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How To Get Your Spouse To Be More Frugal

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You’re frugal and he’s not. She spends and you save. It’s a conundrum and it’s wreaking havoc on your love story. You don’t want money to be a constant battle, so you want to know – need to know – how to get your spouse to be more frugal.

I get it. While my husband and I have similar ideologies about finances, we have not always been on the exact same page. He tends to spend a little more freely, while I have a penchant for squirreling away funds.

I was the frugal wife and I wanted him to be the frugal husband – and we did not always see eye-to-eye on how to spend money.

Due to our differences, there have been times when we have struggled – and we have certainly made mistakes. However, through communication and respectful understanding, we have learned how to be more frugal – and how to deal with money and marriage without major meltdowns.

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Relationship Finances

Before we get to my list of ways to get your spouse to be more frugal, I want to get one thing straight about dealing with partner finances.

I am not advocating that you attempt to change your partner; that is an unhealthy relationship goal. Instead, getting your husband or wife to be more frugal is about encouraging healthy money habits, stressing the importance of being thrifty and promoting financial responsibility.

Furthermore, being a dictator about money in a marriage is detrimental. How you handle finances as a couple needs to be determined in agreement. This is important to keep in mind as you consider how you will get your wife or husband to save more and and spend less.

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I came up with my list of how to get your wife or husband to be more frugal from my own personal experiences of dealing with finance in marriage. They worked for us – and they might work for you, too.

#1 Set a Goal Together

“Couples that save together stay together”. Sounds nice, doesn’t it? However, saving just for the sake of saving can feel like a pointless and dull exercise in not-getting-what-I-want-when-I-want-it. To ensure both husband and wife participate in the savings, set a money goal that you create together.

Your goal can be a short-term goal, like saving for a frugal vacation or new TV, or it could be a great big, grand goal, like buying a house or becoming financially independent. Regardless, the prize for your efforts needs to be something that you both equally and truly want.

Keep in mind that your financial goals do not have to be a materialistic possession. Your goal could be to ditch your debt by paying off your credit cards and your mortgage (because being debt free is fabulous!). You can also set long term goals to save for an epic, romantic vacation or amass enough cash for a complete lifestyle change.

When my husband and I set a goal to save enough money to quit our jobs and travel, it absolutely changed our mindset about money. Being equally dedicated to reaching the finance goal got us on the same page and propelled us to be more frugal and change our relationship with money altogether. With a big goal in clear sight, adopting more frugal ways became much easier…for both of us.

#2 Do The Math

There is nothing quite as convincing as seeing numbers in black and white. We often think we know how much we spend, but we don’t really know until we tally up the amounts. When you crunch the numbers, you have undisputable facts of your finances – and it can help get your family finances in order.

Run the numbers of what you both spend. Even if you are the frugal spouse, you might reveal a few of your own unsavory habits when it comes to spending money. Once you know where you are financially, you can come up with ideas together about where you can cut expenditures and start saving.

Use your numbers to create a budget together. With a budget, you can decide as a couple where your money should go.

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#3 Make a Visible Money Chart of Savings

Seeing is believing – and tracking savings can make a freewheeling spender become a believer in frugality.

If your spouse is not on board with being frugal, use a savings chart – and post it where you spouse will see it. Let them watch your savings grow.

Having a visual representation of every dollar that you save makes the idea of saving more tangible. When your spouse can see what you are saving, it might encourage them to start saving, too.

Create your own chart, use my fun Savings Trackers or get download a free Savings Tracker here.

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#4 Create a Spending Allowance

One of the problems with trying to get your spouse to spend less money is that the overspending spouse can feel a sense of deprivation and loss of control.

Try flipping the process upside down. Instead of making it about savings, create an allowance that they can spend as they wish. The ‘Fun Money’ can be a fixed dollar amount or a percentage of income – and it should be a number that you are both comfortable with.

This is a key element of the 50/30/20 budget method presented in one of my favorite financial books by Elizabeth Warden, All Your Worth.

The money in your spouse’s ‘allowance’ can be spent absolutely any way that they want. Whether they blow it on lotto tickets or spend it on fine dining is irrelevant…and no one else’s business. It is their money to spend as they please…but when it is gone, it is gone.

#5 Communicate about Money Regularly

Communication is key to managing money as a couple – and it provides a direct route to a more frugal lifestyle. Conversations need to be open and there needs to be understanding and respect from both sides. Dialogue should never dissolve into the Blame Game and there should be no secrets.

