How to handle when your spouse spends too much money

spouse-moneyWhen Money Becomes A Problem

 

Money can easily become an issue in a marriage when one spouse spends more than the couple earns.

Whether the spending habit was there before the union or it occurs as the marriage progresses it must be addressed before it spirals out of control.

As I was walking to my car the other day leaving a grocery store my eye caught a woman walking back towards her car.

Her husband was waiting at the car as she was throwing her hands up in the air obviously annoyed, as she approached their vehicle.

I heard her say ‘I thought we had money on that card’.

I am assuming she was unsuccessful paying for their grocery bill which brought up a lot of issues with her spouse.

Her husband with an irritated look on his face got out of the car and proceeded to head back into the store with her.

Not knowing their story and why the expected funds were not available I can only assume that there was a lack of communication or an oversight with their finances.

I don’t know how this story ended as I minded my own business and continued to get into my car but it reminded me of my past marriage where money was a very stressful part of our relationship.

Unfortunately this is also the case for many other couples whether it’s a marriage or a common law relationship.

Money fights and problems over finances are all too common in relationships and sadly are one of the top reasons many marriages end up in a divorce.

While I can say that fixing the money problems would not have saved my marriage looking back I think about how I could have dealt with our money problems more effectively.

We commonly hear the phrase ‘my wife spends too much money’ though in many situations the husband is guilty of this too.

Secret shopping in a relationship happens all the time and if you aren’t on the same page with your spouse financially this could easily cause a rift in the marriage if your spending gets out of control.

Trust is after all the basis of any relationship and when you break that money trust expect some major problems along the way.

 

Spouse spending habits

 

It is often advised to have the money talk with your partner before you get married so that you know what you are getting yourself into.

The last thing you want is to get married and learn after the fact that your new spouse is swimming in debt that they decided not to openly share before saying your vows.

Oddly enough many people are ashamed of their debt and they say nothing but this is the worst thing you can do and not a great start to a relationship.

While this is a great conversation before walking down the aisle spending habits often change and for various reasons, you may eventually find yourself with a spouse who just spends too much money. Nothing in life is guaranteed after all.

Excessive shopping can be a ‘drug’ for some people used as a form of therapy to combat stressful situations in their lives or as a result of other underlying issues.

 

Communication

 

It’s pretty hard in this day and age to survive without money so when a couple starts to run into money problems it can be too easy for your frustrations to take over your rational thinking and then the blame-games begin.

While you may know that your spouse’s outrageous spending habits are destroying your finances how you choose to approach the situation may also affect the outcome.

Nobody likes to feel attacked whether they are the cause of a problem or not. Being aware of your tone of voice and your approach to the conversation will start you off on a better foot then blaming your spouse for causing the money problems.

Instead of saying ‘You are spending too much money and it’s making us broke’ consider saying ‘I have noticed we are struggling to pay our bills lately, what can we do together to improve this?

Avoid ‘you’ statements and you may find you get a less defensive response and more of an open mind to fixing the problem, rather than putting up their guard because you attacked them.

 

Budgeting

 

If budgeting is something that you already do you may consider a different approach to it.

While a budget is a very effective tool for managing money in a relationship both sides have to be on board for it to work. Set your goals together, decide as a couple where you both want to be financially in 5 or 10 years and make a plan.

Review your budget together often, and discuss where you may need to make improvements. Help each other to stay on track by taking a look at how you are doing with sticking to your budget.

If you are not meeting your goals as a result of overspending then this is a good time to address how this overspending is affecting your budget and your long-term goals.

 

Access to Money

 

If your spouse is willing to work towards a solution then you have to decide what steps you are going to take.

What kind of spender are you?

If you are the reserved spender in the relationship consider coming up with a weekly dollar amount as a cash allowance that includes all money that is required for necessary expenses.

Leave a little room for miscellaneous spending and explain that once that money is gone there will be no more as there is no room for it in the budget.

Take full control of your money. I have a friend who often complains about their financial situation but when any advice is offered, being a stay-at home mom her response is always, “well it’s his money he can do whatever he wants with it“.

When you get married, buy a house together and start a family I strongly believe that ‘my money is your money and your money is my money’.

If your spouse’s overspending is affecting the quality of life for your family then consider taking away all debit and credit cards and be the one in charge of distributing your money between everyday living expenses, bills and their cash allowance.

While you want to avoid making them feel like a kid, that may in fact be what you feel like you are doing, but so be it.

If your spouse cares for the well-being of your relationship and/or family they should be willing to take responsibility and be accountable for their actions.

Until they are able to understand where the problems are and how it is affecting your lives it will be hard to convince them that they need to change.

Again consider your tone and choice of words when having these discussions.

Is it worth staying in the relationship?

You need to decide where to draw the line in the relationship. While everyone makes mistakes and sometimes they need to be taken as a learning experience, how many chances should one get when a problem has been identified and they refuse to be part of the solution?

At what point do you call it quits?

  • Is it a healthy relationship
  • Is it worth destroying your credit/future
  • Are you jeopardizing your happiness?

Be happy! You deserve it, money shouldn’t have to be a problem in a relationship, though it can be all too often. While no one really likes to talk about money the more often you communicate about it and share the financial responsibilities the better off you will be.

Unfortunately for some couples in this situation divorce may be the only answer if you decided to try to fix the problem and between the two of you are unable to find a solution.

If your spouse is unable to acknowledge the impact that their careless spending is having on your life together than it may be in your best interest to go your separate ways.

What advice can you offer to someone who has a spouse that spends too much money?

