How to deal with a spouse who overspends

Love of money is not only the root of all evil, as the saying goes, it’s also the number one thing couples fight about. According to a 2014 Time magazine survey, 70 percent of couples argued about money more than household chores, togetherness, sex, snoring, or what’s for dinner. Delving deeper into the findings, it seems the money issues couples fight over most are frivolous purchases, household budgeting, and credit card debt.

Keeping tabs on their money is a top priority for couples. The survey found that “60 percent of husbands and wives said they check their bank accounts more than they have sex and 22 percent said they hide purchases from their spouses,” reported Huffington Post.

Obviously, it’s important to be on the same financial page as your spouse, but this can be difficult to do, especially when you have different spending and saving philosophies. If you like to save and your husband likes to spend, this can cause a great amount of friction in your relationship. That also signals it’s time to talk money with your mate, especially if he or she is spending more than you like.

“Realize that your spouse is not your enemy,” personal finance blogger Cherie Low of Queen of Free and author of Slaying the Debt Dragon, told MadameNoire. “My husband and I learned so many lessons about effective communication when paying off our $127,000 debt. Money fights and problems often lead to divorce. It’s easy, especially for a frugal-minded person, to begin to demonize the actions of their significant other. Being married is difficult and involves laying down our own opinions and expectations daily. You need to begin by realizing your spouse’s overspending it’s their method of attacking you. More than likely, they come from a good place in their purchasing patterns or are battling a legacy of money mismanagement.”

Ask any couple what the key is to a good relationship and they’ll likely say communication, so why leave finances out of the discussion? “Talking about money can promote happiness in your relationship,” James Capolongo, head of Consumer Deposits at TD Bank, told us. “In fact, According to the second annual TD Bank Love & Money Survey, nearly 80 percent of the survey respondents who talk about money at least once a week said they are happy.”

As with many things, timing is everything when it comes to talking about money with your partner. “The when and where of having a serious conversation about spending needs to be well planned,” noted Lowe. “Throwing a receipt in your husband or wife’s face while belittling them in front of the kids won’t be productive. Choose a time to have a talk that can make a real difference. If you aim only to hurt the other party’s feelings, no change will occur.”

Here are four more tips on dealing with a spouse who’s an overspender.

–Decide together on big purchases. “Couples can prevent possible arguments by agreeing ahead of time that purchases over a set amount should be discussed first. That way you are managing spending as a team sport,” suggested Capolongo.

–Tackling debt should be a joint effort. “In our relationship, I was the spouse who didn’t really want to jump into the journey of paying off debt immediately. I wasn’t a wild spender but I definitely have a more spontaneous money attitude than my husband. He thinks long-term and I think short-term. But the beauty is that every relationship needs both participants to balance each other out. One of the biggest switches we threw was to begin to dream big together about what we would do once our debt was eliminated. As we shared that vision, we grew stronger in communicating about our finances,” shared Lowe.

–Set spending limits. “My husband and I have agreed to a set dollar amount that we don’t spend if we haven’t talked to each other first for non-budgeted expenses. Almost every single time, we both agree the purchase is necessary. But the limit helps us to check in with each other and stay in contact with what is being spent,” explained Lowe.

–Communicate and communicate often. “It’s wise to meet regularly to discuss your finances and upcoming expenses. At least once a week, you should have a more formal talk, looking over the budget for the month and year ahead. Talk about long-term goals–retirement, college, and paying off debt or mortgage. But also think through short-term expenses–birthdays, holidays, vacation, and school expenses for the kids. If you can, check in daily together over the checking account and clear up any confusion about purchases,” advises Lowe.