Managing money on your own is tricky enough, but balancing the books in a relationship can be even harder — especially when both partners see money very differently. So it's no surprise that lots of couples argue about money, and sometimes these fights can even lead to breakups.
In some cases, financial incompatibility led people to end things:
1. "My ex wanted a much different lifestyle than me. I wanted to travel regularly and put savings away, and so I continued to try to climb the corporate ladder to match that lifestyle. My ex preferred to work as little as possible and stay closer to home. They were more comfortable living paycheck to paycheck. Ultimately, it didn’t work out because I put myself in debt trying to have us both travel on my dime."
2. "On the first date, he would not stop talking about how much money he had and how rich his family was. He knew I didn’t come from money, and I had expressed how much I hated when people talked about money. It absolutely ruined my perspective of him. It came off as gloating and insincerity, which I really found unattractive. At the end of our dinner, his card ended up getting declined, and I had to pay for dinner, which was fine with me, but it really pissed him off. This only once again ignited his passion for talking about himself and money. There was no second date."
3. "My partner at the time thought the only way a relationship could function was with money. He always would go on about how we could only be happy if we were both well off and that those who were in a lower income bracket will never find love because they are 'poor.' Despite him not being a wealthy person. I eventually ended things since I could never be with a man who thinks money is what makes a relationship successful."
4. "My ex-fiancé works in real estate, so his income is variable, and he often gets large sums of money at a time in the form of commissions. I wanted to prioritize our future (pay off student loans, save for a house, set aside money for retirement, emergency fund, etc.). He never saw the value in this, because he figured he could just score that next commission to hold us over for a while. For him, going from $52.32 in a bank account to $15K+ in a day led to impulse spending on his favorite hobby: sports trading cards."
5. "I was dating a 'trust fund baby.' He spent almost every night at my place and offered to help with rent, but I was too proud to ever let him. I lost a major financial grant that meant I needed to come up with an extra $20K for tuition out of nowhere while we were together, and spent a lot of time trying to sort out additional financial aid. Having a meeting with our school's individual financial aid department was my 'Plan Z,' and I didn't get the help I needed. I came home after the unsuccessful meeting, told him what happened, and he says, 'I can't deal with you and your financial issues anymore; we should end things,' completely out of nowhere."
"Bro wasn't giving me money to help, wasn't helping me search for or apply for additional aid, just being someone I could vent my frustrations to, and apparently that was too much. It was satisfying to have him beg me to get back together with him about a month later. I shut him down."
6. "My ex was a wealthy doctor with zero debt, and never paid for anything. I made way less than him. If we went out to dinner or an activity, I had to cover it entirely, or he’d make me pay for my own. He would never reciprocate when I paid for a dinner or activity. He never reciprocated gifts for anyone for any holidays or birthdays either. We had a ton of other issues, but ultimately, his selfishness with money was too much to handle. I’m now with a partner who splits everything with me equally and much happier."
7. "My ex decided working 15 hours per week was enough for him at 25 years old. He worked his part-time job and partied or played video games every night. I worked two jobs at the time to save for a master's program and couldn’t understand his lack of motivation. He said I was jealous that he came from a family with more money. On my birthday, he had his mom send a care package of random things for me. I was so taken aback that he was okay with letting his mom buy me presents just because he didn’t have any money from working so little. This was a major red flag for me, so I broke up with him and moved out."
8. "My ex and her parents have a VERY rocky and traumatic relationship. A few years ago, my ex's parents kept asking her for money, and she kept giving it to them. It finally got to the point where they were asking her to take out a bank loan in her name for them to use, and they swore they would pay it back. I didn't believe them because they never fully paid her back for anything, and I was not going to let her credit be ruined because they were unreliable and irresponsible with their money. It even got to a point where she was asking me for money because she gave all of hers to her parents."
"I did not give her any money, and I'm not sure if they ever went down the bank loan route or not because I left soon after. I was not going to also become another wallet for their messed-up family."
But in other cases, money issues pointed to larger problems in the relationship, including some pretty serious red flags:
9. "My ex used to lecture me about money all the time. I was a full-time college student, so all my housing and meals were taken care of by my student loans. He loved to tell me that I was irresponsible and poor, usually because I would decline going out with friends or something because I knew I couldn’t afford it. However, homeboy decided that for my birthday he would treat me to a long weekend trip ✨a month late✨. On this wonderful trip, I was *allowed* to pick ONE activity that we would do."
10. "My ex decided he wanted to leave his career in banking and join me in teaching. This would mean a significant loss in income and becoming reliant on mine. I was supportive and encouraging, and I helped him with various applications and contacts. Eventually he was accepted on to a course, which again meant a loss of income, but we did get a small student loan. He thought this money was primarily for him and spent it recklessly. He even got a tattoo!"
