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Steve Bucci, the Bankrate.com Debt Adviser7 steps to stop an overspending spouse

Dear Debt Adviser,
My wife is spending us into bankruptcy. I need a legal means to separate our credit without having to divorce her.
-- Frank

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Dear Frank,
I am glad to hear you say you would like to avoid divorce, because, if you don't like overspending, you are going to hate divorce! Adding a divorce to a financial problem is similar to adding gasoline to a fire. It tends to make things much hotter for both parties involved -- very rarely better.

I do have a question for you before we move forward with the next part of your question. Have you sat down and spoken with your wife about how much she is spending and what it is doing to your shared financial situation? If the answer is no, give it a try.

I mention sitting down, because I can still recall my dad waving bills in the air while standing in front of the heap of papers he kept on the dining room table and admonishing each of us as we walked into and out of the room about our unbridled spending. It was not as effective as he would have liked. So, as a starting point, sit down together. My experience tells me that if you aren't in sync on spending, poor communication may be at the root of the problem.

Below are some suggestions to be used in conjunction with a sit-down with the wife that may help address your financial concerns.

7 steps to protect yourself from an overspending spouse:

Now that you feel more protected from your spouse's spending, you will need to begin to think about how you and your spouse can stay married and not have money come between you. Try to set some joint financial goals and agree on how you will reach them. Sometimes having an appealing goal will help a spender rein in the spending and save for the goal.

If your wife loves and respects you more than she does her plastic, this should all work out. 

Good luck!

The Debt Adviser, Steve Bucci, is the president of Money Management International Financial Education Foundation and the author of "Credit Repair Kit for Dummies." Visit MMI for additional debt advice or to ask a question of the Debt Adviser, go to the "Ask the Experts" page and select "debt" as the topic.

Bankrate.com's corrections policy -- Posted: Nov. 3, 2006
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