My Partner’s Spending Habits Are Draining Our Bank Account. What Should I Do?

Canadian singer Chantal Kreviazuk dishes out some tough love and answers your most important life questions in her advice column for Chatelaine.

Fight About Money

Photo, iStock.

My husband and I have separate bank accounts and split up paying the bills. But he never has any “extra” money left over to kick into savings for retirement or big purchases, which doesn’t jive with how much he makes. I know he spends a ton on clothes, shoes, all that stuff. It drives me crazy but every time I ask him about it, he says that he works hard, the bills get paid, so what’s my problem? We agreed to have separate accounts from the start, so we wouldn’t fight about money – but now we’re fighting about money. What should I do?

I can relate to this life! I am always in a different cycle – in my little incubator creating, which can mean a dry spell, then performing, and when it rains I’m lucky enough that sometimes it pours.
I Creeped My Husband’s Texts And Am Pretty Sure He’s Cheating. What Should I Do?I Creeped My Husband’s Texts And Am Pretty Sure He’s Cheating. What Should I Do?
But my husband and I are always conscious of the fact that I may depend on him to bring home the bacon to speak, some times more than others, and vice versa. With that kind of fluctuation, our end-goals need to be aligned.

If saving money is a priority for you and your partner is not respecting that fact, then I think it’s time for you to absolutely dig your heels.

Sit down and talk openly about when you each want to retire. Make a chart, if possible, with a financial planner for him to see what you need to put away as a couple and separately each month in order to prepare for it. Then figure out your spending budget, and draw the line! That’s it. You both have X amount of dollars per month for disposable income and the rest is allocated to your retirement fund.

I do think having joint accounts is key to this so you can see what’s what. When the fun money is tapped, it’s tapped. Part of me is inclined to take a hard line and say if he will not comply, his half of the fun money (ie, the extra Gucci money he has become accustomed to spending) will no longer be available to him as it’s going into your own personal retirement fund… you’re no fool and you’re not going to sit back while he blows up your retirement.
This Couple Spent $5,000 In One Week. The Problem? They Always Disagree About MoneyThis Couple Spent $5,000 In One Week. The Problem? They Always Disagree About Money
But this would be a pretty divisive message, so bring in the financial expert to talk this option through before throwing it out there carelessly. They are the experts, and deal with couples in tense situations all the time. They can be more like therapists sometimes!

But they can’t, of course, replace the work an actual couple’s therapist would do, so maybe think about enlisting one of those as well, to help navigate this sticky terrain. Money triggers a lot of stuff from our background. A therapist can help both of you dialogue about your fears and hopes surrounding money. Why is he spending without consideration for you and the future?

These are important questions that could, in the wake of the answers present revelations about his/your very values and childhood traumas. It could help you to have a deeper understanding of each other and bring you closer than ever before. Good luck!

Chantal Kreviazuk is an award-winning singer songwriter. She is married to Our Lady Peace frontman Raine Maida. They have three kids. 

Got a question for Chantal? E-mail us at letters@chatelaine.rogers.com