Irrational and impulsive spending is a byproduct of bipolar; before a spouse’s compulsion to spend harms the family bank account, try these financial responsibility strategies:
Work it out together
During a stable time, sit down with your spouse and work through a strategic financial plan. Consider consulting with a financial advisor to help with both short– and long-term goals, and also discuss what can be done to head off any irrational money decisions before they occur. It’s certainly a delicate issue and a meeting of this kind can bring up past feelings of guilt. However, it’s a plan that needs to be decided on together and something you can both feel good about.
Remove the temptation
You might consider having an agreement between
you and your spouse about using certain Internet sites—whether it’s for
shopping, gambling or pornography. Many find it easier to just erase the
temptation altogether. Also, make sure to remove any saved banking info and
credit cards from retailer websites. Making the person take the extra steps of getting
their card and entering it every time he or she wants to buy something
Change the way money is spent
your partner is having a difficult time controlling their spending, another
option is to go the cash-only route. This removes the temptation to put
anything on credit and prohibits costly items from being purchased. Alternatively,
as a couple, you can look at having a credit card with a modest credit limit.
Some families have one bank account for bills only and a separate account for
personal expenses, but with just enough funds in it for one month.
Head off poor decisions
Since prevention is key to heading off
irrational money decisions before they occur, it may be wise to work with a
trustworthy financial consultant. You may decide with your spouse that it’s
best to establish a trust that requires your approval for any spending beyond a
specific amount. Another idea is to keep ownership of assets, such as a house
or other property, in your own name. This would help protect against claims from
creditors. Financial advisors also recommend the family maintain a detailed
record of spending so that each person can see what expenditures are being
Know the warning signs
Everyone is different, which is why you and your spouse will need to talk about things you know are red flags that trigger mania. Sometimes the warning signs are subtle, like your partner suddenly buying gifts for you or other family members and friends. Watch for signs of a shift in mood, especially with undertones of hypomania, which can sometimes foreshadow spending sprees. It’s important to have a plan in place for notifying your spouse of these mood shifts and discussing your concerns.
We asked financial planners who have experience advising relatives or clients with bipolar disorder for ways to guard against overspending during mania. Annie McQuilken, who is based in Fairport, New York, had these tips: #1 Bank on it Have one bank account for bills such as rent and utilities, and leave the checkbook for that...
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