BLUF:  The honest truth, it is not just your spouse, it is likely you too.  Once you take responsibility for your life, you can take charge of it and change it.

Leading Cause Of Arguments

Finances is a leading cause of arguments in relationships.  Google “My spouse spends too much,” and you will get 2.7 million hits about the specific complaint.  I have heard this statement more times than I can count over the past 15 years.  It is always one spouse (usually the service member, because it is at work) complaining about their spouse at home.  

Note: I have specifically not stated that the “husband” is complaining about the “wife,” or vice versa.  Male / female, working / not working is irrelevant.  It is always one spouse complaining about the other.

Discussed Often

As I mentioned, disagreements about finances is brought up at the office often.  It is usually brought up when someone is looking to buy a new vehicle, working through credit card expenses, or stressed over some other monthly bill(s).

Specific examples:

I worked with a Marine who tracked his spouse by logging online to their credit card account and watched where the card was last charged.

  • 0830: $4.50, Starbucks
  • 0945: $45.90, Target
  • 1000: $32.36, Exxon
  • 1050: $123.70, Costco
  • You get the idea…

He resented her.  Every day he went off to work, 0700-1700 and she went out shopping.  He would joke about it, but you could see him stew about it everyday.

This same Marine bought lunch everyday, participated in every fantasy football league available, and bought a new Ford Mustang GT.  He had no problem spending money himself.

I worked with another Marine (with a wife and three kids) who could not understand why his wife spent so much money on food for the family every month.  He would come into work complaining about an argument he had with his wife last night that the food bill was over $1000 for the month.  This went on for months.

I asked him if he ever broke down the monthly food bill or planned a menu, he did not.  He had no idea, that $1000 for a family of five was absolutely normal.  This same Marine, saw no problem with the three loaned vehicles he had (a GMC Yukon, a Cadillac CTS, and a new Chevrolet Corvette).

This scenario is repeated over and over.  One spouse blames other spouse for reason of being in financial difficulty (or reason for not thriving).

It is rarely one person’s fault, often it is the direct result of actions of both partners.

Honest Truth

The honest truth, it is not just your spouse, it is likely you too.  You may not want to hear this, but it is true.

I am not saying it is always this way, but in 15 years I have yet to see a situation where only one spouse was at fault.  It is easy to blame someone else on your situation.  Once you take responsibility for your life, you can take charge of it and change it.

Take Charge And Change

There is a way forward and but it requires change.  The steps to success are free.

Communication is critical

The most important aspect to any relationship.  You and your partner need to be on the same page when it comes to finances or you are going to have problems.  My wife and I have a monthly sit down where we review what we spent last month, review our holdings, check our goals, and see how our net wealth has changed.  This simple 5 minute review has been a huge help to our financial standing.

Have a good offense and defense

Simply making more money is not always the answer, it usually involves more spending and lifestyle creep.  Also, simply saving more is not an easy answer either, there is a point where you can no longer save more.  It means you need to properly balance your offense (making money) and defense (saving money) game.  

Have a plan

Make a budget and compare your actual spending against what you thought it would be.  It does not need to be super strict, the most important point is understanding where your resources are going and being ok with it.

Have short and long term goals

Where do you see yourself in a month, year, or five years?  Do you plan on paying off your car or house soon?  Having goals provides purpose for all your saving / investing.  Personally, I receive more happiness when I see that I met my goal that I set a year ago, verses going out and buying something.

Good luck!