How To Deal With A Spendthrift Partner

Today’s article is a guest post from Francesca who blogs over at From Pennies To Pounds, where she details her journey about escaping the clutches of debt, saving money and her mission to earn enough money to gain financial freedom.

When you are determined to pay off your debt, or achieve particular financial goals, it can be incredibly stressful to realise that you have a spendthrift partner who doesn’t feel the same way.

It’s difficult to keep hold of your money if all your spendthrift partner wants to do is spend it – I should know, my husband is someone who loves to spend money on various things, and then complain that he does not have any to purchase a large item such as a holiday.

He even said to me ‘I would rather get a loan and pay that back, than save the money each month’.

As a personal finance blogger, this drives me a little bit insane!

His family are always praising me for improving his finances because when we first got together, he had been going out every weekend and spending hundreds each time.

I have learnt various ways to get him around to my way of thinking over the years, which I can share with you below.

Understand why they view finances the way that they do

One of the most important things that you need to do is to display empathy.

It’s really easy to jump to the conclusion that they just don’t care about you or your beliefs, but most of the time our spending habits reflect something else.

A lot of the time, we copy our parents or the people that have raised us – or rebel against the way that they dealt with their finances.

If we aren’t taught how to budget, save and invest money wisely, we may not give it a go.

Personal I think finance is pretty much 90% psychology and 10% maths.

The way they think about money is important, but it can be changed if you go about it in the right way.

Have a discussion about finances with your partner

It can be a bit scary to sit down with your spendthrift partner to discuss your finances, because they may feel like they are being personally attacked and get defensive.

Again, empathy is key here – on both sides.

Let your partner talk about how they feel about money, and share with them how you feel about it too, without starting an argument.

Create goals together

This is very important, because you must be on the same page here.

If you want to retire when you are in your thirties, but your partner wants to work until the day they die, this is going to cause some problems.

In my opinion, this is the most important part for getting your partner to work with you on this, because they need to realise that their goals are only attainable if they sort their money out.

Big goals could include buying a different house, saving for retirement, retiring early, travelling the world, moving to another country, starting your own business – whichever goal is important to you.

Track your spending

One thing that I have learned through dealing with my spendthrift partner (now husband), is that you can talk to them about money until the cows come home, but they need to be able to see it mathematically because they cannot dispute it.

It’s all very well and good telling them that they need to do this and that, but seeing the maths is a way to discuss the finances without your feelings coming into it – they cannot argue with the maths that you produce (if you have counted it all up properly of course!).

I always recommend that one of the first steps to take for anyone who wants to get a better hold on their money, is to track spending.

You may think that you aren’t spending that much money – but again, you cannot argue with the maths when you add up what you actually spend money on each day over a month.

Your partner may not realise that they are carrying out a bad habit, until they see it down in black and white.

Create a budget together

This is a biggie.

There is no point in you creating a budget for the two of you on your own, because they will be removed from the equation and will not understand where the money is going and why they cannot spend it on things that they want any more.

Drawing up a budget is one of the best things that you can do in general for your goals, and I recommend it to everyone.

When you make plans together with your spendthrift partner, they will be able to see why you are doing what you are doing, and how it can help you both achieve your goals.

Allow them some wriggle room

You are NOT going to have a successful journey if you suddenly tell your spendthrift partner that they are not allowed to spend any money at all.

Whilst it can come easy to some people, for others it can be incredibly difficult and will not happen instantaneously.

When you are creating your budget together, I would recommend giving them some ‘fun’ money that they can have each month to spend on whatever they want.

It is completely up to the two of you to decide on how much money they have for this, but I guarantee that it will be worth it because they will still get to feel like they are allowed to enjoy themselves, but will not feel guilty for doing so.

Make sure that you give yourself some fun money too!

Hang out with friends who are on a similar journey to you

Now I’m not suggesting you drop all of your friends and start a new friendship circle, but being around people who are in a similar boat to you, is going to help you both an awful lot!

Have you heard that we are most like the average of the 5 people that you spend the most time with? If you are spending all of your time with friends who are flashing their cash, it can be tempting to keep up with the Joneses, which will make it harder for your partner.

My husband has various friends who are pretty wealthy, and he finds it difficult when they are buying new cars for example.

I have pointed out to him that they are all company cars, with the exception of one which is on finance and they got it at a very reduced rate because a family member works at the dealership – even though he was aware of this fact, it wasn’t until I pointed it out properly that it started to sink in.

Overall, I would recommend excellent communication with your partner.

If you do everything on your own, you may think that you are being helpful or that they are just not interested, but it is vital that you do it all together because you can then work together as a team. It may not be easy, but it will be worth it, if you are willing to be patient.

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An image to show the struggles of coping with a spendthrift partner

Thinking Thrifty

Thinking Thrifty

David Naylor is the editor of the Thinking Thrifty blog. An award winning personal finance and lifestyle blogger, he shows how it is possible to live extremely well for less.
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3 thoughts on “How To Deal With A Spendthrift Partner

    1. I had the same problem, noticing money running out quicker and weeks before payday. A quick check and I had got to the bottom of it, and the debt was gone 12 months later!

  1. Really intresting read! I remember when Money Tree Man first introduced me to the idea of financial independence and retiring early it all seemed quite foreign to me. But initially our thoughts on saving money and being frugal were alligned.

    It’s amazing the fact you said Francesca about how we are an average of the 5 people we spend most of our time with. So it is really important to have similar conversations with the people closest to us to see what their stance is on money etc. Making sure you influence the people around you as much as the influence they may have on you.

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