What Should You Do If Your Spouse Can’t Quit Spending Money

by TTMK on September 23, 2013 · 6 comments

The following post is from staff writer Melissa Batai

John and Marie (not their real names) were married at a young age.  Within a year, they had their first child.  Within the first six years of marriage, they’d had 4 children.  Life was crazy and hectic.

They naturally fell into traditional roles with Marie staying home to care for their 4 young, active children and John working full-time.  As you can imagine, the expenses came fast and furious with so many young children, and John was willing to work overtime.  He brought in very good money between his regular hours and overtime.

Meanwhile, Marie became tired and stressed from caring for the children because John was rarely home to help since he worked so much.  Marie liked to use retail therapy and buy clothes for her kids.  She loved having the kids look stylish and cute.  John, in turn, began to worry about having enough money, so he worked even harder.  This made Marie feel even lonelier, so she spent more.

This vicious cycle continued for the 30 years they were married, until they divorced.

Money fights are the most common cause of divorce, and they played a large role in John and Marie’s eventual divorce.

What should you do if your spouse can’t quit spending money?

Depending on how much he is spending, there are a number of steps you can take:

1.  Discuss the issue calmly with your spouse.  Express your financial fears and how you feel when he spends money you don’t have or spends more than you’d agreed on.  Sometimes you need to both get to the root of why each of you feel the way you do about money.

2.  See if she’ll let you control the money.  If your spouse knows that she’s bad with money, maybe she’ll let you handle the money.  My dad was an admitted spendthrift, so he had no trouble handing over his paycheck to my mom and getting an “allowance” from her to spend during the week.  Many people might not like this situation, but my dad knew any money he had would be gone by the end of the week, so he was glad to let my mom handle the finances.

3.  Seek counseling.  If you just can agree on how much is acceptable to spend, consider seeking counseling.  A counselor may be able to help you bridge your two spending styles and find a happy balance.

4.  Keep your finances separate.  I’m a big advocate of combining finances once you’re married, but if my spouse was a spendthrift, I might have a different view.  Separating finances and having each partner pay for part of the household expenses may be a way to handle money differences and still live together happily.

5.  Consider a divorce.  Of course, this is a last resort, but if your spouse just can’t quit spending money, you may need to consider getting divorced before you end up in financial ruin.  You’ll likely lose half of your retirement in the divorce settlement as well as half of your other assets, but if you’re young enough, you’ll have time to financially recover.

My Questions for You

Have you experienced this problem in your relationship?  If so, how did you and your partner handle the situation?  Were you able to resolve your financial issues?


{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Michelle September 23, 2013 at 9:59 am

Luckily we are pretty similar when it comes to money. If anything I am too frugal and he helps me bo more “normal.” 🙂


TTMK September 23, 2013 at 1:03 pm

That’s great!

A general comment on the post (not related to the above comment): it’s always amazing to me how someone could rely on another person economically but then by frustrated that he or she is not home more…and hold it against that person! Sounds a bit ungrateful to me, not to mention spending more that the person supporting you can afford. I’m sure there’s some other perspective I’m missing.


Kevin @ Growing Family Benefits September 24, 2013 at 10:07 am

No spouse could ever spend enough to overcome the legal bills, division of assets, cost of living in separate homes, child support, alimony, or the mental anguish of divorce.

There may be legitimate reasons for a divorce, but saving money is not one of them. It is far better for couples to work at resolving their issues.


AverageJoe September 25, 2013 at 7:51 am

If they truly “can’t” stop spending money, there are some huge psychological problems happening. I think working with them to find the root of the problem is definitely job #1. While I don’t always agree with Cheryl’s spending (and she doesn’t agree with mine), I’m so glad we don’t have this problem!


David Smith October 1, 2013 at 8:23 pm

Spending money is easier than saving it. If you have a spouse who overspends, adopting these tips will help a lot. It is really important to communicate on a regular basis with each other. Both of you must be honest with each other specially regarding money matters.


TTMK October 1, 2013 at 9:35 pm

Being honest with each other is so important, no doubt about it!


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