How to Get Your Spouse on Board With a Budget
So, now that you are on board with a budget and paying off debt, how do you get your spouse on board? When I discovered Dave Ramsey and got so excited (my husband says obsessed) about paying off debt, my husband wasn’t quite as excited as I was. He figured this was my new obsession and I would stick with it until I discovered something else to focus on. Especially since he was in the middle of building a huge chicken coop for my obsession at the time, chickens! Luckily for us, I stuck with it and didn’t give up. Now, that we are debt free, I don’t have to obsess about my budget as much.
There are a couple of things to remember when trying to get your spouse on board with a budget. First, be tactful in how you approach the subject. There is a big difference in “you need to quit spending so much money” and “look at what we could do with our money if we….” Second, your spouse may not be as excited as you at first (or ever) so just stick with it and hopefully they will eventually come on board.
One way to get your spouse on board is to dream together. Figure out what your goals are and why you want to start a budget in the first place. There is more to life than just paying bills. Do you want to retire and drive the country in an RV? Do you want to build a house in Belize? Do you just want the debt collectors to stop calling? You need a big reason why to start this journey. This process is not easy and there will be some bumps in the road but you need a reason to stay motivated.
Now, it may take a while to get your spouse on board with a budget and even longer to get them to agree to a budget meeting. It is important to have budget meetings so that you both can agree to what to do with your money. This is also the time that you start changing how you refer to the budget and money. It is no longer “my” money, it is “our” money. So, while you are still getting your spouse on board, you can start the budget process. Make a basic budget to show them how much income you have coming in and what bills you have. Total up all your debts and show that to them as well. This can be a very eye-opening experience for both of you. Once you have done all that, sit down with them and explain in a tactful way, that you are wanting to do this and how much better your life will be afterwards.
They may still be resistant but if you are the one that primarily handles the finances start without them and hope that once you are making some progress they will jump on board. One thing I did was play Dave Ramsey podcasts while my husband was around. He wouldn’t read the book and I wanted him to hear the same things I was hearing. He actually started to enjoy listening to them and started to understand what I was trying to do.
Something else that is very helpful is making visuals of your progress. You could make a picture with blocks to fill in for every payment. Hang this in an obvious location in the house so that they will see it all the time. Once they can see the progress, maybe they will start to change their way of thinking.
Don’t let this process get to overwhelming for the spouse that is reluctant. Make sure that you still budget *some* money to have some fun. This can help them not feel so restricted and will make it easier to get and keep them on board. When I say some fun money, I don’t mean $100 a week. I mean $20-$40 a week depending on your budget.
Since I am a Dave Ramsey follower, I would suggest his Financial Peace University class. I have not taken this class yet, but I hear it is very good. If you sign up for the class, make sure that your spouse can go to every class. It won’t make a difference if they aren’t there to hear the information. It can be very helpful to be in a class with other people going through the same things as you.
My last suggestion for trying to get them on board with a budget is using cash. Personally, I wouldn’t suggest this if your spouse is not even listening and too closed-minded about it all. Now, if they are at least thinking about it and will not sabotage the budget when they run out of money, use cash. Hopefully if they are only using cash they won’t switch to debit once it’s gone, that can help at least reign in the spending while you work the program.
I truly hope that you can get your spouse on board with a budget and paying off debt. Once you start to work as a team, your marriage will be stronger.