How to Kickstart Your Finances When Your Spouse Isn’t on Board

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I am super excited about this guest post today. I know this is a common problem amongst newlyweds and even couples who have been married for many years. It is hard to take control of your finances when your spouse or significant other is not on board. Javi is a personal finance blogger and owner of DreamerMoney.com, a site dedicated to helping single and married millennials destroy debt, invest and build wealth. I love his tips for kickstarting your finances when your spouse isn’t on board. 

My wife and I have been together for nearly 5 years. We married young after dating for two years while in college. During the first two years of marriage, we adopted a puppy, paid off over $34,000 in debt and began building a positive net worth. As any typical newly married couple, we were simultaneously trying to identify ourselves and our marriage. We were broke, young and in love (not trying to be cute, we were actually all those things).

One day I began listening to the Dave Ramsey podcast (we eventually visited him, check out our debt free scream). The same day I came home and expected my wife to be totally on board with our finances. The reality was a bit different. I learned one important lesson that day. Marriage and money is a team effort.

Don’t Talk About Money, Talk About Dreams

Some people are all about the numbers. If the numbers make sense, then it must work.However, your spouse or partner might be more of a dreamer. To them, it’s less about the money and more about the dream.

Here’s how a money conversation compares to a dream conversation:
 It’s easy to come home and regurgitate everything you have learned on your drive from work after listening to a podcast or reading a book. However, your spouse might not want to listen to the same podcast or read the same book.

Information overload is a real thing, and talking about money, as much as you think it’s an informational conversation, is not what they need. As far as you know, work sucked that day and all they want is to decompress and think about anything other than work, money, and retiring 30-40 years from now. Speak less, ask more! My wife has done a great job at teaching me this. Don’t offer solutions. Converse, empathize and ask.

Budget But Don’t Be Bossy

There are so many benefits to budgeting. 1.) It helps you control your money instead of your money controlling you. 2.) It keeps you and your partner accountable for each other’s spending and 3.) It gives you both an opportunity to communicate with each other.

Alli has a wonderful guide to budget basics, this is a perfect place to start!

I’m bad at trying not to sound bossy. Sometimes, the way I say things sound ruder than intended. My wife does a great job of communicating this to me. Budgeting and your finances are a team effort. Give your spouse or partner a chance for their own input about how money should be spent.

My wife and I combined our finances days before getting married. You don’t have to do this, however, it does make it easier to budget your money.

The last thing you want to do is blame each other for budgeting blunders. Some months you can’t help but go over budget. It’s ok! Regroup and reevaluate if you do happen to overspend. With couples, one of you is usually more enthusiastic about budgeting. As you first start a budget, that person can lead the budget meeting. Once you reach your fifth or tenth budget meeting, those roles will change.

Even though I was the one who began the budgeting meetings, there were weeks when I just didn’t feel like doing it, Taylor was the one to encourage and begin the meetings.

Marriage | Finances

Don’t Make It All About Money

This one is hard, especially for those of us who are naturally frugal.

Example: Flowers have zero return on investment. After a couple days, they die. However, flowers are money well spent when it changes my wife’s mood and day. That in itself is a worthy investment.

Many things in your budget are delicacies. They might not have any measurable value, but can be the catalyst for a happy relationship or marriage. Make sure you make room in your budget for a nice date night, a much-needed vacation, and a limited amount of frivolous spending.

Stay Consistent

 The biggest struggle when it comes to talking about your finances is sticking with the conversation. The first few months can be a challenge. That being said, when you know have a set date and time for your budget, money meetings become part of the routine. Your relationship will evolve into more than just trying to figure out how to spend your money. Even if the first time you budget your partner seems unenthusiastic, the more you do it the more they will realize how important this is to you.

You have to be careful about knowing how hard to push on this one. If both of you are not on the same page, it can create serious arguments in your relationship.At the end of the day, you have to remember the reasons why you want to get your finances in order. This all connects back to dreaming and there is nothing better than to dream together with that special someone.

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5 thoughts on “How to Kickstart Your Finances When Your Spouse Isn’t on Board

  1. All the praise hands! My partner and I have been together for 2.5 years and only last night have we sat down to do the budget together. I “nagged” and “nagged” to get him on board with better spending habits and realized that his vision for money was the complete opposite of mine. He dreams of experiences and things while I dream of a stable savings account and living debt free. Changing the verbiage changed our conversation and for the first time, I feel like we are almost on the same page!

    1. Wow that’s amazing! That is something I need to remind myself too. My goals and financial dreams aren’t necessarily the same as my partners. We need to be open and honest and try to figure out how to accommodate both of our goals. That is so great that y’all are almost on the same page!

    2. That’s so awesome! Stories like this make me so happy because now you guys will start working as a team. With this conversation both of you know each other’s motivation and can set goals around those dreams!! Even better you will be able to FUND each other’s dreams!! 🙂

  2. We still have an issue with this and have been together for 8 years. In fact, my wife told me she hated me that I saved so much for retirement. I don’t think she hates me anymore, but we still need to learn to communicate about money better. We are a work in progress.

    1. Communication is definitely key. It can be hard to get on the same page when you have different financial mindsets/goals but the important thing is to try to understand the other person’s side and find a common ground. Continue to work at it and don’t give up!

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