Your partner/spouse may have vastly different ideas about how your joint personal finances should be managed. It seems that in relationships this is usually how the combo's usually work out:
– One half is more in-tune with financial matters, and deals with all the money matters while the other is happy to stay out of the fray and focuses on other things that impact the relationship.
– One partner is the Spender and one is the Saver (that's how me and Aaron are. He's the Natural Saver and I'm the Natural Spender.)
OR one partner used to have different (more frugal) ways about money when you got together, and has, over time, changed their ways, and has started to make financial changes that you don't necessarily approve or agree with (“Let's spend ALL THE MONEY!! YEAH! SHOTS FOR EVERYONE!”). Now, that's a very sticky situation.
Ideally, both people in the relationship would agree on money matters, and work towards a frugal, savings-focused financial life but what if you see things differently? Maybe you're ready to start living in a new way, and get your debt wiped out once-and-for-all but your partner wants to keep ordering pizza every other night and is totally fine with having the mega-channel, cable package that you are convinced you don't really need. How do you get on the same page with money much less convince your partner that being frugal is going to be TOTALLY AWESOME? Well, here are some ideas.
13 ways to convince your partner that being frugal is the way to go…
1. Be Prepared to Face Eye Rolls
Let's be honest, if you come at your spendy partner with a Power Point plan about the amazingness of saving money, be realistic about how their initial response might be. There may be a little, or a lot, of eye rolling, huffing and puffing, and protesting. Don't take it personally. Stick to the plan. Start out by reviewing your present financial situation with a bulleted list of savings goals made possible by being more frugal. Highlight how great life would be to not have the oppressive weight of debt hanging over your heads, and be excited about the idea! That will go a long way.
2. Don’t Expect Overnight Change
Many people need to first see the possibilities before they can commit to making lifestyle changes. Understand that your partner will need some time to adjust to changes, and may not be 100% on your team right away. Be patient. Old habits can take time to change. “Slip-ups” might happen, and that's okay. This isn't about perfection. Just re-commit, support each other, and keep on going.
3. Skip the Blame Game
Don’t go into the conversation ready to blame your partner for ALL THE MONEY PROBLEMS. Bring a positive attitude, admit your faults, and make it a ‘we’ conversation so their mind doesn't slam shut. Approach it as, “I think WE can do better financially. Here's my idea…”.
4. Establish a Plan for Short-Term Goals
Bring some immediate ideas to the table that show some easy ways to incorporate frugality into your combined daily lives. For example, vow to cut down on grocery costs. Then, list a few ways to accomplish this, such as, clipping coupons or shopping at discount stores. Estimate how much you can save each month and point out that the money could serve you better in a savings account or to get the debts paid off.
5. Work Together on the Big Picture
Once you’ve broached the subject of living a more frugal life, open the discussion on financial goals for the long term. Make a list of the things you could earmark extra savings toward such as: paying off the loans and credit cards, funding retirement accounts, buying your first home, or just having overall financial security.
6. Ask for Input
After the conversation has begun don’t neglect your partner’s input. Ask them for ideas on where more savings can be found, and how you two could spend less on things. Write down these ideas to expand on later. The more involved your partner feels the more likely they will be into the new “frugal-lifestyle” idea, and actually stick to it. Which is what we're after, after all.
7. One Step at a Time
Don’t try to bite off more than you can chew. Work with your partner to find a few changes you can make in the next seven days. It will take time to realize which cuts are necessary to start forming better financial habits. (OR, if you're really winning at the convincing, and want to jump right in with the Spending Fast or Spending Diet then start your Wants and Needs list.)
8. Be a Cheerleader
When your partner shows an effort towards making changes, be The Ultimate Cheerleader. Let them know you appreciate their attention and efforts to your financial goals and future. If they should “mess up”, be patient, and help them get back on track because most likely you'll need their support too.
9. Be a Role Model
You can’t expect someone to adjust to a new financial life if you are not fully committed. Be a good role model and do your best to practice frugal habits.
10. Have Weekly Progress Meetings
The more money you can free up each week to put into savings, the faster your debt will be eliminated or your savings account will grow. Sit down for a few minutes each week together to add up the totals in your savings account register to keep track of how well you are doing. It's motivating to see that the sacrifices are paying off.
11. Be Progressive with Frugal Ideas
There are thousands of ideas online to be more frugal but too much information at one time can be overwhelming for anyone. After each progress meeting, discuss 2 new ideas to mix into the upcoming week to cut spending.
12. Be Open to Compromises
There will be times when spending a little on “wants” will become an issue. For these situations you’ll need to be willing to compromise. Have a plan in place to deal with extra spending such as a separate savings account for rainy days that you fund with loose change or birthday money. Allowing yourself to enjoy your hard-earned money is an important factor in keeping you on financial track, and if you're not doing the Spending Fast then spending on “wants” every now and then is totally okay.
13. Recognize When Help Is Needed
If you are making a move to a more frugal lifestyle because your partner still tends to overspend a lot or they can't stay on the Frugal Wagon, consider consulting with a professional financial advisor or debt counselor. When spending is a problem, it may be out of your realm to provide the help your partner needs to gain a new financial perspective.
Have you been in the situation where your partner has very different ideas about money than you? Did you end up getting on the same page or not? If you did, how'd you do it? If you didn't, did you accept the differences or part ways?
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