 

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Katrina B

Author Bio: Katrina B

Katrina is a regular contributor for Canadian Budget Binder and is as passionate about personal finance as she is gardening. Katrina is a horticulture graduate with over 10 years experience with landscaping and greenhouse production. Her goal is to share her knowledge and experiences blogging about gardening and her continued passion for personal finance in hopes of motivating others. While being a single mom of two and an in-store merchandising representative for major retail shops she also runs her own Landscaping Services in Southwestern Ontario. If you would like to know more about her landscaping services simply email Mr.CBB at canadianbudgetbinder@yahoo.ca

Comments

  1. One thing my wife and I try to do every week is take a little time to discuss our finances even if it’s for 15 or 20 minutes while I’m reviewing our budget. Doing this keeps us on the same page and lets both of us understand what each of our goals are, because a lot times what I feel it comes down when we don’t agree is that one of us may have a different agenda of what we wanted to do and that sparks the miscommunication which can lead into other things.

  2. MomofTwoPreciousGirls says:

    We worked SO hard to get ourselves a month ahead. At the end of each month I bring the budget to my husband and say “we have this much money for next month. Here are the fixed bills we HAVE to pay. We have this amount leftover. Are there any things coming up we need to worry about? Any things that we need to get or get fixed? Are there any things that we want?” He provides input and we put it all down on paper. I go about paying everything that needs to be paid and dole out the cash envelopes. It NEVER fails that he will spend money outside the budget. I ask him about it and he says “it was only $8 (or whatever)”. It’s never like he spends a ginormous amount but he can’t grasp the principal. We are trying to payoff debt and this is what WE agreed to. It’s going back on our agreement! Same thing happens when he does the grocery shopping! Here’s a list based on our meal plan and what we have going on and he comes home with $20 of extra crap. Then he will whine that we have to eat ramen the last week of every month bc he wasted our budget!!!

  3. Communication really is key. I’m really glad to have a wife that’s on the same page as me in regard to our finances. We all set many of the same goals with our partners, and it makes it that much easier, when you work together to achieve them. Good post!
    Anthony @ Thrifty Dad recently posted…Overcoming your financial obstaclesMy Profile

  4. If you involve your spouse in choosing goals, perhaps they will get on board with the budget. If they really have a problem after that, I’d go to an all cash allowance for them. Take away the credit cards. Some places have self-help groups like AA, but for overspending. Overspenders Anonymous? Not sure what the name is. Could be worth a try because they can vent with others and start to understand their own behavior.
    Maggie@SquarePennies recently posted…My Top 10 Super Bowl RecipesMy Profile

  5. Christine Weadick says:

    Another great article Katrina! I usually manage to have a few bucks stashed in my wallet that hubby doesn’t know about. Right now not so much as Christmas is just past. This is money that I can use if I see something that somebody in the family would love or has been asking for and it’s on sale for a good price without it showing up in the bank book. Like the leather tool belt one year hubby got for Christmas because I saw it on sale almost half price in July!! He’d figure it out of he actually stopped to think about it, but he doesn’t. The stash gets built up a couple of bucks at a time usually but it does add up with time. There’s Canadian Tire money too that I hang onto as well as any points cards I can use.
    Hubby is one that if he knows he has money coming in, as a tax refund or overtime pay/holiday pay, chances are it’s been spent before he gets it. It’s OK for him to buy what ever as he has this money coming in to pay for it ……. Yea….right. He can’t understand for the life of him why I get so ticked off with this…. I don’t trust him to get groceries by himself as he will get anything that he sees he likes. Sending him with a list doesn’t work either because if he can’t find something he doesn’t get it…he won’t try actually looking for it. Unless it jumps out at him he can’t find it. Having him with me doesn’t work much better as he will keep adding things to the cart whether it’s on the list or not. He wants his treats budget be damned.
    He tends to think he is wonderful with money and you will have a hard time convincing him otherwise. You cannot argue with him….he is right and he will argue until the cows come home to ‘prove’ he is right. I have learned to say my piece and walk away, this leaves him having to actually think about what I just said. I have been known to put my foot down occasionally, I do it rarely so he knows I mean business when I do. If I do it too often it will lose effectiveness.
    Our older boy is a different affair. He has depression and has been diagnosed with Asperger’s. He tends to be very impulsive. He now gets CPP-D and I know I will have to keep an eye on him. A lot of his money will roll over our way to help pay bills and he is OK with that. He knows he isn’t good with money, but his impulse control doesn’t work well. So long as he has enough for his smokes and some art supplies and maybe this or that he’s happy. He knows he needs the help.

  6. Now here’s some advice several couples can learn from!

  7. In a relationship, it is extremely important to set the expectations and have an open, continuous communication. One of the leading reasons for divorce is money problems. Always have both parties involved in the budgeting process, and share your feelings towards overspending with your spouse when it happens

  8. Ah. I’ve always taken on the thinking, “It’s his money; let him do whatever he wants with it” and then I do whatever I want with mine as well. Maybe because we’re still not married and I feel like I’m yet to have any authority on his spending. Well, this article has certainly got me thinking twice about retaining that line of thinking. It’s definitely so much better to cooperate, plan and budget things together.
    Shane @ Financial Debauchery recently posted…What in the World Are Forex Trading Systems?My Profile

  9. This is certainly not a topic I hope to ever have struggles with. I’m incredibly transparent when it comes to money and I hope that if I ever end up getting married my spouse would not only be open to discuss finances but comfortable with the topic. Then again, I wouldn’t marry someone who I couldn’t openly discuss finances with ahead of time. But I’m a PF nerd so it’s a bit different than the majority.
    Broke Millennial recently posted…Happy First Birthday, Broke MillennialMy Profile

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