It’s a new year, and you may be ready for a new you: one who has money in the bank and a plan for retirement.
Unfortunately, if you’re a wannabe saver who is married to a spendthrift, you face an uphill battle. Here’s how to bridge the divide and get your spouse on board when it comes to putting money aside for the future.
1. Stop nagging
First, you need to recognize that no amount of cajoling, rationalizing and pleading with your spouse is going to make him or her come around to your line of reasoning. In fact, for many people, feeling pressured to do something is certain to make them dig in and do the opposite.
So lay off. If you’ve been lobbying heavily for your spouse to save more, take a break from the subject and don’t mention it for a month or two. Give your spouse space to let any lingering resentment from your heavy-handed tactics dissipate. Then, you can try to strike up the conversation again — only this time, in more positive terms.
2. Tune in to his or her personality
It helps if you understand why your spouse is so committed to spending. Could it be one of the following?
- Your spouse grew up in a low-income household and bristles at the idea of living frugally as an adult.
- Your spouse works hard for the family’s money and feels entitled to spend it as he or she sees fit.
- Your spouse’s parents modeled bad financial behavior so your spouse doesn’t know how to handle money.
- Your spouse has an underlying problem — such as an addiction or mental health concern — that is leading to overspending.
- Your spouse is immature and undisciplined.
Getting to the root of your spouse’s reluctance to save is key to successfully tackling this issue. If your spouse is spending money to compensate for feeling lonely or depressed, you need to address that underlying issue before you can worry about saving money. If your spouse feels entitled to spend their paycheck, you need to approach the issue in a way that acknowledges their hard work and still gives them leeway to spend, within reason, when they want.
3. Focus on shared goals
OK, now you’re ready to actually have a conversation with your spouse. Depending on his or her personality, you may want to specifically ask to have a money meeting or you could bring up the topic spontaneously when the moment seems right.
However, don’t lead off by telling them to save more. Instead, talk about how you were thinking it would be nice to do “X” in the future. That could be taking the kids to Disney World, traveling in retirement or whatever else would appeal to you as a couple.
Have a talk about what you’d like to accomplish together, and only once you’ve outlined some shared dreams should you bring up the idea of reworking the budget to make those dreams possible.