Dealing with a spouse’s over-spending

Money may not really be the root of all evil, but it is certainly the cause of a whole lot disagreement in marriages. That’s because people can have such different thinking about money. It’s fairly safe to say that the less money a couple has, the more disagreements there are likely to be; but even people with a comfortable financial situation fight about money.

Similar to a power struggle issue, but isolated only to issues with power over the money, the spouse earning more sees the money as his or her own, and believes that he or she has the right to spend the money at will.

When your spouse over-spends it can be difficult to know what to do. Maybe the first thing you need to do is consider whether, in fact, your spouse’s spending is truly “over-spending”. Another thing to consider is how serious a problem your spouse’s spending is. Is he generally a responsible spender but simply refused to bring a bagged lunch to work each day? Does he just spend more on anything he buys? Is he someone who only occasionally makes a big purchase without discussing it with you? Sometimes if an “over-spending problem” is not a very serious one spouse may have to overlook the occasional, or minor, over-spending. When spending results in things like too much credit card debt and too little savings, however, the problem is a serious one.

spouse 1

Spending nature

Dealing with the spouse who is generally caring and responsible, but who is irresponsible with money, shouldn’t be too difficult. Most of the time, people who are not “good with money” know that about themselves. Sometimes it’s necessary for a couple to agree that the person who is most skilled at handling money should be the one to handle it and make the decisions. Precisely because this type of spender is caring and responsible, it is likely he will be willing to acknowledge that both spouses (and any children) would be better off with the most skilled spouses managing the money.

When your spouse is responsible but spends more money than you think he should, it can be a little more challenging. One reason for this may be lack of communication. You are the one who usually do the shopping and deal with the “realities” of staying within the budget. Your spouse, on the other hand, may be more than familiar with money-management principles but without the experience of the “nitty-gritty” of day-to-day spending within a budget.

spouse 3

But if both people don’t communicate sufficiently, one spouse will walk away from the argument believing the other is “penny-wise and pound-foolish”. The other may feel misunderstood, under-estimated, and even as if the efforts to stay within the budget have been “sabotaged”.

The helpful thing about generally responsible people is that they are willing to talk about any differences of opinion on spending. Something as simple as explaining their reasoning can lead to a better understanding and less resentment.

A more serious problem is the problem of having a spouse who is a “shopaholic”. Shopping and spending are sometimes a sign that a person is generally unhappy, or dissatisfied, in life; and he looks to buying things to find “a little happiness”. Their philosophy can be of something like this- “Life is too short so why not spend money and feel blissful.”

How to overcome

Not very difficult, just you have to ask some questions from yourself and then things will work smoothly. The only way you can figure out how to deal with a spouse’s over-spending is to find ways to understand the spending, yourself, your spouse, and the situation better; and asking your spouse to work with you on addressing all the issues.

Ask yourself if you love this person in spite of his “flaws”; and if you do, arrange to have your own income and keep your money and the management of it to yourself. Have your own checking and savings accounts, investments, credit cards, etc. Live

Ask yourself if you love this person enough to be able to live in chronic financial upheaval and instability. If you do, then accept it and stay.

Ask yourself whether you want to leave your partner. When a spouse’s spending is extreme and thrusts the family finances into serious disaster, sometimes the only option is to leave.

Make a family budget

A family budget benefits the family as a whole. It only makes sense that both partners share in its creation and implementation. When one spouse lays out a plan to manage debt and spending, then insists on compliance, there is no partnership; there’s only a rule maker, and a rule follower.

For a budget to work, both sides have to feel equal. Have a joint account for bills, and individual accounts for “whatever.” This is one of the most successful ways to manage finances for spender/saver relationships. Open a single account for both of you . Add up all your bills for each month, including food, utilities, rent or mortgage, school loans, and credit card bills.

Money doesn’t have to run your life. You can take charge, and get back to remembering all the reasons why your spouse is so awesome. A spender and a saver can find happiness together—all it takes is a little planning and adjustment on both sides.

 

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