My Spouse Is Bad With Money: Is There Any Hope They'll Change?

MANAGE MONEY - BUDGETING
Empower your spouse in their journey toward financial success.
Updated July 19, 2023
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Do you have a spouse who’s bad with money and wonder if there’s any hope for the two of you?

There are ways you can get better aligned when it comes to spending and saving money, but getting your spouse to go along with better spending habits can be challenging.

There are ways to reduce your money stress, so check out a few of these options to help your spouse become a smarter spender and saver.

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Sit down and discuss money issues

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You may have noticed that your spouse is spending money on frivolous things or overspending cash, putting you into debt. There could also be issues with simply not saving enough.

It’s important to keep lines of communication open. The first step in addressing financial issues is to lay out your case and listen to your spouse’s reply to hear the issue from their side.

Discussing the issues can be a great way to better understand where your spouse is coming from and hopefully lead you towards keeping more money in your bank account.

Take responsibility for family expenses

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It may be a good idea to become the main person in charge of family finances if your spouse is bad at handling money, especially if you hope to grow your wealth.

Be specific about what it means for you to take over family finances. It could include discussing major purchases together before making them or paying bills if your spouse isn’t paying them on time.

Create a budget

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A budget is a great way to identify places where you and your spouse need to work on saving money or being more responsible.

Identifying problem areas on your budget can help both of you get a clearer picture of what you’re up against and where you can find common ground regarding spending and saving.

Highlight specific spending issues

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Your spouse may have an issue with spending too much money on high-end products like electronics or buying too much of a specific product like clothes or a hobby.

Show them exactly how much they are spending each month or each year on these particular items as a wake-up call to get your finances — and their spending — under control.

Set goals

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It’s important to have goals that both of you can achieve to get your spouse back on track when it comes to money. Goals can help both of you identify problem areas and find solutions.

Make goals for your spouse that focus on problem areas, like saving a certain amount of money each month or spending less on some items.

Get a financial advisor

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A financial advisor, particularly one specializing in couples' finances, may be a good option if you need an outside source to review your finances.

An advisor can help both of you by identifying places where your spouse may need to be more responsible with money.

They can also help you better understand how to save money or take over the family finances to control extra spending or irresponsible financial plans.

Be honest about money and accounts

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Do you trust your spouse when they tell you about all their spending?

Hiding cash or secret spending could be a serious problem when your spouse’s financial decisions weigh you down.

Make sure you’re both open regarding spending and set up some limits on things like trading stocks, high-end purchases, or spending on particular items.

Protect your finances

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It may be difficult, but consider protecting your finances by removing your spouse from specific accounts.

You may want to cut back on the number of credit cards they have access to or set aside money in an account that only you control for things like household costs or necessary bills.

And remember to change access to things like retirement funds so only you can access and manage your retirement accounts.

Pay off debt

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One of the biggest issues concerning a spouse being bad with money may be related to incurring debt.

Sit down and devise a plan to pay off the debt your spouse has racked up.

It’s also good to set rules such as no more spending until the debt is paid, or any spending has to be approved by both of you to control your spending (and your debt).

Remember that you’re a team

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It’s important to remember that you and your spouse are a team when it comes to marriage and finances. Discuss these issues and work on solutions together to get your spouse’s spending habits under control.

Make sure you check in with each other regularly to ensure goals are met, debt isn’t piling up, or other issues you might face.

Pro tip: If your finances are in bad shape, make sure you work with your partner to make a plan to get out of debt so that you can get your finances on track.

Bottom line

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The first place to start with a spouse who’s bad with money may be to create a budget highlighting issues that need to be addressed so you can decide what to focus on.

It’s also good to revisit that budget regularly to celebrate what you’re both doing to get ahead financially as a money-savvy couple.

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Author Details

Jenny Cohen Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.

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