Does your spouse spend too much money?
It's not uncommon for partners in a relationship to have different financial values. An interesting dynamic tends to develop between spenders and savers: their behaviours are reinforced by each other. For example, as the savers try to squirrel away money, the spenders feel controlled and try and defend against this by spending more. Meanwhile the savers feel panicked and try and save even more.
If you're the saver and your spouse is the spender, the trick is to not cast a negative light on his or her behaviour. This will only make your spouse defensive and make the problem worse. But what can you do if your pleas for reason won't be heard? You can't, after all, control what another person thinks or does.
There are a few little things you can do to make the situation a little better:
1. Spenders often have little concept of how small items add up. Tell your spouse, in a non-threatening way, that you want to try and improve the family finances a bit, and does he/she have any idea of ways to cut back? Then show your spouse a summary of ALL monthly expenses, fixed and otherwise. Seeing that total might be the wake up call your spouse needs.
2. Look for other costs to cut back on instead: turn lights off more, turn the heat down more, turn the hot water tank down a bit, pack lunches for work, bring coffee in a thermos instead of buying it, among many others.
3. Set up an automatic transfer to savings, and count this in with your fixed expenses.
4. Take over household chores that are related to spending, such as groceries. My husband is a big name brand fan, so when he shops the bills are always higher. When I shop I always give generics a chance, and more often than not he doesn't notice.
5. Make lifestyle changes that can reduce spending. I always used to call my husband mid-day at work and ask what he wanted for dinner. He never knew, and would say "don't worry about it". Then he'd get home and we'd order take out. One day I decided to "take the bull by the horns" and decide for him. I now do menu planning and make 95% of our meals without asking for his input (which suits him fine), so we rarely ever order in anymore.
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