Ask Alma: Wife’s spending out of control


— Dear Alma,

I love my wife and we have a great marriage. She’s beautiful, funny, spontaneous and easy to get along with. I can handle her good and her bad except for one thing. She spends like crazy! Her clothes fill up two closets in our home and extends to the basement, depending on the season. She has shoes she’s never worn and clothes that still have the tags on them. At some point we need to save towards our retirement and other obligations. I’m tired of living paycheck to paycheck to vacation back to paycheck. I’ve talked to her about it and she promised she’d stop her outrageous spending, but lately I’ve found bags of clothes in the guest room closet and the trunk of her car. Obviously, she’s still spending. I can also see the charges that continue to pop up on our credit card statement. I can’t believe she’s trying to hide what she’s buying now. How can I insist that she stop spending short of threatening a divorce? I love my wife and I don’t want a divorce, be we can’t go on this way. Any suggestions?

Name withheld

For the Love of Money ~ you know I’m pattin’ my feet humming the O’Jays, right! It’s helping me get my mind fixed and ready to answer your question, LOL. Some say it’s the root of all evil, money that is, I’m not sure if I agree. I think people are the root of all evil and money is an accessory. What I also know foshow is, couples have a hard time collaborating when it comes to money…. and sex….sex and money, Honey, the more you get the more you want, that’s what a preacher once told me. But I digress, LMBO.

An addiction to spending is a tough place to be. If she’s hiding bags as you say, I see it safe to assume, she’s lost control or she thinks you really don’t mind her spending.

The two of you obviously need to start a household budget. You also need to discuss who will oversee it and how it will be determined. Will you put everything in one account, or will you opt for a mine-yours and ours bundle? There is no right or wrong way to do it. As long as you’re in agreement on what’s best for the two of you. Also agree to allow for spending money and you both have to stay within those allocated funds. That part requires a commitment, a bond of trust that can’t be broken.

It won’t be easy, you two need a serious sit down. Lay all your facts and concerns on the table. This is not a scolding regarding her spending, but a joint discussion about your future. Figure out and be honest where she lands between overspending and compulsion. If she’s a shopaholic, please, seek professional help. If she’s overspending because she thinks you guys have money to burn, it’s time to come up with a financial strategy.

There’s an amazingly thorough money management column, written by Rodney Brooks for USA Today. He also has a book on Amazon titled, Is a Million Dollars Enough? It would benefit you guys to check it out. Again, agree to write down your financial goals and commit to them. I love that you stressed the love you have for your wife. Take a lesson from Rodney and learn new ways and methods, together, on how to manage your money. Good luck!


Alma Gill’s newsroom experience spans more than 25 years, including various roles at USA Today, Newsday and the Washington Post. Email questions to: Follow her on Facebook at “Ask Alma” and twitter @almaaskalma.