Last year I got married. Marriage is a long term commitment that can determine your financial future.

“The handling of finances is one of the major emotional battlegrounds of any marriage. Lack of finances is seldom the issue. The root problem seems to be an unrealistic and immature view of money - David Augsburger, The Meaning of Money in Marriage”

Money can cause a lot of stress in a relationship. With other things being equal, more money can offer you a better quality of life.

So should you marry for the money? Of course not, but you should think carefully about your partner’s money habits.

Some people are just bad with money & how I dodged a bullet

I spent my early twenties in a long term relationship with a smart and a good person who was really bad with money.

The relationship didn’t work out for different reasons, but in retrospect I dodged a bullet of financial trouble.

My ex worked in tech and was always well paid, but:

  • had problem holding a job
  • was accustomed to nice things and spending lots of money (I was shocked by his spending when I first found out the details)
  • had no savings or investments
  • was financially unreliable

When we lived together, I would send my share of the rent to my ex and then he would send the total to the landlord.  I never heard about any issues with the rent.

Guess my surprise when I got a phone call from the landlord that they wanted us to leave the place as they were missing three months of rent!

3 months is not a small deal. If I was a landlord in this situation I would be upset too. Seriously, this was unacceptable behavior. If I knew that this was happening, I would happily cover the rent myself if my ex told me that he was in trouble.

I calmed down the landlord and we fixed the problem.

Fundamentally, we had very different approaches to money. I was a planning type who saved up, he was a spender who lived paycheck to paycheck. He came from a rich family, and was accustomed to nice things.

We were still pretty young, that relationship started in my early twenties, and it is possible that he would later get better with money.

But you can’t count on your partner changing. You can only encourage them to change and you have to accept them if they don’t. Otherwise you will sign up for a life of frustration.

Finding financially reliable partner

With my now husband, we tested the financial waters many times before we tied the knot.

How did I know that my husband was financially reliable?

  • there were no red flags, no excessive spending behavior
  • we bought a car cash with cash together and he had no problem with coming up with his part
  • we got a mortgage together and we saw each other finances at the application
  • we got an investment property together

We built trust in each other step by step. As things were working out, we made bigger and bigger commitments together. We had a joint account for home and vacation related expenses for many years. In the end, financially, marriage was a no-brainer.

Some financial differences are ok

We still differ around investing philosophy and on what we would like to spend money on. I can handle risk and invest heavily in the stock market, he doesn’t trust the stock market at all. He loves eating out, I love to spend it on my projects and hobbies. But we are aligned well enough and I trust my husband with finances.

We live below our means, saving a significant part of our incomes. We spend on things we enjoy and cut down on other things.

Our finances are mostly separate. It simplifies our international taxes and allows us to invest differently without stress. 

We considered a prenup, but in Ireland where we got married, prenups are not enforceable. Luckily I trust my partner to take that risk.


If you can’t get on the same page financially with your partner, consider if that relationship makes sense long term. If everything else is perfect, maybe it’s worth sacrificing trust and financial security, but you should really think it through.

The breakup with my financially irresponsible ex was devastating, but also liberating. We spent many years together, but we were in many ways incompatible.

If you want to avoid a life of financial trouble, marry someone you can financially trust.

*Cover photo by Mikhail Nilov from Pexels