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Getting a Spouse on Board with Finances

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From time to time I get questions from readers and so far I’ve been getting some wonderful emails about family and finances in the real world.

Today I want to share an email from a family who have accomplished much. This husband wants to keep his wife on board with the momentum. I’ve edited it a bit for privacy and to highlight the questions asked.

After sharing my take, I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions.

Making Progress as a Couple

I am 29 years old, and my wife is 30.  We have a toddler.  About 2 years ago I was introduced to Dave Ramsey’s program (The Total Money Makeover).

Last year we paid off quite a bit of debt, including all student loan debt, car purchase , credit cards, travel program, and some house projects.  It was a relief beyond what we had ever experienced as a couple.  We want to continue that trend for our daughter.

My wife is not as much into money as I am.  How did you all become a “couple” in money, rather than just a nerd and a spendthrift?

I manage our finances, but my wife doesn’t really spend anything, so it works well for now.  I just want her to be a part of the conversation.

Does one of you do more of the detailed updates? Do you have weekly/monthly/quarterly update meetings?  Also, what does the conversation sound like?

Also, with a child, how do you manage the time to grocery shop and cook food?  We find ourselves eating out more than we want because of convenience.  We both work and it just gets exhausting to work, keep up with household chores, play with our daughter, and do the cooking.

My Response

There are some questions included in the email that I wanted to share here because I think many couples have the same issues at some point.

Does one of you do more of the detailed updates?

I do more of the day to day finances. My husband likes knowing where our money of course, but he doesn’t stress over it. We created our system together and adjusted it as we saw fit. After doing this for a few years, much of it is automated and consistent. We use Mint to alert us to anything unusual.

Do you have weekly/monthly/quarterly update meetings?

We discuss our finances on a monthly basis. Doing the net worth reviews on Couple Money have been helpful in a sense as we have a routine with discussing money.

The purpose of the net worth reviews is to give us a regular system to look at our accounts, see what’s changed, and analyze what went well and what we need to work on.

Getting a spouse on board doesn’t have to be a big ceremony or job. Keeping one another in loop and asking for each other’s thoughts can be a good start.

What does the conversation sound like?

Honestly there is a lot of shorthand between us now. When we first started conversations were longer – it was about money and it was more than money. When offering a suggestion and ideas many times we discussed our reasoning behind them.

It took time for the two of us to find a way to fit both of our styles with our joint finances – my husband is more cautious with money and I’m more proactive about making changes.

Now our conversations are a lot of quicker and we’re both trying to reach the goals that we created together. We’re comfortable enough with each other to ask questions if we see an expense that we’re not sure about.

How do you manage the time to grocery shop and cook food?

When we signed up for a CSA delivery program last year we were more concerned with eating healthier and saving money. While it was definitely convenient last year when I was pregnant, it has been even better for us now that we have a little one.

Our grocery shopping for meats and other perishables is more planned than before we became parents. With a young daughter we tend to make the most of our shopping trips – preparing a grocery list can be a huge help as making small runs for a forgotten item to the store is a waste of time.

Cooking food, believe or not, is not as time consuming as we feared. Most meals can be done in 30 minutes or less with cooking time being the majority of it.

By the way, Wojo and I blog about cooking for family with Married Food. We both have little ones and so we share meals that are easy to prepare. If you two are pressed for time learning some basics about stir-frys, pastas, and tacos can pay dividends. Crock pot meals are fantastic for busy families.

Thoughts on Getting a Spouse on Board with Finances

I shared my take on it and I’d love to get your feedback. Each couple has their own way of handling their finances. How do you two juggle everything? What are some success that the two of you have had already? What are some of your goals right now?

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by Elle Martinez

Elle Martinez helps families at Couple Money achieve financial freedom by sharing tips for reducing debt, increase income, and building net worth. Learn how to live on one income and have fun with the second..

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  1. My fiance and I are both pretty interested in talking about our current finances and our financial goal, so I’m not much help on that end. However, I hate cooking and by the time I’m home from work I want food right away – I’m usually too hungry to wait more than a few minutes. To solve that problem, I’ve started cooking a bunch of meals on Saturday afternoons or Sunday evenings and putting them in the refrigerator to be eaten throughout the week. That way I can eat healthfully, on a budget, and not have to wait more than a few minutes to reheat.

    1. Thanks Shannon for sharing your tip on batch cooking. I know a couple of our friends do it and seem to enjoy it.

  2. I’d say it mostly starts with goal setting. If you can find a highly prized goal like a big vacation or something, then you can get interest in the process for getting there. Honestly, getting rid of debt is motivating, but an awesome date in the canals of Venice might provoke more interest.

    The important thing to remember though when organizing the goal is that you need to balance a budget, save enough for retirement and put together the extra money for the amazing trip. That way you make all the finances part of the big goal.

    1. I appreciate the point about incentives and motivation- what might get one spouse excited might not get the other one on board. Finding what can motivate the two of you to work together is essential.

  3. Great advise. I think it important for both people to be part of the planning and implimentation of the budget. I also believe both should have a buy-in to the spending/saving of money. We created two accounts with a little spending money each month for both of us. It also comes in handy for purchasing gifts for each other. In this case if they both do not feel the need for spending money, they could turn it into a vacation fund.

    1. Thanks Shawn for sharing. One of my most popular is about how we have both joint and individual accounts.We’ve adjusted it as our finances have changed and it’s worked well for us so far.

  4. Like you, I do most of the day to day budgeting, but my husband knows what is going on. At the end of each month we have a conversation about what we’ve accomplished and what we need to plan on for the coming month. We use MINT for all of our budgeting and my husband has access to check that at any time (though I doubt he logs in more than once a month). It works for us.

    1. Mint is such a handy tool :) I’m so glad the two of you have found a system that works and is fine for both of you.

  5. We began with long range goals, our vision of the future and our ideal life together. We’re both in our 50’s (me, late, he younger) so before we met 8 years ago we had established habits, some good, some not so good. I’m much better with finances so I do all of the planning and paperwork. We have brief weekly check ins (that we’ve fallen behind on and just yesterday began anew). We check in where we are with our short term goals and action list. We stay supportive. If one of us isn’t on track we check in to see where we can help. Sometimes it’s just being in the office together that feels supportive.

    Finances have been a real struggle for us as a couple. In my first marriage I handled 100% of the finances and savings and we had built up a sizable retirement nest egg. Unfortunately I lost most of it through a drawn out divorce so I’m basically starting over. My vision is much simpler this go-round. I don’t need or want all of the trappings of a big house, big property (big maintenance). My son is older and will be on his own soon so I’ve shifted my thoughts to my future with my (second) husband and building a sustainable income into the future. We live in paradise so feel no need to vacation. Our life is simply beautiful and we’re working on getting our finances in alignment with the rest of life. We’re learning what works along the way and open to changing what doesn’t work. I’m learning to relax a bit more about money, my husband is learning to follow my lead a bit more. We make it fun because that’s high on my list. We keep it simple, because that’s high on my husband’s list (with finances).

    1. So happy to hear you and your husband are keep it simple and enjoying the life you two have now. Rebuilding finances can be difficult, but you seem to have a solid game plan for what you want in the future. I wish you and your family the best!

  6. Good inspiration… It’s not a “you” or “me” situation, it’s “us”.