If your spouse is a spender, it might be hard to motivate them to not spend money when you’re working toward a specific financial goal! Here are some tips to help get your spouse to stop spending money!
Do you want your spouse to stop spending money? Are you on the same page about your finances? If your answer is no to either of those questions, don’t worry! I’ve talked to you before about how to hold a finance date night (aka money date) along with how to talk to your spouse about money without killing each other.
Consistency is STEP ONE in ensuring positive communication about money, so I would highly suggest reading that money date post first and then coming back here to learn exactly how you can get your spouse to stop spending money. Don’t worry, I’ll wait for you!
*Note: When you click the links in this post, we may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.
Alright, now that you know how to talk to that sweet spouse of yours, let’s get on with it. In true Jordan fashion, what was meant to be a “quick post” ended up being a mega-post of information. Oh well, YOLO right? I'm going to pick right up and continue on with this communication series with part 2 of 2, of sorts. A BIG question that a lot of people need help with is…
HOW DO I GET MY SPOUSE TO STOP SPENDING MONEY?
What do you do when you’re the saver and they’re the spender, you aren’t on the same page, and don’t have the same financial goals? How do you get your spouse to stop spending money?
Warning, this is a really REALLY hard question. I'm no Dr. Laura, and I'm certainly no Judge Judy. But I do know that Bubba and I used to fight about money. A lot. Now we are on the same page and while it's not roses and daisies all the time, life is a bajillion times happier.
Not to mention our finances started thriving once we figured out how to work as a team. (If you want the full formula with my financial secret sauce, you have to check out my budgeting program, Budget Boot Camp!)
TIPS TO GET YOUR SPOUSE TO STOP SPENDING MONEY
The saying “you can lead a horse to water, but you can't force him to drink” is a very true saying. At the end of the day, we've been blessed with the gift of free agency; we all have the right to choose and act however we'd like (and living with the consequences of those actions).
So while we can't brainwash or hypnotize our spouses to get on the same page as us (darn, right?!), here are 7 tips that will really help them to want to stop spending money!
(Note: Before you read these, MAKE SURE TO READ PART 1. Those are imperative and will make the following tips much more effective!)
FIGURE OUT WHAT PAGE THEY ARE ON
As women especially, we get frustrated when our spouse isn't “on the same page” as us. Translation: It's frustrating that my spouse doesn't think 100% the same way as me and doesn't do what I want to do. Am I right?
Sorry to break it to you, but the chances of you being on the same page as your husband are about 1 in 8,549,202,283,941. We as humans tick differently! That's what makes us beautiful! So don't stress about getting your spouse to see things the exact same way as you…because you'll be waiting around forever. Not only that, but you'll spend lots of time trying to force YOUR “page” down their throat.
Instead, find out what page THEY are on, and work toward a compromise. Meet in the middle, and work together toward the same happy ending. Neither one of you are “in charge,” after all. This isn't a dictatorship, it's a marriage.
HOW TO DO THAT
Ask while you’re on your money date. Simple as that.
I know I went over this in the money date post, but it's so important I'm going to say it twice. If we were to record ourselves having a “conversation” with our spouse, my hunch tells me we would see ourselves talking 80% of the time, and listening only 20%. Let's flip that. Your goal throughout this process is to chant, “80, 20! 80, 20! 80, 20!” in your head as you keep your lips zipped.
Ask a question, then wait. Let awkward silence hang. Allow them stew it over. Let them roll their eyes, play bored, cry, whatever. Just wait…quietly. I promise an answer will come. When it does, listen. Truly listen to what they have to say! Don't cut them off, interrupt, roll your own eyes, just listen with an open ear. Then, follow up with another question! It's amazing what you can learn when you simply listen.
Here are some questions to ask to get the ball rolling:
- “Tell me what you think about our finances right now.”
- “What about our finances stress you out?”
- “Are we where you would like to be financially?”
- “What can we do better in terms of managing our money?”
- “Where would you like to be financially in the next 5 years?”
