Even if you love your spouse to bits, if he or she is spending your money it can drive a deep wedge in the relationship and cost you a lot of loot. Of course this is a very difficult subject to approach in a balanced way. Aren’t couples supposed to share and share alike? Not completely.
Here’s how to untangle this knot, safeguard your relationship and protect your own bounty at the same time. That’s a lot to do in less than 700 words. I better get to it.
Is It Really Your Money?
The first step in solving this sticky problem is to determine who gets to spend what. Every couple has its own unique approach to this of course. There really is no one right answer.
Some people divide up “spending rights” based on earnings. If you earn it, you spend it – period. People in this camp often divide up monthly bills and then operate autonomously.
Others split up spending spheres of influence depending on level of expertise regardless of who makes the money. That means everything belongs to “us”. But if my wife is better at hiring contractors (which she is), she gets to make decisions around that. If I happen to be better at investing, I make those decisions. However, within this model, the other partner is highly encouraged to participate in the process and learn. So in our case, I don’t get too involved in the household stuff but once in a while I do.
My wife isn’t as “hands off” as I am. She wants to be involved in the big picture investing decisions so she obviously is. We each get equal “votes” on what to do. That means we have to compromise (or convince the other why we are right). Nothing happens until we agree.
Other people make every spending decision by consensus. There are a million ways to approach this. The critical thing is you must be crystal clear about whom gets to spend what and both of you have to understand the agreement. Bien?
Yes. It IS Your Money
Once you’ve clearly identified the lines it’s easy to see when your spouse steps over it. When your partner breaks the rules you both agreed on, he or she is spending your money. Plain and simple.
What To Do About It
If something like this happens repeatedly it’s really a breach of trust. That creates a relationship issue (which is best addressed with a marriage counselor) and a financial issue which you can deal with.
Your first move is to make sure your spouse can’t put their fingers in your cookie jar again. What you do now depends on the particular breech. But make sure your spouse can’t access your money. If he bought a bunch of crap, get him off of the joint credit card and joint bank account. This way, if he does it again, he’ll have to find a way to pay for his silly toys.
If she invades your investment account, you can either split the account up or change the permissions. Here’s what I mean. In most cases, joint accounts allow either party to access the money. But you can always change the account such that both you and your honey bunny have to sign off in order to make any withdrawals.
These steps might seem drastic and they are. They are bound to ruffle some feathers at home and shake things up. But that might be a good thing, I don’t know. That’s why I strongly suggest you take these measures in conjunction with speaking to a professional marriage counselor. When money and marriage are the topic, emotions often go off the charts.
Has your spouse ever spent your money? How did you find out about it? What did you do about it?