Financial management can be intimidating and strenuous. Now, just imagine trying to do this with someone else. But, it’s a reality for couples who are balancing each other’s wants and needs, as well as shared goals.
Things can get even tricky and more stressful, however, one you’re living with a super-spender. It’s easy to envision why this would cause friction. You’re putting in the effort to be responsible and save. Meanwhile, they’re being reckless with their finances.
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10 Ways to Save When You Live With a Super-Spender
The good news? You can still save when living with this type of person. And, you might be able to get on the same page and live in harmony by trying out these 10 techniques.
1. Avoid judgment.
Your first step is to manage your money, not your partner. After all, judging them is the ultimate relationship destroyer. “It tells your partner that it’s not okay to be themselves,” states Paul Colaianni, Behavior and Relationship Coach and Host of The Overwhelmed Brain.
“This builds resentment in them and will eventually corrode even the most intimate relationships,” he adds. “Even if your relationship survives the corrosive effect of judgment, it still suffers.”
Rather than coming at them hot and heavy, remain as calm as possible. Listen to them so that you can understand their point of view. “You probably each think the other spends money on things that aren’t necessary,” writes CNN Money‘s Jeanne Sahadi. “Well, define ‘necessary’ and look in the mirror while you’re doing it.”
Having this conversation with them may also keep you better understanding their spending triggers. Maybe they’re overspending when they’re stressed or feeling peer pressure from others.
You may even determine that they’re compulsive spending is an addiction. If so, reach out for help through professional counseling or online sources like www.debtorsanonymous.org and www.spenders.org.
2. Schedule money dates.
Just like you make “date night” a priority, you should do the same with weekly money meetings. They don’t have to be an all-night event. Instead, these money dates give you a chance to;
- Discuss your financial habits, goals, and desires as a couple.
- Determine your household and individual needs.
- Create long-term financial goals.
- Address any problems, such as an impulse purchase they just made, before it festers.
- Develop a budgeting system.
- Track your spending.
- Revisit the goals that you’ve set together.
- Meet with a financial planner or therapist.
While having these “money dates” at home can be easier, like when reviewing your budget, you can get creative. For example, you could take a walk in the park and watch the sunset. After that, you could hit up a new food truck instead of eating dinner at an expensive restaurant.
During your stroll, you can go over your common financial goals. Best of all? You probably had a relaxing evening without breaking the bank.
3. Have savings competitions.
Money doesn’t always have to be stressful. It also doesn’t have to be one of the reasons why you’re in fistcuffs with your significant other. Instead, make saving fun through some friendly competition.
That’s exactly how Grayson Bell, the creator of the Debt Roundup blog, and his wife keep their spending in-check.
“We will see who can save the most money for 30 days, and the loser has to treat for dinner at the end,” Bell said. “We base this off a percentage of income earned, not the total amount saved because of the differences in income. We’ve found the competition brings out the best and pushes us to find new ways to save money.”
4. Consolidate and combine.
I’m still baffled at the financial decisions that my friends have made. After getting married, they continued to keep their finances completely separate. I get that this might avoid conflict. But, overall, it’s head-scratching.
Take their phone bills as an example. Each continues to have their own plans. One of them is spending over $100 a month for his unlimited plan, while his wife is spending around $75 a month for hers. If they consolidated this and shared a plan, they would save a ton of money.
This tactic also works well with business debt — but I digress.
If possible, go over expenses that could be consolidated. Besides a phone plan, look at streaming services, magazine subscriptions, or gym memberships.
You may also want to open a joint account. You don’t necessarily have to put all of your money in this account. But, you can use this for necessary expenses like housing, food, utilities, and insurance. You could also have a seperate account for savings or for something fun like a vacation.
Whatever is left, can be placed in an individual account. That means that they can still spend their money however they want after the nessicites have been covered.
5. Keep purchases out in the open.
“Being unfaithful to your spouse doesn’t always involve an affair,” writes best-selling author and financial expert Rachel Cruz. “Sometimes it’s when you’re unfaithful to a shared financial goal by opening a side bank account or stashing away cash.”
“That’s deceitful,” Cruz states. “The same applies if you have a credit card your spouse knows nothing about.”
“It’s crucial to be open and honest about any side checking or savings accounts or secret credit cards you have,” she adds. “It’s time to own up to the truth and clear the air.” From there, you can “work toward establishing financial trust again.”
“Recommit to your shared financial goals and remember why you’re doing it.” Remember, you’re in this together.
6. Automate your savings.
“Did you know that you can set it and forget it when it comes to saving money?,” asks Deanna Ritchie in a previous Due article. Well, if you didn’t know this — it’s absolutely true.
“One popular example would automatically transfer a percentage of your paycheck into a savings account each month,” suggests Deanna. I’d also add that you send more money into a retirement account, such as a 401(k).
“You could also download micro-investing apps” such as Acorns, Stash, Betterment, or Public “These tools let you invest your spare change by rounding up your purchases,” she adds. “However, you can also automatically add funds to your savings account as well.”
“And, speaking of automation, sign-up for automatic payments for recurring bills,” advises Deanna. “Besides making tracking easier, having auto-payments will prevent you from missing a payment. In turn, you won’t get hit with any late-fee penalties.”
During one of your money dates, figure out how much you both want to allocate to your savings. Sounds simple. But, they can’t spend money if it’s in a savings or retirement account.
7. Don’t abdicate spending and saving decisions entirely.
“Sometimes, it’s tempting for the person who’s more prone to saving to manage the savings and investment accounts while the spender makes the purchases,” writes personal finance and legal writer Christy Bieber. “And although this may seem like a natural division of labor, it’s usually a bad idea.”
Don’t leave the spender out in the cold when it comes to financial decisions, such as investments and savings goals. “It is important that the spender is on board with the sacrifices necessary to save — and also essential, for if something were to happen to the saver, then the spender would have to take over,” adds Bieber.
“At the same time, it’s a good idea for the spender to encourage the saver to make some purchasing decisions — and even to have some separate money to spend on having fun,” she adds. “This can help you find more financial balance in both of your lives.”
8. Live off one income.
I’m aware that this isn’t an option for every couple. However, after establishing a budget and cutting back on unnecessary expenses, you may notice that it’s possible to live off of one income. While this requires a lot of self-discipline, it can turbo-charge your finances.
Let’s say that you bring home home $40,000 and your better half earns $70,000. You could take your income and put that towards paying off debt like your mortgage, maxing out your retirement accounts, or building an emergency fund.
If you explain how living with one income can help achieve shared goals, they may be more willing to get on-board.
9. Be willing to compromise.
Compromise is vital to any relationship. And, it is certainly true when it comes to the spending habits of your partner.
It takes patience, but you need to learn how to let some things slide. You might not be thrilled that they went on a mini-shopping spree.
But, it’s their money and they can spend it however they want. The caveat? They can do this as long as they’ve already contributed to a savings account. You could also help them spend smarter with tricks like couponing, waiting for a sale, or buying used.
10. Find a referee.
Are you still clashing over money? It might be time to bring-in a third party. A friend or family member might work. But, to be honest, they could be biased.
A better idea? Work with a financial advisor, financial therapist, or counselor. Besides being unbiased, they can help you develop workable solutions.