What is financial bullying?

Almost all couples argue about money, but financial bullying takes things to another level. A survey from Credit Karma shows one in ten Americans in a committed relationship say they are victims. Financial bullies intimidate and manipulate their partners by controlling the household finances. Bullies may withhold money, make their partners feel guilty for spending even little amounts of money, or prevent them from shopping alone.

Who is most likely to be a victim.

What’s concerning is younger generations reported feeling financially bullied more often, with the 18 to 34 age range three times more likely to be bullied than those who are over 55 years old. Also, couples with children under the age of 18 in the house are more likely to say their significant other is a bully than those who don’t live with children.

The best way to avoid financial bullying is by opening the lines of communication and I have 5 key areas every couple should talk about.


Debt is a huge issue.  Many young people have student debt. Older people looking at marriage may have medical bills or other debt. Don’t hide it! Financial secrets can ruin a marriage. Make sure you’re honest so that together you can develop a plan to reduce your debt burden.

Spending Habits

In many relationships, you have a spender and a saver. She likes to shop, and he likes to save. She wants to save for a rainy day, and he wants to splurge on the trip of a lifetime. When two people with vastly different spending habits get married, conflict is bound to happen unless you make a pact with your spouse that no major spending will take place unless both agree.


Every family should have a budget to make sure they’re staying on track and staying honest with each other. 13% of spouses and live-in partners admit to lying about their spending habits to their partners (according to Credit Karma.) Financial infidelity can damage a relationship just like sexual infidelity.

Financial Responsibility

Couples need to work together to determine who will be responsible for what financial duties. One person may like paying bills while the other person hates it. Or maybe both feel the same way, and they need to take turns. What’s important is deciding who will do what financial chore, and also making sure that both people feel like they’re part of a team and are working together to achieve their mutual financial goals.


Some people are comfortable with risk, some are risk-averse. So knowing your comfort level and that of your partner is key when it comes to investing.
Even couples who don’t agree on all of these areas can have a healthy financial relationship.

If you don’t see eye-to-eye on all of these areas, that’s ok. It’s how you handle the discussions and disagreements that arise because of your differences. Just make sure you’re having the conversations and respecting each others’ opinions. You may also want to consider bringing in an objective third party to help you out. I’ve been a part of many of these conversations.