How To Address Your Partner's Outrageous Spending Habits Before It Derails Your Future

When it comes to money, cash is one of the biggest issues many relationships face. In fact, according to the Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts, money issues are the third leading factor in divorce. Before it comes to that, you should address any money issues of concern with your partner, especially if they have outrageous spending habits. Big spending, hoarding, collecting, or even things like shopping addictions can get out of hand quickly, leading to all sorts of money issues and putting you in a position where you may need to fork over money to help your significant other get out of debt.


Before you dive into this spending discussion, consider the fact that it is a touchy subject. When approached wrong, it could lead to an argument. We want to help you have this conversation without coming off as controlling or making things uncomfortable for you or your partner. So, here are some tips to help you get the conversation going in the right direction.

Be understanding about their money habits

You and your partner may have completely different spending habits, and that's okay. Of course, too big of differences could be deal breakers for some people. The thing is, if your partner is carrying around credit card debt from their spending habits, they are not alone. According to a 2021 report from The Federal Reserve, over 30% of Americans have some credit card debt looming over them. Knowing this may help you be more understanding of your partner's ordeal. When it's time to sit down and talk finances, knowing some facts about the general spending habits of many Americans can come in handy. Not only will you know your partner isn't the only person facing debt and spending issues, but they may find comfort in knowing they're also not alone.


To offer more empathy to your partner, we suggest going into your conversation wanting to know what makes them spend the way they do. Is the spending filling some void in their life? Is it a habit that's been with them for a long time? Are they hoarding stuff, and if so, what pushes them to feel that need? Listen without judging them for their differences. Once you know what drives them to shop, you can begin offering suggestions to help them with their specific issues.

Offer productive suggestions

There are multiple ways to help your partner work on curbing their spending. If credit card debt is the issue, start by doing some research on debt consolidation for them, possibly offering a list of options that will help them pay off those cards. Of course, to keep from wracking debt back up on them, toss in some solutions on how to curb credit card spending. There's nothing wrong with keeping one or two credit cards for emergencies, but cutting up, freezing (like, literally putting those cards in a container of water in the freezer), or putting a hold on cards can be beneficial in helping someone with a spending habit. 


Going cash only is another great way to cut down on spending. When it comes to cash, you can only spend what you have, and it completely cuts out online expenditures. Learning the difference between wants and needs, and shopping with a list, are also excellent ways to ensure you're only spending what you need to spend. If your partner has a shopping addiction or is hoarding, therapy is a helpful way to get to the root of the problem. Angela R. Wurtzel, MA, MFT, told GoodTherapy, "It is essential to validate both the destructive and the useful sides of compulsive shopping to help a person discover how the behavior serves the self. Ultimately, the goal is to incorporate more adaptive skills over time that lead to a more balanced and less self-destructive lifestyle."


Plan a budget together

Another productive thing to do to help your partner learn better spending habits is to help them prepare a budget they can stick to. Not only does a budget force you to look at how much money you have going out, but it ensures that you look at the differences between what you have coming in and what you're spending. By sitting down with your partner and figuring out what bills they have recurring monthly, you can help them find a spending budget that is more within their means. This will allow them to enjoy using their money, without adding more debt.


Coming up with a budget isn't always easy and sometimes it's pretty eye-opening, especially for someone with bad spending habits. Working on this together may help your partner see what a detriment their spending really is. And on the flip side, you're also showing them your support.

Make sure to check-in

Once you've helped your partner come up with a plan for their spending habits, it's important to check in with them every once in a while to see how things are going. You don't want to overwhelm them by asking them daily about what they've purchased or if they've paid off any bills, but putting a date on the calendar every three months or so to look back over their bills and debts and recalculate their budget as needed can go a long way in helping them stay in control of their spending.


When credit cards are paid off and your partner is focusing more on spending on needs rather than wants, you'll want to both go over their budget again. There may be more money to go towards fun, but you may also want to encourage them to start a savings account as well. If their income changes, you'll want to make budget changes again for that as well.

Don't play the blame game

When you go into this important conversation, remember you're talking to your partner. This isn't your child who you can reprimand for making mistakes — this is your significant other whom you care about and want the best for. Not to mention, they're an adult. Come into the convo with good intentions and a calm voice. Licensed marriage and family therapist Sarah Epstein told Forbes, "Communication is what keeps couples on the same page and feeling like they are solving problems together rather than against one another."


When it comes to any conversations that have the potential to become heated or may tend to lean into blaming someone for their actions, you always want to go in with "I" statements. By starting with something like, "I am worried about your spending habits and the effect they may have on our future," you are not laying blame on your partner, but by adding "our," you are also showing them that this is something that involves both of you.