Wife spending too much money? (003-Q3-Nando)

Nando asks, “My wife spends too much [$$], mostly stuff we don’t need. I’ve tried mentioning we should save more money, but she keeps bringing stuff home. What is the best way to win this battle?”

Answer (From Podcast Episode 003):

Nando, I’m wondering what kind of stuff she’s buying? You say, “stuff we don’t need.” All right. You realize that “need” is subject to debate, or discussion. She may feel you need the stuff.

If I can infer a bit here, let me say (or imagine) that she is buying home décor. Okay. In that case, maybe what she’s trying to do is make your home look nice. I wouldn’t fault her for that.

Now, furthermore, as the husband, you have a right to help her decide on décor; for example, how much décor is needed. But I would say you need to talk with her about her goals. Why is she spending money on “stuff?” What is she trying to accomplish?

Too often, married men don’t approach these conversations correctly. Our tendency is to disregard any question of her motivation, and just dictate to her that we cannot afford any more “stuff.” Whether we don’t have the money, or whether we don’t have any more room in our house to keep this stuff.

But dictating, as an approach, doesn’t really solve anything, and it probably causes more problems, more arguments. Because you’re in a partnership, you must both understand what motivates the other.

And so here’s my suggestion…

Start talking about the big picture, about your long-term goals together. Now, I like jotting down goals on a sheet of paper, just brainstorming them out and getting all the goals listed. I try to list out her goals, and I also try to list out my goals. So try to make a list that seems equal on both sides.

For example, she wants home décor, and you have come to understand what’s motivating her, and you don’t disagree. You want to have a nice home. On the other hand, you want savings. And you can explain to her why you want the savings (what’s motivating you to want that). Hopefully, she’ll understand and agree with that. And then, together, you know you only have so much money to achieve your mutual goals. So by listing them out, and prioritizing them, both of you can start to get a better handle on a plan that works for both of you.

If she doesn’t understand what motivates your desire to save money—maybe you’re afraid you’re going to run out—then she can’t really care. On the other hand, if you don’t learn to appreciate her goals, and what’s driving her to get more home décor, for example—if that’s what she’s buying—then you won’t value the things that she buys.

When it comes to money, and buying stuff, you really have to communicate about your long-term goals together, and come to agreement on how to make your goals happen.

Good luck. It is a challenge. I’m sure this question will come up again and again in some fashion, so make sure you subscribe to the podcast and you’ll probably absorb more ideas as we go along. Thank you for that question, Nando. Have a good day.

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