How to Get Along With a Thrifty Spouse

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Do you have a thrifty spouse but don't know how to get along? Here are 5 ways to come together to find balance to make both happy.

When you and your partner don’t agree, it can cause conflict. On the other hand, marriage is not a one-way-street and two different people will not agree on everything even if you do share similar qualities.

Money is a common reason why couples fight whether it’s over how money is spent, saved, earned or managed. Sometimes opposites attract, so don’t be surprised if you find out that your spouse is thrifty while you have a spending habit or the other way around.

When I first met my husband, we were both spenders but I was more conscious about it. Once I started living frugally, I noticed that it slightly bothered him because he didn’t fully understand the personal journey I was on.

Now, my whole household is frugal and thrifty and we love it. Leading by example, I was able to bring my family over to my side but I understand that isn’t so easy for everyone.

If you have a thrifty spouse that you feel may be going overboard, here are a few helpful tips to keep in mind when trying to keep the peace and get along.

Realize Where They Are Coming From


I personally don’t see anything wrong with being thrifty or even extremely frugal, but when I look at television shows like Extreme Cheapskates (that profile people who are willing do anything and everything to save money), I see that sometimes a line has to be drawn and we all can’t be like the man who decided to quit money and spend nothing.

It’s important to realize where your spouse is coming from first because it’s probably from a good place. One of you may be focusing on the future just a bit too much while the other is focusing on enjoying the present as much as possible.

There is a way to find a healthy balance between the two. I think what frustrated me the most when I was trying to push my thrifty ways on my husband was that I felt he wasn’t listening or trying to see my side of the equation, so I pushed harder which wasn’t the best thing to do.

If you let your spouse know that you understand where they’re coming from, it will put them more at ease and open up the opportunity to have a healthy dialogue together about your views.

Try to understand their mindset so you can come from a place that doesn’t involve using criticism, blame and judgment to get your point across.

Explain How Being Too Frugal Could Pose a Problem


Like I said, I’m all about frugality. It allows me to manage my money better and become more financially stable. When it comes to extreme frugality, however, my husband and I might not be on board and that’s just our choice.

Our spending and money management habits have a lot to do with how we were raised and our past experiences with money. You may see money as plentiful and your spouse may see it as scarce.

It’s important to develop boundaries regarding what would be considered too frugal and make you unhappy then ask your partner to respect that.

When it comes to being thrifty, it can help to stay away from the fine line that differentiates cheap from frugal. Being cheap is all about spending less sometimes at any cost, while being frugal is more about prioritizing your spending so you can live the life you truly want to live.

When frugality turns into a competition and you’re giving up things you value just to save money, explain to your partner how this might not be the best route to go.

Embrace the Benefits of Their Habits


Being thrifty is not all that bad. Consider some of your spouse’s habits as a blessing and not a curse. There are much worse things your spouse can be doing with money like hiding it or gambling it away.

Try to embrace the benefits and realize that your household can save money due to your spouse’s thriftiness. Think about all the financial turmoil you’ll be avoiding with a thrifty spouse, like bankruptcy, foreclosure, debt, no savings and so forth.

Let him or her know you appreciate their efforts; eventually, you may find yourself wanting to adopt some of their habits like cutting back on work lunches or saving money on your favorite foods at the grocery store.



Finally, you’ll have to compromise. If you appreciate your thrifty spouse but don’t necessarily want to fully adopt their entire way of doing things, you’ll need to find a happy medium.

It’s important to make sure each person’s views are being honored and respected. To loosen the reigns, you and your spouse can each hold onto a guilty pleasure that is something you each enjoy but isn’t necessarily frugal.

Some couples set a ‘spending allowance’ which includes a fixed amount each person can spend every month no questions asked.

Also, when it comes to consciously saving money and being thrifty, you can decide on a level you both feel comfortable with committing to whether that includes shopping around for the better deal before making a major purchase, couponing for a certain number of hours each week or being more energy efficient.

Try to embrace low-cost ways to entertain yourselves that don’t necessarily feel ‘super cheap’. My husband and I both like to get out of the house so we take turns finding affordable and free ways to have fun.

If you want to go on an outing that could be costly, be sure to mention it to your spouse ahead of time so you can save up and prepare for the expense.

Making Sure You’re Both Happy


Compromise may very well be the key to getting along with a thrifty spouse, but first you need to empathize, set realistic boundaries and embrace the benefits of their habits and mindset.

Open the lines of communication by being willing to talk and listen so you both can reach a happy medium and enjoy the benefits of being thrifty without going overboard.


Do you consider yourself the thrifty one or the spender in your relationship? How have things changed over time and have you ever had to compromise in regards to how you manage money together?

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Choncé is a freelance writer who’s obsessed with frugality and passionate about helping others increase their savings rate, eliminate debt, and work toward financial stability. She chronicles her journey with balancing motherhood, work, and finances on her blog, MyDebt


  • Amanda @ centsiblyrich says:

    After 19 years of marriage (23 years together), it’s funny how our money management has evolved. Neither one of us has ever been a spender, per se, but we have made different spending choices in the past. Having shared financial goals is an important factor to the way we spend and save money – we’re typically on the same page, so we can reach our goals more quickly.

  • Andy Hill says:

    Great article! The “leading by example” approach helped me quite a bit. Also, I did my best to speak to “the why” instead of “the how” because paying off debt is just not sexy (to some people).

    • Chonce says:

      Remembering the ‘why’ is always important because it can motivate you and your partner and help bring your both together.

  • Glenn @ TheCasualCapitalist says:

    The “spending allowance” works great for us, (because am probably the bigger spender).

    It’s a neat compromise which keeps my spending in check and ensures our family finances don’t go haywire.

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