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Ask Savvy: My Husband Spends More Money Than He Should

Dear Savvy,

My husband and I share a bank account. We both work (he makes more money than I do) and it was his idea to combine bank accounts when we got married a year ago. The combined money situation was going smoothly until recently, when he started spending like he did when he was single.

He used to be a pretty bad impulse shopper but improved so much over the course of our six-year relationship — now, it seems like he's falling into old habits, but this time it affects me. I'm not someone you'd call super frugal, but I'm also acutely aware of how I spend our money. How can I talk to him about this without making him feel like I'm trying to parent him?

Savvy says: Your man's defenses might spike when you start a conversation about his spending, so instead of placing blame on him and starting a fight, find a way to pin-point the problem without a lot of finger-pointing. See my advice when you read more.

Begin the conversation by saying that you've noticed the bank account has been lighter than usual, and you think it would be a good idea to look at your transaction history together to see where your money is going. If you use an online money management system (like Mint), this will be an even easier process. If not just take the time to itemize transactions from the last month or two. Categorize your expenses as an online system would, looking for grocery, gas, household bills, and of course, retail purchases.

When it becomes obvious that your man has been spending more than he should, ask him if he thinks it would be a good idea for you both to have your own smaller accounts for discretionary purchases while using the joint account for shared expenses. Say that because there are two of you using one account, it makes it difficult to really pay attention to where your money is going and it would make it easier for you to track your own expenses. You could automatically transfer a certain amount of money into your individual accounts on paydays.

Because you and your husband have different spending profiles, I really think the best idea is for you to get separate accounts to use as you wish. If your husband blows through his personal account and starts using the joint account for his shopping habit, then you can have to have another, more serious, conversation about your shared financial goals.

Have a question for me? Ask away by posting your questions in my Ask Savvy group.

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