12 Signs Your Partner is Too Frugal

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Money can be a big issue for couples, particularly if one of them doesn't want to spend any of it.
Updated May 2, 2024
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There may be times when you and your partner don’t agree on finances, but is there a point where your partner may be too frugal?

It can cause relationship strain when one partner in the relationship constantly wants to spend money on eating out or a fun activity when the other partner doesn’t.

If your partner falls into any of the following categories, it might be time for a conversation about their frugality (or to find a new way to boost your bank account).

They coupon too much

Prostock-studio/Adobe guy scanning product via phone doing grocery shopping

It can be helpful to cut coupons and use apps to find extra deals if you’re trying to cut back on grocery costs, for example, but it can go overboard.

Your partner may be spending too much time couponing or using coupons for items you don’t need just to get a deal. This can become an obsession that costs you time without much benefit.

Instead, sit down with them and help them sort out the coupons that can actually be helpful. It also may be good to limit the amount of time you spend on couponing.

They won’t talk about money

dusanpetkovic1/Adobe young woman holds her fingers in her ears and avoids eye contact

One of the most important things you need to do as a couple is to talk about issues that affect your relationship, especially finances.

If your partner is unwilling to even talk about their frugality, it may be a good idea to get an intermediary, such as a financial planner, to help both of you feel more comfortable talking about the issue.

They don’t want to celebrate milestones

Krakenimages.com/Adobe young woman making stop sign with hand

There are important milestones on the calendar throughout the year that should be celebrated. Not celebrating can put a strain on any relationship.

Perhaps you want to go out for a nice dinner on your birthday or get some not-so-super-cheap gifts for the holidays.

Sure, you may have some restrictions if you’re struggling financially, but your partner should put some effort into celebrating the both of you on special occasions, even if they have to spend a little.

You aren’t eating well

estradaanton/Adobe man with no appetite

Groceries can be expensive, particularly with the recent inflation of costs. But there should be a limit on what you choose not to spend money on.

It’s important to have healthy food options in your home if you can afford them, or even any food options.

Not spending enough on basic things like groceries could be an issue that you need to address with your frugal partner as it could impact your overall health.

Pro tip: Trips to the grocery store can absolutely be expensive, but look for ways to cut costs on groceries rather than eliminate them altogether.

They only want the cheapest thing

Piotr/Adobe disposable wooden cutlery for eating instant meals

Sometimes, the best option may not be the cheapest option.  Perhaps your partner spends money on cheap kitchen utensils that constantly need to be replaced or cheap home fixes instead of spending money to have it done right the first time.

It’s a good idea to spend good money on items of high quality instead of always going for the cheaper option. Finding that balance is important for you, your partner, and your home.

Remind your partner that sometimes the most expensive item at that moment could end up being the cheaper item in the long term. You can even put together a cost analysis for them.

They make you feel guilty

Wayhome Studio/Adobe man in glasses offering hand to his angry girlfriend

Perhaps you need some new dress clothes for work or you want to buy something you know you’ll enjoy, like new books.

But what happens if you’re too worried to buy anything because your partner will guilt trip into feeling bad about spending a little cash?

You may have to put your foot down in these cases and explain that you want or need these items and that it’s okay for you to spend the cash sometimes.

It could also be a good opening to have a conversation about building a budget to give you both a certain amount of spending money each month.

They don’t want to fix the house

charles taylor/Adobe home improvement

Being a homeowner can be a daunting and expensive task. You might worry about a new roof, or perhaps you’re looking into minor fixes that need to be done around the home.

Talk to your partner to remind them that you do need to spend money to keep your home running properly.

If you’re too frugal and don’t take care of repairs now, it could cost you much more to get them fixed later. You don’t want to skimp on the repair, either, or you could find yourself in the same boat.

They don’t tip

JackF/Adobe tired and upset waitress in kitchen of restaurant

It can be embarrassing to go out to dinner with someone and then watch as they sign the bill without tipping because they’re too frugal.

You should remind your partner that you had a good meal or enjoyed nice service and tipping is expected, especially in these cases.

After all, they wouldn’t be happy if they worked hard and didn’t get paid for their work, either. This could be a good reminder for those who tip too little as well.

They control the thermostat

Budimir Jevtic/Adobe couple sitting beside radiator and freezing

Do you feel extra cold on winter nights or overly hot in the summer? A furnace or air conditioning unit can get expensive to operate during the winter and summer, but they're meant to keep you comfortable.

Talk to your partner about setting the thermostat at a temperature that’s comfortable for both of you and safe for the house, particularly if you’re concerned about pipes bursting or other potential issues.

They spend money on themselves but not on you

gstockstudio/Adobe businessman wearing business suit

They may justify their own purchases as necessary spending, whereas anything you buy is spending that must stop because “you don’t need those things.”

A relationship should be equal when it comes to spending money on certain items, both essentials and wants.

If you don’t think they’re treating your spending the same as theirs, it’s a good idea to talk about the balance of spending between you, then incorporate spending for both of you into the budget.

They aren’t thinking about the future

Andrey Popov/Adobe drawing retirement plan growth graphs on paper

It’s important to not only save and spend but also put money away for your retirement. A frugal person may put money in a savings account instead of a retirement account.

Putting money in retirement investment accounts now can earn money that can help you live a more comfortable life when you’re retired.

Remind your partner that any money put toward a 401(k) or other retirement investment is investing in your future together. It will grow faster than it would by sitting in a savings account.

They’re not happy

SFIO CRACHO/Adobe displeased couple sitting on couch

Being too frugal can make both you and your partner unhappy. You may stay at home bored most of the time rather than going out. There are no vacations or fun weekends.

Money may not be able to buy you happiness, but you should be able to enjoy your life when you can afford it.

It’s okay to get that occasional cup of coffee at a fancy coffee shop or go out to dinner at a nice restaurant once in a while to enjoy your life and each other’s company.

Pro tip: Your partner might not know a better way to get on strong financial footing than what they're doing. Help them see that there is a better way to enjoy life and save.

Bottom line

Yakobchuk Olena/Adobe young woman and her sad wife having online marriage theraphy

There are ways to save money and ways to be too frugal, and it’s important to be on the same page with your partner and come up with a solution together.

Someone who's too frugal might think the only way to do better financially is to never touch their earnings. This isn’t always the case. In fact, not investing or saving for retirement could harm your finances in the long term.

If you think your partner is too frugal, you may need to start a conversation and ask for some changes.

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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