059 | How Do I Get My Spouse On Board With Budgeting?

How Do I Get My Spouse On Board with Budgeting

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Last month, we paid off our $400,000 home in just under 4 years.

It took a lot of diligence, patience and teamwork between my lovely bride and I, but we’re proud to check this important family milestone off our list at 35 years old.

We spent some time celebrating this fun moment in our lives this weekend. Instead of burning the mortgage, my wife Nicole had a really great idea. We put together a paper mache piñata out of the mortgage documents. 

Mortgage Pinata
Nicole Cutting the Mortgage Piñata

After the Mortgage Piñata was ready, we let our kids and our friend’s kids hit it with a bat until it burst with candy, toys and quarters. The kids had a blast.

It was an awesome metaphor actually; if we destroy our mortgage, we get rewarded!

Whack That Mortgage Pinata
Whack That Mortgage Piñata, Zoey!

After our kids came down from their sugar high and went to bed, Nicole and I had a chance to review our budget for December. This is the first time we’ve done our budget together in the last 7 years where we didn’t have a mortgage payment anymore. It was nuts! This month, we had an additional $2,300 to play with.

We have to be careful that we don’t just upgrade our lives immediately. Yes, we’ll vacation more and Nicole will finally get to decorate her house after waiting 4 long years. We also need to start saving for real estate and investing so we continue building wealth and permanently change our family tree.

And we’ll be able to do this in large part to our monthly budget parties. Nicole, thank you for keeping this party going 7 years later!

Coincidently enough, I received a question on Twitter about the very subject of budgeting with your spouse.

Q&Andy:  How Do I Get My Spouse On Board with Budgeting?

MARK:  

Hey Andy!

I found your article on finances due to fatherhood really moving and pertinent. I’m new to learning about FI and listen to a lot of podcasts related to it. Yours is going on my list. 

As a 28-year-old married man who will have another mouth to feed by this time next year, is there anything you can share with me beyond the articles? Any budgeting goals or ideas? I love the idea of the budgeting parties but my wife doesn’t care much about finances. She has a “We have enough to pay bills and live decently, so why make a budget” mentality; or that budgets are set in stone and don’t allow for flexibility. Any insight or advice is appreciated.

Thanks!

Great question Mark!

I’m so glad to hear you’re enjoying the site and you’re jumping into the podcast.

This is an extremely common question that I get a lot. One spouse gets all jacked up about saving, investing and building wealth and the other is sort of … meh.

via GIPHY

While I know very little about the dynamic of your relationship with your wife, I do know how things worked out between my wife and I in the beginning when we started budgeting together.

I’ll throw out 3 suggestions from my personal experience that will hopefully help you:

1. Speak With Your Wife FIRST About the Benefits of FI Instead of the Process

It sounds like both of you and your wife are currently working. Eventually she may want to stay at home with your new baby (or babies for that matter!). Getting on a budget, pursuing an FI lifestyle will help you achieve goals like that.

Let’s say she loves her job and doesn’t want to eventually be a stay-at-home mom. Ask yourself, what else does she love?

  • Travel?
  • Does she have a hobby that makes her smile?
  • Is she passionate about a specific cause?

When you’re financially independent, she can pursue all of those things and more.

If you’re not sure what she’s thrilled about … ask her. I bet she’d love to tell you.

My point is that us super-excited spouses (LIKE ME) need to speak about the benefits as opposed to saying “Hey baby, let’s live on a budget!” That’s just not sexy.

Andy’s Errors

I started off on the wrong foot with my wife when it came to improving our finances back in the day. After reading the Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey, I was immediately was hooked. I came up to Nicole and said, “Honey, I read this book. We need to sell your car and we need to live on a budget.”

Was she convinced? Oh, hell no … Because living on a budget does not sound very exciting.

It wasn’t until later that l learned to speak her language. She dreamed of having a nice home and eventually being able to raise our kids as a stay-at-home Mom. 7 years later, we’ve been able to do both of those important things.

So in short Mark, speak in terms of the benefits … not the process.

2. Lead by Example

If she’s not convinced by speaking about achieving your financial dreams together, I would then try to lead by example. Mark, you can start tracking your spending, your investing and making a plan for the future. Your wife will see your interest and the benefits that your diligence is providing the family and she’ll eventually jump on board.

It’s like exercising and eating right. If you start doing it, it’ll be a lot easier for her to follow you.

I did the same thing with our finances early in our relationship and eventually Nicole showed an interest. Now, she’s the one who’s keeping me on task!

3. Pick a Budgeting Method That Makes the Process Easy

We’re living in an amazing time right now … at least for those of us who are interested in starting a budget for the first time like you!

There are so many options to choose from that make the process simple.

When I started Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University course in 2010, he was all about the written budget. Pencil and paper. Hashing it out with your spouse.

Fortunately, the options have progressed significantly! I’m going over 4 of those options right now.

1. Mint

Mint has been our go-to budgeting app for almost 5 years. It syncs all of your accounts into one convenient place, has a handy app you can use to check in our progress throughout the month AND it’s free.

If you’re interested, here’s a 10-step guide to signing up for Mint.

2. YNAB (You Need a Budget)

This is the advanced budgeter’s dream. Not only does it aggregate all of your information into one convenient spot, but it helps you adjust easily when you go over budget in certain categories. That was my favorite feature when I tried it out.

It costs $5/month, but they have a free trial so you can give it a whirl.

I had trouble synching my wife’s credit card information when we did our free trial so we didn’t make the switch from Mint to YNAB.

3. Tiller

If you prefer having your own spreadsheet over online systems, this is the one for you. With Tiller you have the ability to modify your data how you see fit. It also syncs your accounts so you can easily see how your spending shook out that month.

I’ve been playing around with Tiller this month and I really enjoy the flexibility. Like YNAB, it’s also $5/month, but there is a free trial as well.

4. HoneyFi

This one is designed for couples specifically. Both couples get hooked up to the app individually on their smartphones. HoneyFi has a tracking and chat feature that allows you to easily check in on certain expenses. One of the founders of HoneyFi told me that his wife uses this feature a good way to harass him when he gets fast food too much!

Like Mint, HoneyFi is free as well …

Those are the 4 apps that I’ve personally spent time on. You’ll have to choose which one makes most sense for your situation, Mark.

Mint has worked well for us for a long time, but I really like how companies like Tiller and HoneyFi are niching down even further to speak to individual groups of people.

I hope the conversations with your wife go well, Mark! Whatever you choose to do, don’t forget … Happy wife, happy life.


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Budgeting

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Carpe Diem Quote

“Alone we can do so little; together, we can do so much.”
-Helen Keller

How do you manage your finances with your spouse?


 

Author: Andy Hill

Andy Hill, a mid-30’s father of two living in the metro Detroit area, pens the MarriageKidsandMoney.com (MKM) blog taking you through the trials and tribulations of being a young parent and husband who is planning for his family’s future and winning with money.

4 thoughts on “059 | How Do I Get My Spouse On Board With Budgeting?”

  1. I definitely agree with this! Always start with the benefits first. That’s true any time you want to motivate someone to do anything at all. You have to make them want to do it in order to inspire them. There’s a whole series of shifts in mindset that have to take place, both for you and for your listeners. 🙂

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