julie_hanks !
    It’s repurposed content even!

  2. Marta Kem Says :

    Posted on August 3, 2014 at 2:36 am

    What a helpful and informative post Allison! Talking about money can be so difficult–especially when the bond between partners is insecure and the couple struggles with emotional security in their relationship. I really like the idea of scheduling time to talk about money and having a budget!

    • Allison Rimland, LPC Says :

      Posted on August 3, 2014 at 3:03 am

      Thanks Marta! For me, talking about money has always been on the list, but not always easy to get to with all the other things on the list. I wonder if it’s the same for others? I like the idea of being proactive, rather than reactive though. And yes,I agree, the closer we’re feeling, the less likely money and all those feelings, will seem like taboo topics.

  3. Paul Sigafus Says :

    Posted on August 5, 2014 at 8:44 pm

    Thanks for sharing this information, Allison. I think it takes courage and commitment for couples to talk about money — it’s such an emotionally laden topic for most of us. With support, couples can learn how to address these issues in a way that brings them closer together. So, I agree with you and Marta!

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