Improving your financial situation can be quite difficult. It can be even more complicated if your spouse is not on board with budgeting.
Overcoming obstacles such as credit card debt and controlling your spending can be hard enough for one person. With two, you need to ensure everyone’s thoughts, goals and opinions are accounted for.
And the best place to start is with a budget. This go-to method has helped countless couples meet their goals, come together to achieve financial victories and, when they don’t see eye-to-eye, it helps to develop common ground.
Here are 5 steps for getting your reluctant spouse on board with budgeting and paving the way for a bright financial future.
1. Find Your Spouse’s “Why”
Perhaps you’re ready to improve your financial situation and you know why. You haven’t been able to afford a vacation in years because you’ve been paying your student loans each month and there’s nothing left over for traveling fun.
But do you know what’ll motivate your spouse to jump on board with you too?
If not, then it’s time to ask.
Share Your Dreams
Schedule some uninterrupted time to chat with your spouse about your financial dreams. Make sure to turn off your phone and ask your spouse to do the same so you can give each other your full attention.
Share what your life would be like without those student loans and how excited you are to make it become a reality. With a little luck, your spouse may share the same dreams of being student debt-free and having more time for trips!
Ask Your Spouse to Share Their Dreams
Your spouse may share the same desire to travel more like you, but they may have other dreams too. This uninterrupted life check-in moment can open the door for your spouse to share their future goals.
Ask your spouse some questions to get them in the sharing mood:
- What would you do with an additional $1,000 per month?
- If you didn’t have to work for money, how would you spend your day?
- If someone gave you $1 million, how would you use it?
Questions like these will give you an insight into your spouse’s goals and dreams. With this information, you may learn that they would like to change careers and feel confident enough to do it.
With your goal of traveling more and your spouse’s desire to change careers in the future, you both now have a “why” for managing your money. Now it’s time to create a plan to get there with a budget.
2. Make the Budgeting Process Easy for Them
Let’s say your spouse loves the idea of moving toward a future career change but doesn’t like handling the money side of things. This is your opportunity to take charge and be a leader for your marriage and your collective goals.
Create the Budget
Start off by writing down your typical monthly household income. This includes any salaries, side hustles and any other income you and your spouse might have.
After that, jot down your monthly expenses starting with housing, transportation and food (also known as a “The Big Three”). Keep this process going to include all of your typical monthly expenses and see where you net out.
You may find yourself with extra cash available to help you meet your goals. If you don’t, you’ll have to look at decreasing your expenses or increasing your income to get where you want to go.
Use a Digital Budgeting Tool
When you take your budget from pencil and paper to an advanced budgeting system like Qube Money, the process becomes a lot easier to manage. Instead of manually tracking your transactions, they are automatically tracked for you. Each purchase gets placed in its appropriate bucket and your money situation gains clarity.
Systems like Qube Money also help you to control the spending limits that you set yourself and your spouse before the month began. This way you’re sticking with your plan and heading in the right direction.
Review Your Budget Daily
Setting your budget is important but sticking to it is even more crucial. If you set aside 5-10 minutes each day to update your transactions and adjust your budget as needed, you’ll save yourself hours and hours at the end of the month.
This process will allow you to modify your budget as the month goes on. We may feel we have an exact idea of what our month looks like on day one, but change is inevitable. Update your numbers daily so you can stay nimble.
3. Have Some Fun
When you’re pushing toward a huge goal like becoming student debt free, it can feel like a long road. You know it’s the right thing to do but the process of getting there is a lot more than you and your spouse bargained for. That’s why it’s important to make the journey exciting and fun.
Create a Ritual You Both Look Forward To
Choose a specific date each month for your budget review meeting. During this meeting, include some things that are fun traditions that you both like.
For example, if you both like watching your favorite Netflix show, make that happen at the end of the financial review for your meeting. That way, you’re associating a fun memory with getting your finances in order. It’s a win-win!
Once you set this date, make sure you keep it sacred and honor it each month. Setting an appointment on your calendars or a reminder in your phones is a great way to make sure you don’t miss this important date.
Visualize Your Goals
You may be more of a numbers nerd than your spouse and spreadsheets may do the trick for you to be motivated about achieving your goals. Your spouse, on the other hand, may be more of a visual person.
Try using something like a mood board with pictures that are symbolic of your future life. You can place this on your refrigerator as a daily reminder of why you’re working hard on your financial goals together.
You can also use a goal chart that you and your spouse can physically color in each month as part of your meeting ritual. For example, if you have $25,000 of student loan debt and you want to pay it off over 25 months. Each month, you’d color in $1,000 of your $25,000 goal if you made your planned extra payment. This way, you’re both seeing your progress and getting motivated to achieve your big goal together.
Track Your Goals
As the budget champion in the relationship, you’ll want to be in charge of where you stand with your goals. When you head into each monthly budget meeting, you’ll be able to update your spouse on your progress.
This is your chance to be a light of positivity! When your spouse sees how happy you are with your current path, they will be excited as well.
4. Ensure Your Spouse’s Voice is Heard
Because you’re facilitating the budgeting process, doesn’t make you the dictator of exactly how the money is used. If your budget only helps you achieve your goals and doesn’t accommodate your spouse’s wishes, you may be creating more trouble for yourself.
Understand Areas of Sensitivity
Ask your spouse about the budget line items that are super important for them. For example, you may not like to buy new clothes each month, but your spouse definitely does. If you decide that to achieve your goal of student debt freedom you both are going to eliminate or severely reduce clothing shopping each month, that may cause some controversy right off the bat.
If you’re looking to reduce spending, try seeking out areas you both agree on first. Think about saving money with your utilities, negotiating the cable and cell phone bills or cutting back on eating out for a healthier lifestyle. There are dozens of ways to reduce spending and eliminate debt without changing your lifestyle.
Some months you’ll crush your goals. And then there will be other months that are not so great. Don’t get down on yourself and do your best to not be harsh getting your spouse on board with budgeting.
When your budget meetings turn into budget arguments, that might keep your spouse from coming back to the next meeting. Realize that you’re both human and you’ll definitely make mistakes. With practice, you’ll make progress together … not perfection.
Fun money is an important category to include in any couple’s budget. It is sure-fire money fight repellent!
Get Your Spouse’s Approval on the Budget
Once the budget development is finished, make sure to get your spouse’s approval before moving forward with the month. This approval is akin to a signed contract saying that the two of you are in agreement with your money plan.
With your completed budget and double spousal approval, you’re set to go off, conquer your goals and enjoy the month knowing your headed in the right direction.
5. Celebrate Your Wins Together
Your hard work and diligence is going to pay off. Eventually, you and your spouse are going to crush your big goals together. Debt freedom will be yours! More travel and a positive career change for your spouse is right around the corner.
Once you get there, celebrate together. Continue your leadership position in the budget conversation and plan something fun for you and your spouse. It doesn’t have to be extravagant if you’re still working hard on your financial goals, but it should be something memorable.
When you commemorate a big moment in your life like this, you’ll want to do it again. Your debt freedom celebration may make you want a mortgage freedom celebration in the future. All the while, you’re growing a bond with your spouse that will last a lifetime.
If you do these 5 things, you’re sure to get your spouse on board with budgeting.