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My husband and I are in and out of debt like the changing of the seasons. I knew he was a spender before we tied the knot, but I guess I hoped my frugal ways would inspire him to change. That was optimistic thinking at it’s best. When I try to have a conversation with him about money he overreacts telling me I’m taking away his livelihood. We’re in our mid-30’s and have no savings. Other than spending we’re on the same page about life, love, faith, children, but this is giving me horrible anxiety for our future. I know money isn’t everything but we can’t live this way. How do I break through to him that we need more money in the bank?
-Spouse of Overspender
Dear Spouse of Overspender,
It sounds like you and your husband have a good relationship. Even in the doubts about your husband and his spending, there appears to be a connection and trust with him. As you mentioned, you knew going into your marriage relationship that you and your husband had very different approaches to spending. While you hoped that your habits would rub off on him, reality is always more difficult.
The difficult challenge for you is getting your husband on the same page with you. It sounds like most discussions about money head towards conflict. The first step will be creating a safe space for you two to have a real discussion about your financial future together. I would start by asking him if you could schedule time to have the discussion.
The first step will be creating a safe space for you two to have a real discussion about your financial future together.
Before even starting, make sure that you two set ground rules including hearing each other out and trying to remain calm throughout the discussion. I would share with him your biggest concerns about debt. You could mention the high costs of debt in the long run including that debt often results in you paying much more for the item than it costs, can worsen your credit score, and is borrowing against your future income.
If/when you two are ready to move towards being debt free, I would recommend starting with your credit report to see where things stand. Secondly, budget. There is no easy way around the fact that your money will have to be spent more wisely. Know that there are plenty of terrific resources available out there including money management and budgeting resources.
Dear Spouse of Overspender,
It’s not too late! You just have to get your hub on the same page. I recommend finding a time when you are not angry and when he will be in the right mindset to talk about financial choices and goals for the future. Do this in a loving and inviting manner. Pointing fingers at poor financial choices won’t get the conversation past where it’s been.
He mentioned taking away his livelihood, but discuss with your husband how his favorite activities in the future will be limited because of your debt situation. He will most likely agree that it’s limiting. What if debt wasn’t an issue? Debt can feel disabling, but when gone can be extremely freeing and life giving.
Debt can feel disabling, but when gone can be extremely freeing and life giving.
Break through the barrier, get a plan and start small. Once you get your first thousand in the bank you’re on your way. I recommend starting with a system such as Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University which gives you practical steps on beating debt and budgeting, but there are a lot of great resources available. First things first, get on the same page.