If your spouse is a cheapskate (or you think he/she is) it can easily lead to arguments and resentments. Even if he or she really isn’t the tightest person in the world, just having this opinion is really dangerous.
Fights about finance are the top predictor of divorce according to Kansas State University research. I’m not saying that you are the problem. She might indeed be a miser. And I’m not asking you to overlook the problem. Quite the opposite. I’m saying the issue can’t be ignored.
But how do you ease back off the ledge and diffuse money madness at home before it blows up your relationship? The first step is to determine what is really going on.
Is Your Partner Really A Cheapskate?
You are probably convinced that she is. But I can guarantee that she doesn’t agree. In fact, she probably thinks you are a spendthrift. She might be right. Who is right? I don’t know. But I do know that you should be open to a discussion about your spending habits.
But do yourself a big favor. Keep the labels and the name calling out of the conversation. The reality is that one person wants to use money one way and the other person wants to use money a different way. That’s what is really going on and that’s all you really know. “Es Verdad.”
And the only way to break this logjam is to first stop attacking each other and then talk about what kind of financial life you really want. Share your respective frustrations and feelings in a safe way rather than in an accusatory manner. Then, talk about what’s important about money to each of you. What are your individual goals? What are your goals as a couple? Hopefully you had this talk before you were married but if not, that’s OK. Better late than never.
Agree To Disagree
No matter how compatible you are with your mate on other matters, chances are high that you won’t see eye to eye on all your financial priorities. That doesn’t have to be a problem. You can use budgeting to solve this obstacle. Here’s an example.
Joe wants to save up for a $5,000 trip to Morocco and Jane wants to sock away as much as possible for retirement. These are conflicting goals and each one is passionate about their own priorities . Joe feels you only live once and you have to enjoy life one day at a time. Jane thinks it’s important to be prepared for the future. They are both right. But they have to be reasonable.
They each have to compromise for the sake of the relationship rather than try to convert the other one or they will end up in divorce court. In this case, a good compromise would be to earmark a certain amount each month towards the trip and another amount towards retirement. Is it perfect? No. Does it diffuse the situation? Yes.
What if your spouse really is cheap?
People who are afraid to spend money are often dealing with fear but they may not know it. The solution is to first go through the numbers together. If as a couple you can easily afford to do something or buy something show her why you think so. Ask her why she thinks you can’t spend the money.
If she’s afraid of the future, show her your retirement plan. If you go through all the numbers and she still seems stuck, it might be time for you both to seek professional help. She might have some unresolved fears that have nothing to do with the situation at hand. If that’s the case, all the financial plans in the worlds aren’t going to bring you peace and quiet.
What if she isn’t the problem?
It’s very possible that after you go through the numbers, she proves that you are indeed a spendthrift and that her unwillingness to spend the money is justified. You have to be open to that possibility. In fact, I strongly suggest that you tell her you are open to learning you are wrong before you even start the conversation. This helps everyone stay receptive to the truth and embrace solutions.
I really dislike it when otherwise happy people allow finances to come between them. It’s often senseless and unnecessary. Make sure this doesn’t happen to you. Have a conversation that doesn’t include name calling. Talk about your financial dreams and listen to what each other has to say.
Then, look at your financial plan and decide if your spending habits are getting closer to or further away from the financial life you really want.
Have you ever had to deal with a tightwad or spendthrift? How did you solve the problem?