My Wife Won’t Stop Spending Money
First of all, we hear it both ways. “Help, my wife won’t stop spending money,” AND “Help! My husband has a spending problem!”
Here’s what you can do to address a bad spending habit in your family.
How to Get Your Husband or Wife to Stop Spending Money
Money and communication are the most common causes of divorce. When there is a lack of communication, and a lack of agreement on how finances should be handled, there is a perfect storm for conflict.
Is your spouse an over spender?
Are you ready to get them on the path to financial success?
If so, there are a few key things you can do to start the conversation – without starting an argument.
Understand the Extent of the Spending First
To start, before bringing up the conversation, check the bank statements and evaluate how much is actually being spent every month. Then, compare it to your own spending.
When you’re in a relationship, especially one where finances are conjoined, it can be easy to point fingers instead of acknowledging your own contribution to the situation.
Is your spouse the only one spending frivolous amounts of money or do you contribute to the frivolous spending as well? It’s also important to understand whether your spouse considers the spending necessary. Understanding the details of the spending can make the difference between starting a conversation and starting an argument.
Print Out the Bank Statements
Next, know that some people are visual learners. Your spouse may not realize they’re spending too much money until they can see the proof on paper.
- First, highlight the spending you would consider frivolous and then add it up.
- Next, write the total in bold marker at the bottom.
- Then, before you bring out the papers, reassure your spouse you aren’t mad. You are just wanting to discuss how you guys can cut back on spending.
Using “I Statements” to Talk to a Spending Spouse.
This can be a very sensitive topic, and it’s important to use “I statements” when bringing up spending. Instead of “we need to talk about your spending” try “I feel concerned about our finances and I would feel better if we could discuss them.”
Moreover, once the conversation begins, try not to blame the over spending on your spouse. Take responsibility for your feelings on the matter. Instead of “look at the bank statements, you spend too much” try saying “I went over the bank statements and I would feel better if we could break down what the money was spent on specifically.”
“I statements” are commonly used in psychology to help people effectively communicate, and they are especially common in marriage counseling. Having a healthy conversation about a stressful topic can help you both move forward as a team.
Build a Budget Together
Budgets are the key to developing financial stability. Taking control of where your money goes can make a huge difference in your finances.
- To start, sit down and review your household spending over the last couple of months.
- Then, write down your bills and expenses that are necessary, such as rent and groceries.
- Next, add up the things that weren’t necessary, like eating take out, or subscription services.
- In addition, ask your spouse what they think a reasonable budget for the non-necessities would be.
Learn How to Compromise
Marriage is about compromise and when it comes to finances, this is no different. Talk about why you both feel differently. Lashing out at your spouse and telling them it’s ridiculous to spend so much on coffee will turn the conversation into an argument.
Arguments won’t change any habits. Instead, ask them what they think could take the place of a coffee every day? Maybe investing in an at home espresso machine or asking if they could get a small instead of a large. Small changes can have the biggest impact when it comes to finances.
Make a Rule for Discussing Large Purchases
Set a dollar amount that you both agree to discuss before spending. For example, if you notice a lot of your spouses spending is on items that cost $50 or more, set the rule for discussion at $50. Agree that you will both talk it over that evening and decide together whether the purchase is necessary or not.
This not only encourages good communication, but it allows your partner time to change their mind on the purchase. Don’t rush to say “no” to every purchase. Listen to your partner and discuss the pros and cons of the purchase. What your dollar amount for discussion is should be based on what your budget can handle.
If your spouse has $200 of personal spending money in a month, then a purchase for a $50 item wouldn’t need to be discussed unless they already spent their $200.
Using cash is known to decrease spending because the person is forced to acknowledge and see that their money is spent. Consumerreports.org states that several studies show using a credit or debit card increases spending.
This is because people are attached to the cash and having to physically give it up for their purchase makes them think about the purchase a little longer. Whereas using a credit or debit card is easy and quick, and you get to keep both your purchase and the card so there is not sense of giving up anything for the purchase.
Using only cash can be difficult though and depending on what kind of over spender you are with it may not be effective at getting them to stop spending. If your spouse needs to keep a card for gas purchases and has access to the card once the cash runs out, it is going to be difficult to keep them from using it.
Set Up a Second Bank Account
Having a separate bank account for your spouse to use can prevent them from overspending out of the main bank account. Discuss how much money should go into the account every month and then agree to them not having access to the other account. This will allow them to use a card for purchases they may not want to use cash for.
The only downside to this is that it won’t make a huge difference if your spouse isn’t learning to budget their money. It may also create conflict if your spouse spends the allotted amount and needs money for gas but doesn’t have access to the main bank account.
Cut Up the Credit Cards
If most of your spouse’s spending is on store credit cards, it might be time to cut them up. A shopping addiction is made so much easier with store credit cards. As discussed above, the psychology of spending shows that using a credit card makes it easier to spend more without thinking about it.
Talk to your spouse about closing the credit card accounts. They might not want to do this because they may not see it as an issue, especially if they aren’t the one paying the bill every month. If they don’t see the true extent of the money they’ve spent, they are less likely to agree to a solution.
Print out the statements and highlight the total amount spent as well as the total balance still left on the account. Being faced with the reality of their spending is more likely to result in change.
Make Your Spouse Pay the Bill
If you are the spouse that handles all of the bills, then your partner may not be realizing how much they’re spending. If your spouse has sent you guys into debt with their spending, have them sit down and pay the bill with you every month so they see what their spending costs.
Discuss the Possibility of Counseling
If your spouse’s spending has resulted in a financial hardship for your family it might be time to discuss counseling or therapy. Overspending can be a compulsive act that is linked to a mental illness. Depression, anxiety, and even ADHD can be tied to compulsive spending.
There isn’t much you can do to correct compulsive spending if it’s tied to an untreated mental illness. You can budget and try to control the money, but a compulsive spender will find a way to open up new credit accounts and destroy your finances as well as your marriage.
Be kind and understanding that your spouse may feel offended or embarrassed, and let them know you’re there to help improve your marriage. Talk positively about the importance of caring for your mental health so your spouse feels supported. Treating the mental illness the same as if it was a physical illness can help your spouse feel less hesitant and hurt when seeking help for their mental health.
“My wife won’t stop spending money!” Conclusions
For those with spend-y spouses / partners, there is hope. With a little work and a lot of communication, you can get through the monetary and emotional damage. In the end, your relationship with be stronger and your pocketbook bigger.