Be open about your Money Numbers and talk about your personal financial resolutions.

As a couple, my husband and I communicate about money almost daily. It’s part of our routine – and it’s out in the open. We both know what comes in, what goes out; we agree on when we can splurge and where we can cut.

Talking about money is so taboo – even in the closest relationships. If money conversations are an obstacle in your relationship, try setting a time – a monthly meeting, so to speak – to begin the conversation.

#6 Challenge Each Other

The idea of saving money is exciting to me, but not everyone feels the same as I do. In fact, some people think being frugal is a downright bore.

If your partner is uninterested in frugality and is bored with the idea of saving money, up the ante. Create a challenge.

Make a competition to see who can go longest without buying coffeeshop coffee or find the best frugal fashion deals. Participate in a savings game, like a No Spend Week or Food Challenge.

Join forces as a couple and tackle DIY projects that you would normally hire out to complete. Get quotes from professionals and calculate your savings by doing it yourself.

When you create a challenge, you can build excitement…which can transform into a more frugal mindset.

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#7 Find Frugal Activities You Enjoy Together

A solid way to become a more frugal couple is to partake in free or cheap entertainment. Forego the expensive date night and seek affordable hobbies and activities for your time together.

Instead of going out to dinner, have a picnic at the park. Rather than the Saturday night movie or play, go to the cheaper Sunday matinee. Skip the pricey hotel and spend the night in a tent in your own backyard.

Track the money that you save by finding cheap date night alternatives and free fitness options to use as momentum toward becoming more frugal.

#8 Give Gift Giving a Pass

Exchanging gifts with your spouse may be a way to express love…but, in my opinion, it’s an unnecessary expenditure. Agreeing to give a pass to buying lavish gifts for each other could be helpful in getting your spouse to get on board with being frugal.

Whether you decide to set spending limits on gifts, get creative with frugal gifts or eliminate the tradition completely, your spouse might just realize that having money in the bank is better than having stuff.  

#9 Make Spending Decisions Together

Spending decisions should not be left to one person – or denied to one person. Instead, collaborate about how you will spend your money. This holds true even if you each have your own savings account.

One way to do this is to initiate a Spending Threshold that requires a joint decision before making a purchase over a certain dollar amount. Not only will it require a moment of pause-before-purchase, but together you may be able to come up with an alternative to buying the item (like borrowing from a friend or making do with what you already have).  

#10 Commit to Making Changes Together

One of the common mistakes people make when trying to get their partner to spend less and save more is that they only expect their partner makes the changes.

A good way to help your partner start leaning toward frugality is to commit to making changes together. You may already be frugal, but you are likely not perfect (and you may actually be cheap or stingy). Rather than pointing out your significant other’s faults, accept your own shortcomings and agree to make some changes, too.

Some couples actually write a contract of expectations and make a commitment. We have not done this, but if you think it will help your spouse become more frugal, then try it!

#11 Be an Example of Frugal Success (and Shout It Out!)

When it comes to frugal living, actions are louder than words. If you want your husband or wife to stop spending so much money, then lead by example.

For instance, if your spouse spends too much money on weekday lunches, create your frugal brown bag lunch meal plan for the week and calculate the cost – then share the details of how much you save by not eating out with your spouse.

In fact, don’t let any of your money-saving victories go unnoticed. If you repurposed an item in order to save a bit of money, show it off. When your couponing pays off at the grocery store, dish out the details of how much you saved. If you decide to sell your car and use public transport, tally up the savings and share the details.

Be vocal. Share your frugal success stories and celebrate your savings.

#12 Start Small and Acknowledge the Progress

Dealing with finances in a relationship can be trying – especially so when a spendthrift and frugalite are coupled together. However, all hope is not lost.

A spendthrift can become thrifty if they can see for themselves the benefits of frugality. You can help encourage your partner to learn how to save money by being respectful, understanding and supportive.

Start small and don’t expect changes to happen overnight. It’s a process. When you notice progress, applaud the efforts and celebrate the win.

We Want To Know: How do get your spouse to be more frugal? What has worked for you…and what has not? Tell us your tips for frugal living in the comments!

Interested in more of my Life and Entertainment Tips? I round them all up on the Frugal Lifestyle page!

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