"So while I was working flat out, scrimping and saving, he was living a hedonistic existence — partying and living like a student. The final straw was when I asked to take money from our joint savings to get a ticket to see my sick sister. There was no money in it. Years later, he’s married and someone else’s problem, and I’m financially independent, own my own home, and am free from him."
11. "My fiancé disappeared two weeks before our wedding. He cleaned out my bank account, and I found all the eviction notices under our mattress when I got the final eviction on my door. I had deposits for our wedding bounce and ended up getting warrants for bad checks. Good times…"
12. "We were engaged, and the wedding was due to take place in four months. I earned more than he did (lawyer vs. teacher), and I paid for 90% of everything. We also had bought an old house that needed renovations. During a school holiday, he was meant to be dealing with the contractors and sorting the housework while I had a complex and time-consuming case to deal with. He did nothing. After a huge argument, his mum got involved and started shouting at me about 'my spending.' I had no clue what she was talking about."
13. "COVID happened. He didn't work for six months; meanwhile I was an essential worker. During that time, he spent all our money on his worsened drug habit, video games, and DoorDash. When I asked him to cut back on one of those for our finances, he left."
14. "Financial abuse doesn't get nearly enough attention. My ex kept me in our marriage by refusing to pay for therapy (or even discuss me paying for therapy). He knew once I started talking about our marriage, his game of control was going to fall apart. My ex-husband sucked, all around. But one of the big ways was how he controlled our finances. I didn't know how much anything cost, what money we had, nothing. I made a fraction of his salary, but all my money was spent each month on groceries, our house, and the pets. Somehow I thought this was even, but where he had money left over every month, I had none."
"Two things happened: I asked for power of attorney after a car crash so I could deal with insurance while he was deployed. He patted me on the head and said, 'That's how wives run off with all the money.' I was shocked.
Then I got a new job making double what I had been. So I saved up for a new dishwasher. He SCREAMED at me for not agreeing on the color of dishwasher we should get. Finally I said, 'Well, it's my money.' He lost it. I think he realized he couldn't control me with money anymore at that moment.
Long story short: He cheated right after and got the girl pregnant. When he got home, he kicked me out and moved her in. Somehow, he was still just shocked when I filed for divorce. The audacity."
15. "I’m on disability and get quite a bit less than $1,000 per month. When he moved in, he had a job but lost it the next week. He proceeded to spend $30,000 on my credit cards over the next two years on frivolous things while I wasn’t 'allowed' to buy things I actually REALLY needed. He insisted on buying expensive steaks and food at the grocery store and getting delivery. He was also an alcoholic who spent probably $200 a week on alcohol. He even opened credit cards in my name I didn’t know about."
16. "My ex pawned my family's silver collection for a heroin addiction he hid from me. He was also engaged to be married with a kid on the way while living with me. This was 10 years ago."
17. "It wasn’t the sole reason for the breakup (as it was a messy and unhealthy relationship in general), but money became a big issue with my ex and me. We were living together at the time and had a joint bank account for rent and savings. He earned about 30% more than me, but expected me to put the same amount of money in savings as him each fortnight, then would get frustrated at my 'reckless spending' when I’d only have about $400 to last me the fortnight, even though I was the one paying for groceries and food."
"Our savings were partially used to save up for 'big' purchases, so we could support each other in this. He bought a PS5, Xbox, PC, two guitars, and a VR kit using the savings. But when my laptop broke during COVID and I needed a PC for work, I found that not only was he not putting any money at all into savings to contribute, but he was also actively taking my money out to buy extra stuff for himself. I never got the PC, which would have been my only big purchase.
When we finally broke up (mutually), he claimed one of the reasons he would be happy to break up was because he was happy to not support my 'financial irresponsibility,' all because I spent $50 a month on a hobby of mine. He made me go through my bank statement and explain every purchase, the whole time laughing at how 'irresponsible' I was. When I pointed out we were in a room with his two PS4s, three PS3s, Xbox that he hadn’t touched, PS5, two identical guitars that he bought on a whim, and multiple copies of the same games, he got upset for trying to drag his choices.
It was definitely the best thing for both of us to call it quits."
18. "Money wasn't the only factor, but it was a representative one. Dated my ex for two years and continued living with them for two more. We moved in together after the first year. I was the sole source of income (part-time minimum wage while I was still a student) and did everything at home (bought all of the groceries, did all of the cooking and cleaning, etc). COVID hit, we moved in with my family, and I watched my ex take advantage in the same way they'd taken advantage of me and broke whatever trust I still had in them."
19. And finally, "I was married and had no access to the money. I got an allowance and had to ask for anything extra. His reasoning was he was the one making it so it was 'his money,' all the while persuading me not to work. During the divorce he also drained 'our' savings. And yes, he was a narcissist in the textbook sense. Made Patrick Bateman look like Brendan Fraser. Financial abuse is a real thing that isn’t talked about enough."
Have you ever broken up over money? Share your story in the comments.
Note: Responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.