8 Tips for When Your Spouse Is Not On Board (Financially)

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We all know that money issues are one of the top causes of divorce. Whether you are married or not, dealing with shared finances as a couple can be extremely challenging. Couples are made up of two different people with two different backgrounds. We all have different money stories, so it’s normal to have differences in how we approach debt, credit and budgets.

But the most minor money disagreements can be magnified when you’re trying to reach a major goal, like becoming debt free or saving up to buy a home. If you are feeling discouraged because your spouse is not on board when it comes to your financial goals and dreams, I understand. The financial plan I created at the beginning of this year was destined to fail. Why? Because I created it all by myself! It takes two to tango – and to budget, plan, and save money!

Here are my best tips for dealing with a spouse who is not on board with your financial goals and dreams …

spouse not on board financially tips

When Your Spouse Is Not On Board (Financially)

1 Know Your Why

You may have done this already. Sit your spouse down and explain the WHY of your goal. Why is it important to pay off your student loans, increase your savings account, or pay off your mortgage early? For example, I have a strong need for a feeling of security that I believe will come with being debt free. The lack of that feeling of security in my life is very unsettling.

Know and express your why, but also ask your partner what their why is. Or perhaps it’s a why not? What are the core beliefs that affect them financially? You don’t have to agree with each other at all during this conversation. Just listen. Hopefully some understanding and compassion will be found.

2 Make Sure Needs Are Met

Is money one of your biggest stresses in life? Do you lie awake thinking about your financial goals? Are your money goals your top priority and at the forefront of your mind every day?  Reaching your financial goals is a need you have in your life, and it might hurt deeply when your spouse is not fully on board with helping you to reach them.

Setting and reaching personal finance goals is so important, but it’s not all there is in life. There are relationships, intimacy, children, hobbies, health and fitness goals, home projects, work and business goals, and so much more to think about, worry about, and achieve. What is the number one worry in your spouse’s life right now? If you believe it’s not money, what is it? If you don’t know, ASK!

Ask if all of their needs are being met. If they are feeling neglected by you in a particular area, resentment can begin to build. A resentful spouse is much less likely to get excited and get on board with your financial goals and dreams.

3 Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Is taking about money easy? No. Should you still do it? Yes. How often? VERY!

I strive for weekly budget meetings, as I mention in my monthly debt updates. During the months that we talk about money matters frequently, we do great! During the months that our money talks are few and far between – we lose motivation, lose focus, and generally struggle. Communication is key. Have the talks. I promise they get easier the more often you do them.

4 No Sneak Attacks!

There are so many amazing resources out there to inspire and motivate you to reach your financial goals. You are probably excited when you find one you love and want to share them with your partner. They might not be ready for the information at this time. If your spouse is not ready to read a book, or listen to a podcast, or attend a class – proceed with caution. Especially if they have given you a firm “no.” Continue to enjoy the resources yourself, and let your partner know you’d love to share them sometime in the future if they change their mind. Pushiness isn’t helpful.

Worse than pushiness though? Sneak attacks! And yes, I am guilty of this one … Do not under any circumstances try to casually play a financial podcast episode while out running errands together. I speak from experience and it didn’t go over well!

5 Speak for Yourself

This goes along with the above tip. You’re soaking in all the great financial information and have developed crushes on all of your favorite experts. You can quote their most famous lines of advice and know exactly how they would answer a particular money question. It’s okay to bring them up occasionally and share the parts of their work that resonates with you most.

Just don’t let the experts speak for you. I found a lot of financial inspiration throughout this year via books, podcasts, and blogs. I have loved and been super excited about Dave Ramsey, Farnoosh Torabi, The His & Her Money Show, and many more. Sometimes you need to bring that excitement down a notch, and make sure you put things into your own words. The last thing you want to hear your spouse say is “Well if you love Dave Ramsey so much, why don’t you go marry him!”

6 Are You Being Fair?

You have decided you have goals to reach and changes need to be made in the family finances. You have a plan and you just need your spouse to get on board. You believe 110% that you are right and you know how to help your family get to a better place financially. But are you being fair? Are you making cuts to the budget that affect everyone evenly? Or is your new plan going to impact your spouse more than anyone else? I am not suggesting you become a martyr and only reduce your own spending, but I do think we all need to be honest with ourselves and the impact of our decisions.

I’ll tell on myself again here … In the beginning of my journey to get out of debt I came up with many things we should sell, or services we should cut. My husband was not always on board. However, last winter, I decided that my boys needed matching Christmas pajamas. Not one pair, but two. I went out and purchased them without giving it a second thought! I had considered it as part of my budget, so I wasn’t overspending or creating new debt. My husband definitely disagreed! He saw it as a frivolous expense and was not happy that it was part of our budget that I had not discussed with him. I had to take an honest look at myself and our budget, to see if I was truly being fair.

