Few things can cause trouble in a marriage like money and budgeting woes. This is particularly true when one partner seems to spending a great deal of money that the other feels should be going into savings or otherwise being set aside for a rainy day. Unless the couple can come together and discuss money and budgeting in an open manner, the spending will eventually create a great deal of anger and frustration. Rather than allowing things to get to that point, the two of you must come to terms on how to curb the spending and work as a team.
Admitting There is a Problem
Before it is possible to take any forward steps, both parties must admit that a problem exists. This will require a frank discussion that may sting a little, but will ultimately help both spouses look objectively at the way they spend. At present, there may be the perception that one spouse spends too much money. By stepping back and taking a good look at every expenditure over the last couple of months, it may come to light that both spouses have made less than perfect choices with their spending.
Admitting that there is a problem should not take on an accusatory tone. This is not the time for finger pointing. All discussions should focus more on “we” rather than “you.” By focusing more on what is happening and less on who is doing what, it will be easier to come together and brainstorm on what to do next.
Seeking Professional Help
Once both spouses admit that their finances could be managed more effectively, making an appointment with a financial counselor is the next logical step. Couples are often so close to the situation that it’s difficult to be truly objective. A counselor can evaluate all aspects of the financial affairs and help the couple develop an arrangement that both parties can willingly support.
Part of the counselor’s work will involve understanding the reasons behind the excessive spending. What may come to light is the fact that more than one spouse spends too much money. The whole trend could have started when one spouse made a major purchase without consulting the other. That first incident sent the clear message that talking before spending was not necessary. Once both parties see how this chain reaction started, it will be easier to mutually agree to consult one another on any purchase over a certain amount.
Are Allowances Always Bad?
Allowances can work very well, provided that both spouses agree to receive the same amount and to use those allowances as their personal discretionary income. Everything else goes into the joint checking and savings accounts. All disbursements from those central accounts or use of credit cards must be discussed with one another in advance.
Drafting a Reasonable Budget
After admitting that more than one spouse spends too much money, it’s time to set up a new budget. The first line items will have to do with basic living needs like food, clothing, and shelter. Additional line items include credit card balances, club fees, and funds set aside for savings each calendar month. From there, the allowances for both spouses are determined and placed in the budget.
Addressing the overspending as “our” challenge sets aside the tendency to assume that only one spouse spends too much money. That in turn reduces the possibility for anyone playing the blame game. By engaging in open and loving conversation then getting help from a third party, the couple can proceed with a balanced budget, and each of them will feel empowered and happy.
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