One of my financial follower friends recently asked me for advice on how to get her partner on board the fiscally responsible money train. I had to think about it for a while, and in the end, I realized the best thing to do was to ask my own husband as I successfully wooed him to “the dark side” in the time we’ve been together. So here are our thoughts!
Visualize the future.
Ask your partner what they see themselves doing in the future. Do they want to be able to retire eventually? Or do they love to work? What do they want to do during retirement? What would they do if an emergency suddenly happened? What are the more immediate goals they have – do they need a new car soon? Do they want to buy a house? Do you want to have kids together? These are all things you should be talking about if you see any kind of a future with this person anyway, it’s important to set goals in your relationship, but money factors into all of them. Do they know how they’re going to make all of these goals and future plans happen? I would use these goals to explain why it’s good to pay off debt (and then avoid it in the future), save for big purchases versus putting them on credit, and plan for retirement. Maybe it’s how I’m wired, but I find that giving people reasoning for a new way of doing something will help them understand and be more willing to try. And the main WHY for not accruing credit card debt and saving for big items is to not waste money on interest and therefore be able to reach your financial goals faster.
Track your progress.
My husband said the main thing that got him more interested and excited about paying off debt and saving was our monthly net worth tracking. In the beginning, it was definitely tough to “force” him to check all of his accounts and enter the balances in a spreadsheet. It’s not fun at all to see a lot of negative debt and it can be difficult to face the cold hard numbers. Once he started to see the debt shrink and the savings grow, he was more motivated and willing to track the net worth and participate in any financial goals I had set for us. I usually stay away from using actual numbers, but the progress is staggering and must be shared – my husband went from a net worth (savings, debt and retirement accounts) of -$21k to +$40k in 4 years. He had student loans and credit card debt and absolutely no retirement when we first met, now the debt is gone and the savings have grown. The money that initially went toward paying off the debt is now going exclusively to those retirement accounts so the progress is compounding even more. Sometimes he still begrudges the act of the tracking, but more often he is glad he has the numbers to look back on so he can be proud of his progress.
Keep your partner involved.
Figure out the best division of labor that works for you. There may be some tasks that he or she may hate, but you don’t mind and taking those on will relieve your partner a lot. Maybe you can’t get them to sit down and create a budget together, but you can at least create it and then pass it by them and explain why you allotted certain amounts and how you need their help to make this budget a reality. Just make sure to keep them involved in reaping the rewards! If you get some kind of windfall, you should both talk about how you want to allocate it. Maybe most of it should go toward savings or debt repayment, but some of it can go toward a fun activity or purchase for both of you. If you’re tracking your net worth and paying off debt, have a mini celebration each time you pay off a debt or hit a certain savings goal. Let your partner see that being fiscally responsible is not all hard work. Buckling down, following a budget, and living within our means allows us to have financial freedom and to engage in life’s little pleasures once in a while — without feeling guilty that they’re being charged to a credit card that can’t be paid off!
Do you have any other suggestions or proven methods on how you convinced your partner to be on the same financial wavelength? Or were you the person that needed to be convinced?