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7 Ways to Deal With a Spendthrift Spouse (Without Getting a Divorce)

When it comes to marital strife and the causes of divorce, financial strain is second only to infidelity. In fact, financial infidelity can feel nearly as bad as finding out your spouse has found another romantic partner.

One of the most common financial issues in marriages is a fundamental difference in how the two spouses view money, saving, and spending. When one spouse is a spendthrift and the other is a saver, disagreements are bound to arise, but that does not mean divorce is the only option. There are effective ways to deal with these disagreements, and here are some tips for handling a spendthrift spouse without heading into court.

  1. Start with a household budget that includes total income, mandatory monthly expenses, and a reasonable amount of discretionary spending. Your spendthrift spouse may never have had to set up a budget before, and doing so should be your first step as a couple. Sitting down with a spreadsheet and adding up total income, mandatory monthly expenditures, and a reasonable amount of discretionary spending can set you up for success - and keep the divorce lawyers at bay.
  2. Negotiate a maximum no questions asked spending amount. Asking a spendthrift spouse to get approval for every single penny is likely a one-way ticket to divorce court. If you want to maintain a happy marriage and a happy bank account, start by negotiating a limit for no questions asked purchases. Depending on your income, that limit might be $10, $100, or $1,000 - the important part is that both you and your spouse agree that it is fair.
  3. Consider separate bank accounts. Many married and cohabitating couples choose the convenience of a joint bank account, and there is nothing wrong with that. Even so, setting up additional separate bank accounts for each spouse can make negotiating spending easier and less stressful.
  4. Invest in a financial literacy course. If your spouse is no good with money, the problem may not be their fault. No one is born knowing how to handle money, and that lack of financial literacy could have profound implications for their life - and yours. Investing time into a financial literacy course could be well worth your while as a couple, so look for classes that teach the fundamentals.
  5. Examine their motivations. Spendthrifts are not necessarily wasteful or financially ignorant - sometimes, that excess spending is hiding a deeper emotional hurt. Examining their motivations can be very informative, so dig deeper and resist placing blame.
  6. Share your own financial successes. If you have always been a saver, you probably have some success stories to share. Talking about your own experience with investing and saving money can be informative for your spouse, and they may even be willing to join you in your penny-pinching ways.
  7. Seek out cheap ways to have fun. Your spendthrift spouse may equate having fun with large outlays of cash, creating problems for you and for your marriage. As an antidote to that attitude, seek out less expensive entertainment options, from holding a movie marathon in front of the TV to taking a stroll through the local park.

Life is not easy when you and your life partner do not see eye to eye on finances. Disagreements over money can be deadly to a marriage, especially when those differences give rise to financial infidelity.

If you love to save money and your spouse needs to spend it, having a heart-to-heart conversation just might save your marriage. The tips listed above can make living with a spendthrift spouse easier, and they might even help to turn their attitude around. If you have questions about filing for a divorce in New Jersey, call 201-845-7400 for a free consultation.

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