I don’t think that it’s possible to have a healthy relationship without disagreeing now and then. Sometimes it’s little disagreements, like where to go for dinner. Other disagreements are much more personal and emotional, like your financial goals.
We all have unique wiring and life experiences that have shaped how we think and feel about everything. And if you’re in a relationship, it’s likely the person you’re with is the opposite of you in many ways. This is certainly true for my husband, Jer, and me.
These differences are a wonderful opportunity to grow together and create balance. One of the areas where we’ve balanced each other out is our personal finances.
I am naturally more of a saver. It’s really easy for me to save every penny and neglect to enjoy the fruits of my labor. Jer, on the other hand, is more of a spender. He’s the one who pushes me to buy that new bike, attend that conference, or take that extra vacation. When we work together to make these decisions, the outcome is better than if we had made them alone. But like most couples, we don’t always agree.
So how do we maintain balance, peace, AND the budget?
This is the sixth post in a series on creating financial freedom. Earlier this year I launched the series with a post about how to figure out where your money is going. The next post was all about creating a budget. The third post dove deep into the subject of saving and I followed that up with tips to ditch debt. The fifth post shared tips to build wealth on any income, which leads us to the subject of getting your spouse on board.
I’ve been planning to write about this topic for close to a year. It’s one of the most common questions I hear on the subject of personal finance. How do I get my spouse on board?
Even with all of our flaws, differences, and short comings, this is a subject where Jer and I work well together. There are five lessons that will help you work better with your spouse. As you read through them, keep this one principle in mind – be the light, not the hammer.Be the light, not the hammer. Click To Tweet
If you want to get your spouse on board, they’ll be more apt to follow if you lead by example. Nagging them about their terrible habits isn’t going to change them. But showing them the fun and freedom you’ve created by being intentional with your finances might.
1 – Define the Big Picture
There are four building blocks to creating a foundation for freedom. Good health, supportive relationships, financial fitness, and personal growth are all connected and work together to help us create and live our best lives.
For example, when my husband and I set the goal to pay off our mortgage, our health improved because happy hours and dining out were no longer in the budget. Additionally, we spent most of our down time doing free activities like hiking and biking. These activities brought us closer, as did setting and achieving goals together. The new knowledge and discipline we acquired inspired us to keep growing.
As you take steps to create financial freedom, the timeline you live on will expand. You will begin to think long-term. This might inspire you to start dreaming and talking about what you want your life to look like. You may even set aside a couple of hours to create a ten-year plan. From there you’ll begin to understand your family’s mission and values.
Spending time dreaming, talking, and creating a picture of what you want your life to look like will ensure you’re on the same page as you make important financial decisions together.
2 – Create Common Goals
Once you’ve decided what you want your life to look like, begin setting goals as a couple. Ask yourselves what the most important thing you would like to accomplish in the next five years is. Then set three attainable goals that will help you get there.
All that my husband and I have accomplished, we’ve done together. Having common goals helps us work as a team when making financial decisions.Creating common goals helps you work as a team when making financial decisions. Click To Tweet
3 – Make the Most of Each Other’s Strengths
When working on those goals make the most of the other’s strengths. When we were paying off our mortgage, I used my organizing, planning, and Excel skills to keep us on track. When Jer experienced frugality fatigue, I used those skills to create a chart that could help him visualize our progress.
With those tendencies, it’s easy for me to focus all my effort on saving and neglect to spend a little to enjoy life. Jer is always the voice of reason who nudges me to spend on the things that bring value to our lives.
Sometimes it’s frustrating to deal with the other’s tendencies, but a saver and a spender make a great team. If I would have married another saver, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to enjoy all of the hobbies and adventures Jer and I have discovered together. If Jer would have married another spender, they wouldn’t have the money to invest in said hobbies and adventures.
Learn to appreciate what the other brings to the table. Then make the most of their strengths while working as a team to create the life of your dreams.
4 – Budget and Automate
I talk about how to do it in my post on budgeting. In this post, I want to focus on why it’s important.
When you create a budget together, you set the expectation for where your money will go before you earn it. If you have a concrete plan, both individuals will do a better job of sticking to it.
After we decide what we want to do with our money, I set up automatic transfers for each pay period. If there’s not a predetermined plan for the money, it goes away and is somewhat difficult to access. This makes impulse purchases more difficult. There’s virtually nothing that can pop up that can’t wait until next month’s budget.There’s virtually nothing that can pop up that can't wait until next month’s budget. Click To Tweet
5 – Pick Your Battles and Compromise
Sometimes it’s not worth arguing about. Before you voice your opinion, look at the big picture and ask yourself if this will matter five to ten years from now.
Sometimes you will need to speak up and in those moments, you’ll want to be ready to compromise. A compromise is defined as “an agreement between two sides who have different opinions, in which each side gives up something it had wanted.” I encourage you to try to look for a win win. Come to an agreement that makes both parties happy and you’ll be more motivated to work as a team to meet your goals.
One final tip that will save you from money fights and problems. Set a spending limit and agree to discuss all purchases beyond that limit. We’re in the habit of discussing most purchases outside of our normal daily expenses. I don’t ever recall Jer saying no, but it’s a respectful and proactive way to stay on the same page.
For example, as I was writing this, Jer called to discuss some bike tools he wanted to buy. His purchase was less than $100, but including me in his decision made me feel my opinion mattered. He created trust by being upfront and letting me know what to expect when the credit card statement comes in. More importantly, including me in the decision-making process made me feel as though we’re working as a team toward the same goals.
Working together to meet your financial goals can be a lot of fun. By dreaming, looking at the big picture, and setting goals, you’ll be motivated to reach new heights. By learning to see how the other compliments you and improves your life, you’ll be more willing to work together and compromise. It won’t happen overnight, but little by little you’ll start to see more peace and balance in your relationship and personal finances.
Ready to change your financial future?
Check out these posts to learn everything you need to know to go from surviving to thriving.
Step One – Figure Out Where Your Money Is Going
Step Two – Creating a Budget That Works For You
Step Three – Saving For Financial Freedom
Step Four – Ditch Your Debt
Step Five – Build Wealth on Any Income
Step Six – Achieving Your Goals As A Couple
What has helped you and your significant other reach your financial goals together?
Share in the comments below.
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