Money and Relationships with Sonya Britt-Lutter, Ph.D., CFP®

Money and Relationships with Sonya Britt-Lutter, Ph.D., CFP®

This week we have an expert about money and relationships: Sonya Britt-Lutter, Ph.D., CFP®, Associate Professor at Kansas State. She also has a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy. She became interested in how money and relationships work when she saw the need for financial planners to be able to talk about emotions and therapists needing to be able to talk about money. She gave us tons of great insight on many aspects of how money and relationships interact.

There’s one thing to keep in mind. It’s impossible to avoid money in relationships.

When should you start talking about money in a relationship?

Dr. Britt-Lutter has research about conflicts with money and how that affects later relationship satisfaction. Not so surprisingly, the amount couples argue about money early in the relationship directly correlates with their future relationship satisfaction. It’s never too early to have the “money talk” because if you can’t talk about it early, this may indicate mistrust or lack of communication abilities.

Dr. Britt-Lutter has worked with Brightpeak Financial to create a 5-week curriculum to help couples get on the right track with their finances. She recommends you complete the program with a facilitator to make sure they stay on topic, but it’s not required. Here’s a link to Brightpeak if you’re interestd:

Couples who completed the curriculum showed lower financial and relationship stress while also showing higher satisfaction in 3 different areas.


How to prepare when you’re not in a relationship yet 

It’s necessary to think about long-term goals for yourself, your career plans, and where you’re headed. You’ll need to be able to display your ideas to your partner. You should also get your own finances in order! It’s also a great idea to bring in as little debt as possible.

When one person controls the finances

It’s easy to tell one person to take care of all the finances if they’re good at it, but it can cause problems. Even if one person controls transactions, like the mortgage or loan repayments, it’s good for the other to know what’s going on. Make a “how to” sheet that explains how to pay off certain accounts, where all the money is located, how to access all accounts. This can be very helpful if the other partner needs to take control at any point.


Biggest Mistakes Couples Make

1.     Not communicating. Open communication sets you up for success. Various studies show that between 30-89% of partners have committed financial infidelity. Financial infidelity ca be hiding spending, having secret accounts, or anything like that.

2.     The other big mistake is not talking about debt. It’s essential that both partners know how much debt they have, tell the other person, and discuss what repayment might look like.


“Money Tip of the Week”

Check the credit report of yourself and your partner regularly. If you want more information about this, check out our podcast episode about credit.


Key takeaways

1.     What happens early in the relationship predicts what will happen later.

2.     TALK, TALK, TALK!


Other Resources

Kansas State Institute of Personal Financial Planning

Brightpeak Financial

Authors: Gary Becker, Ted Klontz