Numbered among the top ten on every list of the leading causes of divorce, financial issues can strain even the best of relationships. Disagreements over money are every bit as capable of destroying a relationship as cheating, fighting and lack of commitment.
With that in mind, it is absolutely vital both parties have some semblance of similar thinking in that regard. So, what can you do if you find yourself in love with someone who has different “values” related to spending money?
Here’s what you can do if your spouse refuses to budget.
Seek Common Ground
Crafting a plan together makes it easier to arrive at a place at which both of you can agree. However, before you can do that you have to ascertain whether the two of you have similar concerns about the long-term nature of your life together. Things are going to be a bit bumpy if you’re trying to build a nest egg upon which the two of you can rely in your golden years and they’re more concerned about the here and now.
You must find a comfortable place in between those two extremes in which both of your priorities are met as much as possible. Fair warning though, the need for instant gratification can be a tough addiction to kick. You’re going to have to come up with very compelling reasons — and give your partner a mechanism within which they can feel they’re still scratching that itch to a degree.
Craft a Plan
Yes, it’s largely semantics, but call it a spending plan rather than a budget. “Spending plan” carries connotations of acquisition, which is a positive thing. “Budget” implies doing without, which is a negative.
List all of your fixed costs — rent/mortgage payment, car payments, utilities, insurance, food, fuel, savings, investments and the like. Alongside those, list all of your income from every source. Total both categories. If you have more coming in than going out, you can talk about what to do with the disposable income.
If the going out is more than the coming in — and you’re even struggling to keep up with payments on your credit cards — you might consider working with a company like Freedom Debt Relief to help you settle those debts, enrolling in a debt management plan through a credit counseling agency or using a debt consolidation loan to streamline your accounts.
Whatever your plan, always make every effort to factor in some discretionary spending so each partner has some cash to do with what they will, free of the concerns of one another.
Have That Conversation
OK, so it’s been three months since you established the spending plan and your partner keeps exceeding it. At this point, you have a couple of choices. You can let it go — which will probably drive you nuts over time. Or, you can try to have a sincere conversation about it. After all, failure to communicate, when piled on top of money issues, will send you on a fast one-way ride to Lonely-Town.
Be careful to discuss the situation in a non-threatening, non-accusatory fashion. Your goal should be to foment change, rather than punish them for disappointing you. Speak in terms of “we” rather than “I,” “you” or “me.”
Bring all of your financial information and lay it out so it can be seen as you discuss the issue. Outline the problem in a respectful fashion and ask for input as to what you can do to solve it. When all is said and done, they’re more likely to adhere to a plan they had a hand in devising.
Be prepared to compromise, as it might take some time to break that habit. However, if you stick with it and can show continual financial progress, you might have a shot at turning things around. And ultimately, that’s all you can really do if your spouse refuses to budget.