- “What would you do with 1 million dollars?”
Honest to goodness, ask just ONE of those questions and you could have a 3-hour conversation as a result. (Warning: you may need to order dessert.) Just be sure to avoid asking it the WRONG way (keep reading for help!).
FIND WHAT MOTIVATES THEM
You may really want to cut back on spending so you can go on a vacation…but what if your spouse doesn't really care about vacation? You can't force a horse to drink, remember? If they aren't interested in going on vacation, why would they want to give up a round of golf or going out to dinner this week? The reward isn't worth the sacrifice to them.
You can never force motivation on your spouse. (News flash: the harder you try, the more it's probably DE-motivating them. Obnoxious, I know…but it's true.) The way to get them to take action is to find out what motivates THEM!
Sometimes a person can come across as complacent or apathetic, but really they are stressed out of their minds, overwhelmed, and don't know what else to do but roll over and play dead about it. Since you can't force your own motivations and interests on them, help them discover their own and you will start to see action!
HOW TO FIND WHAT MOTIVATES THEM
Again, you've got to ask! Here is an example of what the conversation could look like:
YOU: “Now that I know what you think about our current financial situation (because you asked in step 1 above), what do you want to do/have? What motivates you? If money wasn't an issue, what would you want more than anything?” (You can ask a similar question to help prompt them if they are stumped.)
YOUR SPOUSE: (Talks while you listen.) examples: “I want to go to Italy.” “I want to build a house.” “I want a better car.” “I want to get a new TV.” “I want to be able to work less.” “I love to golf.” Etc.
YOU: “Ok, what I understand is that if money wasn't an issue, you would want ____” (repeat what you heard them say, as taught in the money date post). “Is that right?”
YOUR SPOUSE: (Confirms or corrects.)
YOU: “Ok great! So you want a ___(new TV, let's say).”Which TV would you want?” (Have him look it up online with you and get a price estimate.) “That TV is $2,000. Let's compromise. You work with me on tightening up and organizing our finances, and we'll work a new TV into the budget. Deal?”
YOUR SPOUSE: “Of course! Absolutely! You're genius! I love you so much honey! You're the best person on the planet, can I rub your feet tonight?” (wink wink)
Once they have a purpose, the pain, stress, and annoying sacrifice that sometimes come with saving money suddenly becomes an exciting challenge. Ta-Da! (Yes, you're welcome to call me your Fairy Godmother, that is just fine.)
GIVE THEM WHAT THEY WANT
If you truly, more than anything, want for your spouse to become motivated and want to change…facilitate the change! Let go of pride and “fairness,” and help them accomplish whatever it is they so badly want. Once they achieve a major goal they set for themselves, you'll see walls tumble down and a change of heart overcome them. The next time, it can be your turn to work toward a desire or goal. Focus on them first though, your time will come.
Bubba really wanted a dirt bike. He kept mentioning them, bought magazines about them, talking to friends about them, even watched YouTube videos about dirt bikes. The more he talked, the more annoyed I got thinking, “Dirt bike? Are you kidding? So selfish! We can hardly afford diapers and you're wasting time dreaming about a bike that only YOU would be able to enjoy?”
One day I finally wised up. The next time he mentioned wanting a dirt bike I said, “Ok, you can have a dirt bike.” He stopped in his tracks. “Really?” he said in stunned disbelief. “Absolutely. You find a way to afford it, and it's all yours.”
I have never seen him more motivated. He has always been frugal, but it certainly lit a new fire under him! He started packing a lunch to work to cut back on eating out, he went through the house and sold old guitar amps, furniture, old clothes, and electronics. Even things he still used, he sold for cash because he was choosing the dirt bike over that item.
Before long he saved up enough to buy a used dirt bike that he painstakingly researched, bartered, and negotiated for. It's his favorite thing in the world, and he takes care of it like it's his baby.
