Help me get our spending under control
If your spouse is spending too much money, there are some key steps you can take.
Some of the obvious ways to reduce spending include eliminating the big expenses. This might be a car payment or rental/living costs in excess of 40% of your net spendable income. Look at both of those expenses closely, and determine if you need to make any changes. If not, there are some not-so-obvious ways you can save money each month that really add up over time. Cutting what seems like a necessity may seem impossible, but over time, the sacrifice will prove rewarding. Here are a few examples for you to consider.
- Do you really need that streaming service?
- Do you really need Audible or Spotify? Or can you survive with ads during the free version of Spotify?
- How much do you send on eating out?
- Can you make your lunch at home and stop buying it each day?
- Can you survive with just one car?
Free audiobooks are available via your local library. They have various ways to download eBooks and eAudiobooks onto your computer or device with a library card. Spotify and other small monthly fees that seem insignificant can really add up.
Look at your spending with a critical eye. What could you realistically eliminate? What are your real needs? What do you need to reprioritize? Small daily purchases can add up quickly.
Analyse what is spent on subscription services, fast food, coffee, bottled water, shoes, clothes, gym membership and gear, house plants, manicures, pedicures, tattoos, haircuts and colour, lottery tickets, toys for children, etc.
Ask your spouse to join you in tracking all of your spending for the next 30 days. When Ann and I did this years ago, we found that recording each dollar spent made us more aware of our actions. We realized that we had some costly habits. Write down your expenses. Don’t leave anything off your list so that you know where your money is really going.
After 30 days, come together and share what you learn. It may only take a few days before a heightened awareness sets in. Prayerfully discuss what you could sacrifice for six months or a year. I suggest you gently educate your spouse on the long-term benefits. Can you agree to get the help of a mentor or come under the accountability of trusted friends? How about planning a reward when reaching your goal? You can likely cut back on your spending 25% by just changing some of your habits.
Reducing spending builds the habit of saving. With the help of automatic payments or direct debits, people learn to live without. The possibilities once you reduce your spending can include:
- Building an emergency fund
- Paying off debt
- Saving for retirement
- Giving more generously
- Having funds for a move, a business, education, holidays, births, deaths, etc.
We enter marriage with a philosophy of money. Most often, we marry an opposite. The goal is uniting around God’s principles regarding our finances. Pray about how to lovingly communicate with your spouse. Treat him/her with respect and love so you can make progress. My desire is to see God’s people free and marriages united, strong, and thriving. We must recognize the errors in what the world has taught us about finances and have our minds renewed by God’s truth.