Money Fight!!

Updated on June 13, 2011
J.M. asks from Fox River Grove, IL
20 answers

Let me start off by saying my husband I rarely fight. We are best friends and communicate very well. The issue I am having is money. Until 3 years ago I always made more money between the two of us and now he does since we opted for me to work shorter/less hours in order to stay home with our kids. I have always managed the money... I don't mind managing the money but what I do mind is that my husband is a spender and I am not. The problem is, with him making significantly more money than I am I feel like it is sort of unfair of me to complain about him spending money. At the same time, however, I want to pay our debt down and actually start saving which we can do since he just got a promotion. He is the kind of person who wants something, so he buys it. Not ridiculous things...we are not talking boats or cars here but going into Target and dropping 200 dollars on "stuff" without batting an eye. It adds up very fast. I am the kind of person who will put stuff in my cart and end up putting 75 percent of it back before I leave because I sit there and think, can I do without it? Usually it is yes. We have tried giving him his own account with a set amount of money which never works out because if there is not money available he just uses a different card. I know I can't change how he is with money but what do other couples do when one is a spender and one isn't too avoid it being a constant argument? Although he has never said it, I am sure that he feels like he works his butt off (which he does) so he should be able to spend money... which I do agree to an extent but his spending is driving me insane.

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answers from Lynchburg on

Hi J.-

Not to be glib...but there are two main 'power' issues in marriage...$$ and sex...and since 'one' was NOT mentioned...

I would try to find a 'balance'...

Take care

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answers from Chicago on

Dave Ramsey is perfect for both of's like financial marriage counseling :)

It's only $99 for a 13 week class & you can take the class as many times as you want without paying an extra penny, & there is so much you get for the $99, like the book, a workbook (fulll of awesome facts), audio cd's, a money organizer & access to loads of online documents, it's so worth it. There is also an online class or an at home class if you don't want to take the time to go to a class, so basically no excuse not to do it.

My husband makes good money & has an expensive buying problem (if i let him), loves cars & bikes. He resisted the class at 1st but loved it & would even listen to the audio cd's on top of going to the weekly class. Thank God for Dave Ramsey's class, he is no longer into buying expensive cars. We even took the class a 2nd time, which speaks volumes since he was so resistant the 1st time.

Look at the website for yourself & then maybe you can get him to look at it too.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsfield on

We always had what I would call a good marriage, but we were both stressed about $ since we managed to accumulate a significant amount of debt over the years.

Anyway, we got Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover- the audio version, since neither one of us has much time to read. He listened while he commuted to and from work, and I listened while doing chores around the house. Plus, we listened to his radio show together every weekend (still do) (we listen free from his website).

Anyway, long story short, we got on the same page about $ and it brought us closer than we have ever been!!!! We are tackling our debt *together*.
We sit down *together* at the beginning of each mo. and make out a budget for that month. This has made the financial stress go away - we're still paying down the debt, but there's a light at the end of the tunnel. There are no surprises (like a car repair) that make us have to turn to our credit cards.

Here's a good article from his website that, I think, addresses a lot of the issues in your post.

Here's a link to listen to his radio show- we really enjoy it. As I said, it's free to listen live- or archived shows, so it might be a good place to start, if you're interested.

Very best wishes!!!! =o)

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

We have NO CREDIT CARDS - we are a CASH ONLY family. We have "debit" mastercard/visas - but there is NO LINE OF CREDIT...

I am the spender...I get $200 put into my account every two weeks directly from his paycheck....and I use that for groceries and such - whatever I save in coupons is mine to keep (save! baby! save!!) as is my 'ebay money'....

You two need to talk about where your financial future is...will it be battling credit card debt or living debt free? You both need to be on the same is one of those situations where tempers can get heated...

My husband can spend - but if you give me a credit card - baby I can spend...and spend some Like you - I THINK before I I need it - or do i WANT it?

My exhusband and I were both see it-want it-buy it people - we had $50K (no exaggeration) in credit card debt with NOTHING to show for it. We had excellent credit but no money to spend because it was all wrapped up in paying credit cards each month....

Get on the same page - find out if he can truly be a cash only person and if he can figure out the difference between want (nice to have) and need (die without it)....


