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The Best Way to Stop Fighting About Money

In a book about the conversations you must have before getting married, I found the best way to stop money fights in a relationship. It’s brilliant, yet simple.

how to stop fighting about money

The Best Way to Stop Fighting About Money

In The Ten Conversations You Must Have Before You Get Married, Dr Guy Grenier asks,

“Have you ever set up a joint account? Do you understand how joint accounts work? Do you want a joint account where both people have to sign for every transaction (this gives equal control to the account holders, but at times will be less convenient) or where either person can sign to complete a transaction (more convenient but potentially subject to individual abuse)?”

I’m reading this book because it was a staff pick at the library – it’s too late for me and Bruce to have these conversations, since we’ve been married for almost nine years. It’s a fantastic book, even for married couples.

It’s never too late to solve money problems or stop fighting about money. Bruce and I don’t fight about money because we’re both savers, but I love the idea of joint bank accounts. I’m with Dr Grenier: I think having several different bank accounts can reduce or even eliminate money fights for most couples.

The Best Way to Stop Fighting About Money

Dr Grenier advises couples to have three bank accounts: a joint account and two personal accounts (one each). He doesn’t say this is the best way to stop money fights — it’s me who said that! Feel free to disagree with me, I can take it :-)

The joint bank account. This account is for all the shared expenses: mortgage payments or rent, food, joint car expenses, household bills, entertainment, transportation costs, family expenses, etc. “At the end of every pay period, both of you contribute to this joint account so that these shared expenses get covered,” writes Dr Grenier. How you decide who contributes how much money to this joint bank account may be the subject of a lively discussion (or, let’s face it, a money fight – but it’ll be your last one!).

The leftover money – after all the household expenses are accounted for – goes into the personal accounts.

Your personal bank account. I actually have a US savings account because most of my income is from US sources, and a Canadian chequing account because I live here in Vancouver and most of my financial transactions are in CAD funds. I love having my own bank accounts because I feel like a financially independent woman – I can support myself if I need to.

His personal bank account. Bruce has his bank account, and his RRSP account. He also takes care of the Visa bill out of this account. I should confess we don’t have a joint bank account, because we need to stop fighting about money (we both agree not to spend it!).

How Joint Accounts Stop Money Fights

“One of the most contentious issues about how money is used in a relationship is when one person buys something, typically something personal, but the other doesn’t agree that this was the right way to spend money,” writes Dr Grenier. “It might also be the case that one person has an interest that the other doesn’t share.”

If you have your own personal bank account, not only will you avoid money fights, you’ll also be free to spend your money any way you like! You’re still connected to your partner through the joint account, but you’re independent and financially free with your own bank account.

“Of course, there will be challenges in terms of how much money is allocated to those two different accounts, and the two of you will have to figure out how this will be done,” says Dr Grenier.

My question is this: what if Bruce was a spender and I’m still a saver, and I want to make an extra mortgage payment on the house but he’d rather buy a sailboat? Something tells me that this “best way” to stop fighting about money in a relationship has some unforeseen problems.

What do you think – do you have joint bank accounts? If so, has it stopped you from fighting about money?

If your financial debt is wreaking havoc on your relationship, read 5 Ways to Stop Debt From Ruining Your Marriage.

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“There are people who have money and people who are rich.” – Coco Chanel. I’d rather be rich.

6 thoughts on “The Best Way to Stop Fighting About Money”

  1. Dear Esther,

    Congratulations on opening your own bank account! That’s awesome, and not just because it’s a good tip on how to stop fighting about money. Having your own bank account is such a great way to be independent and strong, and to feel like you can take care of yourself no matter what happens.

    Spend your money wisely! Better yet, invest it wisely :-)

    In peace and passion,

  2. I think this is a great idea. I opened up my own account again last year. It felt great! I just grew up with traditional gender roles and I think personally I don’t agree with them any longer because it keeps the woman too dependent on the man. I am in between here now because of being a stay home mom for so long it will take a very long time for me to become financially independent. It really hurts my self-esteem. We still argue about money. But I want the freedom to buy things without asking permission. I have to say that I have contributed something in my marriage! It’s hard and I have struggled so much with low esteem and depression, a blended family, and a disabled child. I think I deserve a little more respect. Sorry for venting here. I am doing the best I can but my husband has not be very encouraging to me so that I will have confidence to get a job. This just haven’t worked out the way I wanted in life. But it’s the only life I have and I must live it. I have to keep my family together even if I am unhappy. But separate accounts and one joint account is the way to go!

  3. I agree – it would be difficult to keep up with all the accounts, especially if you don’t want to go beneath the minimum you need to keep in the account to avoid fees. Those nickels and dimes really add up. It’s not just nickels and dimes anymore, either!

  4. Interesting perspective to have so many different accounts, though I would weary of keeping up with so many of them!

  5. Thanks for your comment, Sophie!

    One thing that just occurred to me was bank fees: the more accounts you have, the more bank fees you have to pay. Mine costs $4 a month if I have less than $1,500 in it…it drives me crazy to have to pay that! The bank makes a billion dollars a month because they charge these “little” fees. Grr.

  6. Some great tips here, especially with times being harder and money being more scarce than it used to be! My parents have a joint bank account, personally I think it’s a great idea! After all, why should one person have to pay for everything?

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