We’ve all heard of the mid-life crisis purchase. A hot car. A beach house. Expensive jewelry. The list goes on… But what happens when it’s not one big thing that’s being purchased — and what happens when it’s not you that’s doing the spending, but your partner?
We all want to exist in a relationship that’s as stress-free and harmonious as possible… But we know that money is the highest stressor in relationships. For starters, being open and honest with your spouse is a place to start, so if you’re discussing their purchases, then you’re already ahead of the game — but how can you talk to them about overspending without seeming critical or unsupportive?
Here’s how to navigate a conversation in a loving and supportive way, while making sure you can put a cap on future spending sprees that can jeopardize your financial future together.
Have A Judgment-Free Zone
First, know that you are not the only couple to have discussions or disagreements about money. 82% of couples have argued over purchases according to a study by The Ascent, a money expert service. Don’t start off by playing “the blame game,” as this kind of language can lead to disaster. Making sure you approach the conversation with the intention of care is crucial to help your partner understand that you just want to be on the same page, says Bola Sokunbi, founder of Clever Girl Finance. Take a deep breath, listen to your fav “Cool Vibes” playlist, and you will be ready to tackle the conversation.
Talk it Through
Money is never a comfortable topic, even with your spouse who you most likely talk to on a daily basis. Opening up the conversation by asking what they think about the purchase they made recently, and ask them if they thought about discussing it with you, says Amy Morin, Editor-In-Chief of Verywell Mind, a mental health resource. Inquiring about your partner’s general emotions can lead to a healthy discussion. Hopefully, this one expense can open the floor to a broader financial discussion, giving you a natural lead-in to start a bigger conversation.
If things quickly spiral into an argument, maybe take a second to compose yourself and return to the conversation in a few minutes, suggests Kristin Myers, Editor-In-Chief of the Balance. Ideally, though, you’ll make the conversation more about the bigger goals that the two of you share for your financial futures, and less about their lapse in judgment in buying something they didn’t need. When you approach the conversation from the perspective of, “we’re in this together” it goes a long way toward smoothing ragged nerves.
Set Financial Ground Rules
What’s mine is mine, and what’s yours is… ours. That might sound nice in our mental trove of thoughts-to-never-say-out-loud-but-still-think, but chances are, our significant other would not agree. Many couples have found success with an agreement wherein each partner can purchase anything they want until it extends to a certain amount of money… For some couples, that might be $250 for example. So, anything under that, you’re in the clear, but if that new purse of golf club starts calling your name, then it’s time to pick up the phone and call (or email, or text) your partner to get their thoughts. Exceeding that agreed-upon amount, like buying a car, should hopefully be up for discussion beforehand. Another tip to help prevent the financial stress on your relationship is to discuss all budgets, even personal ones, to help open yourself to money conversations in the future. Yes, we all have some financial decisions that we’d like to keep private (and you can still have that!) but open lines of communication are always key.
MORE ON HERMONEY:
- How to Talk to Your Partner About Money
- Is Your Partner Jealous of Your Financial Success?
- 10 Steps For A Successful Mid-Year Financial Check-Up
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