My spouse spends more money than we have

Apr 20, 2021

Money issues are one of the biggest stressors in a relationship and one of the top three contributors of divorce. If you know someone who mismanages their finances, then this might not be a surprise. However, having a spouse who’s addicted to shopping or spends more money than you make can be frustrating. But, like many other relationship problems, this can also be solved when approached in the right way. Therefore, try to be understanding and proactive when dealing with this problem.

You should explain why overspending is harmful while still being compassionate. But, bear in mind that this is not easy. It’s, therefore, best that you take the process in baby steps. Here are ways to address your spouse’s spending problem.

Avoid Judgment

No one likes being told how much they’re spending or what they can and can’t spend on, especially by their partner. It can easily communicate a lack of trust or respect for one another. Thus, when you are approaching this issue, instead of being critical, try to be understanding. Even if they’ve messed up badly, try determining what happened and how this can be avoided in the future. It’s not the time to start calling them names or raise your voice.

The point is to make them understand that it’s an issue you both should handle together rather than addressing it as a flaw that your spouse needs to correct by themselves. For instance, instead of telling them how their addiction is messing with your budget, you can tell them that you both may need to cut down on spending to stay within your budget goals.

When you start accusing or pointing at your partner’s fault, it’ll only drive a wedge between you two and make communication harder. This is why you should be understanding and loving when approaching this issue.

Find Out Why Your Partner Overspends

Now, there are many reasons why people overspend. It could be traced back to a deprived or privileged childhood, anxiety, depression, etc. What’s common among all these reasons is a search for security. The spender might think that if they buy that thing they’ll be happy, accepted, or in style. However, the truth is purchasing things doesn’t make a person feel secure. Many people are suffering today because they are unable to let go of the fleeting satisfaction of things.

Before buying anything, partners should ask themselves what they are trying to achieve. If they are buying to be fulfilled or escape stress or pain, buying that item won’t help them meet that need. Find out the driving force behind your partner’s overspending choices. For example, if he always buys a coffee from Starbucks, it could be that he prefers that compared to brewing at home, or he enjoys his alone time in that environment. Then, together come up with methods of addressing this. When you address money issues as a mutual problem and tackle it as a team, you’ll find a more effective solution.

Make Them Understand the Problem

Your spouse might not know how their spending habit is affecting your budget or saving plans. It’s wise that you illustrate this issue clearly instead of using vague terms. You can even go as far as using charts or spreadsheets to make them understand how their habit is affecting your ability to save for retirement or other long-term projects like buying a house. When you make them understand how their behavior is impacting your budget and savings, you’ll help them see why they need to change. It can also be helpful to frame their spending habits in a yearly context. For example, spending $10 per day on take-out might look negligible, but in a year it adds up to around $3650. Addressing it like this will help your partner understand your concern.

Once you’ve made them see this problem, you can together decide on how you’re going to control your spending moving forward. You can do this by agreeing on the amount of money each of you is to spend within a specific period, for instance. Fortunately, some apps can help you control your spending and ensure that you don’t surpass your budget.

Don’t Compare How Much Each of You Spends

Many people approach this issue by pointing out how little they spend compared to their overspending partner. However, please understand that no one likes being compared to another person, especially their spouse. Our values are different. Thus, comparing only divides the two of you when you should actually be united in solving this issue. While you can use examples to demonstrate how you’re saving money, don’t frame yourself as the better person. You can tell them, for example, why you shop for secondhand clothes instead of brand new ones.

Set Financial Goals and Hold Financial Meetings

Once you’ve made them understand the issue, you should together set a budget then determine how you are going to control your spending. After, you should set long-term financial goals. Overspending is easy when you don’t have a reason for sticking to your budget. If you need to buy a house or save up on emergency funds or retirement, make that your first goal. Having a common goal will help your partner to easily cut back.

Now, since achieving your goals is an ongoing process, you should take time to monitor your progress. While in some months you may regress, knowing that you are improving can be encouraging. Hold financial meetings and determine how you’ve performed. You can also use this opportunity to praise your spouse and encourage one another to continue working towards your shared financial goals.

Final Thoughts

Addressing money issues is hard. But ignoring the problem will eventually hurt your future. If your partner spends more than what you have, these tips can help you deal with the issue. Just don’t forget to be non-judgmental and loving. However, if you are still having trouble getting through your spouse, maybe contacting a financial counselor or therapist will help. Look for one who has expertise in helping couples with financial problems.