3 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

buy dave ramsey's money makeover book, and both of you read it (him first! lol) he should be allowed to spend but it should be a set amount of "fluff" money each month, not just mindlessly. you should be able to do both, sounds like-- pay off debt, and have playing money. good luck!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Both my husband and I work full time and I make more money, but he is like your husband and just spends $$ on "stuff". I give him an allowance every week and if he spends it, he doesn't get any extra. It has made him learn to budget and it has worked. We have a lot less fights about $$, and he has a lot less "stuff." Take away the credit cards and only let him use his debit with a set amount each week. Good luck.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Yes...he has a right to spend money--and so do you. But you guys REALLY need to sit & do a budget. Finances are a HUGE source of issue for married couples...but it doesn't have to be.
He can even have a "blow" account that he can just blow when he wants! BUT it all needs to be agreed upon before the paychecks even go into the bank.
I cannot recommend Dave Ramsay enough. They only thing you have to "buy" is a book and he has obviously blown over $25-30 on less important things, right?
It's quite common for one spouse to be a spender (him) and one to be the money nerd (you) but it can all be managed. You'll feel more secure and he'll feel more empowered!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

We have a set limit, if either of us wants to spend more than 50 dollars, we call the other to talk about it. Usually it's something we've discussed before, like he's got a new game coming out he wants or I know I want a new book or something. If we really want it, we've usually spent at least a week talking about it, unless it's like, a season of Psych or something on sale at Target that I've been wanting but didnt want to pay full price for.

I know we both work our butts off, and my husband has never said anything about making more money than me so he should be able to spend more.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

Hi J.,
both my husband and I are impulse buyers and often buy things just because. We have our times when we try to be "good" and then next thing you know, we've gone to costco or target and spent way more money than we needed too. We have gotten better and I have probably improved a bit more than my husband and will consider things more before actually checking out and paying for things. Only because we are really trying to get ourselves completely debt free and we have paid off most of our debts, with very low credit card balances which are almost paid off). I really try to limit his shopping for things alone, only because I can have a bit more say in things when I am there, and I simply remind him, "we're not buying anything like that till ...(some credit card bill is paid off, or we buy some big purchase that we already agreed on). We do also constantly talk about where the money is being spent, which bills are coming up, how much money I spent on groceries, etc. Having an awareness, for both of us on where our money is going and what our goals are has definitely helped in spending money on just "stuff".Other than that I just learn to let it go, there is food on the table, my family and I are taken care of, I may nag him a bit, but I can't control him or his spending habits, and it is not worth the stress of fighting and staying angry at it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Youngstown on

We have one income but my husband gets his "allowence" as he calls it every week. He gets cash. He is also the one that works(just so no one freaks out about the word allowence). When the money is gone it's gone. He can do whatever he wants with it but you do pay more attention to what you spend when you only use cash. You could try that. Give him cash to spend and take the cards away if he agrees with that. I bet if he has say 300 bucks left fot the week he won't just spend 250 at target.



answers from Las Vegas on

He needs to have some big goal for the whole family, paying off debt so you can start saving for a big family vacation/new home/new car, etc. My husband was a spender, but since we have been together he has changed into a saver. When he is invested in the goal and wants it to happen, he knows we have to save. Now he always saves with me. Of course, we also don't make much now, so that helps as well, he wants to be able to pay the mortgage and bills with me very month.



answers from New York on

Does he actually agree to a budget but then not stick to it? That sounds like the case. So perhaps workout a budget and then if he blows it, decide on a "punishment". If he's at least on board with the idea of a budget, that should be half the battle. And if he agrees to the punishment ahead of time, it's self inflicted so maybe he'll comply. And maybe get a Dave Ramsey book as everyone swears by them and see if he has ideas how to enforce a budget.



answers from Los Angeles on

Hi there, Can you try to take a set amount of money and put it into another account just for savings? As long as you can save money every paycheck, the spending issue might be more relaxed. If the money is not there to blow, then...problem solved!



answers from Columbus on

First of all, my take is that if you two treat the money as "our" money, and not "mine" or "his" money, then you have every right to have a say in how the money is spent. However, if you set up separate accounts, instead of joint accounts, then it's probably a different story.

Either way, here as some things that might work:
Creating a separate account for him, that is his "play" money--he can do whatever he wants with it. A certain amount per month is put in here, and he can use it however he sees fit. When it's gone, it's gone. Of course, he will have to agree to this idea, and be responsibility enough to use the debit card for this account, and responsible enough not to pull out the credit card or group checking debit card when he's low on "play money" funds.
You could also try this idea, but use cash only, instead of a separate account, instead.

