Too Much Arguing? 5 Financial Arguments to Avoid With Family & Friends

financial argumentsHey, face it. Financial arguments are a reality. It’s unfortunate. The truth is that finances are rarely the true center of an argument – it’s the way the two parties handle the situation.

Misunderstandings, poor communication, or someone venturing out too far on their own can cause sticky money situations. You’ll never have a say in how someone responds to you. The best way to steer a financial argument is to reconsider your approach and to avoid getting defensive right out of the gate.

Money arguments are not all created equal. How you approach your manager, parents, nephews, friend or lover are different. They each require a shift in approach. Approaching your spouse like a subordinate at work will never work.

The Kids and Parental Piggy Bank

I don’t expect parents to bust out the family amortization schedule when their kids ask for $10, but I hope you have laid out some financial rules for asking for free money or to borrow it.

As a kid, my parents and I set up a per job payment system for my freelance housework. I got $6 for mowing the lawn, $3 for washing a car. I think 50 cents for every toilet I cleaned. So I accumulated money and had to save up for buying video games or clothes.

The only time I really asked for money was for a really special occasion or for a haircut. After elementary school asking for money was something I didn’t really do.

Your family might be different, but there’s value in not just giving handouts to kids. I am convinced that reinforces entitlement. Don’t get me wrong, my parents are generous people. But I think there’s a ton of value and great life lessons in associating getting money with hard work. Children need to earn some of the money they receive.

Parents should be careful to not easily bend to whiney attitudes, fits of rage, or long fluttering eyelashes. Handing out cash might quiet their mouths now, but we’ll have missed out on outstanding lessons to shape them into their teen, college, and adult years.

Married Money: Facing Off

I imagine the title’s words “Financial Arguments” invoked the image of a husband and wife arguing rather than a daughter and mother or father and son.

Couples with bad financial practices often withhold communication. It’s the surprise and deceit that drive these financial arguments. This is a loaded point, but of course couples (or the individuals within them) need to improve their fiscal practices. Greater integrity with money and communication will stop these wounds from even being inflicted.

For other marriages, financial arguments stem not from surprises or lack of communication. It’s often from the stress and weight of unexpected expenses, unmet expectations, and that bank account winding down while interest payments wind up. Just writing those words make my stomach cringe and I’m not even married!

Having a back-up (emergency) fund of at least $1,000 can help mitigate that stress. But it won’t eliminate the fact that couples need to communicate. Improving your ability to share and frame hurt feelings and frustrations is healthy. Concealing and burying anger and frustration will only boil over later.

Married people can have monthly budget talks and revisiting goals to bring clarity and keep the air clear before anything explodes ;-).

The Office Soldier: Fighting for More Bread

Have you ever asked for a pay raise or an extra benefit like a bigger driving or phone stipend? These conversations don’t have to end on a sour note. Avoid awkward arguments at work by doing your research and giving your manager a detailed list of things you’ve done to justify a raise or benefit like a company-paid cell phone.

Take a look at what we wrote on How to Ask for a Raise.

If your plea deal is nullified, don’t burn any bridges! You’ll fuel the fire with harsh comebacks or turn your work relationship icy with a cold shoulder. It may sound counter-intuitive, but prove your worth more than ever by working even harder and producing even more. If this request gets turned down, when you make it again in six months they will remember how you responded to a “No” this time.

Your superiors should notice your efforts and if they don’t, you might just need to be on the lookout for a place that does! [You need to read my list of 15 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself–that covers this as well!]

Lending to That Family Member…

How diligent and consistent is this family member? If their financial consistency is in question, don’t lend to them. Unless you are completely okay with the money not being returned to you.

If they don’t give the money back, can you still relate to them? Can they still connect to you without shame? I’ve seen brother’s and cousin’s relationships destroyed because of this very financial argument. One family member may even forgive the debt, but the other person is too ashamed to even talk on the phone or show up to family functions.

It might be better to not loan to family. I’m not saying don’t help out with family in trouble. But it might be better to prepare yourself emotionally to not get the money back at all.

Note: Be just as careful with co-signing for family members!

A Friend and Your Funds

Lending money to a friend? Setting up a rent collecting set-up from roommates? To prevent financial arguments surrounding these situations it is imperative that you setup some sort of written agreement.

People have spotty memories—especially when it comes to money. Renting to friends, or anyone, should involve a contract no matter who they are.

Letting a friend borrow more than a few hundred dollars? Get the agreement and payment plan in writing and signed by both parties. Scan it and keep it and email them that file!

You acting like a stickler may in fact save that friendship down the road—and save you a few bucks!

What financial arguments can you think of? How else would you handle the situations listed above?

[Featured image courtesy of]


  1. Lending to family is extremely dangerous. I’ve done it before but probably won’t again now that I’ve learned more about how it can affect relationships. If I feel a family member needs financial help, and I feel led to assist, I’ll just give them the money as a gift. Maintaining a positive relationship is more important than getting paid back.

  2. I’ve made some of these faux pas before, which has most definitely cased arguments in my life. I’ve lent money to friends that I didn’t end up getting back, and I have argued with my spouse over money. Luckily we don’t argue for lack of money, but rather because a lack of communication about money. Money shouldn’t be getting between relationships!

Speak Your Mind