The dangerous but common mistake a self-made millionaire says couples often make with money

From solving over $600,000 in debt to battling overspending, self-made millionaire Ramit Sethi helps couples navigate a variety of financial challenges on his I Will Teach You To Be Rich podcast.

However, there is one common mistake he sees couples make when it comes to managing their money.

“Often a partner has taken on the role of ‘money person,'” he tells CNBC Make It. “But what happens if that person gets hit by a bus? It’s dangerous for one partner to have all the financial knowledge.”

And if one person is responsible for making all the money choices, the other can feel powerless in the relationship as well, he says. In fact, about 25% of partners don’t want to be left out of financial decisions, according to a 2024 study by Fidelity Investments.

Here’s Seth’s advice on how couples can successfully manage their money together.

What to do if you are the “money person” in your relationship

If you’re the “money person” in your relationship, you might want to make a change, says Sethi. “The person who is the ‘money person’ must take on the responsibility of gently recalibrating the relationship.”

The easiest way to start sharing financial responsibilities is to choose a few categories of expenses for each person to manage. One person can make sure food expenses don’t go over a certain number, while the other can take responsibility for insurance bills.

“What you want are clear lines of responsibility and clear lines of ownership,” says Sethi. “People respond well to ownership and want to play a role in the finances.”

Also, if you’re the “money person,” don’t use financial terms like “compound interest” or “tax-advantaged accounts” that your partner might not understand.

“It often happens that a partner doesn’t really know what these things mean,” he says. “You have to meet people where they are.”

How to start talking about money

Reviewing household bills might not sound like the most romantic date night. Still, it’s important for couples to talk openly about money to ensure their financial goals are aligned, Sethi says.

As you get started, there are some common pitfalls to avoid. First, it’s smart to refrain from blaming a partner for any money problems as this can make them defensive, says Sethi. “Saying ‘you spend too much at Target and have too much credit card debt’ won’t get you anywhere.”

Instead of pointing fingers, reframe the conversation about how the two of you can work together to come up with a strategy to tackle credit card debt.

“It’s about having a conversation about money,” he says. “You’re going to be talking about money together for the rest of your lives, so you better find a way to make it fun.”

Talking to your partner about money doesn’t have to be an obstacle. Instead, you can think of it as a chance to reimagine a better financial future.

“When we talk about money in a relationship, the unspoken assumption is that there’s a problem,” says Sethi. “But more often than not, there’s an opportunity to create a rich life and discuss what that would look like.”

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