Talking About Spousal Overspending Requires Tact

Spousal spending (Credit: Dating Tips)

There’s a plethora of suggestion on the internet about how to handle the situation of spousal overspending. With the economy and jobs spiraling downwards each year for the past six years or so, it may be something you haven’t noticed before. There is no way one person can put money aside for a rainy day when the other person is out spending it. If it is time for the big talk about fiscal responsibility, approach it with tact and fairness rather than blame and innocence.

Set an appointment with your spouse for the sole purpose of discussing finances. Create and follow ground rules:

1. Name calling and blame are not permitted.

2. Each party will have a list of the debts they know about.

3. Each party will bring a list of the income they know about.

4. Each party will identify the debts they feel should be paid when due and the reasoning for placement.

5. Each party will list 3 financial goals for the future and how they will be achieved.

6. No patronizing allowed.

Make this a productive event. Beverages, pizza, cupcakes and cookies are great comfort foods. A veggie tray with ranch dressing is another choice. People like meetings better when refreshments are available. Use paper plates, cups and napkin to minimize cleanup duty.

Exchange the lists of known debts. Cross out identical entries and enter the remaining items on a fresh sheet of paper. Repeat the process with the income lists and the debts to be paid, including the reason or reasons they appeared on one of the original lists.

Now the two of you can get down to the nitty-gritty of controlling overspending. Each person keeps their original lists and gets a copy of the new one. The next step is scheduling another meeting to discuss the new lists and how it affects the 3 financials goals each one selected, which will be revealed at that time. This step gives each one an opportunity to realize three things:

1. Something good was accomplished without screaming.

2. Unrecognized debt affects personal goals.

3. Financial responsibility now can provide purchasing opportunity later.