You are a saver. Your spouse is a spender. The differences are creating havoc in your marriage. Can you teach your spender spouse to save?

Can You Change Someone Else?

Before we get into some tips to help you teach your spender spouse to save, we have to acknowledge something: you can’t truly change someone else. You can encourage change. You can ask for change. There are many things that you can do to prompt change. But, ultimately, the only person that you can change is yourself.

So, before you go about trying to teach your spender spouse to save, you need to get them on board. If they flat out have zero interest in saving money, then you have a bigger problem on your hands. Many couples lose their relationships to money battles. If you’re at a standstill, then you may need couples therapy to help you get through the battle.

Change Yourself First

Since you can’t change someone else, the most important thing is first to do what you can to change yourself. Of course, this doesn’t mean that all of a sudden you will stop saving and start spending. But it does mean that you take an honest look at yourself before you try to teach your spender spouse to save.

Some questions to ask yourself include:

  • What do saving and spending mean to me? There’s often an underlying emotional component. For example, if you understand that saving means security to you but spending means freedom to your spouse then you can come together to address the deeper issue.
  • Why is saving important to me? How can I clearly express this to my partner in a way that they’ll understand?
  • What about my partner’s spending is upsetting to me? How can I clearly, and fairly, express my concerns without blaming my partner?
  • Is there anything that I can do differently without any aid from my spouse to address my concerns?
  • What will I be willing to compromise about in order to take my spouse’s needs and desires into consideration?

Tips to Get Your Spouse on Board

Doing that inner work first will go a long way towards getting your spouse on board. Here are some additional tips:

  • Ask your spouse to set a meeting with you to talk about money. This should be a non-confrontational meeting scheduled when you both have time and energy to devote to it.
  • Use “I statements.” They may feel cheesy but they work. “You statements” blame the other person.
  • Even better, ask your spouse if you can discuss your financial goals as “we statements.” In other words, remember that you and your spouse are a team and money is the problem you’re working together to solve. You aren’t each other’s enemies.
  • Ask your spouse if they have some concerns about saving and spending that they would like to bring to the table. Be generous and listen closely to what they have to say.
  • Express why saving is important to you. Ask your spouse if they are willing to work on this with you.

Tips to Teach Your Spender Spouse to Save

If your spouse is even a little bit willing to make some changes, then yes, you can teach your spender spouse to save. Here are some good tips that can help you along the way:

Make it Convenient to Save

The more convenient something is for us, the more likely we are to do it. That’s just human nature. Some of the ways to make savings more convenient include:

  • Automate your savings. Make an agreement with your spouse to channel a specific amount of money into savings each month. Set it up to happen automatically.
  • Install money-saving apps on your spouse’s phone. For example, use an app that rounds up your purchases and deposits the extra into savings.
  • Ask your spouse if they would like you to handle certain shopping. For example, if your spouse always spends extra at the grocery store, would you both be willing to have you do the grocery shopping? It’s more convenient for them, since they don’t have to shop, and you get to control the grocery spending.
  • Track your spending each month. Use your bank statements and credit card bills to track spending for both of you. Make it easy for your spouse to see where the money goes each month. Don’t blame or shame; just make the information available.

Make a Trade or Compromise

Ask your spouse what they think about your shared finances. Find out how they feel about saving and spending. Then ask them what they wish was different. Find a way to trade them for what they want.

For example, you might discover that they don’t want to spend willy nilly on everything. However, they’re afraid that if they focus too much on saving then you’ll never have any fun together. Brainstorm some ways to guarantee that you’ll have that fun – date nights, travel plans, etc. Then make an agreement that if you set a budget for those then you’ll stick to that budget.

When you’re in two different places, see if you can come to a compromise.

Decide if an Allowance Works For You Both

Some couples agree that the saver will handle the finances and give the spender an allowance. Other couples agree that they each have a certain amount of allowance that they don’t have to discuss with each other before spending. See if an allowance option works for both of you. It can be problematic in some households but helpful in others. Note that it only works for the marriage if both of you think it’s the right plan.

Make it a Game

Finances don’t have to be boring. Make saving more fun for both of you by taking on some money-saving challenges together. You may find ways to compete with one another for savings if your spouse is motivated by competition. Or perhaps you can find challenges that will allow you to work together to meet a savings goal. When you meet your goals, enjoy a reward of your spouse’s choosing.

Praise, Don’t Blame

Nobody wants to be shamed for their actions, especially by their spouse. We all prefer positive reinforcement. So, when you see your spouse making a choice that involves saving over spending, acknowledge it. You don’t have to make a big deal out of it. You certainly don’t want to be patronizing. But it’s nice to say, “I noticed that you saved in this way and I really appreciate that you heard how important that is to me and acted on it. I love you.”

Ask for Professional Help

Sometimes you can’t teach your spender spouse to save because the two of you just can’t get on the same communication page when it comes to money. It’s time to get help. Help could be in the form of:

  • A marriage counselor who works specifically with money issues
  • Financial planners that work with couples
  • An unbiased friend, mentor, or family member who can help you work through the challenges

What are some of the other ways that you can teach your spender spouse to save? Share what has (and hasn’t) worked for you in the comments. Or, if you’re the spender, give us your thoughts on this tricky topic!

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