fiance's spending habits

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-30-2007
fiance's spending habits
Fri, 08-24-2012 - 8:42pm

How do you approach your SO about their spending habits without launching an all-out war? I've known my fiance for a few years, we rent a house together and are getting married this winter. There's one thing I've noticed since moving in, though, that is really irking me. He's gotten quite trigger-happy with making online purchases on his phone- shoes, camping equipment, books, a new jacket he did NOT need (he already has a few he's hardly worn).  He insists that he's getting everything at a discount and that makes it ok but I'm starting to see him as someone who can't stop himself from shopping compulsively online. I don't want this to become some horrible issue that lands us in court one day. I know I'm not innocent, i.e. I'll spend money on beauty products, but the thing is, I actually USE them. He's got stuff still sitting in its packaging.

He's always been a thoughtful boyfriend, a good person, a hard worker, but his online spending habits are getting a little disturbing. Based on what I know, he wasn't always very smart with money-- made some mistakes when he was younger-- but since we started dating he's been, overall, very responsible and pretty generous with me, and he's expressed the fact that he knows he had a lot to learn about money during college. I don't want to nag him though and tell him what he can and can't buy. I've seen relatives yelling at each other -- usually the women yelling at the men-- over buying what one person calls junk.  I don't want to become like that and I already sensed some tension from him the last time I asked him why he made what I thought was a wasteful purchase.

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-22-2007
Fri, 08-24-2012 - 10:42pm

Fran, you're absolutely right - you can't tell him what he can and can't buy.    However, you can discuss and agree on how much both of you have to spend on frivilous items.   Acknolwedge that he likes frivilous items (as do you!), but look at containing the damage from cost.   

I'd sit down and talk about making a budget which you can both agree on.   Look towards strategies such as separating out money which is for joint uses and for 'frivilous' purchases such as your makeup and his online stuff.    At no time in this discussion do you raise what he's been spending money on.  This is about how much money you both have to spend on whatever junk you want.

Having said that, if the two of you can't agree on how to budget  - then you've got much more serious issues which need to be dealt with before you marry.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Fri, 08-24-2012 - 11:30pm

I was basically going to say what you said.  I think it's difficult when someone who is basically a saver marries a spender.  I also think a lot of people never have conversations about money before they get married. 

To the OP:  I'd start off by asking him how he forsees managing your money when you are married--does he think you should have separate accounts or a joint acct?  How much credit card debt makes him nervous?  How do you split the bills now?  Does he have enough money to pay his share of the expenses or are the purchases making him come up short?  Do you have financial goals like buying a house in a certain number of years?  Does he realize that by spending a lot of money on junk now that he is not saving money for a big goal?  I have never read this book but a friend of mine who is a financial guy always reccomended the book by Dave Ramsay called (I think) Total Money Management.  Maybe you could both read it.

P.S.  I'm a lawyer & I do bankrtupcy & I just see a lot of people who get really carried away buying things on credit cards & then can't pay it off because the interest rate is high.

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-05-2006
Sat, 08-25-2012 - 10:37am

Did he grow up dirt-poor, especially mixed with emotional neglect from his parents?

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-22-2007
Sat, 08-25-2012 - 8:25pm

Music, those are some really great questions to work through.   Hubby and I have had all those discussions - but because we've had them on the fly, I would never have been able to list them like you did.

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-29-2002
Tue, 08-28-2012 - 11:27am
Part of the engagement period is to take the time to make arrangments and establish a plan for the future. I would make an appointment with a financial planner to meet with you both to discuss long and short term goals, and to esablish a budgeting plan.
Avatar for khatru1
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-07-2004
Tue, 08-28-2012 - 12:52pm
As the others have said you need to iron this out before marriage, but it sounds like you are well aware of this. It is one of the top, if not the top reason for divorce.

Don't approach it as "YOU must change your ways". Approach it as this is part of our marriage preparation, we should sit down and work out a budget, who will pay for what, how much discretionary spending will we allow. I guess now that cat is out of the bag in terms of he knows you have been on him about his spending, he still may start to escalate the situation, believing what you are suggesting is primarily about his spending. You are just going to have to insist you have this talk.

Even in a split responsibility financial arrangement , its unfair of one person to blow their wad all the time and the other one scrimps and saves.