Communication is Key to Financial Wellness in a Relationship
Written by Lisa Montanaro | March 15, 2012

You often hear that money is one of the biggest reasons why people get divorced. Likewise, in business, differences over money cause many partnerships to split up. But money itself it not the problem. The problem is the lack of communication and differences in opinion as to the role that money and finances should play in a marriage, relationship, or partnership.

In my role as a productivity consultant and business coach, I work with people and businesses on a very deep and intimate level. I see the lack of systems, which are often the cause of financial problems. But the biggest issue, by far, that contributes to financial differences is the lack of communication.

For example, in many households, one spouse or significant other is in charge of paying the bills. Seems innocent enough. However, the bill paying system is set up the way th e person that created it thinks, and the other partner/spouse is not even privy to the system. This is unwise in the best of circumstances and downright dangerous in the extreme. If something were to happen to the spouse/partner that created the system, the other person would be at a loss to figure out the system. This could lead to some annoying results, such as late fees, lots of phone calls to track down payments, etc. In the extreme, it can lead to financial set-backs that are more damaging in nature.

So, what to do? In a word, communicate!

Create a System that is User-Friendly: Yes, the system can be mostly designed around the person that will be maintaining it, but make sure it is fairly user-friendly overall. That way, if something happens to the creator of the system, the other party involved can access the system with some ease. Or even a third party outside the relationship can easily access the system if that was determined to be the best course of action.

Share the System: It is vitally important when dealing with matters of finance to share the process or system used. This includes making sure that your spouse/partner knows where the system is located, what form it is in, what passwords are needed, who has access to the system, etc. Be sure to capture the details of the system in a permanent form (written or electronic) so that the non-primary financial spouse/partner knows where and how to access it if necessary. Taking the time to communicate the details of the system will prove to be of the utmost importance if the spouse/partner ever needs to take over the system temporarily or permanently.

Go Electronic: With all of the powerful technology available today, there is no reason to have a system that is in da nger of being lost, deleted or destroyed. You can use software or “the cloud” to maintain your financial systems. There are many options available, some supported by third parties and some available from your own financial institutions. Consider Quick Books,, or online bill paying offered by your bank. Research and review all options as a team so that you find the best system for all involved. Again, even if there is a primary financial contact or worker-bee, the other spouse/partner needs to be given access and know about the system “just in case.”

Back-Up the System: Whatever form your financial system is in, back it up! Assume that something will be deleted, lost or ruined at some point down the line, and plan for that event long before it occurs. That way, when and if it does, you are prepared with a back-up. The back-up can be on your computer, server, on a CD-Rom, external hard drive, or “cloud-based.” Make sure to commu nicate to your spouse/partner where the back-up system is maintained and how to retrieve it in the event it is needed. Then, assume that Murphy’s Law will be on your side, and because you took these extra measures, you and your spouse/partner will never need the back up.

Coaching Challenge: Make an appointment with your spouse, significant other, or business partner to discuss the financial system in your lives or business, and take the steps above to create, access, and protect the system. Not only will you be safeguarding your financial wellness, you could also be helping to save your relationship!

Copyright © 2011 Lisa Montanaro of LM Organizing Solutions, LLC.

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Copyright 2011. Lisa Montanaro, “The Solutions Expert,” is Principal of LM Organizing Solutions, LLC, a professional services firm created in 2002 that offers professional organizing, business and life coaching, and motivational speaking to individuals and organizations. Lisa publishes the monthly “DECIDE® to be Organized” e-zine for the general public, and “Next Level Business Success” e-zine for professional organizers and entrepreneurs. Subscribe today at  Lisa also publishes the DECIDE® to be Organized blog at Through LMOS, Lisa helps people deal with the issues that block personal and professional change and growth. To explore how LMOS can improve your home or work environment, or help take your business to the next level, contact Lisa at (845) 988-0183 or by e-mail at

Meet the Author

Helping others be the best versions of themselves gets me jazzed!

I’ve worn many hats in my lifetime—often at the same time—while enjoying fulfilling careers. I’ve been a performer, teacher, sign language instructor, lawyer, career counselor, law professor, coach, consultant, mediator, entrepreneur, speaker, trainer, writer, and author. 

I’m an eternal optimist and life-long learner, constantly researching ways to improve personal and professional effectiveness. And it brings me great joy to then pass on the results of that persistent curiosity to my clients and audiences. 

Of all the career hats I’ve been privileged to wear, my favorite is owner of this business since 2002. Why? Because it provides me the opportunity to work with wonderful organizational and individual clients. On any given day, I get to connect deeply with audiences, work with dedicated teams, improve workplaces, watch clients have a-ha moments, and know I’ve made a difference in their lives and careers. And that is very satisfying.