I keep reading that Americans are spending less and saving more these days. However, what I am seeing is different. I am seeing an increase in the number of divorcing couples with high credit card debt or lack of wealth despite a healthy annual income. Consistently, the spending has been in the pursuit of living the the lifestyle to which they want to become accustomed.
It is not unusual for me to see a couple who has been spending nearly 150% of their after-tax income. Where are they getting the funds to keep this up? They have high credit card debts on several credit cards. They have second mortgages. They have no emergency fund or savings of any size. They have neglected to save for retirement.
Of course, they can’t keep this going forever. And perhaps the realization of this fact is one of the catalysts for their spilt-up. As expected, one spouse says the other is the spender. But when I examine their spending history, it is apparent that both are very much involved in the shopping. The interesting point is that they each feel their spending is valid and necessary but perceive their spouse’s spending to be over the top. Further discussion usually reveals that these spouses were not communicating with each other about their spending and their financial goals.
Some people might think the overspending is the primary cause of the divorce. I wonder if perhaps it goes deeper than that. Perhaps their difference in values and their inability to fully communicate are more the reasons for the divorce and the financial situation is just the last straw.