You don’t have to be a Freudian psychoanalyst to realise that money problems in a relationship are rarely just about money. Often they stem from differences in the partners’ core values, their experiences growing up, and their deepest insecurities.
So if you’re in a relationship with someone who’s constantly blowing cash, know that resolving the issue will require both financial changes and some probing of each other’s psyches.
Business Insider spoke to Don Cloud, president and founder of Cloud Financial Inc., who said he frequently works with clients facing this problem.
Recently he counseled a couple in which the husband, who was self-employed and highly successful, felt his wife, who had stayed home to help facilitate his success, was overspending. Eventually, Cloud helped them get to the bottom of it: The wife felt jealous of her husband’s success and spending money made her feel better about it.
Having realised this, the couple was able to create a new budget and set up a discretionary spending account for the wife, so that they started saving an additional $2500 a month.
If you and your partner are facing similar issues, Cloud outlined a five-step plan to help you tackle them head-on:
1. Share your beliefs about money
“You can’t resolve anything if there’s no communication between the couple,” Cloud said. Which is why the first thing to do is to start asking questions.
“Find out exactly what it is that your significant other believes about money. Some people believe it should be used as a resource for happiness, while others believe it should be used some for needs, some for fun, and some put back for a rainy day.”
Next, share your own feelings and beliefs. Whatever you do, Cloud said, don’t be accusatory — as in, “Your spending problem is the reason we’re in this financial state.”
Armed with knowledge of each other’s beliefs and feelings, which are driving your financial behaviour, you’ll be in a better position to reach a compromise.
2. Create a budget
“Oftentimes we can find money literally leaking through the cracks of our households just by making a budget,” Cloud said. Together, the couple can curb any frivolous expenditures.
This step typically helps the “saver” partner feel more comfortable because now the couple is starting to save more, Cloud said.
As for the “spender” partner, in some cases they might get a discretionary spending account — funds specifically designated for personal purchases — as in the example above.
3. Regulate your spending
This step involves cutting back on those unnecessary expenditures — not necessarily eliminating them entirely. Maybe that means dining out one night less per week or reducing the amount you spend on a particular hobby.
Knowing that you’re within a budget when you make these purchases “makes people feel better about it when they do spend the money,” Cloud said.
4. Track your long-term financial goals
“The one that’s historically been the spender — they get excited because they start to think in different terms,” Cloud said. In other words, it’s no longer about being denied a fancy new coat, but being able to finance their hopes and dreams.
5. Monitor your spending
As your income and priorities evolve, tweak your budget accordingly. It’s important to continue communicating with your partner to make sure you’re always on the same page.