Are you ready to start budgeting or beginning your own financial journey, but your spouse or your partner is not on board? It can be difficult to get your partner on the same page, financially…but with some love and patience, it is possible. Let’s dive into seven tips for budgeting as a couple so that you can both get on the same financial page with ease.
It’s no secret that talking about money and finances can be stressful in a relationship. In fact, many couples find themselves fighting about their finances on a daily basis, and sadly, money is one of the top causes of divorce.
If you’re struggling to stop the money fights and are afraid to check your bank account on payday, you’re ready to take a step toward fixing your finances. This also means that you’re ready to start living on a budget and working towards financial freedom.
But what happens when your spouse or your partner isn’t ready? It can be difficult to get both of you on the same page at the same time. But it’s difficult to make substantial progress when you’re flying solo and even more difficult when your partner is actually working against you.
8 Tips for Budgeting as a Couple
Let’s discuss some actionable steps you can take toward finding a financial compromise with your partner. When you can work together on the same team as a couple combining your efforts, you can become an unstoppable financial force!
1. Don’t Nag
This is hard. This can be really hard. When you’re trying to get your partner to see things your way, it’s normal to want to talk to them about it often. But when your spouse or partner doesn’t see things your way, they may feel as though you’re nagging them, which is likely to push them further away instead of moving them closer to working with you.
You simply have to stop bringing it up constantly; this is super important. Asking them, bringing it up constantly. and initiating casual conversations about money or about your kids is a simple way to start talking about the situation at hand and let the conversation flow naturally.
2. Take the Pressure Off
Don’t try to force them into thinking the way you’re thinking. You want them to come to this conclusion on their own, not because you’ve forced them to join you in your financial crusade.
Putting on the pressure to budget as a couple can cause them to resent you and ensure they will dig their heels in and double down on their desire to continue managing finances their way (or not at all).
3. Take Time To Dream Together
Remember, budgeting isn’t about restriction. Instead, a budget is a tool to help you reach your goals. Budgeting as a couple can help you achieve financial goals and dreams you never thought possible.
Sit down with your partner and dream together. Focus on their dreams, and ask them what living a debt-free life would look like to them.
Go deeper and ask them where they might see themselves in five years, or 10 years, and what they envision the future looking like for your family.
Encourage them to dream with you and gently explain to them that you’d love to see their dreams come to fruition and how you believe working together on improving your finances could one day make their dreams a reality.
4. Set Financial Goals as a Couple
After your dream sesh, it’s important to work backward and set financial goals as a couple. Tread lightly here as you don’t want to order them and make them feel defeated. Focus on how being able to get out of debt and learning to live on a budget is going to allow you to achieve these financial goals.
Keep in mind it may be necessary to have similar conversations many times over before your partner starts to soften their stance.
Goals can be set on a monthly basis, on a quarterly basis, on a yearly basis, or even on a five or 10-year schedule. Set goals for each increment, which would allow you to start fleshing out a plan for your finances for the next decade.
5. Find a Financial Plan That Works for You
When we first began our financial journey, we attended Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. It was my idea, and I was pumped to go; unfortunately, my husband didn’t share my excitement.
He sat with his arms crossed with a disinterested expression on his face, but over time I could tell the course material was resonating with him. His body language started to relax, and he even began laughing at Dave’s corny jokes.
Remember…like it or not, oftentimes, our partners are resistant to what we want.
I love my husband to death, but I could tell him the same thing ten times in a row, and it barely registers, but as soon as a friend tells him the exact same thing, it’s as good as gospel.
Finding a third party (who would be considered an expert) with more clout will likely steer the conversations in a different direction. It doesn’t have to be Dave Ramsey. There are so many incredible budgeting courses available. It’s important to learn from someone whose personality and teaching style resonate with you.
Here’s the thing, most budgeting systems will work – if you work them.
Budgeting is more about finding a system that works for you. A system you can stick with consistently. As with all new habits, consistency is key.
In our family, we use our printable budgeting planner to keep us organized and stick to our specific system month after month. We also use a digital budget spreadsheet, which allows us to make changes quickly and easily and also access our budget from our phones when we’re on the go!
6. Focus on the Good Stuff
Instead of telling your spouse or partner all of the reasons why you need to budget and pay off debt dripping with negativity, try playing up the positives.
Explain that budgeting is not about being restrictive. Budgeting is not about telling them they can’t ever spend any money; instead, budgeting will actually offer them the freedom to spend guilt-free!
Maybe your partner’s worried that you’ll force him to ditch his Dunkin’ habit cold turkey. Assure him you can work some personal money into your budget, which will enable him to gorge himself on donuts all day long if he’d like.
If he loves golf, you can include greens fees in your budget. Showing your partner how starting your financial journey can actually change things for the better may be just what they need to hear to feel comfortable.
Play up the positives, and be sure to offer many examples of how budgeting can actually enrich your life and reduce the constant money stress.
7. Do the Work
If you’ve completed all the other steps and your partner is still completely against budgeting or paying off debt, then they leave you no choice but to go it alone.
You have to. Because you already know in your heart this is what’s best for your financial situation and your family, you have to do it yourself.
Is it going to be slower? Yep.
Is it going to be harder? Yeah, it sure is.
It will be harder doing it alone…but it’s still possible.
It’s still possible to be effective.
It’s still possible to live on a budget.
It’s still possible to pay off debt.
You have to be consistent. You have to be committed, and you have to be willing to deal with their criticism and their pushback.
It may feel scary and lonely, but you have to just do the work and pray that; eventually, your partner will come around and join you on your journey.
8. Lead by Example
If you’re already doing the work, drop the occasional hint. Show your partner how you’re doing it. Give them specific examples of how it’s working, but remember, try not to nag, and do your best to try not to control their expenses.
Just because you’re the one budgeting doesn’t mean you’re the boss, so try not to act like it.
They may not want to be involved, but that doesn’t make you the boss of the relationship.
You’re still partners. You’re still equals.
Lead by example, lead with love, give them monthly updates, and let them know about the progress you’re making. And remember, keep it positive.
Remind them that you could be doing so much more if they would join you in your financial crusade. Don’t blame them, and remember to give them grace.
They may not have had the “come to Jesus moment” or the rock-bottom moment you had yet, so be patient with them.
If you remain kind, calm, and consistent in your efforts, I can almost guarantee you that, eventually, they will see the progress you’re making. They will see the potential in your finances and want to join you and work as a team towards financial freedom.
This article was produced and syndicated by Cents + Purpose.
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Kristin Stones is the owner of Cents + Purpose, an online community dedicated to sharing practical personal finance content. Her mission is to equip women with the necessary tools and knowledge to take back control of their money and live a more purposeful life. She creates actionable content to help her audience achieve financial wellness using her simple approach to managing money - all learned through her personal experience of paying off almost $55,000 of debt in under two years.