Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
When a spouse spends too much money, it can put the family finances into turmoil.
Find out how to discuss finances and budget happily as a couple.
When Money Becomes A Problem For Couples
Money can quickly become an issue when a spouse spends more than the couple earns.
Whether you are married or live together but aren’t connecting with your money, then you will run into financial problems.
Often, when a money issue blows up, lying about missing money or where it was spent becomes an even more significant relationship issue.
Whether the spending habit existed before the union or occurred as the marriage progresses, it must be addressed before it spirals out of control.
What do you call a person who spends too much money?
These types of people aren’t tuned into their finances and, in some cases, are greedy.
- I think my husband spends too much money.
- My wife spends too much money.
The above statements have been in my inbox from frantic blog readers who feel they have lost control of their financial situation.
Where do money problems begin? Every person is different, and that’s where communication comes into play.
Your Spouse Starts Money Arguments
As I walked to my car the other day, leaving a grocery store, I saw a woman walking back toward her car.
Her husband was waiting at the car as she was throwing her hands up, obviously annoyed, as she approached their vehicles.
I heard her say, ‘I thought we had money on that credit card?’
She was unsuccessful in paying the grocery bill, which brought up issues with her spouse.
The first one was frustration and anger, which she did NOT hide from the public.
With an irritated look, her husband got out of the car and proceeded to head back into the store with her.
Not knowing their story and why the funds were unavailable, I assume there was a lack of communication or oversight of their finances.
I don’t know how their story ended and continued to get into my car, but it reminded me of friends who had money issues in their relationship.
Unfortunately, this is also the case for couples in marriage or a common-law relationship.
When A Spouse Won’t Change
Money fights and problems over finances are all too common in relationships and, sadly, one of the top reasons many marriages end up divorced.
While I can say that fixing the money problems would not have saved my marriage, 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 the husband is guilty in many situations too.
Secret shopping in a relationship could easily cause a rift in the marriage if spending gets out of control.
For example, one spouse opens credit cards without the other knowing and maxes them out.
Trust is the basis of any relationship; when you break trust, expect 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 discover that your spouse is swimming in debt.
Oddly enough, many people are ashamed of their debt and say nothing, but this is the worst thing you can do and not a great start to a relationship.
While this is an excellent conversation before walking down the aisle, spending habits often change for various reasons.
You may eventually find yourself with a spouse who spends too much money.
Nothing in life is guaranteed, so talking about money with your partner is a must, not something you wait to do until the time is right.
Excessive shopping can be a ‘drug‘ used as a therapy to combat stressful situations or other underlying issues.
Relationship Communication Between Each Spouse
Money should always concern couples, and when problems arise, frustrations take over your rational thinking.
What happens after this is the blame game which can be very dangerous or even fatal for some relationships.
Sadly, relationships have ended in murder over money, so it’s unrealistic to sweep it under the rug.
It’s always the other person’s fault that the bank account is drained or the credit cards are maxed out.
Financial Marriage Counselling
No, you don’t have to hire a counsellor to help you communicate unless your marriage needs the help.
While one partner knows their spouse’s spending habits are destroying their finances, how they approach the situation may also affect the outcome.
Nobody likes to feel attacked, whether they cause a problem or not.
Knowing your tone of voice and approach to the conversation will start you off on a better foot than 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 get a less defensive response and a more open mind to fixing the problem rather than putting up their guard because you attacked them.
How can you help someone who is spending too much money?
You can’t change someone who doesn’t want to be helped with money problems.
However, if you are both committed to change, there are ways to get back on track.
Creating a Simple Budgeting System For Couples
If budgeting is something that you already do, you may consider a different approach to it.
Perhaps your understanding of budgeting is not where it is, and a mini refresher course on budgeting is all you both need.
While a budget is a very effective tool for managing money in a relationship, both sides must 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 need to improve.
Help each other stay on track by looking at how you are sticking to your budget.
If you are not meeting your goals due to overspending, this is an excellent time to address how this overspending affects your budget and long-term goals.
Controlling Your Access to Money
If your spouse is willing to work towards a solution, you must decide what steps you will take.
Understanding what kind of spender you are will go a long way in designing a budgeting plan that will work for both of you.
If you are a reserved spender, consider coming up with a weekly dollar amount as a cash allowance that includes all money required for necessary expenses.
Leave wiggle room for miscellaneous spending; once that money is gone, it’s gone.
Take complete control of your money if you have to use a jar budgeting system to see the money physically.
A friend often complains about their financial situation to me, although she’s not interested in fixing it.
She’s a stay-at-home mom, and when I offer advice, she responds with, “well, it’s his money” he can do whatever he wants.”
I try to tell her that her job as a full-time mother at home is just as challenging, if not more.
When you get married, I believe that my money is yours, and yours is mine.
Maybe that’s old-fashioned, but it has worked wonders for our marriage.
Take Away The Money
If your spouse’s overspending is affecting the quality of life for your family, then consider taking away all debit and credit cards.
Moving forward, you can be the one in charge of distributing your money between everyday living expenses, bills, and cash allowance.
While you want to avoid making them feel like a kid, that may be what you think you are doing, but so be it.
If your spouse cares for the well-being of your relationship and family, they should be willing to take responsibility and be accountable for their actions.
It will be hard to convince them that they need to change until they can understand the problems and how they affect their lives.
Again consider your tone and choice of words when having these discussions.
Relationship Problems Over Money
Is it worth staying in the relationship?
You need to decide where to draw the line in the relationship.
While everyone makes mistakes, 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?
Ending A Relationship Over Money Problems
At what point do you call it quits on your relationship or marriage?
- Is it a healthy relationship?
- Is it worth destroying your credit/future?
- Are you jeopardizing your happiness?
You deserve it; money shouldn’t have to be a problem in a relationship, though it can be all too often.
While no one likes to talk about money, the more you communicate about it and share financial responsibilities, the better off you will be.
Unfortunately, divorce may be the only answer for some couples when they try to fix the problem without finding a solution.
If your spouse fails to acknowledge the impact their careless spending is having on your relationship, then it maybe it’s time to go your separate ways.
Discussion: What advice can you offer to someone with a spouse who spends too much money?
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- What type of bank should you stash your cash in?
- How to save money while doing your hobbies?
- Are skilled trades the better choice for Canadians?
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