7 Acknowledge The Tiniest Efforts

Acknowledge their attempts to follow your plan … no matter how small! What looks like a very minor amount of effort might feel like a huge step to your partner. Do not let their attempt be be on board with your financial plan go unnoticed! Sure, you might want them to do much more! You might still feel stressed and overwhelmed by how deep you are in debt or how far you are from your goals. Set those feelings aside and praise them! Acknowledge the fact that they brown bagged a lunch, or skipped a trip to Starbucks. Even if it only happened once, it still happened! They tried and you need to acknowledge that effort.

8 Do It Together

When at all possible, do “money stuff” together! Budget together, set goals together, celebrate together when you make positive strides! This is hard at first when you are not on the same page, but it will get easier in time with consistent effort and patience. If you typically handle the bulk of the financial stuff, you might even consider sitting down and paying a few bills together. I have found that when your spouse is not on board with your financial goals, things are only made worse if they feel left out of the financial loop in any way.

Finally, be patient. If your spouse is not on board with your goals today, it doesn’t mean they will never be. Don’t give up. Continue your positive efforts and steps forward. Find friends and family members who can encourage you on your bad days. Keep working toward your goals. Progress may be slower than you’d like but you will get there someday!

Readers – what’s your best advice to encourage someone in this position?

spouse not on board financially tips

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69 Comments

  1. Getting on the same page isn’t easy but I really like all these tips. Gotta make sure at least the important bases are covered, and maybe not all your goals get met but the important ones are addressed.
    Julie @ Fab Working Mom Life recently posted…How to Transition a Toddler from a Crib to a Big Kid Bed, even if you’re not readyMy Profile

  2. Yes! Hubs and I have slightly different view points on our finances, and it gets frustrating. He thinks winning the lottery will fix everything, but I feel like hard work and paying down credit cards is what we should be focusing on. 🙂
    Samantha @ Momma Wants Java recently posted…Caramel Apple Fall SangriaMy Profile

    • I wish it was as easy as winning the lottery! 😉 Unfortunately for me (and your hubby lol), you’re right about hard work being the answer!

  3. I agree that communication is key – from BOTH parties. You have got to be able to open and listen to each other to make moves.

    • I totally agree with you Rache! And I try really hard to make sure I am communicating well, and not just blaming others for not wanting to be on my plan! 🙂

  4. Great tips!

    I so agree, communication is the key, big time.
    Amber Myers recently posted…How To Make A Cat Toy Out Of A SockMy Profile

  5. Money is such a hard subject for so many. I agree that communication often about the subject will help keep both parties on the same page.
    Keikilani recently posted…Game Day with the Whole Family and Old El PasoMy Profile

  6. My best advice is to get on the same page. The added stress of being on opposite sides of the discussion makes the tiniest things (like pajamas) a major deal. There are several debt reduction/money management courses available. Find one that you both agree to and follow it. Of course it’s not that simple, but until you are speaking the same language and walking the same path toward your shared goal, the stress will multiply.

  7. Coming up with a family budget can be hard. The point I agree with the most is doing it together, Compromise and think of each persons needs and wants and come to a common ground to work within your means

  8. I love all of these great tips! Thank you for sharing!

  9. I love #7, acknowledging! So important, kind of ties into communication and the importance of talking. This is a touchy subject and you are offering great tips and insight, thanks!

  10. Yes i am being fair. lol! In a relationship, we should give and take so that he/she cant scold you. I love #8. Never did the budget together. I always do the budget thing. Anyway, thanks for the tips. It’s a really big help. 🙂

    • We definitely don’t do it all together either Chei – and I can see the impact that has. I think couples should do it together if possible! Be a team!

  11. These are all such great tips! I’m so glad my husband and I are on the same page 🙂

  12. These are great tips! Thank you for the information

  13. I hate, absolutely hate, fighting about money. It’s never healthy and it’s really going to make you loath each other. When in reality it’s something that can be earned and talked about without having to be at each other’s throats. I think these are very good tips, very well explained as well.

    • I really really dislike it too Elizabeth! 🙁 It feels terrible to fight about money. Thanks for your kind words about my tips <3

  14. I will definitely try a few of these tips. My husband isn’t on board with a bigger house, yet, but we are outgrowing ours!

  15. Before we got married my husband and I went through marital counseling, as well as took a test on how compatible we were. We scored zero in just about every category and 100% in money. Thankfully we view it similar and just fight about other stuff. haha!

