When I first met him, my husband was not a budgeter. He didn’t know how, nor did he want to. He was happy saving a small amount of his money and spending the rest, and he felt that budgets were restrictive and for people with a lot less money than he had.
His money seemed to flush down the drain, though, and he never seemed to understand how it got away so quickly.
I was the same but quite a bit younger so I didn’t see a problem with it.
When I started budgeting, many pieces of the money puzzle fell into place for me. Because my husband and I were just dating at this point, we didn’t have combined finances so I didn’t share my newfound love for budgeting with him.
When we moved in together and began to incorporate more and more of our financials, such as bills and bank accounts, I started trying to get him interested in budgeting. At this point, I started realizing the impact of his money behaviour on our financial future, good or bad. He never had particularly bad money habits, but some could be cleaned up, as could mine.
It was a rocky road when we first embarked on our joint budgeting strategy, but now that we are both on board and on the same page, it’s become a lot more manageable.
It took a while for my husband to get on board. It’s not impossible to spark interest in budgeting in somebody who hasn’t previously shown any, though. Here area few tips if you are struggling with the same with your spouse:
The Numbers Don’t Lie
I spent a lot of time preparing what I thought our spending should/would look like (estimated, of course) and creating alternatives and showing savings rates on spreadsheets before bringing it to him.
I would then ask him to look at the computer and show him the savings rates that we could achieve if we cut back on this, or watched our spending on that.
There’s something about looking at a spreadsheet on the computer that reflects a huge jump in savings just by cutting back on eating out. I could see that imaging that amount of money in our bank accounts piqued his interest.
Get Them Dreaming
I was a bit sneaky with this, but it worked nonetheless. I picked something I knew that he wanted (a canoe) and pitched the idea of budgeting as a method to meet the goal of buying one. I said something along the lines of “It would be so awesome to have a canoe. I bet if we looked at a budget and cut back a little on something, we could afford one”.
That made him take a look at the basic budget that we had already set up and check out the money flow.
The more excited they are about the dream, the more effective this will be.
Get Them Involved
I wouldn’t be interested in something if I had no involvement in it, so I wouldn’t expect my husband to, either. Instead of just showing them a budget you have already made, ask for their input and work with them instead of by yourself. While it might be easier for both parties if you do it yourself, the other person won’t be as invested in it, which is exactly what you are looking to avoid.
Many people don’t like budgeting or don’t think it is necessary, which can be bad for your finances and therefore your relationship with them. Instead of getting frustrated or writing them off as somebody who will never “get” or like budgeting, work with them to try to get them into it!
My husband was the same way when we met. He was very responsible with his money, but savings could have been higher. For him what worked was having little jars for everything we wanted. He runs into tips at his current job while he’s in school, so every time we had cash we’d pick a jar to put it in. He picked where he wanted to save his money and I picked mine. We fully built our emergency fund in one month, and saved for an entire trip in two. It was amazing. Now that cash goes straight into the bank, but the savings habits have stuck.
Building up those small habits is important!
Just listened to Dave Ramsey answer a question about this. His main point was your #3. The husband had done all the numbers, explained everything, and just told his wife all she had to do was keep within the budget he gave her. Didn’t work. Dave Ramsey suggested he get her involved in the decision making process instead of doing everything for her and just asking her to comply.
I think it’s a great way to ensure buy-in!
Before you can get someone else interested in budgeting or doing something differently with their finances, they have to have the desire to change. That’s really the hardest part….you can show them all the techniques and tricks to track spending and stay on budget, but if they don’t want to change their spending habits, they just won’t.
I think that is true to an extent, but some people are just ignorant about what such a change can do for them.
Good points, Daisy. I did try as well to interest different people in budgeting: my husband and my grown up sons mainly. My husband is what I’d call ‘budget bulimic’- he goes through periods of spending absolutely nothing and then spends a lot (usually on something large). I still get numbers like ‘couple of hundred’ from him which is very frustrating (he is mathematician after all). Sons are a different matter entirely – everytime I try to speak to them they claim they know better (and they don’t, really). Oh well, I’ll keep trying.
Sounds frustrating, Maria. Keep trying as you said!
My hubs is a kinda type of spender and for the previous months, we didn’t set any budget, we were living paycheck to paycheck. Thankfully, when I started reading PF blogs, I was really engaged to start budgeting and I also encourage my husband to do that also.
How has the budgeting been going since, Kate?
I wish I could get my mom to make a frickin’ budget. Augh she drives me crazy with her finances. Her excuse for not making a budget is that she knows her spending is so bad and she gets too stressed trying to figure out how bad it is. I’ve tried so hard to help her decrease her spending and although she’s made improvements, she could still be doing so much more. But I can only do but so much. She has to want to change herself!
If she doesn’t take the first step she wont’ make any progress! But I hear you – if she doesn’t want to do anything about it you won’t be able to make her.