The following is today’s The Meaning of Lila comic strip. You can read this strip and many others for free at Comics.com.
Lila is a profligate spender who is deep in debt. Of course, she refuses to acknowledge the problem and continually finds ways of justifying her irrational spending habits.
This strips also highlights an important factor in frugality: the people around you. It is extremely difficult to go from spendthrift to frugal, and it is so much more so if your spouse or friends keep their bad spending habits. It would be the equivalent of trying to quit smoking when your husband or wife is a chain smoker and your friends keep offering you cigarettes. You cannot do it alone.
What can you do? Friends are a bit easier to deal with. You will have to tell them that you are cutting back and that you want to spend less and save more. You will also have to change the ways that you socialize. If you and your friends meet at expensive restaurants, propose having them over to your place for a dinner party. If you and your friends always meet at the mall, propose a walk in the park or activities that keep you away from the temptation of spending. Yes, you may lose some friends or others may drift away, but that may be a small price to pay to avoid your financial Armageddon.
The real problem is what to do about your spouse. Divorce is not really an option most times. They do get quite messy emotionally and quite expensive. However, you will have to talk to your husband or your wife and see if they are willing to work at it together. If you are lucky, they will understand the need for prudent financial planning. If you are less fortunate, they will refuse to change. What then?
If you have a spendthrift spouse, you may have to take some drastic measures including having separate bank accounts. This will result, of course, in a lot of negotiations and some give-and-take (and more than likely a few heated arguments along the way), but you must find a way to deal with it. It may, of course, require you to do more. You should do the shopping and cook to cut waste. You will have to try and cut back on any impulse purchases your spouse makes. You will have to be vigilant as to your finances and explain continually why you should not be spending more.
Simply put, it will be difficult, very difficult. However, do you have a choice? I don’t think so. Sadly, it may lead to a divorce in the long run, but you are much better off trying to settle the family finances before that happens. The fewer financial difficulties you have before the divorce, the fewer you will have after the divorce, and the easier it will be for you to start your life over as a frugal single person.