“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!