They're spending the money, but are you to blame?

Could You Be Causing Your Spouse to Overspend?

by Shaunna Privratsky


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Oh no! It's the end of the month and you are running short of money again. You blame it on your overspending spouse, fuming that if only he would stop wasting money your budget would be fine. But what if you were the cause?

Overspending is a serious problem because it can put you in major debt. So the sooner you figure out why your spouse is doing it, the quicker you can both get back on track.

First, look in the mirror. Are you constantly demanding expensive gifts or vacations? Your spouse may feel he has to provide them to "earn" your love or approval. This may be an unconscious reaction, or he may be doing it just to please you. You can help by making your expectations more reasonable.

Another reason for overspending could be trying to keep up with the Jones'. Maybe you make him feel inferior if you are not driving a brand-new car like your friends or getting your lawn professionally maintained just because the neighbors all do. Instead, try to support him in making decisions that fit your budget, not anyone else's. You don't know their circumstances; they could be in debt up to their eyeballs because they are trying to keep up with you!

Are you constantly putting your spouse down because he can't provide enough? Feelings of failure can cause him to overspend just to compensate. He might be trying to prove himself despite your negativity. Try to imagine how you would feel if someone put down your every effort.

How to get your spending under control

Overspending can also be a form of rebellion if you are limiting your spouse's input in how your money is spent. Without a feeling of being included, he could be trying to take back some control, even if it is hurting your bottom line.


In order to control overspending, you and your spouse have to get on the same page. Overspending can be the result of not planning for unexpected expenses, like car repairs and home maintenance. According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute released in 2014, 36 percent of American workers have less than $1,000 in savings. This can lead to huge bills with no way to pay them besides more credit card debt.

Joshua Huffman of the Financial Resource Center in Fargo suggests putting aside a little each month to cover unexpected bills. This will help with overspending in the long run. He also says it is best to put the extra savings in a different account or location than your regular accounts. Then it will be available when you need it.

10 ways to prevent non-essential spending

Sit down together and pinpoint the problem areas that cause one or both of you to overspend. Agree that you won't undermine each other and that you will quit demanding a more expensive lifestyle. Budget everything, so you can see where you can cut back. Perhaps you can quit eating out six times a week or cut back on unnecessary spending.

Include some money for fun. When you try to limit your spending too much, it is sure to backfire. By allowing a little bit each month, it makes it more special and is guilt free because you know it fits into the budget.

Another key component in controlling an overspending spouse is giving them a set allowance. This seems counterintuitive, but it allows them to spend something, just not too much. You should decide together on the amount, so no one feels cheated or left out.

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By getting to the root of the overspending problem, you and your spouse can work together to fix it. Even if you discover that you are the cause, overcome that by being open and honest with your spouse and making a plan for a brighter financial future.


Shaunna Privratsky became an expert in personal finance out of necessity. Between writing, reading and gardening, she is always on the lookout for bargains. Please sign up for the free newsletters at The Discount Diva. You can also visit Shaunna on Google+.

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