Living With a Spend-Thrift Spouse

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The Question

I am a very frugal person who happens to be married to a man who is NOT frugal in any way! I would love to live a simple lifestyle with no debt, but he doesn't see it that way. Any suggestions on how I can encourage him to live more frugally and both of us be more satisfied? I get so frustrated when I try to save even small amounts, only to turn around and find he's just spent that much and more on going out to lunch with the guys he's worked with! Motivation sort of goes up in smoke.
Leslie B.

By Agreement

I had a similar situation with my husband. We have a budget with only $100 per month for entertainment (family of 4) which includes all eating out. My husband used to blow the entertainment budget each month on his lunches alone. So we tweaked and tightened the different budget categories and came up with $80 per month that he can spend on breakfasts and lunches. Many times he orders the cheapest thing on the menu (oatmeal) and his breakfast buddies may tease him, but he enjoys the security in having a grip/limit on his spending -- not only on meals, but all categories of our budget. We recommend a budget to every household. Keep it simple so you can make quick entries and be done! Don't be a slave to it. Our experience with having a budget is freeing!
Becky in Dallas

Tough Love

If you both work, here is a suggestion that might stop his "free-spending." First, establish some credit that is in your name only. Get a major credit card or a local store card and use it to establish a credit history for you only. This will make it easier for you to get loans in your name if anything happens to your husband.

Next, set up separate bank accounts; one for community bills, i.e., mortage/rent, utility bills, car payment. Then establish a bank account for yourself and a separate one for your husband. After each of you deposits the necessary funds into the "community account" for bills, then put the remaining monies into each individual account. Access your account for your spending and limit your husband to the funds that he puts into his "account." If he runs through his funds before his next paycheck, don't supply him with exra cash; let him do without. This may sound tough, but more than likely, after doing without a few time, he will train himself to be more careful. If he starts dipping into the "community account" or running up high credit card bills, then I think there is a much more serious problem.

Pick a Goal

Try putting down on paper how much money you could save in different areas. Is there a vacation that you would like to take but can't afford or maybe have to charge. Show him the areas that you could save in and put it on paper (it always looks better that way). Simply explain to him that this is important to you. If you want support in something surely he will support you even if it's not what he is interested in. With my husband when he understood that it was something that I really wanted to work on he was supportive even though he thought some of my ideas are nuts. Now before he throws anything away he asks me if I'm saving it for anything. We talk about what we can do without using a charge card. We are currently saving for a cruise for my boys when one of them graduates next year. We plan on taking it and having a wonderful vacation and having it paid for before we leave. Some of money is coming from my electric bill. I now hang my clothes instead of using the dryer and that saves us about 40.00 a month. He loves his yard but loves the idea of a paid cruise even more.

Special Savings

I have the same problem and so far have only found one effective way to save around my husband's spending. I try to keep up by spending almost as much as he does - kind of. I'm not really spending it, I squirrel it away in the bank and he thinks I've spent it. This way he goes broke faster, works harder and earns more. Since he spends so much, he can't complain that I've spent it all. The trick is to NEVER, no matter how "broke" you get, NEVER let him know you've got a nest egg. Eventually, it'll be there for when you both retire.

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