When Your Spouse Doesn’t Care About Saving Money
by Todd Morse
When your spouse doesn’t care about saving money and you do, money fights aren’t uncommon. Here are five ways to work toward getting on the same financial page.
Money causes more marital conflict than any other subject. This is especially true when your financial goals, spending styles, and views of money are fundamentally different from your spouse’s.
In a study conducted by Jeffrey Dew at Utah State University, it was shown that couples who argue about money once a week were 30% more likely to get divorced than couples who disagreed about money only occasionally.
Clearly, finding financial solutions is worth the effort. But what can one person do when their spouse isn’t on board with saving money?
Talk About It
Often, money arguments are about a wider range of subjects than just spending and saving.
Take the time to really discuss your concerns, without yelling, and listen to what your spouse has to say. Describe your concerns and explain why saving money is important to you. If other problem areas arise, agree to set them aside and stay focused on each other’s spending and savings habits.
The fact is, nearly all couples disagree about money to one degree or another. It does not mean that you are doomed to divorce and bankruptcy, it simply means that you are both human. At the same time, if talking about the problem doesn’t get results, then you will need to take the next step.
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Get Financially Informed
If talking it out doesn’t get your spouse on board to save more or to spend more frugally, you will need to arm yourself with accurate information on your family’s finances. This means documenting where your family’s money is coming from and where it goes, how much, and how often. Identify all debts, expenses, and sources of income. Often, one spouse or the other is not accurately in tune with the family’s financial position, leading them to spend more money than the family can afford. (See What a Spouse Should Know About Your Finances.)
On the other hand, sometimes other circumstances or history comes into play. If one spouse was raised in an extremely frugal household, he or she may have an acute aversion to spending. (See Ending the Fear of Poverty.)
Focusing on the financial facts can help everyone see the situation more realistically. This can help you develop financial goals together and decrease the likelihood of so many arguments about money.
Next, sit down with your spouse and work together to create a family budget. These spending plans help you and your spouse to pay monthly bills and set aside money for occasional expenses, such as car maintenance or taxes, and for emergencies, such as illness or injury. These financial nest eggs should be equal to 3-6 months of your family’s normal expenses. (See How Much of an Emergency Fund Do I Need?.)
Generally speaking, creating a family budget simply means taking the information you have already gathered and adding up all of your income in one column and all of your expenses in another. If you have more expenses than income, you have a problem. If your spouse refuses to participate in the budgeting process, you have an even bigger problem.
If a family budget doesn’t motivate your spouse to spend more frugally and save for those rainy days, you must begin working to protect yourself financially to avoid bankruptcy. Learn about your finances: how secured debts work, how unsecured debts work.
Opening separate accounts is one way to protect yourself financially and set aside money for your own rainy day. Of course, this arrangement still requires some level of cooperation from your spouse. Decisions must be made regarding who pays for which expenses, are bills split evenly, or by some other method. (See Joint or Separate Finances for a Second Marriage?.)
If you are facing serious conflict with your spouse, it is also important to pay attention to which bills are in your name and pay those first. Being in serious financial conflict with a spouse who overspends can easily lead to divorce and bankruptcy.
Learn About Your Options
If bankruptcy becomes your only option, with or without your spouse, you can still make decisions that are in your best financial interest. Talk with a bankruptcy attorney to learn more about the differences between Chapter 7 bankruptcies and Chapter 13 bankruptcies, as well as your other options. Your initial consultation with a bankruptcy lawyer doesn’t cost you anything and a visit to a law firm that specializes in bankruptcy can provide useful information about your personal financial options. (See Am I a Good Candidate For Bankruptcy?.)
Bankruptcy is not something to be entered into lightly. At the same time, ridding yourself of an overwhelming financial burden that you cannot afford brings with it a profound sense of relief. The entire experience can then be chalked up to one of life’s important lessons and you can move forward from there.
Reviewed December 2021
About the Author
Todd Morse is the managing attorney for Morse & Associates, LLC where he helps people with Chapter 7 bankruptcy and Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
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