Love & Money: Guarding Against a Spendthrift Spouse

When it comes to romantic relationships, opposites often attract. Unfortunately, that can also be true when it comes to money personalities: The saver and the spender often join forces in matrimony. If you find yourself in a situation where your spouse is starting to spend more and more money, potentially putting your financial future in jeopardy, have a talk and make it clear that this behavior needs to stop. But if the problem persists and is getting out of control, you’ll have to do more than talk; it’s time to take action. The worst thing you can do is sit by and do nothing. First and foremost, protect your assets. Here’s a checklist for what you need to do right now:

Manage bank accounts. If you have a joint bank account, open your own account and deposit your money there.

Manage credit cards. If you have any accounts where you are the primary cardholder and your spouse is an authorized user, remove his or her name. The same goes if you have a joint credit card. This will prevent your spouse from making any new charges.

Check your credit reports. If you don’t usually check your credit reports, now is the time. Go through each one and see if your spouse has run up large credit card balances on shared accounts so that you can address it head on. You should also check to see if your spouse has opened any new accounts in your name without your knowledge. The more you know, the better you’ll be able to handle the situation.

Get help. See to it that your spouse receives professional help if the spending continues to get worse. Rather than pointing fingers, work together toward resolving the problem and rebuilding trust.

For more on this topic, come back to each Wednesday for a new Love & Money post.

Sheiresa Ngo is the consumer affairs editor at Black Enterprise.