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So you’ve decided to UPGRADE your financial life and get on a budget, huh? This is one of the BEST decisions you will EVER make with your money. Period.
There’s only one issue.
Your spouse doesn’t seem to care for your money ideas and big plans. They really just want to keep the status quo and not be bothered with a “budget’ or anything of the sort.
But don’t despair, there is help!
I’ve put together 5 tried-and-true tips to ensure you can break through the apathy and get your spouse on board with your awesome budget plans!
Tip 1: At Home Date Night To Discuss Creating A Budget
Put the kids to bed, order some delicious take-out, and crack open a good (budget-friendly) bottle of wine. Make it a relaxing date night, with no pressure. Your spouse may already be reluctant to even discuss finances, so set the mood to bring their guard down.
The only rule for this date night is there is NO POINTING FINGERS about where the money is currently going, and what your goals are. You want to simply start a conversation to talk about where your money is currently being spent, and where you would like it to go.
If your spouse is reluctant to talk about what they spend money on, let them know you would like their input in putting together the budget, and that you are NOT asking them to stop spending money right now.
I highly recommend going through the SMART Budget mini-course to dive into the details of your spending, and then put together a budget that works!
Tip 2: Create A List Of GOALS And DREAMS Together
Sometimes the best approach to talking about money with your spouse is to NOT talk about it.
What I mean is; money is just a tool to achieve your TRUE goals in life. So talk about the end results, and you can always reverse engineer the path to get there.
I suggest setting aside a night to just sit with your spouse and DREAM. Stare at the stars and talk about those big, impossible dreams that you want in life. I love these conversations with my wife, and usually start it with something like “if we won the lottery, what would you do first?”
Then talk about some GOALS you both have. Make sure YOUR SPOUSE gets to talk about their goals first. These can be short-term goals (new clothes, new techy gadget) and long-term goals (debt free, get a new car). Just enjoy planning with them and make sure they feel included in the conversation.
And the most important part? WRITE IT ALL DOWN.
Print out the list and hang it somewhere they can see daily. There is no use getting inspired if it all fizzles out 24 hours later. Keeping a list of your dreams and goals will help get them motivated to get on board with a good money plan to achieve them.
Tip 3: Ask and Listen
Sometimes our spouse doesn’t even know WHY they are not on board with your plan. Sometimes they are just stuck in their habits, and change is SCARY.
Help reveal their fears and doubts by asking some thoughtful, open-ended questions. And here’s the key:
Ask the questions. And then don’t talk. Just listen.
Let the awkward silence linger for a bit. Let the “I don’t know” answer sit there until they think about it a bit more.
You spouse wants to be heard, so just listen.
Here are three simple questions that can help draw out “WHY” they are not on board with your budget yet.
- “What is your biggest money worry/struggle?”
- “Is there anything you want that we are NOT financially working toward?”
- “What are some things you’d love to do? Places you’d like to go?”
Tip 4: Simplify Your Money With Shared Accounts
Nothing builds financial trust more than sharing the same bank account. If you currently have your money separated, there is little hope of getting your spouse on the same page as you financially.
To start, I recommend having a combined checking account that all money gets deposited in to, with debit cards for all regular bills and spending. This not only forces you to have a monthly budget to ensure all expenses are paid, it helps facilitate meaningful conversations about money on the regular.
To make it more fun, I also recommend setting up savings accounts for your goals, and label them (vacation, new car, etc.). This will help you both work together toward the things you want to achieve.
Hint: Make this EASY with CapitalOne 360 Savings Accounts. You can open as many as you’d like, and change the labels any time! This is where we keep our “Savings Buckets”, and it makes saving toward goals simple. Sign up today with THIS LINK and get a $25 bonus after depositing $250.
I recommend bringing this up AFTER the budget meeting and talking about shared goals. This will help ease your spouse into the idea of sharing their earning and spending habits if they don’t already.
This may be a tough sell to a reluctant spouse, but I highly recommend this if you have not combined your money already.
Tip 5: Marriage Counseling
If you’ve tried the above tips, and your spouse will NOT even talk with you about money, I recommend setting up some time with a good marriage counselor to dig a bit deeper. Most likely, the root issue here is NOT about money, but something more, and it’s worth spending the time to find out what that is.
And before you roll your eyes and say “yeah right”, let me say a few words on marriage counseling.
Having been through marriage counseling a few times, I CANNOT RECOMMEND IT HIGHLY ENOUGH! Counseling is the BEST way to work through hard conversations on ANY subject.
Think of it this way:
No one is born knowing how to relate or communicate effectively. Counseling is a great way to sharpen your communication skills, and can really get to the root of your money problems.
You are not going to counseling because “nothing else seems to work”, but you are going to forge a stronger bond in your marriage and come out stronger than you were before.
Counseling does NOT mean your marriage is failing, it means that it is worth fighting for!
Bonus Tip: Lead By Example
“It takes a little time sometimes, to turn the Titanic around”
– Amy Grant
Once you realize that it is time to make a change and improve your financial life for the better, not everyone gets it. Trust me, I understand the feeling.
But sometimes you just need to start doing it.
Starting living within your means, create a budget for what you can, and set some goals for yourself. Share this with your spouse, and let them know you are excited to make a change. Your excitement may be contagious.
If you can show a change in attitude, and share a few small “financial wins” with them, it may open the door to further conversations about how you can both enjoy financial freedom together.
Fight For This, It Is Worth It
Did you know a single Clydesdale horse can pull an 8,000 lb. load by themselves? That is 4 times their body weight, and shows the enormous strength of these animals.
So when you hook together 2 Clydesdales, you would think they could haul twice the load, right?
But they cannot haul twice the load.
They can pull 4 times the load of a single horse! If they have trained together, 2 Clydesdale horses can pull 32,000 lbs.!
I want to remind you that THIS IS WORTH IT. It may be frustrating and challenging, but the end result of getting your spouse on board is FAR MORE than just having twice the muscle behind your financial plans.
It is combining your powers (like Captain Planet!) and building something more awesome than you could ever imagine in the first place. Your goals will accelerate, your dreams will get bigger, and financial freedom will become a reality in your household.
Don’t just survive, fight for this so you can thrive!