Creating a Spending Plan With a Reluctant Spouse

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“For richer or poorer” is one of the vows traditionally offered when a couple decides to wed. This goes wonderfully in most cases, which is great, because creating a spending plan with a reluctant spouse can be a rather arduous undertaking.

Well, truthfully, creating the plan can be relatively simple — getting them to stick to it is where the challenge comes in. The good news is you can achieve success in that regard with these recommendations.

First Determine Why

As much as you care for one another, odds are you come from different backgrounds. Some families have to watch their spending more than others. If one of you is from a family that does and the other is from a family that doesn’t, you’re going to have to help them do some “unlearning”.

Even if you agree upon the importance of living a debt-free life, you may well have different ideas about how to get there. A conversation about money needs to be had if you’ve yet to entertain one. Keep it simple, avoid “blaming” and focus on finding solutions with which both of you can be comfortable.

Timing is Crucial to Your Success

Plan ahead for the discussion. Last thing you want is for spouse to feel “ambushed” by the conversation. Meeting them at the door when they come home from work one evening with an insistence to sit down and talk about money is a surefire way to get them to see it as an imposition.

Plan an evening with snacks, a discussion about your future together and the important role your finances will play. Ask them to expect it in advance so they can be psychologically prepared for the discussion. If you already know credit card debt is involved, doing some preliminary research on different forms of credit card debt relief will be useful as well.

Keep it About “Us”

People are conditioned to avoid talking about money. It’s a societal taboo. However, when you discuss it in terms of “we” as opposed to “I’ or “you”, the subject is easier to broach.

You want to avoid the appearance of blame as well as coming across like you’re delivering a lecture. Some people simply do not appreciate being told what to do — even when they know they’re wrong. In fact, a lot of people resent it even more when they know they’re wrong.

Do your homework ahead of time so you can illustrate the situation and approach it as if you’re asking for help rather than “laying down how it’s going to be”.

Another key tip; let the past be the past, focus your energies on the future.

Draft a Plan

After having this conversation and arriving at a meeting of the minds, you’ll probably be the one tasked with creating the plan. Reticence is difficult to overcome with one conversation. Still, you can get their agreement and buy-in to review your strategy.

Call it spending plan, rather than a budget because that feels like you’re getting something, rather than giving something up. Include some fun money each partner can use at their own discretion, so they’ll feel they have a measure of control over the money they bring in.

Be Ready to Compromise

Again, you’re not laying down the law, you’re drafting a plan and plans can be flexible. Leave room for them to make some of the decisions so they feel they had some input.

Building in these compromises will give them a sense of involvement, which in turn should lead to engagement. Creating a spending plan with a reluctant spouse is always easier when they feel like they have some say in way things go too.

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