Advice: He keeps overspending

20:30, Dec 11 2013
budget fight
SHE'S FRUSTRATED: His overspending is causing serious fractures in their marriage.

He keeps spending too much and she keeps having to pick up the pieces. Then, when she tries to sort it out she is made to feel like a nag. What to do? 


My husband and I both work full time and deposit our incomes into a joint account, where we pay the mortgage, bills etc. I do earn relatively more than him, but it all goes into the one pot. Based on the overall household budget, we each get the same amount of discretionary cash per week (for coffee, junk food, etc). The household buys clothing, shoes, personal items, and our work lunches (made at home) - and it's pretty evenly spent across the family. 

In the last 10 months we've paid off HIS personal overdraft three times. Cue budgeting advice and harsh words (me) and declarations of good behaviour (him). Overdraft closed.  

Problem solved - for about six weeks! I've now discovered that he reinstated the OD facility, is again sitting in overdraft, and has had his boss siphon off money from his commissions before they get paid to our account.  In the last four months, that's over $900. And additionally, we again have to clear his OD. In the meantime, I'm balancing the household bills and stressing when there's not enough to go around. The almost $2000 odd he's spent on himself over 12 months would have gone a long way on bills.  

We have a long-term financial plan to get onto solid ground, save for goals AND have more discretionary cash. But he's lining his own pockets first, at the expense of me and the kids. His excuse: "I'm ill disciplined". Yeah well, now I'm ill tempered!!


My solution: access to see his accounts, which has resentfully been given. But he's feeling embarrassed and angry because I'm "treating him like a child". And he's already frustrated that I won't snap out of being grumpy with him (it's only been 24 hours since I found all this out). He thinks a quick 'sorry, it won't happen again' is enough to go back to being happy families. 

His deception and his blatant lies to deny wrongdoing (prior to my showing the bank statements as proof) is a total betrayal. Let alone the lies and half truths to explain things away, all of which I could see through. He hates it when I pull him up on lies with simple logic and reason.  

To me, it's effectively stealing from his own family, combined with self-protecting lies and petulant attitude, e.g. when I wanted to sit down and talk this out, he makes wisecracks about being in the principal's office. 

He didn't have a strong financial background before we married, but all cards were on the table and we were in agreement as to our goals. We've got two young kids, we're both in our mid-thirties, and it's time to get real.  

He refuses to live without a personal account. Any ideas or alternatives to keep my wayward adolescent hubby in line financially, or have I done all I can? And in doing that, have I overstepped the mark?   


Wife of Loose Cannon 

Hi Wife of Loose Cannon,

Thank you for your letter; I would like to respond by quoting what I consider is a key line from your letter!

"We have a long-term financial plan to get onto solid ground, save for goals, AND have more discretionary cash".

Are these still your joint goals?  

Does he acknowledge that he doesn't have a strong financial sense, and is he interested in making a change or does he feel he does not have the necessary control to live within his personal budget?  

If you are both willing to work together to achieve your agreed, or renegotiated goals, perhaps a first step may be to recognise the strengths that you both have and how they will support you moving forward.  

I wonder if there are bigger issues here that your partner might not be aware of. The issue of how overspending is affecting the way you now view him as a partner, causing resentment and disillusionment to enter into your lives and the systemic long term effect of these issues for you as a family?

I gather from your letter that he makes commitments to change and doesn't follow through? At the end of the day you don't want to be his mother and he needs to take responsibility for his spending behaviour.

If he was willing to put some steps in place that acknowledge that he may need support to achieve your goals and keep within the agreed budget you could then seek support from your account manager at your bank. There you could implement some strategies to manage your partner's spending habits, putting boundaries in place so he cannot have access to an overdraft.  

I am not suggesting that will fix the problem, but it will constrain him from overdrawing his account and having to take money from the household account. Your partner needs to exercise some control over his impulse spending and he must choose to do that.  

Words like betrayal, lies, deception, anger, denial and resentment are indications that the 'problem' has eroded some of the foundational pillars of relationship like trust, truth accountability and responsibility, perhaps engaging your partner in the reality of the effects may invite him to view the problem from a different perspective and invite change!   

All the best,


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