How to Approach Different Spending Habits in Marriage

How to Approach Different Spending Habits in Marriage


having the spending talk in your marriage

Have you ever wondered how to convince your sweetie to slow their roll with that credit card? Tackling the topic of different spending habits can be a tricky part of marriage, but getting on the same page about your finances is vital. Let’s talk tips and tricks to help you WIN with your money chats!

Perfecting spending habits together can be a bonding experience for a couple | The Dating Divas
Talking about your spending habits doesn’t have to be hard!

the spending conversation isn’t really about money

The first thing to remember when you begin a conversation about spending differences with your spouse is that conversations about money aren’t actually about money.” The Gottman Institute elaborates on this idea in countless articles and even talks about this idea briefly in their podcast, Small Things Often.

In short, conversations about money are ACTUALLY conversations about our deepest dreams, desires, and core needs as humans. Spending habits feel sensitive when they are questioned. This may explain why so many of us experience defensiveness during this conversation with our partners. Keeping this in mind will allow you to enter into your chat about marital spending habits with a guest at the table: that guest is COMPASSION.

This idea is so important, because it explains WHY our conversations about money seem to go wrong so often. It’s because the issues around spending TOO much money are difficult to talk about.

That being said, we always will be met with less defensiveness in our relationships when we lead with compassion. Remember that this conversation can be another opportunity to get to know and understand our partner better!

Perfecting the spending habit conversation is freedom for your marriage | The Dating Divas
Couple enthusiastically chats about their spending

How to make actual changes to your spending accounts

My favorite and most successful piece of advice for those looking to perfect their spending habits is splitting up your accounts. Yes, you read that right…but I’m not telling you to take your husband or wife off of your account. NOPE! I am an absolute advocate of the joint account. What I am saying though, is that you should totally try opening a second joint account. Let me share how this works:

Spending represents the desires of a couple which makes talking about it a great tool to growing closer together | The Dating Divas
Learning to navigate spending differences can be a connecting conversation

In my marriage, we decided early on that instead of arguing over every debit card swipe we could see each other make in our banking app, we would set up our money differently.

Here’s what we did: When a paycheck comes in, there is a predetermined amount that our employers allocate to our BILL checking account, a predetermined amount that our employers allocate to our joint SAVINGS account, and lastly, a predetermined amount that our employers allocate to our SPEND checking account. This is called automating your finances, and it’s SO helpful for couples learning how to have joint finances for the first time or navigating the process of avoiding spending too much money.

{Side note: If your employer does not allow allocation of paychecks, your financial institution can set this up for you. You can also set up your own automatic transfers on your payday(s).}

Now let’s talk about bill and spend checking accounts a little bit more.

  • Bill Checking: This account always has the funds for every bill! We don’t use this card for ANYTHING else. In fact, I encourage people who try this method to keep the debit card associated with this checking account FAR from their wallets. This will keep you from spending money that is needed for your bills AND has the added perk of better protecting that card from fraudulent activity, since it’s not being used to online shop!
  • Spend Checking: For this account, you need to decide and agree to an amount you feel is appropriate within your relationship. For example, if $100 of every check goes to this checking account, you and your sweetie know that is how much money you have to spend together that week/bi-week/month. You can use this card for gas, groceries, fast food, etc. OR keep it locked down to JUST fun things. You get to decide! The best part is, you’re still sharing money, but you don’t have to stress about spending money dedicated to your bills. That’s in an entirely different account!

Despite setting up these two types of accounts, there’s more to navigating your spending habits in marriage than that. Let’s talk about being aware of your spouse’s spending habits.

What are your spouse’s spending habits?

When my husband and I first got married, we figured out pretty quick that we had different relationships with money. For me, money had always represented security. I wanted money to be a safety. For my husband, money had always represented freedom and fun! I was attracted to this quality in him because he was SO MUCH FUN TO DATE, but I’m sure even you can recognize how different we are. This meant there was a transition to undergo and middle ground to find! I wanted to take on more of his dreams, and he wanted to pursue more of my security.

Discussions about your differing spending habits, if that’s your situation, are never going to be a one-and-done kind of conversation. However, the more you learn to talk about it together, the more it will begin to feel beautiful and connecting between the two of you.

Perhaps you married someone the opposite of you…there’s a reason for that! We learn SO much from people who are different than us. Together, you can have a new, beautifully blended spending habit plan made up of BOTH of your dreams and desires when you openly talk about it.

Tips for Talking About Your Spending in Marriage

The conversation might feel hard to start now, but I know you totally got this. Having the stress of spending habits off your shoulders and a positive money conversation with your spouse behind you will feel SO rewarding. Here are a few tips I recommend when having this conversation:

  • Schedule a DATE NIGHT with your sweetheart to talk about your money. Set the expectation that both of your spending habits and your finances will be discussed. You don’t want to surprise your spouse with this topic out of the blue or defensiveness might immediately come up. Consider even making it a FUN date night by getting some of you and your spouse’s favorite treats to munch on, turning on some fun music you both like, or even promising a sexy game or reward afterward.
  • Speaking of treats, don’t begin this conversation on an empty stomach! Nothing brings potential contention or irritability faster than a hangry person. Either prepare in advance and eat a good meal beforehand, OR ask your spouse when the last time they have eaten was. Make sure you’re both at your best for this chat!
  • Consider the time and place you want to have this conversation. Right as your spouse may be leaving for work or right before falling asleep at night are likely NOT good times to chat about spending habits. Instead, consult tip #1 and your schedules and PLAN the time to talk. Don’t make it spontaneous.
  • Lastly, come prepared. Have your accounts, latest bills, list of expenses, and / or receipts ready to go over together when you chat about your spending and the changes you’re suggesting you need to make or identify. Pull up your online accounts if you have them and make it a smooth sailing discussion with the facts right in front of you.

With all these tips and helpful suggestions, your spending conversation with your spouse is bound to go perfectly! Open up that excel, start adding up all your bills, and tell your sweetie you are ready to be a freak in the sheets! {Ahem…spreadsheets that is! 😉 }

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