How to Talk to a Spouse Who's Overspending

by Christy Bieber | Nov. 21, 2019

The Ascent is reader-supported: we may earn a commission from offers on this page. It’s how we make money. But our editorial integrity ensures our experts’ opinions aren’t influenced by compensation.

Is your spouse blowing your shared budget? Here are some tips to help you talk about it. 

The financial decisions your spouse makes impact your situation as a couple whether you maintain separate accounts or combine every aspect of your financial lives. After all, if your spouse spends too much, you may have a hard time covering shared expenses or saving money for goals like buying a home. 

Because your financial lives inevitably intertwine, you need to take action if your spouse is continually overspending -- especially if this leads to credit card debt or other bad financial situations. Unfortunately, dealing with this issue can be difficult and lead to fights if your partner doesn't want to cut back and you're pressuring them to do so. 

A young couple having a serious discussion sitting on their living room floor.

Image source: Getty Images

The good news is that if you approach the situation the right way, you can find a compromise that doesn't lead to conflict and that ensures your spouse isn't jeopardizing your joint financial security. Just follow these tips to start the conversation and hopefully arrive at an amicable solution.

1. Set up a time to talk

Conversations about money can be very sensitive and you don't want to surprise your partner by springing a difficult discussion at an inconvenient time. 

Instead of bringing up the issue out of the blue, ask your spouse if you can set up a time to talk about money matters that you need to address as a couple. If you're both prepared for the conversation, it'll be a lot easier. 

2. Avoid blaming language

If you're annoyed about your spouse's overspending, you may be tempted to pass blame when bringing up the issue. But saying "you're always blowing our budget" or using similar language isn't the way to start a constructive conversation that leads to a solution. 

Instead, start by explaining your concerns about your finances without judgment. You're far more likely to have a good conversation about money if you open up the talk by saying "I'm concerned about how our credit card debt will affect us," or "I'm worried we're not saving enough for retirement." 

This presents the issue as a problem you can solve together rather than an issue your spouse is solely responsible for fixing. 

3. Discuss and agree on shared goals

You don't want to tell your partner what he or she can spend -- after all, your spouse is an adult and won't appreciate being ordered around. Instead, talk about your financial life and come up with goals you both believe in.

Once you set shared goals and you figure out what needs to happen to achieve them, cutting spending will probably be necessary. But your spouse should be more on board with making sacrifices if there's a goal that you both agree is important. 

4. Create a budget together

To make sure you're on track to achieve your joint financial goals, you and your spouse can make a budget together. When you're concerned about overspending, aim for a detailed budget that addresses all of the different kinds of spending you do. By setting limits on dining out, entertainment, clothing, and other elective purchases, you can nip overspending in the bud. 

5. Set up a time for regular check-ins 

It's important for both partners to stick to the budget you set up, so have regular check-ins to see how things are going. Schedule a time for a weekly or monthly meeting to compare actual spending to your budget. Hopefully, these check-ins will help your overspending spouse keep expenditures in check. 

Talking to an overspending spouse without fighting is possible

By following these tips, you and your spouse can come to an agreement on what you want to accomplish with your money and set a shared budget that supports these joint goals. If you come to an agreement, your partner is far more likely to stick to the budget and you can work together to build a secure future.

These savings accounts are FDIC insured and can earn you 18x your bank

Many people are missing out on guaranteed returns as their money languishes in a big bank savings account earning next to no interest. Our picks of the best online savings accounts can earn you more than 18x the national average savings account rate. Click here to uncover the best-in-class picks that landed a spot on our shortlist of the best savings accounts for 2020.

About the Author