It’s very common for couples to have different spending / saving styles. Read this if you want good suggestions on how to get your spouse to be more frugal. (I’m assuming you’re the frugal spouse since this is finance blog.) Keep reading this post if you’re tired of attempting money talks with a partner who would rather gouge out his/her own eyes than read money blogs.
Without further ado, here are my uncommon, alternative “solutions” on how to save when your spouse is not interested in money.
- Your spouse keeps spending on “extras” because he/she has no idea how much money is needed for life’s necessities or future goals like retirement. You’ve tried doing monthly/quarterly money talks over a romantic dinner. You’ve tried posting a picture of your future house on the fridge. Nothing has worked. My solution: It’s time to get pro-active and set aside an amount via direct deposit to a retirement account (or accounts) each month. With time, the spouse gets used to a lower, net income. Once in a while, he/she will ask “where does all our money go?” but their lack of interest in financial things will prevent a true investigation.
- Your spouse hates the idea of budgets. My solution: Get a joint credit card and have you and your spouse put most of your spending on this. The financially-savvy spouse can keep track of this by reviewing monthly credit card as well as bank statements for cash withdrawals. Your spouse doesn’t have to know details but you can casually mention whether you’re in the red or black that month.
- Your spouse does not shop sales and wouldn’t know if a markdown is good or not anyway. My solutions: 1) Share drugstore and supermarket loyalty cards. Every few weeks, CVS emails special offers such as “Spend $15, Save $5” or “Save 15% off your entire purchase”. These are printable but can also be sent directly to your loyalty card. My husband shops at CVS without regard to sales but he is more than happy to see extra savings at check-out. 2) Get your spouse to try generic brands. Over time, you’ll find many items that are just as good as brand names. This is an easy way to save on groceries/household goods without using coupons. 3) Finally, be your household’s shopping ninja. Stock up on necessities during sales. Even if only half the household is saving money, that’s better than none.
However, it’s important NOT to think of money as his and hers, i.e. separate. At the end of the day, your finances affect each other. On a day to day level, if you both spend without regard to household income/savings, it will be extremely difficult to save money for “bigger” things such as vacations, cars or home renovations. At retirement, you will both need to have enough money to live on. You can’t eat caviar while the other one eats tuna!
To summarize, if your spouse is not interested in fiances and you want to save, practice deceit, take on the saving ninja role, and let it go because trying to change someone is impossible.
Of course the dividing line between frugal and non-frugal isn’t really clear cut. In our case, we usually agree on big expenses (which is important). Also, with time, we’ve influenced each other in good ways. I’ve learned to spend more freely. My husband has learned to hate late fees with a passion. He also asks me to find coupon codes before making most online purchases. Baby steps, baby steps…