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What To Do When Your Spouse Overspends Using Credit Cards

What To Do When Your Spouse Overspends Using Your Credit Cards

Talking about money can be difficult, especially when you or your spouse overspend. People often feel guilty, ashamed, and defensive about the topic. The problem can get worse if you avoid these conversations. 

How to Approach the Conversation About Credit Card Overspending

Self-Reflection and Preparation

Take some time to reflect before starting the conversation. Clarify your feelings and concerns without blaming your spouse. Understand your financial goals and how overspending impacts them. Instead of a confrontation, prepare yourself emotionally for a cons tructive dialogue.

Choose the Right Time and Setting

Timing is crucial when discussing something as sensitive as credit card debt or overspending. Schedule a Money Date. Pick a time when you and your spouse are relaxed, free from distractions, and in a low-stress environment. Ensure privacy and choose a comfortable setting for an open conversation without interruptions.

How to Have the Conversation About Credit Card Overspending

Approach with Empathy and Understanding

When you start the conversation, be empathic and understanding. Acknowledge that overspending happens to everyone and express your concern for their well-being. Don't use judgmental language or accusations that make people defensive.

Credit card balances
Chart Created by CNBC

Focus on Shared Goals

Frame the conversation around your shared financial goals and aspirations. Emphasize how overspending on credit cards hinders your progress toward these goals, whether saving for a house, retirement, or a dream vacation. Highlight the importance of working together as a team to overcome financial challenges.

Practice Active Listening

Be attentive to your spouse's perspective without interrupting or dismissing it. Encourage them to share their reasons for overspending without fear of criticism. Validate their emotions and demonstrate your commitment to understanding their point of view.


Related: Our Transition to Marriage Toolkit includes details explained by leading experts about the above strategies. Click here for a free preview. 


Provide Concrete Examples and Impact

Give specific examples of recent purchases or credit card statements to show how much is spent. Describe how it affects your financial health, like increasing debt, accruing interest, or jeopardizing your credit score. Highlight the seriousness of the issue by making the consequences tangible using a tool such as a credit card minimum payment calculator.

Collaborate on Solutions

Switch from problem-solving to solution-focused brainstorming. Discuss strategies to curb overspending, like creating a realistic budget, setting spending limits, or using cash instead of credit cards. Both of you must buy. Including your spouse's proposed solutions is a step in the right direction. 



Five Conversation Prompts to Begin the Conversation

"I'm stressed about our credit card debt. How do you feel about it, and how can we work together to address it?"

"Let's review our recent credit card statements together. Are there any purchases we could have avoided or should reconsider for the future?"

"What triggers or situations lead us to overspend on our credit cards? How can we avoid or manage those triggers in the future?"

"Let's brainstorm some strategies for paying off our credit card debt faster. What sacrifices or changes are we willing to make to accelerate the process?"

"Are there any specific budgeting tools or apps that could help us better track our spending and stay within our means?"

After the Conversation About Credit Card Overspending

Establish Open Communication Channels

Reinforce the importance of ongoing communication and transparency. Agree to regular money dates to review spending, assess progress, and adjust strategies as needed. Foster an environment where you both feel comfortable raising concerns or seeking support without fear of judgment.

Seek Professional Help if Needed

If overspending persists despite your efforts to address it, consider seeking assistance from a financial counselor or therapist specializing in couples' finances. A neutral third party can provide objective guidance, facilitate productive discussions, and offer personalized strategies tailored to your unique situation.

Click here to search for a financial therapist.

Celebrate Progress and Milestones

Acknowledge and celebrate small victories and milestones along the way to financial recovery. Whether paying off a credit card balance, sticking to a budget for a month, or resisting impulse purchases, recognize and appreciate each other's efforts toward financial discipline.

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