One question that probably needs to be addresses is: Does he realize after the fact or have any remorse after the fact, in cases where he buys stuff you don't need? If he does, then you are on solid ground to work on this. Get his cooperation, and set specific goals and remind him of those goals (Lindsay G has some great thoughts). Try not to be his mother/parent on this, because he will only end up resenting you (unless he is really one of those guys who can handle that). But do try to get agreement and cooperation--see if you can enlist him in the process.



answers from San Diego on

Hi J., Finances are the biggest issue that causes fights between married couples. My husband and I spend as we see fit, but big ticket items we discuss. If your bills are payed and you have food on the table, I would not get so upset, arguments about money has destroyed far to ,many marriages, it's not worth the fight. J.



answers from Honolulu on

Tell him, with SOME of HIS money, to have his own, account, to spend it in his impulsive buying.

BUT, it should not, take away from the REAL budget at hand, for the family or bills.
AND, only have ONE card, in his wallet. The one for HIS willy-nilly spending.
And, do NOT have your name, on this account either. Because if he gets into debt or bounces checks, it affects you too.

HE can sock away, a little here and there, to spend willy-nilly on his own stuff.

Dropping $200 on things, without batting an eye or talking to you about it first, is selfish.

Sure, he works his butt off. My Husband does too. But, with things that cost over a certain amount, he and I always discuss it first. And especially if it is not a necessary purchase.

He will run you guy's broke.
He needs help.
He should take a finance course.
I certainly hope, he has a Retirement account that he does not touch?
And you too?

He has impulse buying problems.
Or cannot control his spending.
Which, that is a problem.
Some spenders, really bankrupt their own families.

He maybe, needs outside help.
Does he know, money can run out???
Do you/he have 'emergency' fund money???
Hope he doesn't tap into that either.

Or tell him, NO credit cards.
Only pay cash, or not at all.

He can't even handle using his credit cards, responsibly.
And I would not have your name on those credit cards.
That is your credit too, and if he fails on those.

I really think he needs Financial Counseling.



answers from Harrisburg on

I would say if you have the money to "splurge" or spend, then he works it and should every now and then be able to buy "stuff" (painful as it is) since he is not the boat and car big spender type.

If you are really bent on paying off debt, then I would combine/calculate how much it would take weekly, monthly to pay off the debt, show him the budget or plan, that way he has some visual idea what it will take to accomplish that.

I don't know about the card issue, but I think having a separate account for his "allowance" is a good idea with the fact that you confiscate the other possible cards he COULD use and remind him you are doing so to keep on track.

If you are just being nitpicky because you are more of a saver than he is, then you might have to adjust your mindset and not make it such an issue if it is not putting you guys in a hole per se. You don't want to spend all just because you have it to do so, but you don't want to be overpowering either just because of personal preferences.

The other option would be that when he does get paid and you are budgeting, open a separate account (telling him you do, but not giving him the card, acct #, etc) and then save the money there, separate from your combined accounts.

Hope that helps.


answers from Austin on

Will he make a list before going to the store and try to stick to it? That might be a start.

I'm not the worst spender ever, but I do have a problem with impulse buys. All the cool plastic junk on clearance at Walmart is a temptation for me. I avoid overspending by not going shopping often, never going shopping alone, considering whether an item might be cheaper with a coupon, at a different store, or in a different season, comparing prices online, and shopping at thrift stores.
My husband is the one who manages the money in our house. He has figured out which credit cards give rewards for which types of purchases. When I use a credit card, I look at the notes he's written on my cards- use this one at restaurants, this one for gas, this one for grocery stores. He gave up trying to tell me the more complicated ones that change each month or depend on the amount of money spent.


answers from Dallas on

It doesn't matter who is making the money. It's being provided for your family. You both are the head of the family and the money should be discussed and agreed upon. I don't personally believe that because he's making the money that he has any more say to it than you do! You decided together that you would stay home doesn't mean the money goes to him.

Anyway, no idea how to make him fit within the budget. My husband is the same way in that he's a big spender. I'm the opposite and spend little. I do the money in our family as well. He gets a set amount per month for whatever he wants. Anything beyond that, we BOTH talk to the other about it and agree before we spend it.

It's something that is up to your hubby as to whether he will agree or not. I'm not sure there is anything to make him do it. My hubby just happened to agree...thank goodness! It's disrespectful for your hubby to spend money like that without discussing it with you least that's my opinion! good luck getting it worked out.

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