Like many of you, my husband is a spender by nature, while I’m a saver.
He is much better at remembering to have fun and enjoy life. Overall, I have no doubt this is one of the many reasons God brought us together, as I tend to be a little too serious and always focused on work, work, work, save, save, save. However, when it comes to budgeting and getting out of debt this could obviously be a point of contention for us.
When I first started learning about the importance of living debt free, I was worried that he wouldn’t get on board. To be sure, the idea of temporarily giving up so many of his wants was a real struggle.
As you know though, together we paid off our $22,000 in debt in less than 9 months and went on to build our emergency fund. Here’s how we approached budgeting as a couple with two very different financial habits.
How to Get Your Husband on Board with a Budget
1. Plan a Money Date
Simply opening up the discussion about finances can be a challenge in itself in many relationships. Each spouse may have so many preconceived notions about spending, saving, budgeting, and money that one or both may be reluctant to even talk about it.
However, avoiding this important discussion is a surefire way to sabotage all of your family’s budgeting efforts. If both spouses are not on board with the budget, as you’ve probably already discovered, it is a lot harder to reach your financial goals.
Plan a “money date” for you and your husband to discuss your budget. Try to think of it as something actually fun.
Remember when you were dating and dreaming of your future together? This is the same thing, just in a more grown up fashion. Managing your finances is an important way to achieve your bigger goals for your marriage and family.
Create a low-stress environment and get ready to open up the lines of communication. Leave the kids with Grandma or wait until they’re in bed so you don’t have distractions. Turn off the TV.
Calmly layout your idea of your family’s financial goals and why you want to achieve them. Make sure to listen openly as your husband shares his vision with you.
2. Realize this Truth About Relationships
When wives email me asking about how to get their husband on board with budgeting, they often report that their problem is that “he refuses to (insert money saving habit here)”, or “Convincing my husband to….” or “How do I tell him to stop spending?”
In fact, in my recent reader survey, when I asked what your biggest budgeting challenges were, one of the most common answers was: “My husband!”
I get it; it sucks to be on a completely different page than your spouse on anything, especially finances. But let me share a little piece of advice that has served me well…
It’s an unfortunate truth, but it is impossible to control anyone but yourself. The sooner you stop trying, the happier you’ll be.
If you have been pushing your husband to get on board with a budget and save money, and you’re only being met with resistance, stop.
Here’s what to do instead…
3. Ask an Expert
It is sometimes easier for a husband to hear this kind of advice from a well-known expert rather than from their wife.
Consider asking your husband to read Total Money Makeover (affiliate link) by Dave Ramsey. This is the book that taught me the importance of budgeting and how our current financial habits were affecting the future of our family.
As soon as I was done reading it, I handed it off to my husband and asked him to read it too so he could get a picture of what was going on inside my brain.
If you have been researching budgeting and getting out of debt for a while, it’s important to realize that your husband doesn’t necessarily have the privilege of all the information you do just yet. Give him a chance to wrap his head around the how and why before asking him to make changes in his spending.
4. Show Him Instead of Tell Him
The big “Aha!” moment for my husband came when I signed us up for Mint.com. I put together our budget based on our income and and current spending and just asked him to take a look.
At that moment, I didn’t have to say a thing. He saw for himself that there was no way we could continue on our current trajectory of spending.
That’s when he got on board with the idea of getting out of debt and budgeting.
5. Be Specific
Another challenge I see many readers come up against is when they ask their husbands to simply “be very careful with money” or “to curb spending”.
Then they get frustrated when their spouse just keeps on spending.
This doesn’t work because there is no information or agreed-upon plan for what is OK spending and what is not. Also, the broad idea of having to save money on everything can seem overwhelming and kind of miserable.
Instead, create a very specific zero-sum budget that you both agree to follow. The thing about a budget is you do still get to spend money. In fact, you should assign a place for every single dollar to go every month.
If you are the one that typically manages the budget, be very sure that you include your husband in this decision. This will be a guide for you both to go back to when discussing what is acceptable spending. Instead of you telling him to quit spending, the budget will tell him where he may spend.
6. Be Willing to Compromise
Even if you are the one in the relationship who knows how to manage money, you won’t make nearly as much progress on your financial goals without getting your spouse on board. Sometimes, that means being willing to compromise.
I am horrible at this by the way, so I really have to make a conscious effort to do it, but when I do it’s very effective.
The concept of an ‘allowance’ has really helped my husband feel less restricted. He gets a set amount of cash each month that he can use for whatever he wants, no questions asked.
It’s not much, but that little bit of splurge money goes a long way to helping him happily stay on board with the rest of our budget.
7. Take Responsibility
There will be those of you that have sincerely tried all of the above tips for how to get your husband on board with a budget, and he still isn’t willing. I know it is super frustrating to be trying so hard and not feeling supported.
When you come to this crossroads, as I see it, you have but one choice. You can either give up completely, or you can choose to take responsibility for the spending for which you do have control.
I’d like to say that I always took responsibility for the budget categories that I had control of to ‘set a good example,’ but I’m sorry to say I went right along with all of our misguided expenditures over the years.
If you aren’t feeling supported at all in keeping a budget, it is easy to say “forget it!” and then start spending when you know you shouldn’t; but try to resist!
There is good news! Research has shown that women are in fact responsible for making the majority of the spending decisions in most families, so you can still make a big impact on your budget while still giving your husband time to come around.
Budgeting and financial stewardship is an important part of every marriage, but please don’t let this be a point of contention between you and your husband that makes the rest of your marriage suffer.
Be patient and pray to the One who has the ability to change hearts and circumstances even when we can’t.
How to Get Your Husband on Board with a Budget
By focusing on the things I could control (i.e. not my husband), I gave my husband the space he needed to come around to the idea to living on a budget. I chose to communicate openly, be creative with how I presented the idea of budgeting, take responsibility for my own spending, and be patient and prayerful while I waited.
Although my husband is the spender and I’m the saver, together, we have gone on to accomplish the huge financial goal of getting out of debt and building up our emergency fund. What we could have allowed to become a point of contention has only made our relationship stronger by choosing to respect our differences and work together.
Even when a husband and wife have very different habits, you can successfully work together to the same financial goal! Be encouraged! Even ‘spenders’ can eventually get excited about budgeting!