What to Do If Your Spouse Refuses to Follow a Budget

One of the trickiest parts of a new marriage is navigating the finances. Should you merge your money? Keep it separate? Who will manage the monthly budget? Who will handle the investments? Each of you has developed your personal attitude toward saving and spending, and you each had different financial upbringings. Successfully managing married finances may take a few years. However, for others, the struggle continues beyond that time, especially if your spouse refuses to follow a budget.

What to Do If Your Spouse Refuses to Follow a Budget

Unless you’re independently wealthy, you need to have a money plan that you can agree on. Then, if your spouse refuses, try taking these steps.

Let Your Spouse Provide Input

In most relationships, one person is the money nerd, and the other isn’t. If you’re the money nerd, don’t fall into the trap of making all the financial decisions. Instead, sit down with your spouse to discuss your budget categories and decide how much money you should allocate to each. If your spouse finds this process tedious, only ask for her input on large categories or areas that directly affect her.

Save for a Common Goal

One way to get your spouse onboard with budgeting is to save for a common goal. For instance, maybe you both dream of taking a four-week European trip. Together, you can determine how you’ll get the money for the trip. What areas of the budget will you cut? Will you work overtime or a second job? When you have a shared goal you’re both working towards, you will more likely both want to follow the budget.

Determine If Each Category Has Enough Money

Sometimes, the money you put in a category is not adequate. For instance, you may have $300 in the grocery category per month, but you need $400 to $450 monthly. If that’s the case, you’ll always be over in this category. Ensure you have adequately funded each budget line so sticking to the budget is more manageable and realistic.

Limit Access

If, after taking the above steps, your spouse refuses to follow a budget, you may need to limit your spouse’s access with his or her permission, of course. For instance, when they were first married, my mom was the budgeter, and my dad was the spender. After a year of fighting about his money habits, he told her to give him an allowance, which she did. She handled all the money and gave him a set amount to spend each week. Once they did that, most of their money fights ended.

Revert to a Cash-Based Budget

Spouse Refuses to Follow a Budget

Another option is to revert to a cash-based budget. Use cash for most daily purchases like gas, groceries, and spending. Then, when the cash runs out, it’s gone, and neither of you spends until the money is replenished with the next paycheck.

Seek Marriage Counseling

Finally, if none of the above steps work, consider marriage counseling. A good marriage counselor can get to the root of money issues and help you compromise and form new money habits. An outside person like a counselor also helps take the emotion out of the money battles you and your spouse have been having.

Final Thoughts

Managing money as a married couple is much different than managing money as a single person. Recognize that you may struggle for several years until you develop a pattern that works for you. However, if your spouse refuses to follow a budget, you may need to take additional steps or see a marriage counselor until you achieve money compatibility.

Read More

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Melissa Batai

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