If you’re reading this, you’re probably a budgeter. You know, firsthand, what true financial peace of mind feels like. Sure, you might still be hacking away at your student loans or working hard to get a month ahead of your expenses, but you’ve got a plan. Things are improving. There’s hope!
… and then there’s your partner.
For whatever reason, the one you love is not so in love with budgeting. It’s a tough spot to be in because, if only you could join forces, you’d have so much more leverage to reach your big money goals (not to mention a more harmonious relationship!).
Before you give up on budgeting as a couple, or run your relationship into the ground over spending squabbles, give these tips a try:
1 – Lead the Way
Sometimes, partner pushback come from fear of the unknown or lack of time. In both cases, the antidote is to make. It. Easy. I’m assuming, here, that you’ve already laid the groundwork:
Basically, you’ve got your budgeting act together. You’re a YNABer, and you might even have some budgeting wins under your belt!
Now, you simply have to lead by example. Invite your partner to a regular budget meeting. You could say something like, “Hey babe, I’m looking at February, and remembered that you wanted to take a weekend trip to Nashville … can we look at planning that tonight after work?”
Keep it casual. Keep it light. And, most importantly, keep it focused on what you’ll get for your joint efforts! You might look at the numbers and say, “Hm. If we can cut our dates down to twice, weekly, we’ll have enough for that cute B&B. Wanna?”
As these conversations feel more natural, try suggesting a regularly recurring money meeting date.
2 – Attract Your Honey with Honey
Many people have reservations about budgeting. They worry about it being restrictive, time-consuming, difficult or, in other words, no fun. But, even if your person had a bad experience with budgeting in the past, there’s still hope. The trick is to reframe the conversation to be about the rewards (not the budget).
To start, bring up and encourage conversations about the future that you’d like to share—the trips you’d like to take together, the house you’d like to buy, renovations you’d like to make, the things you’d like to provide for your kids, whatever. Frequent discussions about life goals will help you get on the same page about what’s important to you as a couple.
With time, it’ll only be natural that you transition from simply daydreaming to actually planning for those visions, and that includes funding. Suddenly, a budget seems like an exciting tool for making dreams come true (which it is!).
3 – Make the Budget Personal
If your partner just loves spending money, it might seem impossible to get them on board with the budget. In this case, demonstrate how the budget can actually help them get more of what they want by giving them ownership over a category group.
Dollars allocated to your partner’s categories can be spent at his or her discretion, which gives them an incentive to watch the bigger picture. For example, if you manage to spend less on groceries as a team, there’ll be more money left at the end of the month—part of which can be moved into your partner’s category group. And, of course, you can have your own category group, too!
This approach gives each of you a vested interest in making smart spending choices while empowering you both to buy the things you truly want. Win-win.
4 – Meet Your Spouse Where They’re At
Finally, remember that nagging the one you love is a recipe for misery. Accept your honey for their strengths and weaknesses, and keep your eyes on the bigger picture—a happy life together.
You might be pleasantly surprised that your partner comes around to budgeting, one day, after witnessing your stellar example. Or, you might feel grateful that they simply agree to save their receipts, leaving all of the heavy lifting up to you.
The most important thing is communication and not losing sight of your financial goals. Talk to your partner about your priorities for the budget, and ask for theirs. Discuss your plans for spending each month—in passing or in a budget meeting—and, share your wins!
It’s true, joining forces will make things easier, but you can still accomplish great things, even if your partner isn’t on board (yet).