How to get a Reluctant Partner on Board with Budgeting (Part 2)
Getting the buy-in from a reluctant partner when it comes to money is a game-changer. This post is part 2. If you haven’t checked it out already, part one is here.
Money and emotions are profoundly intertwined. So deep as to be considered inexplicably linked. Experiences and inherited constructs around money can vary wildly. We are all amalgamation of not just our experiences but what we were taught, what we saw and experienced as kids., our teenage lives, and beyond.
What the economy was up to mashed in with whatever life stage we are at. All play their roles in defining our relationship with money. The people we spend our time with and the relationships we choose. Money is a massive melting pot of thoughts, feelings and emotions. All are complicated; some are more complicated than others.
As a result, most of us treat money like it has a personality. We attach feelings to it. Many of them are unconscious. Once these ties are made, it can be hard to untangle them. If we choose to separate them, it can take time, effort and a massive push for change. This can be a mammoth task.
When it comes to getting your reluctant partner on onboard with budgeting, it can take the skill of a surgeon and the patience of a saint. However, keeping steady and focusing on the end game will be all worth it.
Listen to your partner. I mean, really listen.
This part is not about you; you’re already there. You, for whatever reason, woke up to the power of benign mindfulness with your money and pushed through. You stepped up and took back control. That’s some superhero stuff right there and be proud that you have. However, your partner might just not be there just yet.
When trying to find out why a loved one does not want to get on board with budgeting, listen carefully to what they say.
I’ll let you in on a bit of life secret here.
Don’t ever accept the first answer as the real reason because it’s not. I’m not saying to point that out either, I’m saying to acknowledge each argument against budgeting and mentally set it aside.
As the conversation unfolds, you will find that the third, fifth, or even tenth argument against budgeting is often the real one. The rest are red herrings. If you jump in there and solve the first problem, it will not change anything. You may even scare them back into their shell, making it harder to coax them out again. Their behaviour will stay the same, and you will get frustrated. These initial reasons to avoid budgeting are not the real reasons.
The real reason is hidden deeper. If it wasn’t, your partner would be on board already.
Opening positive conversations around this topic can take time and patience, and you may even need more than one to get to the root of the problem.
There can be so many reasons a partner can be opposed or hesitant; they probably have fear or some deep-seated belief holding them back...
Do they feel restricted or controlled by the thought of budgeting? Was their life ever limited before?
Did they have some money scares from growing up that needs to be out in the open first? Some of these may have caused wounds that never healed.
Maybe they have a system and like it better than yours but don’t want to say it because they are afraid to hurt your feelings.
Maybe it’s related to how money was treated in their childhood. Many of our beliefs, ones we don’t even know about, are laid down in these formative years.
Do they feel unworthy of getting ahead with money? Self-esteem plays a huge role here.
Could they be worried that they will look silly for not understanding money? Pride has been the downfall of so many of us.
Maybe they are nervous about letting you down. Love has done stranger things.
Maybe they are terrified of change, or more commonly. Are they petrified that they might actually succeed if they try?
Your inclination toward the initial answers may be frustration, but your stance must come from a place of compassion. All these things are best talked about first.
As I mentioned, it may take several conversations before they are ready to participate. Trying to pull an unwilling partner along will most likely end in disaster and frustration from both sides and result in deeper digging in heels, and communication breaks down.
I empathise with you. It will mean a lot of patience and patience being tested at times but getting both sides on board with any plan is the key to it being magical.
Once your partner is on board, your job is not done yet. For most of us, we are happy when a change in habit occurs. There is a sense of achievement. However, habits still take work to maintain.
Once you’ve gotten some buy-in to dabble in budgeting, here’s your game plan for getting your reluctant partner on the budgeting bandwagon. It doesn’t have to be forced. It doesn’t have to be stressful. Instead, be ready to tweak and adjust constantly.
Step 1. Pick a style that works for both of you.
Whether it’s cash envelopes, a digital spreadsheet, budget planners or folders, pick the most comfortable path for both of you.
It may be a mix of several methods. For example, one partner may thrive on a cash envelope system, the other a card. This is an easy one to fix. First, put all the main/joint bills out of one account so that neither has to think about it. Then take out cash for the person responsible for the cash bills and lodge money into a separate account for the card-loving partner.
This often works in practice when one partner takes on the lion’s share of the actual budgeting while the other partner gets their ‘fun money' into their envelope or card, and they stick within the limits of that amount while the rest is dealt with in the background.
All that’s needed here is for each person to stay within the allotted budget. Then, if something more significant is sought, you both chat, figure out if it’s worthwhile and works it into the account.
Step 2. Habits take time to change
Not everything will go to plan.
Your wife just bought a pair of €150 sunglasses, unplanned
Your husband just purchased a €150 camera, unplanned
Circle back to why you started the journey to begin with.
Ask a simple question: How does that affect our savings goal for ________?
So, now you’ve got them thinking without making them feel they failed the budget.
By having shared goals as discussed in part 1 of this topic, that you have both previously committed to, it is harder to break those commitments. These goals would have been hammered out over money dates and aspirational conversations about your dream lives. Things that you conspired together.
It can be hard to hold your tongue at times like these, but it is crucial to do so. This person loves you and knows they have let you down in their heart. By having a calm conversation, they will understand that they have let down their side of the bargain. They don’t need any more reminding of it. In fact, by keeping your cool, they will most likely try harder following time to honour your collective dreams. At times like these, leaning on the carrot instead of the stick will have a more impactful effect.
Step 3: Find out how to make it fun.
The quickest and easiest way to reach your shared goals is to work together and make them happen. Goals are just challenges, not problems.
Budgeting doesn’t have to be dull.
How do you make budgeting fun? Turn every little challenge into a game.
How quickly can you save €1,000 as your rainy-day fund?
How fast can you clear that credit card?
How much stuff around the house can you sell that you don’t really need or ever use?
How many dishes can you make with the ingredients already in your cupboards?
How long can you go without buying something online?
Making it a fun challenge that you work on together changes the rules and turns it from a harmful chore of deprivation to a life-enhancing race to freedom, choice and a life you could only dream of in the past. It’s now a properly fun game.
Budgeting as a couple can be a profoundly bonding experience. It makes you stronger, better and more resilient. It helps lift you both up and focuses on the positive achievement thriving side of life instead of a negative, diverse, less joyful place.
No path to freedom ever ran smoothly.
The start is always the hardest.
Everything worthwhile in life takes time and practice.
I'll be sharing more money-saving tips and money mindset tips with you soon, so stay tuned! In the meantime, make sure you are subscribed to the Smart Money Times Newsletter and get your hands on my new ebook From Out of Control to Cruise Control, 20 Simple Things to Completely Transform Your Money Life.