When a Spouse Cannot Stop Spending Money

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Money is a topic that does not come up too often with couples in a serious dating relationship – finances for the most part are kept separate. However, that all changes once you tie the knot, the money all goes in and out of the same pot. Unfortunately, money matters are a huge point of contention for many couples. Relationship experts say finances is are polarizing issue; usually there is one spouse who tends to spend, spend, spend and one spouse who tends to worry and save.

It’s no secret that saving, rather than spending on non-essential items, is a better strategy for financial success. So if you’re the money saver in your marriage, how can you get your spouse to slow down your cash outflow? Experts say there are a few ways to reign in your spouse’s spending:

See Where The Money Is Going

Before you can make anything happen in regards to a budget, you have to see where the money is going. Go back and look at the transactions for the past three months of both your own accounts and your spouse’s accounts. See what you are both spending money on. If there are several luxury items or services listed in your transaction history, then there is certainly room for you to cut back. This is also the step when you may freak out at how much your spouse has spent and at what they’ve spent it on. However, no matter how outrageous you feel your spouse’s spending is, try and refrain from getting angry and yelling at or insulting your spouse. This will only make things worse.

Talk With Your Spouse

Rather than getting angry, talk openly with your spouse. You can tell them you’re angry, frustrated or hurt by their spending habits as long as you do so in a calm, genuine fashion. Try not to throw out accusations and refer to money matters as “ours” rather than “mine.” Tell your spouse how truly concerned you are about your financial future as a couple and how you want to make a plan for success. Most spouses will understand this and be open to changing their spending habits.

Set Some Ground Rules

Budgets and rules for spending will be different depending on the specific financials of a couple, however, there should definitely be rules. For instance, many couples make a rule that stipulates they cannot spend any more than $50 or $100 on one item without approval from each other. This requires that all big purchases be discussed first, which is a very good thing. Other rules could include creating a monthly limit for eating out, buying clothing or other nonessential items and services. All rules should apply to both spouses.

Look for Red Flags

If your spouse is hiding purchases from you or completely closed to discussing changing their habits, there could be an underlying issue behind their behavior. This could include a lack of trust or shopping addiction among many other things. In this case, seek professional counseling as soon as possible, as this behavior is a warning sign that the marriage could be in deep trouble.

Jessica Drew is a freelance writer and frugal shopping enthusiast who writes about a variety of financial topics such as credit cards, student loans and cheap flights.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Laura C July 12, 2011 at 2:32 pm

You speak about shopping addiction in your post and state the need for counseling. I would be interested to hear what methods are used by counselors to treat compulsive shoppers. I do think probably the shopping addict has underlying issues, but it may be difficult to treat and “baby steps” will be needed to recover. The other spouse may enable the addicted spouse, do you agree?


2 Heidi July 16, 2011 at 5:55 pm

I think the important thing is to find a counselor that works well with the addict. There are different methods and some work better with certain people depending on their personality. The spouse may be enabling the addicted spouse, but I don’t think that is always the case. If you compare it to other addictions (smoking, drinking, etc) you will see some enabling – but it doesn’t seem to be often.


3 Lloyds Online Banking July 13, 2011 at 5:43 am

This requires that all big purchases be discussed first, which is a very good thing.


4 Heidi July 16, 2011 at 5:55 pm



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