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Feeling the pinch

My wife stopped working before our baby was born six months ago, and is planning to stay at home for at least another year. We need to tighten our belts , but she is still spending as though she is working, and I'm worried I won't be able to support everyone without the extra salary coming in.I've tried to bring it up with her, but we just end up rowing – how can we talk about it without one of us going off the deep end?

Don't blow your stack when it comes to cash matters. It can be a sensitive subject for conversation at the best of times, but if you're both run ragged as new parents then emotions can quickly hot up. Give your wife a hard time about her shopping habits and you simply risk leaving her feeling embarrassed or on the defensive. Either way, you know that a row isn't the right way forward.

The key is in finding a calm time to talk, and then let the facts speak for themselves. So, rather than going in with a criticism, take a look at your incoming and outgoing finances. If your pockets are empty long before payday then write down the sums and allow your wife to recognise for herself that things need to change. Once she's accepted this, agree on a realistic budget. Make sure it's something you can both stick to, and be prepared to review things every now and then.

Of course, asking your missus to curb her shopping habit is bound to be a bitter pill for her. You don't want to come out of this looking like Scrooge, so why not set aside a small sum on a regular basis for a special treat? This way, you'll both have something to work towards that'll benefit your relationship as much as your bank balance.

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