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How To Manage Money Imbalance In Relationships

Written by: Fiona Smith, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


The idea of money imbalance in relationships isn’t new. In fact, history has seen an income disparity in relationships, with men often being the breadwinner and primary decision-makers.

Man in apron holding wooden spoons and looking at businesswoman with money talking on smartphone.

Unfortunately, money imbalance in relationships can strain the relationship – and a couple’s finances. If your goal is to set aside your financial differences and become financially independent, then continue reading because I’m going to show you exactly how to address issues caused by money imbalance in relationships.

Tip No. 1 Address the Elephant in the Room

Money imbalance in relationships can be stressful.

To nip the issue in the bud, the very first thing you should do is simply talk about your feelings. While money is a touchy subject, income disparity in relationships is normal, so you shouldn’t avoid talking about it.

Here’s how you can share your feelings about money imbalance in relationships in a low-stress setting:

  1. Schedule a time to talk

  2. Make it fun; pour a glass of wine, buy a cheese platter, etc.

  3. Prepare an agenda to guide the conversation

  4. Respect each other’s feelings and thoughts

The key is to make the conversation fun.

Remember that money conversations can be intimidating – especially for the partner earning less.

Tip No.2 Create a Plan

If a money imbalance in relationships is causing you stress, then create a solid plan that outlines who contributes what to expenses.

A solid plan can help avoid miscommunications.

For example, a money imbalance in relationships might put the partner with less income in a difficult situation if all expenses are split evenly.

That’s why you should proactively decide how much each person will contribute to expenses so you can live frugally while also enjoying some of the nicer luxuries the wealthier partner’s income could afford. One way to manage income disparity in relationships is to first calculate how much each partner contributes to the overall household income.

For example, let’s say the total household income is $100,000 and:

  • Person A earns $80,000

  • Person B earns $20,000 So, the income split is 80/20.

When both pay for expenses (like a new car), the amount of money each person pays should be determined by their income split.

For example, if a new car costs $50,000, then one party would pay $10,000 (20%) and the other party would pay $40,000 (80%).

Tip No.3 Don’t Judge

Money imbalance in relationships should never give the wealthier partner the right to judge (and vice versa!).

If your goal is to build a solid, working relationship for many years to come, then you can’t allow money imbalance in relationships to cloud your mind.

Here are some actionable steps if income disparity in relationships is causing stress:

  • Talk openly to your partner

  • Consider seeing a therapist

  • Be willing to listen to your partner’s side

While money imbalance in relationships might not always be a comfortable topic to talk about, it shouldn’t be a deal breaker either.

Tip No.4 Build Something Together

If you’re looking for a creative way to resolve conflict stemming from money imbalance in relationships, then you might want to consider partnering up and building something together.

For example, if you could work on:

  • A charity

  • An ebook

  • Aside business

Starting a non-profit could help your community and it could improve your overall relationship.

On the other hand, if you want to start building generational wealth, you may also want to start your own business.

If you’re building a business together, then the wealthier partner could provide the capital, while the other partner provides the sweat equity. Or, you both could equally split the work and capital contribution. Your side hustle could help you earn an extra income stream to cover bills like eating out.

Building something together – whether it’s non-profit or for-profit – can help couples overcome income disparity in relationships and leave a lasting legacy.

Tip No.5 Build a RichMindset

To get over the money imbalance in relationships, you also need to cultivate a rich mindset.

For example, there are times when the economically disadvantaged partner may feel financially jealousof your situation.

This is normal.

However, jealousy can often lead to toxicity, which is why it’s important to change your mindset.

In fact, when you build a wealthy mindset, you:

  • Adopt a growth mindset

  • Understand that money is just a tool

  • Work together because you know two heads are better than one

Remember that as a partnership, you are both in this together.

While there may always be money imbalance in relationships, you both should be aligned in your mindsets.

If you both understand that you are working toward a goal together, then there should not be any reason for jealousy or feelings of resentment.

You are a team, and you both should work together like one, as well!

Closing Thoughts

Money imbalance in relationships can cause undue strain. That’s why it’s so important to communicate your thoughts with each other and develop a solid plan to help you work through potential future roadblocks – like a big purchase, for instance.

While it’s virtually inevitable that everyone will experience money imbalance in relationships, it’s important to have a game plan ready and to tackle this topic before it becomes a breaking point for either person involved.

Money shouldn’t be a relationship breaker. In fact, the topic should be openly and honestly discussed to build a road map to help you and your partner achieve financial freedom.

Follow me on LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!


Fiona Smith, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Fiona Smith is the founder of The Millennial Money Woman. She holds her Master of Science Degree in Personal Financial Planning and has co-founded a local non-profit community teaching financial literacy. She is the author of the personal finance book How to Get Rich from Nothing and her work is featured on Forbes, Oberlo, and FinCon.



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