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5 Ways to Save Money When Your Spouse is a Spender

Meet the new writers! Next up is Adrienne. Adrienne has been interested in personal finance since she was old enough to calculate interest, at age 5. You can read more about Adrienne in her bio [1]. Welcome Adrienne!

I’ve seen many doomsday comments about how to handle a spouse who spends too much. People act as if divorce or at least marriage counseling is the only path. In real life none of the couples I know are completely on the same page with money. As long as other parts of the relationship are good (communication, trust, etc.) I see no reason that financial problems can’t be made better (they will never be perfect). Here are suggestions from a “saver” who is married to a “spender”.

source: sklahill [2]

Save Money with a Spending Partner

  1. Concentrate on YOU. If you go on the offensive and launch into a diatribe of all the things your partner does wrong you are not going to get a good response. Instead concentrate on yourself and how you’re FEELING about your finances. “Honey I’ve been so worried about the bills I’m not sleeping well.” “It scares me to have this much debt.” A loving partner will want to help you feel better or at least commiserate that they feel the same.
  2. Ask for Help. To get a partner who is not interested in family finances involved ask for help. Make the task small and achievable. “Can you call this credit card and ask for a better rate?” “We’re not making anything on our savings – would you help me research a few banks?” Again the way to do this is not “you don’t do anything” but “I’m overwhelmed – can you help me with this task”. You can also point out your partners good points “you’re so much better than I at shopping for a deal – can you look into car insurance [3]?”
  3. Put in controls. If you have a partner who likes to spend you are going to have a hard time eradicating that completely. Don’t make that a goal (it will frustrate both of you). Instead put in limits. Credit cards with a low limit, a set allowance [4], or a cash envelope are all good tools. I know that my husband will always have his personal account at zero (no matter how big or small our allowance) but as long as our joint finances are in good shape I don’t have to worry about what he’s blowing his money on.
  4. Praise good behavior. If your partner is trying to make changes make sure to give plenty of positive reinforcement. They will surely slip up (change is hard!) so make sure you are praising any positive change they do make.
  5. Learn to Spend. This last point may seem counterintuitive, “I’m trying to encourage saving around here!” but it may actually go a long way. No one wants to feel they are the only one making an effort to change. This does not mean you have to go out a buy a new tv but small efforts can go a long way. Pick-up an overpriced candy bar for your spouse on the way home. Decide if you are only going out to eat once in a while that you’ll order what you want and not worry about it. Will these things cost you extra money in the short run? Yes but the overall savings from having a partner who is trying to save with you is worth much more.

Are you married to a spender? How to you manage to save money?

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