HOW TO DO THIS
When I say “give them what they want,” I don't mean “run to your bank account and write a check”. Together, come up with ways to be able to afford their goal! I'm going to use the word “he” instead of “your spouse” from here on out because it's less typing and I'm lazy like that.
Here are some ideas for how to make this happen:
- Work backward. Crunch numbers together! Do the math! Set a goal for when he really wants it, and do the match from there. For example, if he wants the $2,000 TV in 12 months, that's $166.67 he needs to save/set aside each month, or roughly $38.50/week, or $5.50/day. $5.50 per day could give him a $2,000 TV? Piece of cake! To me, $166 looked like a lot. But $5.50 is a cup of coffee or sandwich from the deli! Keep breaking down the numbers and one of them is bound to resonate.
- Pocket extra cash. Each of you should have a weekly budget (see “The 7 Bank Accounts Your Family Should Have“, and “The Simplest Budgeting System Method Ever” for more details on this). Remind him that he can pocket any extra money at the end of the week that he doesn't end up spending, so long as his responsibilities are covered (see next section). It encourages him to be frugal, manage money well, and figure out the best budgeting system for him. Guess what…the same goes for you!
- Get entrepreneurial. Just like Bubba, help your spouse brainstorm ways to make money on the side: sell things, trade, barter, or anything else to make extra money.
DIVIDE AND CONQUER
THIS ONE IS VERY IMPORTANT! DO NOT SKIP THIS! (pretty please) In any successful company, are there two presidents of marketing? Two chief financial officers? Two presidents, for that matter? No. Why? Several reasons:
- They would fight, wanting to do things their own way
- Egos would collide
- They would be stepping on each others' toes
- One person would inevitably think the other person was doing it wrong
- They would both be focusing on the same thing, and both neglecting everything else
Re-read those bullet points above…
Does that sound like how you and your spouse get along about money?
If our country would crumble with two leaders doing the exact same role…why do you think that would work in your own family? It's important to note that the CFO and CMO are both working for the same company, have the same common goal, and work together under the same mission statement and policies/procedures. But otherwise, they are given their responsibilities and deadlines, told to get it done, and they do it their way.
In your marriage, you need to divide and conquer! Don't BOTH be in charge of paying the medical bills, buying the groceries, paying school fees, or buying shoe polish…it's redundant and inefficient! Divide up and you'll get the chance to do it YOUR way (…as long as you're getting the job done, that is).
HOW TO DIVIDE AND CONQUER
I break it down step by step in my dividing financial responsibilities in marriage post, including showing you EXACTLY how Bubba and I divide up our money, so hop on over there real quick and read. Trust me, it's worth it!
Ok, ready…go! (We'll wait.)
You back? How'd it go? Feeling better about things? Awesome! Let's move on.
HAVE WEEKLY “WEIGH-INS”
Think of it like being on a diet. You need to weigh yourself often to see what works and what doesn't, to get the hang of cutting calories, and to stay motivated! Have a financial “weigh in” each week (we do ours on Sundays).
The longer you go without talking about money, the harder it will be the next time. It's like deep-cleaning your house. If you haven't done it in a while, the first time might take you several days to cut through the grime and sift out the junk. Once you start cleaning it regularly, it becomes more like spot-cleaning maintenance — much quicker, easier, and more enjoyable.
HOW TO HAVE A WEEKLY “WEIGH-IN”
- Pick a day and time, and put it on the calendar as a recurring activity. Make it as firm as you would your child's piano lesson; plan your day around it, make it non-negotiable, and make it consistent.
- Sit down together (holding hands or cuddling, as explained in the money date post). Do it when the kids are in bed, turn off the phones and TV, ignore all distractions, and do it right!
- Report on YOU. One person starts and reports on how spending for their own financial responsibilities went that week. You are NOT checking in on the other person, you are reporting how YOU did that week.
- Leave them alone. Give them the chance to figure it out and do it THEIR way! Maybe you hate how they budget or manage their spending responsibilities. What does it matter if they get the job done? Who cares if it's 20 scattered sticky notes versus a neat and tidy spreadsheet? If they are getting the job done, just close your eyes to the sticky notes and let go of control.
