It is EXTREMELY difficult to develop a family budget and sticking to it when your spouse is not on-board with you.
Included In This Article:
- How to discuss the budget with your spouse?
- How to get your reluctant husband or wife on-board with budgeting?
- What to do when your husband won’t stop spending money, how can you make him follow your budget?
- What to do when your husband won’t share his financial information?
- Approaches you can use when your husband/wife is financially irresponsible
- What approaches you can use when your husband doesn’t contribute financially
- Tackle the problem when your wife spends all your money on herself
- How to get your spouse to stick to a budget?
- How to manage a budget when your spouse is a spender?
Obviously, this website is not a marriage counseling website. However here are ten ideas – a few of them we learned during our debt free journey and some are ideas our readers shared with us based on what worked for them.
- Show how big the hole you are in
- Dream together, focus on the “why”
- Help your spouse learn using methods that aligns with their learning preferences
- If they like to read, buy or borrow Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover book for them.
- If they learn by watching videos, send them the YouTube link for the Financial Peace University classes – if you have a smart TV, then watch them together as a TV program.
- If they prefer more active learning through direct human interaction, then ask them to join you for the Financial Peace University class. You can make it more of a family activity if you request that as your Christmas or Birthday present.
- Make the journey more fun like a game
- Celebrate your small successes
- Be flexible and ready to compromise
- Be a role model by walking the talk
- Go visual (don’t tell, but show)
- Visually show the percentage or amount of your weekly or monthly income that is paid as the interest payment for your debt.
- Graphically show how much you will end up paying when you finally pay off your credit card, if you continue to pay only the minimum payment on your credit card.
- Visually show, if you continue on your current lifestyle, how old will you be when you are able to retire.
- Create a vision board with your spouse showing the things you could do together (retirement, traveling and all other fun stuff) when you are debt free.
- Share success stories from third party sources
- Use passive reminders and progress charts
Some people have no clue about how much debt they owe. Most often they are in denial.
They have never added together all their debt and hence they have no idea how much they owe.
When you begin your debt free journey, it is crucial that you account for all your debts. If your spouse is reluctant to join you, one reason may be that he or she may be in denial or that they don’t have the ability to understand or visualize how deep the hole they are in.
Once you compile the details of all your debt, put all that in paper or Excel.
It would work better, if you can visually depict it using colorful charts – if you are creative. Humans still understand from pictures better, compared to text. This will also make the discussion more engaging and entertaining.
Once you are ready with your material, ask your spouse to help you figure out the length of time it would take both of you to get out of debt.
Another way to depict your debt is by documenting the amount of interest you are currently paying or you will be paying at the current rate of re-payment.
For most people, it is generally an eye-opener when they see how much money during their lifetime that they will be paying as interest.
Hopefully by seeing this, they will realize that unless they change their current lifestyle, they are working 24/7 to make the bankers richer by paying huge amounts of interest to service their debt.
Once they see the total of all their debt and the amount of time it will take to repay them at the current rate of repayment, hopefully they will be able to realize the problem and join you with your debt snowball program.
Always focus on the “why” aspect of getting out of debt.
Make sure you always seek out and include your spouse’s visions and dreams of what they like to do when both of you are debt free.
Communicate a lot, but never nag. When it becomes nagging, it will for sure alienate your spouse.
Create a vision board (see below) with your spouse. Revisit and update your vision board every month. Record and discuss the progress you are making. It is immensely helpful to work together when you have a common set of dreams and goals.
OK, there are those who read books and those who don’t. Some will refuse to read a book even if their life depends on it.
The same people can watch hours of videos without any problem.
There may be a third category of people who like human interaction in learning – who cannot learn from books or videos.
Depending on how your spouse would learn, you can try any of the following approaches, so that they can learn the pathway for a debt free life:
Some people (men especially) are like kids…. No wonder they like to watch the spectator sports very much and are excited about all the things surrounding it.
So, when discussing budgeting and other financial matters, use the team terminology and discuss about winning a debt free life and how to defeat the bankers in the interest payment game. Even if they are initially unwilling to join the effort, slowly they will join you so as to avoid being left out from all the fun of winning.
Keeping frequent scores (progress tracking) of your debt repayment successes (you can use our debt repayment progress charts here), and the amount of money you are saving by not paying the interest will keep them motivated.
When you need to buy an essential big ticket item, you can also create a friendly competition with your spouse to see who among you, can find the best deal for that purchase.
Another opportunity to add a game like spirit to your debt free journey is by challenging each other to see who among you can develop the best creative idea for a side income to increase your debt repayment.
Once you make it like a team sport and discuss the various winning strategies, hopefully they will feel the enjoyment (instead of hating it) and will get on-board.
Enthusiastically (with lot of positive energy) share the small successes you are making in your debt free journey.
Don’t take individual credit for those successes. Instead, show your excitement to celebrate the progress you as a family unit, is making towards a debt free life.
Once your spouse sees the successes your methods are bringing, they will start asking questions… Finally (and hopefully) they will get onboard to be part of that excitement and enthusiasm.
This is very important. Don’t try to win a battle and ultimately lose the war.
Even though you are married, you still are two different individuals. As long as you both dream together and agree on the big picture of your financial journey, be willing to compromise on smaller things.
Your sports nut of a husband may really like to watch that sports channel. So don’t fight for cutting the cable TV as the most important issue during the initial stages of your debt free journey.
Instead, find other areas where he may be willing to compromise such as packing his lunch, instead of buying it every day.
Similarly, if your wife likes to buy name brand cloths, or likes to shop frequently for dresses, see if you can show her that she will be able to buy the same name brand dresses from a thrift store for one sixth or less of a price. Make it a fun game to show her how much money she can save, still be able to wear the same name brand cloths.
If your spouse is an impulse spender, then show that there is an alternate way.
For every significant financial decision you need to make, evaluate its pros and cons with your spouse. Discuss alternate options openly (buying new versus used, buying on credit versus paying cash) and how these options will impact your journey towards a debt free life.
Make your spouse actively participate in that decision making process.
Once they fully realize how meticulous and diligent you are in spending the family money, they will slowly start questioning their frivolous and impulsive approach to spending.
Most men and many women are very visual. They may not respond to numbers, but if you make something visual or pleasingly graphical or even comical, they will be able to appreciate it.
Here are some ideas for visual representation:
On this particular one, we have direct personal experience. My wife was not initially on-board with our debt free financial journey.
During that time, whenever I see early retirement or young millionaire success stories on the Internet, I will send that link to my wife. And during dinner time, we will discuss that story.
It is a strange fact, that our spouses, generally dismiss if we try to deliberately discuss a topic with them, especially if that topic is not interesting to them.
However, when we share success stories/videos from neutral third party sources, it is easier for them to absorb those ideas compared to the same idea coming from us.
Now, since we are debt free and far advanced in our financial journey, we sometimes reminisce and joke about that phase of our life with lot of fun and fondness.
Print out the Dave Ramsey baby steps and put them up on or near the bathroom mirror.
This will give your spouse a chance to read it and think about it every day.
Additionally, if you are making progress on your debt free journey, then make a colorful debt free progress chart. If you like to use the progress chart shown here, you can download the debt free progress chart PDF here.)
Update your progress chart regularly and display it in the bathroom so that your spouse can see it and get excited about the progress you are making.
What you think of these ideas? Please share your opinion by commenting below:
Are these ideas helpful? What other ideas that you have successfully used to get your spouse on-board with budgeting?
Please share your ideas for other readers of this blog.