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husband spends too much money

Reader Question: My Husband Spends Too Much Money!

Dear Lauren,

I’m ready to start this journey to be debt free. I made a list of our expenses, and for the first time I think we can do this if we make sacrifices. The problem is with my husband. When I told him we could be debt free, he said that he needs to have $200 a month for fun money, just for him! He said he works hard so he deserves it. It’s going to take us forever if we spend $200 a month on fun and random stuff! I’m so angry about this. How can I get him to see the light?

Sincerely,

Fuming Wife

Dear Fuming,

You’re right, he’s wrong. He’s being selfish and acting like he is entitled to “his” money. When you’re married, there’s no such thing as “my” money and “your” money, it’s “our” money. From a biblical standpoint, I believe that he, as the husband, has ultimate responsibility (not entitlement) to the financial well-being of the family, so he should take the lead on sacrificing.

But here’s the catch: right now it doesn’t matter if you’re right. You aren’t going to win this one by winning an intellectual debate (wouldn’t marriage be so easy if we could win over our spouses by arguing about why they’re wrong!)

So: don’t call him out on being selfish. Don’t tell him he’s acting entitled. Don’t nag him to do the budget or insist that he gets on board with your plan. Don’t even talk about money just yet.

Instead, empathize with him. Honor him. Affirm that he works hard and that you appreciate him.

When he feels respected, he’ll be open to your ideas. I’m not saying to manipulate, and I’m not suggesting you don’t already do a good job of making him feel respected. But in these situations, it never hurts to find a couple of things you genuinely appreciate about him and make sure he knows it.

Because when a husband feels like he has failed in finances, or that his wife feels he’s not adequately providing, it hits him hard. So give him a little boost of confidence and make him feel reassured of your respect for him.

When you do approach him to discuss the finances, make sure it’s not right before bed, right after he’s come home from a rough day at work, or when you’re paying the bills. In fact, don’t even discuss it at home. Invite him to go to a cozy coffee shop or your favorite lunch spot because you want to discuss your future and goals as a couple. Keep it positive, inviting, and future-focused!

And feel free to print out my list of 5 Questions to Ask Your Spouse in the Resource Library to help get the conversation going and moving in the right direction.

The next step, after you’ve done some dreaming and planning together, is to figure out what adjustments to your financial habits you need to make as a couple.

When you set goals together for the future, then the money comes into play and there’s a positive context for discussing it. If we want to live in certain values, accomplish certain goals, and have the freedom to do certain things with our time, then we need to align our financial decision with those objectives.

Of course, if you have debt, getting rid of that debt is going to help you thrive no matter what dreams you have! You’ve already figured out the tactical plan, but your husband doesn’t see the whole picture yet. Let him ease into it. Ask him to sit down with you for 30 minutes to make a budget together, without any expectation of him giving up his spending money.

This forces you to talk through every line item and he will see where the money is going and how much faster you could get out of debt if he “donated” that $200 toward the debt snowball.

The best part is, you won’t even have to bring it up. He’ll see it for himself. Once you get a little traction over the first few months, his enthusiasm is likely to pick up, and he’ll start initiating ways to save more and spend less. He’ll catch the vision, and you’ll be working as a real team toward debt-freedom.

To your success,

Lauren

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