Whether you're worried about a dip in your savings account or your spouse’s spending habits have just about drained the account dry, it’s important to work together to curb spending sprees now before you’re truly scraping the bottom of the barrel. Start by talking about the problem and then work on the solution together so both of you feel involved and important to your financial success.
Communicate with Your Spouse
If you’ve been the partner responsible for taking care of the budget, then it’s possible that your wife might not have the same understanding of your financial situation and limitations. Without this knowledge, her commitment to staying on track toward the family’s financial goals might not be as steadfast as your own. Communication can help to make her aware of the situation and she may choose to modify her spending habits on her own. Talk to your wife about your concerns, but avoid doing so in an accusatory manner. For example, instead of saying, “You’re spending too much money,” try, “Unfortunately, our finances are going to require a change in our family's spending habits” or “We can’t maintain the current spending that’s taking place” to make her aware of the problem without making her feel like you’re pointing fingers.
Talk About Goals
If excess spending every month is depleting your savings account -- or keeping it at zero on a regular basis -- a lack of financial goals on your wife’s part or on both your parts might be making it difficult to curb frivolous spending. Talk with your wife about the things you’d like to accomplish with the family income and then determine together how much money you will have to set aside on a regular basis to reach your goals. If you have set financial objectives, such as saving for a trip, for a home renovation or for retirement, it will be easier to forgo on the regular shopping sprees to stay on track toward a common goal.
Budget and Allocate
Create a budget together to keep both parties apprised of your current financial situation. If your wife isn't interested in the nitty gritty of the basic budget, draft an outline that incorporates the regular bills, such as mortgage payments and grocery spending, and then sit down together to determine how the two of you would like to spend the discretionary income after putting money toward your savings goals. You can set aside a certain amount for activities the two of you can do together, such as dining out or date nights at the movie theater, and then allocate what you can to individual spending, so she can still enjoy a little shopping while also knowing you get to spend a little, too.
Review and Revise
Encourage your wife to stay involved in your financial goals by reviewing the budget together on a regular basis, such as weekly or bi-weekly. You can take a look at your original budget and determine whether you’re still on track. If there has been a little too much spending taking place, the two of you now have plenty of time to recognize the problem and correct it by making spending changes for the rest of the month. If staying on track continues to be a problem, consider withdrawing the designated discretionary money for shopping from the bank, dividing it up in the manner you have chosen to allot it and then avoid using debit cards or credit cards for the rest of the month. This can help you both to stay on track because once the cash is gone, the spending is done.
- Expecting Money: The Essential Financial Plan for New and Growing Families; Erica Sandberg; 2008
- The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness; Dave Ramsey; 2009
- Liquidlibrary/liquidlibrary/Getty Images