It's hard enough to make a marriage work without money disagreements, but if one partner is running through your savings like a V8 engine runs through high-priced gasoline, it may be time to make some serious changes — and fast.
Determining that Your Money is Being Mismanaged
Sometimes it may be difficult to tell whether your spouse is mismanaging your money. Because each couple's saving/spending dynamic is bound to be different, it's up to you to determine whether your spouse is actually mismanaging your money or you're being a bit of a tightwad.
Usually, spouses will begin to complain that their partners are spending too much money when they no longer have money they agreed to set aside for bills, savings, emergencies, etc. If you two have come to an agreement about how incomes will be utilized and then your spouse begins making decisions behind your back about the money, it may be time to discuss money mismanagement.
Discussing the Issue with Your Spouse
If you've made the determination that your spouse is indeed spending too much, it is good to sit down and have a talk about money. If this is your first time talking about your finances, however, you might want to go in with a plan:
- Determine your money flow: First, it's good to collect receipts and income statements to show just how the money coming in is now less than or equal to the money going out.
- Make a budget: Next, you could set up a budget to show your spouse your plan for ways to avoid overspending while still having room for shopping and entertainment.
- Bring all of the details: It's good to be well-armed with the information you need to help your spouse understand how important it is to have money for immediate bills, emergencies, major expenses and retirement.
Once you've gotten together to discuss the issues, it's also a good idea to suggest coming up with a new budget together. This way, you could make your spouse feel that he or she is just as much in control of the expenses as you are.
Also, it's a good idea to make sure you do as much listening as talking. Your spouse may have some very valid ideas about how the money could be managed, so try to go into the conversation open-minded.
What If Your Spouse Isn't Receptive?
If you sit down and speak with your spouse about the finances and your spouse either agrees to change and doesn't, or flat out refuses to change, you may have to make some important decisions on your own for the wellbeing of you and your family.
Not being a relationship site, this is not the place to receive advice about marriage counseling or divorce; however, there are a couple of strategies that you could consider to protect your money.
- Open separate bank account: If your spouse continues to dip into your savings account or checking accounts then you may have to open a separate account with only your name on it while leaving some funds in the joint account. If you do this, it's good to not keep it a secret, however, especially since your spouse wouldn't be able to access the account anyway.
- Get rid of the credit cards: If your spouse is running up your credit card balances with frivolous purchases that are not being paid off, you may have to close the accounts. If you are considering this option, check with your card issuer to see if you can close the account without your spouse's consent.
- Give your spouse a prepaid debit card: You might also consider giving your spouse a prepaid debit card so that you can add a specific balance that your spouse can spend and no more.
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Unfortunately, the above strategies require a bit of a separatist attitude and probably would only be used if your spouse refuses to cooperate with you in any other way. The idea is to get the two of you on the same page so that you can begin managing money together in a responsible fashion.
Hopefully, by discussing your money, coming up with a solid budget and both honoring it, you won't have to cry out for help again anytime soon.
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