One of the best things about my wife is that I never have to worry about her going crazy with the debit card and recklessly spending money. It never crosses my mind that she is going to use a credit card (she doesn’t have any) or use our debit card on a large purchase without discussing it with me first. However, some people are not so fortunate to have a spouse like this. Some of you out there constantly worry that your spouse is going to be careless with your money. So, what do you do? By the way, these discussions don’t just apply to marriages, they can also apply to dating relationships for those that are living together. But, most people don’t combine their money until they get married. I don’t have all the answers when it comes to marriage, but here is how I would approach the situation.
Confront your partner in love
The key point here is doing it out of love, not out of anger or resentment. It might anger the hell out of you that your spouse bounced the checking account again, but coming at them with fire and brimstone will only make the matter worse. If you are angry about something, wait to confront them about it until you have cooled off. Then, calmly sit down with them and ask them what you can do as a couple to sort out the situation. Outline your concerns, why they need to stop their spending habits, and how it makes you feel when they spend large amounts of money without discussing it with you.
Get their perspective of the situation
The best way to understand a situation and try to devise a solution to the problem is by getting the other person’s perspective on the situation. Try to find out why they spend the way that they do. If they come off defensively or try to push the problem off to you, then let them know that you are less concerned with blaming them with anything and more concerned with figuring out how to solve the problem. If they don’t think there is a problem, show them how their spending is ruining your monthly budget. Once you can get them to openly admit that they have a spending problem, that is when you can start to find a solution. It may not even be that person makes large purchases, but that they go out to eat constantly or buy little luxuries too often.
Define where the problem lies
Is it big purchases that are killing the budget or is it frequent little indulgences that are killing the budget? Show your spouse where the problem lies, and he or she may get a better understanding of what is going on. He or she might not even realize that going to Starbucks every morning and eating at Panera Bread for lunch every day is an extra $100 a week.
Devise a solution to the problem
Once you’ve figured out where the problem lies, don’t just talk about it. Try to figure out how you can help your spouse change their habit. Maybe you could put a little note on their debit or credit card that says, “Should you call me first?” That may sound a little weird, but it might get them to think about a purchase first if it’s large purchases that they have a problem with. If it’s the little indulgences they struggle with, then it might just be a matter of getting them to pack a lunch, make coffee at home, or just a matter of budgeting out the indulgences they want. I am a firm believer that you shouldn’t have to get rid of the smaller indulgences in your life to win with money. The “latte” factor is nice to think about, that $4 a day can turn into a $1 million dollars someday, but the fact is that you can still save to be a millionaire while still enjoying some of the little things in life. You can do this by budgeting out your indulgences. Give yourself and your spouse some “blow” money for the month. This is money that you can do whatever you want with without having to worry about what you are spending it on. My wife and I get about $80 to $100 each per month. If I use all of it in the first week, I don’t get Chick-Fil-A the rest of the month or any more iTunes downloads. This is a great way to budget out some money that you can use on life’s little indulgences without getting scrutinized by your spouse about what you spent money on.
If any of you have any other insight about this topic, please feel free to leave a comment or discuss it with me by Contacting Me