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  • Writer's pictureJohn Krehbiel

Relieving Spousal Financial Stress

Updated: Apr 7, 2022

Working with couples I have found that one spouse usually takes the lead in managing the family’s finances. It’s important to realize that your spouse probably thinks about money differently than you do. This can lead to spousal financial stress.

There are three important financial planning tools that can help reduce financial stress in a marriage: Keeping an Emergency Fund, Developing a “What If?”-Tested Financial Plan, and Purchasing Insurance.

Keeping an Emergency Fund Available:

Most advisors recommend keeping 3 to 6 months of expenses in a checking or savings account, so that it is easily accessed.  With interest rates on these accounts currently near 0%, the more aggressively oriented spouse might be inclined to only hold a small amount of cash, but consider your spouse’s attitude.  How stressful would it be for him or her to bounce a check, or to feel like you are almost out of money after a major car repair?  Emergency funds exist to reduce financial stress, not to optimize the return on your investments.

Developing a “What If?”-Tested Financial Plan:

  1. Can you afford to splurge while on vacation?

  2. Are we saving enough to have a comfortable retirement?

  3. ________________ ß insert your area of stress or disagreement here!

The tools for modeling your financial life have gotten much better in the last 5 years. In the hands of a good financial planner, you can accurately model your spending, your income sources, your goals, etc. and “What If?” multiple scenarios across an almost endless list of life and investment possibilities. There is no guarantee that the future will turn out how you predict, but by modeling a wide range of possibilities, the concerns of both spouses can be tested and analyzed. This can greatly reduce financial stress in a relationship, especially if one spouse is saying, “I got this, trust me!”, and the other spouse is thinking, “I want to trust you, but are you sure you have considered everything, What If…..?”. You can read more about modern financial planning models at and

Purchasing Insurance:

No one wants to be financially wiped-out if something major and unexpected happens, which is why nearly everyone has homeowners’, car, and health insurance. You and your spouse may have a different list of other things that you worry about. This is why many other types of insurance exist: life, umbrella, long-term care, disability, etc. Purchasing the right insurance might address one or more of your spouse’s major worries.

Bottom Line:

Nearly three in four married or cohabitating Americans say financial decisions are a source of tension in their relationship(1). Fortunately, putting in place an emergency fund, a What-If?-tested financial plan and the right insurance can often help reduce this financial stress.


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