What to Do About a Spouse Who Spends Too Much Money

a dollar bill burning in fire

Money burning | Source: iStock

Relationships can be tough. Things can get even tougher when financial problems begin to seep into the marriage. If you and your spouse seem to be arguing about money all of the time, you’re not alone. Money is one of the top reasons couples argue and sometimes break up. When the primary money issue has to do with overspending, this can complicate matters even further. When one spouse is out of control, it can cause major problems and lead to difficulty paying household bills, covering emergencies, or just meeting basic household needs. Here are some tips for what to do when your spouse doesn’t manage money well.

Talk about money

Couple having a discussion

Couple talking in bed | Source: iStock

While your first instinct may be to argue and complain, try not to point fingers. Starting a fight will only make your partner defensive. Instead, carve out some time to sit together so that you can bring the problem to your partner’s attention. Firmly, yet gently, express your concern about the spending. Show that you care rather than assigning blame. If time allows, you can make your meeting more enjoyable by turning it into a money date. Merging your meeting with a pleasant activity, like having lunch or going to a local coffee shop, will help ease some of the tension. 

Build each other’s strengths

Couple going over budget at the kitchen counter.

Couple reviewing budget | Source: iStock

If you’re a saver and your spouse is a spender, don’t make them feel bad. Work together toward a solution. Show your overspender how you manage to rein in your spending. Maybe your spouse doesn’t know how to effectively budget. Show your partner how to set up a budget and share some tips for sticking to it each month. Sometimes a little care and patience is all you need. On the other hand, your spouse may be able to show you how to loosen up a bit and have fun. It’s also important to make room in your budget for wants as well as needs. Allowing space in your budget for the fun stuff makes life a little more enjoyable. Treating yourself every now and then may also prevent you from overspending due to an overly restrictive budget. 

Engage in risk management

piggy bank with dollars

Piggy bank and money pile | Source: iStock

Sometimes talking and being supportive doesn’t work. After you’ve done your talking, it’s time to take action. Do what you can to protect your money. Start by taking a look at your bank accounts. If you don’t have your own account, now is the time to get one. Have one account for your personal expenses and a separate one for household expenses. This will reduce the chance that you’ll bounce a check as a result of your spouse’s irresponsibility. 

Seek professional help

Man at therapist's office

Therapy | Source: iStock

There is a possibility that your partner’s spending habits could point to a deeper issue. One red flag is if you see several purchases hidden away in the back of your closet with the tags still attached. If you partner is attempting to hide spending, you have a bigger problem on your hands. Sometimes uncontrolled spending is a sign of problems with impulse control, which could lead to compulsive spending. In addition to therapy, support groups such as Spenders Anonymous, Debtors Anonymous, and Shopaholics Anonymous can provide a safe space to talk.

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