Part of being in a relationship is learning to deal with not just your own fears and bad habits and neuroses, but also someone else’s. (Romantic, no?)
In some cases, that could mean being in a relationship with someone who’s constantly worried about running out of money, and who therefore freaks out when you spend the occasional $5 on a latte.
The solution to this kind of problem isn’t exactly simple — but it’s not impossible either. Business Insider spoke to Don Cloud, president and founder of Cloud Financial Inc., and he shared his experience advising a couple who was working through exactly this issue.
In this case, the husband was a retired member of the military and the wife was the primary earner. The husband hated whenever his wife spent money — and while the couple had had many arguments about this issue, they’d never had a real conversation about it.
When Cloud initiated such a conversation, it became clear that the husband was worried that, should he pass away, his wife wouldn’t have enough income and/or retirement savings to support her.
Cloud went over with the couple his analysis of their financial situation and showed the husband that they had sufficient funds to retire in less than two years, even earlier than the wife was planning to stop working. Right then, the husband visibly relaxed, Cloud said.
In other words, Cloud had helped the couple both communicate and map out their long-term goals (in this case, retirement). Those two processes are part of five key steps that Cloud advocates for couples facing similar issues.
Here’s the full five-step plan. (You can use the same plan if you’re the one worried about your partner overspending.)
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.
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.
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
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.
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