    • That is too funny Sarah Jean! 🙂 Thanks for sharing! If you were going to be 100% compatible on something – money was a good choice! 😉

  16. It’s never healthy to fight about money. These are very good tips and it will help a lot of couples out especially those who are just new to the whole marriage thing!
    Carol Cassara recently posted…Best gift idea of the year & giveawayMy Profile

  17. These are great tips, it can be so hard when you both aren’t on the same page about your finances.

  18. Great post. Money is always a difficult thing. Really great tips to make it a little easier with your partner.

  19. These are great tips! Not all the time, our partners are able so we should really understand not underestimate!

  20. Wow. This advice is spot on. It’s easy to have a one track mind when you have a big goal like getting out of debt (guilty!!), but we have to remember that our spouse is along for the ride, too!
    Jamie @ Medium Sized Family recently posted…How to Finance a Car: What No One Tells You About LoansMy Profile

    • Wouldn’t it be easier if our goals were their goals too? 100%? I have to remind myself ALL THE TIME that that is not realistic at all! 🙂

  21. Very useful tips! Money issues can really put a strain on marriage

  22. Great post, I think those tips can legit be used for any kind of disagreement.

  23. What a great post! I love the ideas you suggested for getting your spouse on board with saving. Lucky for me in my marriage, I was the spender that my husband was trying to get on board with his savings goals. He actually did many of the things you’ve suggested in this post and it worked! I changed my spending ways. I’m sure this will work for other couples too. 🙂

    • That’s so wonderful that your husband was able to get you to come around to savings Heather! 🙂 It’s tough to break those spending habits!

  24. Awesome job. I definitely agree that communication is key. You have to have a solid foundation in your union and far too often, finances are the main causes of separation.

  25. These are great tips, and I’m glad you’ve been able to work through it all. It’s not easy to compromise when you “know” what needs to be done. And you know it all the way to your toes. LOL But you are so right, we all have our own needs and our own story. You have done a great job keeping the finances on track and making your husband feel ok with it all too. I needed to read this as we are in a similar boat, a life boat with lots of holes in it. This will help me to put a better plan into action, one that works for both of us!
    Nikki Frank-Hamilton recently posted…Social Media Blast – Twitter Week – How Tweet It Is!My Profile

  26. Such a great post! No plan can work if one spouse doesn’t want to reach those goals. Better to compromise and make a budget goal you both are committed to, then re-evaluate and tweak later.
    #SHINEbloghop

  27. I agree talking about financial matters helps to figure out what should be done. Your tips are awesome and sound really useful.
    come see us at http://shopannies.blogspot.com

  28. Some great advice! My partner is rubbish with money so I do the bulk of it, but we always talk about what we need to cut back on and why first. I’m always glad we don’t live in the era of expected joint back accounts though – it would be awkward when I took all the cards off him! 🙂

    Thanks so much for linking up to Friday Frivolity too.
    Jess Powell (Babi a Fi) recently posted…An A-Z of Creepy Retro TVMy Profile

  29. Erin, these are fantastic tips, thanks for sharing. I wrote a few of my own tips here: https://www.enrichmentality.com/are-we-speaking-the-same-language/ (looks like we’re pretty similar on the regular budget meetings! I think they can be fun 😄) I’ll definitely be directing my readers to your blog the next time I have occasion to write about relationships. So glad I stumbled on your post via the Share the Wealth Sunday hop!

  30. Love these tips!! I shared this and love that you are willing to share your journey even with difficulties because that is real life! I have been following along with your journey for the past year and enjoy reading!

    • Carolyn, thanks so much for sharing and for the awesomely sweet comment, it made my night! So happy (and thankful) to have you sharing my journey! <3 <3 <3

  31. The finances are definitely a team game. We often discuss what we are and aren’t going to do with money. It’s not a formalised thing, but adhoc as we need to.

    Sally @ Life Loving
    #LifeLovingLinkie
    Life Loving recently posted…BidvineMy Profile

  32. This really reminded me that I am SO lucky to have a spouse that can be on the same page as me financially. I guess not everyone gets to experience that…
    Carly recently posted…Become a Freelance Writer (and Work from Home)My Profile

  33. Good tips. You have to talk with your partner and work on your goals as a team. You’re right about being patient. It might take a while, but they’ll come around. I stop surprising my wife years ago. She doesn’t take it well…

  34. I feel like 7 and 8 should be prioritized. They’re the backbones of communication and integrity. Let’s all have love!

  35. Good tips Erin.

    What’s your encouragement when a stalemate is reached?

    At the end you said, “Readers – what’s your best advice to encourage someone in this position?”

    Well, I just published a Christian marriage book, Marriage God’s Way, (https://scottlapierre.org/marriage-gods-way/), which you know because you commented on one of my posts about it. You can probably guess I’d have an opinion 🙂

    I think God’s Word calls men to lead and when a stalemate is reached, the responsibility falls on the husband’s shoulders to make the best decision for the family (after hearing all his wife’s thoughts).
    Scott LaPierre recently posted…Reformation Day and the Five SolasMy Profile

    • That’s a tough question to answer Scott and I am certainly no expert! I appreciate your answer and you taking the time to share your thoughts with my readers. I’m not sure it would work in my non-Christian household though.

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