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How to survive as a couple if your other half spends too much

Published 8 June 2015 by

According to a recent article in The Guardian, money is one of the top ten reasons why couples argue, and if you’re in a relationship, that’s probably something you can relate to! Whether it’s rowing about how much to spend on food, or how much pocket money to give the kids, everyone who’s ever been in a relationship is bound to have had some sort of disagreement about finances. And if you haven’t, we’d like to know your secret.

If it’s you who is overspending, have a read of our definitive guide to budgeting, which could help you out, but if it’s your other half’s finances that are out of control, it’s a good idea to have a sit down with them to discuss it.

To help you out, we’ve got some handy tips on how to survive as a couple when your other half spends too much.

Talk it out calmly

This is the first step, and perhaps the most difficult, especially if you’re used to arguing about money. Before you start the conversation, have what you want to say in mind and try not to go off on a tangent. Practice in front of a mirror first if that helps.

It’s important to approach the conversation in the right way. It’s really important you’re fair, as they may not realise just how much it’s affecting you. Don’t start by saying, “We need to talk about your ridiculous spending and how you’re terrible with money.” Make sure that you’re in a positive frame of mind and not feeling angry and that you catch your other half at a good time too, not when they’re dashing off somewhere in a hurry, for example. Make it clear that this is a subject that’s important to you and that you feel you need to talk it through to feel happier in the relationship. Also make it clear that it’s something that you think you can resolve and work on together so that your other half doesn’t feel as though they are just being attacked.

Have a plan of action

If the initial chat goes well, work together and talk about how you can compromise and come up with some solutions. Don’t leave the conversation just agreeing to “work on it.” Have some concrete plans in place that you can keep track of – maybe creating a budget for you both to stick to could help as it shows them that you’re prepared to make some changes too – our definitive budgeting guide might come in handy again here.

Think about your future - if you’ve the same goals in mind, it should be easier for you to budget together. Maybe you want to save for a mortgage, for having children or even just going away together. It’s useful to relate their spending to your relationship in a positive way as your other half can see that your motivation isn’t to criticise them but to protect your relationship and plan for your future together.

Be realistic

At the end of the day, people think about money differently. Accept that you may never completely see eye to eye about what counts as luxury spending and what counts as essential spending. But as with anything in a relationship, communication (and sometimes compromise!) is the most important thing and being able to talk through it and create a plan together will increase your chances of resolving this issue.