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The Family and Your Spending: Spouses and Significant Others

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Donell EdwardsDonell Edwards, Blogger

About Donell Edwards: Donell Edwards is President of CWR Media and is also founder and publisher of The College World Reporter (CWR) magazine and CWR World News & Information Service.  He is also a professional speaker, freelance writer, and entrepreneur.



Know Your Money
Monday – March 24, 2014

SPECIAL Family Spending Series
The Family and Your Spending:  Spouses and Significant Others
By Donell Edwards

This week we present a special series on the impact of the family on spending.  Today’s blog is the first in the series and focuses on the impact of spouses and significant others on family spending.  Tuesday we will discuss children, Wednesday parents and grandparents, and Thursday relatives and extended family.

I am not a marriage counselor or a family counselor, but I do know the effect that family members can have on spending, and the importance of recognizing how family members may influence spending and what to do when that influence causes problems.

Many experts in the field of marriage and family counseling agree that differences over money is the leading cause of marriage problems and divorce.  So it is imperative to overcome this problem before any progress can be made to better manage spending.

Some researchers feel that the problem is more pronounced in two income families where each partner may feel that he or she has the right to do whatever they want with money they have earned.  This can lead to a “mine” and “yours” mentality when it comes to possessions that should be shared instead of viewing objects as belonging to “us” and as “ours”.

Although “secret spending”, “secret credit accounts”, “secret checking and savings accounts”, and other hidden spending activities can and do occur in one income families, many researchers believe they are more prevalent in two income families. 

If there is no communication and cooperation regarding family spending and the family budget, regardless of how much money a couple may make or their financial status, uncontrolled spending will eventually result in financial disaster.

Another problem caused by spouses and significant others in regard to family spending is when the dominant mate manipulates or coerces the less dominant mate into spending on extravagant vacations, expensive vehicles, designer clothing, a luxurious home in an exclusive area, or other purchases to maintain a lifestyle the family cannot afford, or because the dominant mate just likes really nice things.

Power Struggle Between a Man and a Woman

The time to act is before the family is too deep in debt that there is no way out.  However, if no action is taken until then, everyone in the family has to adjust, everyone has to sacrifice to get the family back on solid financial footing.

I learned this the hard way after I lost my career position with IBM.  We had grown accustomed to a relatively comfortable lifestyle.  I did not want my wife and children to feel the pressure that I was under, so for as long as I could I tried to shield them from what was happening.  Although they knew that I no longer had a job or any  income other than the severance pay I received and later unemployment, they had no idea how bad things were because I wanted them to continue as normally as possible.

My father wisely recognized what was happening and told me that in a financial crisis, everyone in the family has to sacrifice.  That was difficult for me to accept, but I had to communicate with my family and make them aware of the severity of our situation, and prepare them for the worst possible scenario, and ask for their cooperation to make adjustments and sacrifices.

So, whether the family gets into financial difficulty through poor decisions, the influence of a dominant mate, or some unexpected change in family circumstances like the loss of employment or an extended illness, everyone in the family must adjust and make sacrifices.

To ensure financial success for the family mates must talk honestly and openly about their finances on a regular basis.  Each mate must have the opportunity to express his or her views about expenses, spending, income, and the family budget.  Decisions should be made together rather than unilaterally.  Even if it is agreed that one mate will handle the family budget, there must still be regular communication and disclosure between both parties about how the family finances are being managed.  The objective for both parties involved should be to communicate openly and honestly with each other to move forward together with a workable solution that both agree to.

However, what happens when there is no cooperation, when both mates cannot come to an agreement, when one mate refuses to adjust and sacrifice and insists on having their way?  When things get to this point it may be necessary to consult a financial counselor.  If all efforts fail in trying to communicate and work out a plan that is acceptable to both parties, it may be necessary to move forward alone.  This may involve limiting or eliminating financial support for things the mate that is trying to be the peacemaker once provided.

These are just a few of the ways that spouses and significant others can influence family spending in a negative way.  And I want to emphasize once more that I am not a marriage counselor nor am I a family specialist, but it is very necessary to have this assessment in order to better understand how to manage family finances.

Are You A Spendaholic?  Send Us Your Confessions:
If you would like to share with our readers how “bad” spending habits have affected you, anonymously or otherwise, for our upcoming special, “Confessions Of Spendaholics,” please send your experience to comments@knowyourmoneyglobal.com.

Suggested Reading:
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3 Financial Lies That Guarantee Divorce

Money Arguments Are the Top Predictor Of Divorce

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