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Getting a spouse on board with making a budget each month can feel like quite a daunting task. In fact, getting a spouse on board with anything that takes them out of their comfort zone can be difficult. Unfortunately, at one point I was the spouse that wasn’t on board.
My husband saw that we needed to change our spending habits. Correction: I needed to change MY spending habits! He was frugal, I was not. In fact, I distinctly remember when he originally approached me with the idea of spending less, I dismissed him.
It took some time for me to come around and decide that we should free ourselves of the debt that was holding us back (read our debt free journey HERE). If you have a spouse or partner that is not on board with making a budget, try the tactics below and see if you can nudge them in your direction.
1. Discuss Your Dreams And Goals
Sit down and talk with your spouse about each of your dreams and goals for the future. These don’t have to be “safe” dreams. A “safe” dream is one that is easily attainable. People share safe dreams so that there is no disappointment or insecurity if they don’t reach that dream. Instead, talk about what you would like to do if money was not a problem.
What would you do if you didn’t have anything holding you back? When people start speaking out loud and declaring their dream, then something happens in their brain. There is a shift in the dream being a far-off possibility to something that is attainable. Write your family’s dreams and goals out on paper and post them in a place where you both can see them often!
2. Allow Room For Fun
Have you ever been told you couldn’t have something and that made you want it even more? When my husband and I first started budgeting, we ran a tight ship and lived off barely anything. There was no money set aside for fun or clothes. Within months I was itching to buy a new outfit, but it felt forbidden. So what did I do? I went straight out and bought not one, but TWO outfits to prove that I could have what I wanted. We quickly realized that we needed room in our budget for me to feel like I could spend money on myself.
Just because you are on a budget doesn’t mean you can’t have fun or buy the things you want. Keep a section in your budget labeled “Fun Money.” This can be spent on anything you or your spouse wants. Each person can have their own separate amount, or you can join it together into one amount. When your spouse knows that they have a set amount of money that they can spend, they might be less likely to resist the idea of a monthly budget.
3. Focus On The Benefits
We all know that there pros and cons to almost everything we do in life. The same goes for taking the time to plan out where your money will go each month. Now I’m a pretty positive person in general, but 6 years ago when we started budgeting I had to train myself to stay positive when it came to the budget. It’s so easy to focus on what you’re not getting in the moment. It’s easy to whine and complain. It’s much harder to delay gratification and live on less than you make.
The good news is that you CAN do hard things. What is it that you and your spouse hope to gain by being on a budget? Are you two hoping to gain financial freedom from debt? What about the ability to buy a big ticket item such as a new car? Or maybe it’s a down payment on your dream home? Whatever it is, remind yourself and your spouse to stay positive even when budgeting is difficult. Remember to focus on what you are building together for the future, not on what you may be missing out on in the present. Read more about changing your mindset HERE.
4. Provide Concrete Examples
It’s easier to get someone on board with a budget if they can see exactly what it will look like. Take some time to draft a sample budget. Bring that with you when you discuss the idea of living on a budget. Sometimes people dismiss an idea when they cannot see the details involved. Don’t just say “Hey, I think we need to get on a budget. We spend way too much money on (insert item here).” Instead, approach your spouse with the problem (you two are not in control of your money) AND the solution (the sample budget).
Think about the way your spouse learns best. If they learn well through technology, make the budget on an excel spreadsheet or use EveryDollar. Or grab my Budget Life Planner to keep all your finances organized and in one place!
5. Be Willing To Compromise
My son is going through this lovely stage where he throws a tantrum when he doesn’t get his way. It’s the best (she says with sarcasm)! Don’t be surprised if you have to compromise with your spouse on the monthly budget. In fact, EXPECT that you will have to compromise. Don’t throw a fit like a child and have an “all or nothing” attitude. Instead, go into this conversation prepared to create a solution that works for you and your spouse.
6. Be Respectful And Timely
Timing is everything! Don’t try to get your spouse on board with a budget in the middle of a sports game. Think about when your spouse is more open minded and willing to have long discussions. I know not to bother my husband with important conversations before 9:00 am. He is more likely to discuss finances with me in the evening. Basically, know your audience. And when you approach your spouse, be respectful. Don’t nag or whine. Use a respectful tone and your spouse won’t put up a wall right away.
Ultimately, remember that you and your spouse are a team. A successful team works together, communicates, and makes a plan. Teamwork can be hard and frustrating at times, but with effort and diligence, you are able to reach your dreams.