“How do I get my spouse to work with me on our finances?”
This is a very common question I encounter in the world of personal finances! The non-participative spouse problem is real, and it can be extremely frustrating.
First, let me say these two things:
- Finances are one of the top causes of marriage fights and divorce.
- Until both spouses are on the same page financially, it is impossible to maximize your financial potential.
So, recognizing how important it is that you work together, I submit the following strategies to bring the reluctant spouse on board with planning the family’s finances.
1. Plan out your conversation
- Take time to write down the reasons you would like to have your spouse’s active help in managing the family’s finances. The Financial Planning Checklist can help you with this. Include your dreams in this list. That 25th anniversary trip you have always dreamed of, the boat you’ve always wanted, paying for your daughter’s wedding, paying for your children’s college, etc.
- Look into some potential ways to improve your financial management. I highly recommend putting together a monthly spending plan BEFORE the month actually begins. You can find FREE copies HERE. Complete a personal finance study like the I Was Broke. Now I’m Not. Study.
2. Talk with your spouse
- Arrange for a babysitter to watch your children, and schedule a night out with your spouse. Go to a nice dinner and then to a coffee house. Tell your spouse you have something you want to discuss that is VERY IMPORTANT to you. TRUST ME. When you tell them you want to discuss something VERY IMPORTANT with them, you WILL have their attention! This sort of statement is NOT something your spouse hears every day.
- Share your concerns with your spouse. Explain in terms of unrealized dreams. Here are some examples:”I am concerned that if we do not work together to plan our finances, we may not get to go to Hawaii for our 25th anniversary” and “The children are growing up so fast, and we have not started saving for their college yet” and “We have earned over $500,000 over the past ten years, and we only have $1,500 in savings.” DO NOT PUT THEM INTO A DEFENSIVE POSITION. IF YOU DO, THIS WILL NOT BE A PRODUCTIVE DISCUSSION. Don’t say terrible or hateful things like, “Our finances stink because of your ignorance, and this is all your fault.”
3. Take Action!
- You have had the discussion. It might be appropriate to back off for a little while to let your spouse process everything you have shared. At some point, however, you need to take action! Sign up for the class. Set up an evening for you both to prepare a budget once the children are off to bed.
By the way, marriage is grand, but divorce is at least a hundred grand! I’m convinced that if most people knew how much divorce would really cost them, they would be much more willing to spend the money to figure out a way to work together!
What do you truly value in your life? It has been said that with one look at a person’s calendar and checkbook register, you would learn what a person truly values.
That’s certainly true, but I believe there is an even better way to learn what you value most. Have someone ask your spouse and children what you truly value. If you are not married, have someone ask your closest friends.
I’m having this asked of my bride and children. I wonder if the answers will align with what I say I value.
As a financial teacher, I am seeing an issue that is extremely alarming: Financial Infidelity
According to Investopedia, financial fidelity is defined as “when couples with combined finances lie to each other about money. For example, one partner may hide significant debts in a separate account while the other partner is unaware. Another common example is when one partner makes large discretionary expenditures without discussing the matter with their partner.”
It happens more than you think …
It all starts out so innocently. “I will use this credit card just this once to pay the bills, but I won’t tell my spouse because she is so stressed anyway.” Fast forward two years, and there is a hidden credit card with a $20,000 balance. Or a $480,000 balance. I’ve seen both. And the spouse did not know about either.
I’ve heard people explain how their financial infidelity occurred. Common reasons are:
- I pay the bills, and I just could not say no to my spouse – even though we did not have enough money.
- I wanted to protect my spouse – they were under so much stress from their work anyway.
- My spouse won’t ever allow any fun or any of my hobbies into the budget, so this was the only way I could make that happen.
- I earned the money so I deserved to spend it how I wanted to.
- My spouse is HORRIBLE with money, so I had to keep the savings account secret or else it would have been spent!
If you are making huge financial decisions without telling your spouse, it needs to be addressed. It will not get better on its own. The credit card will not be paid off before it’s discovered.
One thing I know is this: spouses who have experienced financial infidelity describe feelings very similar to marital infidelity. Hurt. Confusion. Anger. Frustration. Sadness. Betrayal.
Make it right.
As I always do, I began the morning by reading thirty or so websites (it is how I make sure I am LEARNING something every single day). I ran across THIS ARTICLE from CNNMoney. You should read it – especially if you have deadbeat parents/siblings/children.
Here are some of the statements made by writer Blake Ellis that stand out to me:
- When a parent uses their own child, the risk of prosecution is lower because of the family ties. Talk about ultimate manipulation!
- If a parent has a child’s social security number, they can do almost anything — no matter how young the child is — because a credit check does not reveal a person’s age. Unbelievable.
- Because of the availability of personal information to close family members, more than half of identity theft cases are typically committed by parents. Another potential result from being a poor manager of money – robbing from one’s own children.
Let’s be clear here – it is THEFT. Parents are ROBBING THEIR CHILDREN because they are mismanaging their own finances. Don’t believe it can ever happen to you? You would be surprised what people will do when they become financially desperate.
Have you known someone who has experienced this? What was it like?
My bride is amazing. She helps me make outstanding financial decisions.
Here are some key ways that she helps me when making financial decisions:
- She asks questions
- She seeks to understand my point of view
- She listens
- She has the ability to see through situations in a way I can't
- She demands to see the numbers and challenges every assumption
- She looks beyond the numbers and sees how the decisions affects non-financial aspects of our life
- She balances my risk-taking behavior with her risk-averse nature
- She is willing to discuss everything – and we are on the same team with shared interests – this means that we are working together to address financial challenges and fund our dreams
- She always has my back
I call my bride my "chief business counsel". If you ever hear me say, "I need to consult with my business counsel", I am really referring to my bride – not a legal team.
Without my bride, I would still be broke and would have been the key subject matter of the book, "How To Be B-R-O-K-E".
Do you involve your spouse in your financial decisions?