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For better or for worse, for richer or for poorer. So goes the wedding vows many people make, and although the words are spoken, couples hope they don’t end up with the latter. But when you’ve got one spouse who’s a spender and another who’s a saver, how do you end up ensuring you don’t end up poorer? How do you get your spouse on board financially if he’s off spending every penny you earn?
Many couples allow money to come between them. Most of the couples I’ve spoken with admit knowing these problems existed before they got married and did nothing to fix the problem before the nuptials. Now, living together under one roof, they see the extent of the damage their partner’s reckless spending is creating, and they are desperate to find a solution.
So if you have tried to no avail to fix the situation but feel hopeless and exhausted from the fighting, then I’ve got a few tips to help you assist them to get on board.
How To Stop The Insanity and Get Your Spouse On Board Financially
The truth of the matter, if you’ve yelled, pleaded, treated him like a child, or any other tactic to get him to see the error of his ways, these tactics are working against you instead of for you.
When you go into having a difficult conversation, the how and the when, are critical. I wrote an article How To Have A Difficult Conversation, on this very subject and I encourage you to read it in its entirety. But for now, I’m going to share the highlights.
Before you head into this hot topic with your spouse, you need to first prepare yourself. Ask yourself the following questions to get clear about what you want to accomplish:
- What is your purpose for having the conversation?
- What do you hope to accomplish?
- What would be an ideal outcome?
You have noble goals, like reducing his spending, getting out of debt, or creating an emergency account but maybe your language is excessively critical or condescending. You’re trying to be supportive but find in the end that you’re punishing. The goal is not only to help him understand the financial predicament that’s being created but to strengthen your relationship. That can’t be accomplished if you’re punitive in the process.
Think about the words and the tone you want to use before heading into the talk.
Not only are words and tone important but the timing of the conversation is crucial as well. Don’t pick a time where you’re both tired, make sure the kids are not around, go out if you have to in a place where you can discuss the situation with an open heart and mind. No one wants to be blindsided when they walk in the door, do your best to pick a time that will help to promote a positive outcome.
5 Steps to Helping Your Partner Get On Board Financially
The majority of the work in any difficult conversation is the work you do on yourself. No matter how well the conversation begins, you’ll need to stay in charge of yourself, your purpose and your emotional energy.
It takes work. It sometimes requires you to change and grow.
Just keep calm and focused and make the commitment that when you become off-center, you’ll choose to return to that calm and focused place.
This is where your power lies: by being able to choose a peaceful centered state. This will help your partner be more centered, calm and focused too.
If you don’t think this will work, think back to the last argument, you had with your spouse? If you were yelling and arguing, it probably didn’t turn out so well. That’s because you lost control of your centeredness, and so did they. When you can come to the table calmly and with real purpose and intent you often able to communicate more effectively your thoughts and feelings about a situation.
Step #1: Discovery
When you go into the money talk, start by discovering everything you can about your spouse’s point of view.
Of course, you want to spew your thoughts here – don’t. Let them talk first.
Pretend in your mind you don’t know anything about them or how they feel. Truth be told, you really don’t. Time and time again we make assumptions about what a person’s actions or words actually mean without every asking them for clarification. Now’s the time to do just that!
Watch their body language and unspoken words too.
Let them talk freely until they are finished. Don’t interrupt and whatever you hear don’t take personally.
Just learn as much as you can about the feelings they have about the debt, developing a budget, saving, anything related to the issue at hand during this phase of the conversation. Remember you’ll get your turn so don’t rush the process.
Step #2: Acknowledgment
When you acknowledge another person, you show them they have been heard and understood. At this stage you want to demonstrate to your spouse, you can make THEIR argument for them and then do it.
Explain back to them what they just said and honor their position.
Acknowledge whatever you can, including your own defensiveness if it comes up.
For example, in an argument with a friend I said: “I notice I’m becoming super defensive, and I think it’s because your voice just got louder and sounded angry. I just want to talk about what’s going on. I’m not trying to persuade you in either direction.” The acknowledgment helped him (and me) to recenter.
Acknowledgment can be difficult if we associate it with an agreement. Keep them separate. My saying, “this sounds really important to you,” doesn’t mean I’m going to go along with your decision.
Step #3: Advocate
When you sense that they’ve expressed themselves fully on the topic, it’s your turn. What can you see from your perspective that they’ve missed? Help clarify your position without minimizing theirs.
For example: “From what you’ve told me, I can see how you came to the conclusion a budget is going to take the fun out of life. But what a budget can do is help with ensuring we do the things we love and that we can afford what we want in our lives. It’s not intended to suck the fun out of life.
Step #4: Problem-Solving
Now you’re ready to begin building solutions.
Brainstorm solutions and continue asking questions to clarify positions. Ask your partner what they think would work. Whatever they say, find something that you like and build on it.
If the conversation becomes adversarial, go back to discovery. Asking for the other’s point of view usually creates safety, and they’ll be more willing to engage.
Step #5: Set Goals
Once you open the door to having this money talk, and you’ve been able to keep your cool, you’ll want to start talking about what you want the future to look like.
You’ll take the solutions you’ve been able to identify and set goals for your family. Because you’re working on finding solutions together, your goals now will be a combination of what you both need and want for your life.
More than likely this means compromise. And, that’s ok. Maybe you won’t pay off your debt as fast as you hoped, but you’ll get to live a little bit more than you were and you see this as positive for your relationship.
There’s no right or wrong here. It’s personal and individual to your circumstances. If you’ve been successful in centering yourself, adjusting your attitude, and discovering; finding sustainable solutions to the problems will be easy.
Remember, you’ll have to come back to this more than once. Progress doesn’t happen overnight. But with practice comes perfection. The more you use these tools to discuss your money situation with your spouse, the better you’ll both become at finding solutions to any problem that comes your way.
In the end, your spouse will be on board financially and you’ll both be working towards the same goals. That’s a win-win!
MY FAVORITE MONEY-SAVING TOOLS
EBATES: Want to earn cash back when you shop online? Ebates acts as a shopping portal offering coupons and cashback from over 2,000 online stores. I always check on Ebates first whenever I shop online! You can join Ebates for free and get a $10 welcome bonus when you sign up through this link.
DIGIT: Like the idea of saving but need something automatic? Digit is the perfect solution if trying to automate your savings strategy. In essence, what Digit does is use an algorithm to detect spare money and then transfers it to a secure savings account – so you’ll always have something to fall back on. Sign up for free!
GROCERY BUDGET MAKEOVER: Is your grocery budget giving you a serious kick in your families spending plan? Grocery Budget Makeover helped my family slash $6,000 a year from our food bill! Learn more about how Grocery Budget Makeover can help you save money too!