We’ve written multiple times about budget basics for beginners, but this post is a little bit different. This post is addressing the family budget and what to do when your partner is a spender. Chances are that person has caused you multiple hair pulling moments if you religiously stick to the budget only to have someone else keep pulling receipts from their pockets. 

Now, this isn’t a person who doesn’t believe in budgeting. No, this is someone who likes the idea of a budget and the goals that can be achieved and has a full buy-in to the potential of sticking with a financial game plan. It’s just that they have one little problem: in their heart of hearts, they are a spender.  They can’t help but hit the $1 section of Target to throw in a few add-ons to the check out. They constantly pick up a pack of gum or a drink at the gas station when it’s time to fill up. They are the first to offer to pay for dinner with friends. And they absolutely can’t pass the sale section without a quick glance because you just never know what could be in there.

My friends, if that sounds like your partner – then you are dealing with a spender and here are some quick tips for how to work with a spender while keeping the family budget under control:

  • Don’t panic – Most likely, you won’t lose the house over your spender’s habits unless they are truly unchecked. So, don’t start freaking out about their spending habits. Take a deep breath and walk away for a moment if you need to, but don’t stress out over small purchases.
  • Don’t nag – Guess what? Spenders like spending the exact same amount that savers like saving.  Unless you want them nagging you the whole time about all your weird ways you are thrifty, lay off the complaining about packs of gum or new ties they pick up on occasion.
  • Teach them – Maybe your spender needs more education on HOW to budget and save and how to stop impulse shopping. Show them the benefits of being a frugal person. But as you educate, leave off the judgement and let them come to their own conclusions.
  • Keep them involved – How involved is your spender with creating and keeping up with the budget? Does only one of you check the spreadsheet? Make sure both of you get the chance to look at the finances and where they go. The more removed your spender is from the budget, the less likely they are to curb their spending habits. Once they become part of the tracking and subtracting, they are more likely to pause before that next purchase.

It’s not easy when you and your partner have different spending habits but it’s very normal. Both spenders and savers have value to offer a family budget too. Savers keep the goals in focus while spenders keep life more spontaneous. Finding common ground can really help couples working through this issue as they learn to appreciate the other’s spending patterns. Common ground and coupons of course.