Hannah over at Unplanned Finance wrote a great post last week about how it was tough when her and her husband first started to work on finances together. Those initial budget meetings were anything but fun. They often led to frustration and arguments. Now though, with some practice, Hannah and her hubby enjoy their budget meetings. They’ve got a system in place that’s working, and they’re enjoying seeing their financial picture get better each month.
Hannah and her hubby’s success in this area happened because they were both willing to work through the tough times and stick it out until they found a plan that worked for the both of them. However, that’s not the case with every couple. Many times money and marriage don’t work together: one spouse digs their feet in staunchly, absolutely refusing to be involved with any kind of a financial plan.
The reasons vary: sometimes the spouse has no desire to reign in spending. Sometimes it’s a fear thing. Sometimes they simply don’t want to be bored with mundane things like money management. Whatever the reason, there are some steps you can take if you’re the spouse who wants to create a financial plan to better your family’s finances and your spouse isn’t on board.
Financial Improvement Without Your Spouse’s Involvement
Step #1: Open your own savings and checking accounts. Often, when a person desires to better their financial life and their spouse refuses to participate, fear can set in big time. The spouse who desires financial stability gets scared of what the future holds, which results often in fights as the other spouse continues their “que, sera sera” attitude about personal finances.
If this is you, I’d highly recommend opening your own checking and savings accounts. Be open about this with your spouse, and explain to them that you’d feel more secure knowing that somebody in the family is saving money. Then, take extra cash whenever you have it and put it away as a buffer between your family and Murphy’s law. This will quell your anxiety level big time and reduce the amount of stress you feel when your spouse spends unabashedly.
Step #2: Work to implement little changes. If your spouse likes to go out to eat too often, for instance, make him or her their favorite restaurant meal at home (there’s loads of copycat recipes online for almost all restaurant meals). If they like to go to the movies, suggest cuddling up on the couch for a movie at home. By working to implement small changes in how he or she likes to spend when you can, you’ll slowly but surely make an impact.
Step #3: Keep them abreast of your financial picture. Have a spread sheet that you update each month that shows your debt numbers and your asset numbers so that they see what your financial picture looks like. Show that spreadsheet to them each month so that they can see if the numbers are getting worse or better. Some knowledge may eventually turn into a wake-up call for them.
Step #4: Talk about dreams and goals. Share your dreams and goals and how practicing value-based spending can help you achieve those goals. Encourage your spouse to share their dreams and goals too, and then put together a plan that you can show them that will result in those goals being achieved. When they see a way for their dreams to be realized, they may catch the PF bug themselves.
Step #5: Put your foot down hard when a big financial spend is looming. If your “que, sera sera” spouse is contemplating a big purchase such as a boat or a car without your permission, stand strong. You may not want to invoke a fight about the little spends, but when a big spend is looming, it’s time to stand strong, especially if that spend is going on credit.
Step #6: Know when things have reached an unhealthy level. If you’re in a situation where the spouse is controlling the money and you have no say in how things are managed, this is not healthy, and it’s not safe. If your spouse is abusing you in the area of money management, seek help from a trusted professional.
Very rarely have I seen a “hopeless” situation when it comes to money and marriage with spouses who are opposites in terms of personal finance views. Most always, a compromise can be reached that will allow the unwilling spouse to go through life blindly while the financially responsible spouse is allowed to work on his or her financial goals. The goals may take longer to reach when one spouse is not on board, but every step of progress is a step in the right direction.