- Give them a break. Change takes time. If they had a bad week, give them a chance to make adjustments and figure it out. It takes around 66 days to make or break a habit, so give it at least two months before reassessing.
KEEP IT FUN!
No one likes a drag. Don't make talking about money a pit of despair, make it something you look forward to!
HOW EXACTLY CAN WE DO THAT?
When you sit down for your weekly weigh-ins, dress up in a funny costume. Let your 5-year-old do your makeup before-hand. Put makeup on your husband. Have a dance party before you start. Put all your clothes on backwards.
Do something, ANYTHING, to make it hard to take the other person seriously. It will keep things light-hearted and will make it hard to get in an epic fight…especially if your husband has blue eyeshadow and lipstick on while talking!
There is NO shame in counseling. If you and your spouse are so at odds over money that it's affecting your relationship, go seek professional help! Often times it's rooted deeper in something else: trust issues, depression, resentment, insecurity, or communication issues. Sometimes, all you need is a good old-fashioned mediator to help facilitate a healthy conversation.
I know for me, my mom could tell me something and I would roll my eyes and get defensive. If my best friend were to tell me the same exact thing as my mom, I would listen. Simply because she's my mom, I innately had walls built up! Sad, but true. (Sorry mom!) Sometimes hearing it from another person is all your spouse needs to realize they might be in the wrong.
Hopefully that helps you and your honey have a new view of money and how to make it a positive light in your life, not a negative thorn in your you-know-what. Use these tips to get your spouse to stop spending money and get on the same page when it comes to your finances.
Speaking of finances, did you know that you can get all my budgeting and finance tips secret sauce in my fun-to-watch video program Budget Boot Camp?!
You have nothing to lose because if you don't save or earn at LEAST what you paid for it, I'll give your money back. So use the code FCFBLOG at checkout to get an extra 10% off, and give it a try!
Looking for more ways to help your spouse stop spending money?
- Here are the top reasons that couples fight about money and HOW they can stop!
- Learn how to save money fast with a spending freeze.
- Get some great tips on doing your makeup for your money date.
This article is fantastic!
Love all these reminders and suggestions! I think it would work well, even while dating in the getting-to-know-you phase, for sure!
“free agency” isn’t the correct term. It was discussed at Conference a few years ago. Agency came with a price – Christ’s atonement and sacrifice. We all have agency but it’s not free. Please correct that in your article at the beginning.
get off your high horse about her choice of words. Just because you heard something at a conference does not mean that it is the gospel. I knew what she was saying and you did too.
My work only makes a fraction of the money in our household, as I predominantly take care of the kids. My husband controls All the money and is the bill payer. He pays every bill late and wastes hundreds of dollars a month on the tablet playing games. When I tell him something like we need groceries, we need to save to take our kids to the eye doctor, we need to save for years down the line to eventually be prepared for future things like a new car, etc. He tells me to go out and get a real job and it is HIS money he will do what he wants with it. I don’t know what to do to get him to realize that my role at home is important too since I am the only one that plays with the kids, bathes them, cooks every meal, cleans every dish and laundry in the home and so on. Help!
Read the book “His needs Her Needs” together, and consider finding a good counselor! It really helps and is worth the money!
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I love this post, the only problem is, what if you KNOW what your spouse wants, and you try to set a realistic goal, but they think 12 months is too long etc etc. My spouse can NEVER set realistic goals. Everything is a “right-now” want. He also acts like everything is completely important to have right now. If don’t get X now, we won’t be able to x, y, z or a, b, c. If we wait 4 months, x,y,z will be “insert phrase to make it sound life-or-death”. I have no idea how to help someone get on the same page that finds waiting for something to be so threatening.
I have the same problem, although my spouse is a “She”. This post makes me laugh, as it sounds simple to read it. Unfortunately it doesn’t explain how to converse with a brick wall!