‘Nagging wife’ or smart saver? Stop the fights

Ask NJMoneyHelp

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Q. My husband overspends on just about everything. While I save the max to my 401(k), he doesn’t save. Our credit is okay but I want to get him to spend less and start saving. How?
— Wife

A. This is a tough one.

Your spouse is your life partner, but if you’re not working for the same goals, your money could become a fight-starter rather than a means to an end.

This is vital whether you have a long time to save for retirement or you’re close to your golden years.

“The older people get the tougher it is for them to change their ways,” said Jerry Lynch, a certified financial planner with JFL Total Wealth Management in Boonton.

He said it’s very difficult for someone to understand the urgency of saving for the future unless you have a personal situation where you see someone older who still has to work.

“If you are 80 and you work but don’t have to, it’s fun,” he said. “If you are working because you have to be, not so much.”

He suggests you work on this slowly.

“Money is a very emotional topic and it can cause many fights in a marriage,” he said. “My advice is small changes over time can make a big difference.”

One strategy could be to sit down with a certified financial planner to have a conversation about your finance future.

“Often it is better when it comes from me as opposed to you being the `nagging wife,’” Lynch said.

Next, he recommends you take as much money off the table as possible. For example, if you finish a car payment, redirect the monthly payments into a investment account.

“Set it up as an automatic payment so the money is not available and is invested immediately,” he said.

You could also set up a bank account on the opposite side of town, choosing one that’s not open at night or on weekends, without an ATM card for the account. Have money go directly from a paycheck into the account to make it harder to access.

Next, get rid of credit cards and only spend cash.

“Take the cards, put them in a Ziplock bag, fill it with water and then freeze it,” he said. “You can still access the cards, but you have to defrost them. Generally that gets rid of impulse buys.”

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NJMoneyHelp.com presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.