Author Topic: Any Recs for Getting my Spouse on Board?  (Read 10149 times)

Rebecca Stapler

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Any Recs for Getting my Spouse on Board?
« on: June 28, 2013, 09:43:47 AM »
Any recommendations how to motivate my spouse to spend less / be more responsible with spending? Something short and inspiring -- some blog posts, a youtube clip, etc.?

We are paying down student loan debt right now. My spouse is great about working freelance gigs to generate more income, but is not so good on the other side of the equation -- being generally mindful of spending.

There have been a series of fuckups that are about to cost us some $$. We all make mistakes, but my spouse's can be more frequent and some of them seem preventable -- like asking the allergist or insurance company what the impact of our health insurance switch would be on our costs for the allergy shots, or calling Canada on the cell phone when it's not included in our plan and we usually use Skype for international calling. There's also the awkward social situations, for example, spouse's co-workers going out for drinks. I'm OK with being a teetotaler, but my spouse feels very awkward about it.

My spouse has zero interest in finances, and little aptitude. It's something that I am happy to take over, but I do need some support in the expense-cutting arena. If I can find something short and sweet that will give my spouse the motivation and tools to be more mindful, I think that the road to paying off this debt will go more smoothly.

MsSindy

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Re: Any Recs for Getting my Spouse on Board?
« Reply #1 on: June 28, 2013, 10:15:06 AM »
In short, if her own husband cannot inspire her, no YouTube video is going to get the job done.  Sorry, you're going to need to put in effort and be patient.

Funny, my DH has done almost the same thing - was sick and went to a Minute Clinic that wasn't covered and also called his family "just this once" in Canada without our prepaid card.

When stuff like this happens, I don't yell or put him down - he didn't do it to be malicious, it was more of an "in the moment" decision.  When he gave me the Clinic bill, and I saw $90, internally I wanted to say WTF?  But, I said something like, "$90 bucks, shoot.  Well, we can just substitute out a couple of meals with lentil soup" - and make sure that I did it!  The 5th time that month we were having lentil soup he was like, "again?", "hey, had to make up for it somewhere".  It got my point across without arguing or making him feel like a 'screw-up'.

When he called Canada and I got the bill, I was like, "ah man, you forgot to use the card - you really need to watch that".  I just make sure I remind him to use it (he calls once a week), and I be sure to thank him and let him know how it makes it much easier to keep us on track.

The other thing we do when we go out to eat is we order something that we can "eat half and take half" - we do it under the guise of it being healthier (eat less).  Then I take the leftovers and mix it with pasta, rice, eggs, or whatever to make it into a completely new meal - I'm quite the master at it and DH now even brags about my skills in this area as we're packing up our food.

My point is, she's not going to change overnight.  I hate to break it to you, but I've been "working on my DH" for around 2 years now.  He'll probably never be totally onboard, but that is not going to stop me from reaching my goal.  I am making great progress as I now hear him talk about the kid at work who just bought a BMW and called him an idiot for financing it when he still has student debt; so my dinner conversations about our future are sticking, even if he's not perfect about it.  I also tend to tell stories about other people (both good and bad examples) and let that sink in - never saying you should do this or that.  Look for improvements, but don't look for perfection - you probably won't get it.

My other advice is.... lead my example.   DH has changed a lot of his patterns because I have changed mine.  It is contagious.

I refuse to nag (it's not the kind of marriage I want); I praise often.  And I'm patient.

Rebecca Stapler

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Re: Any Recs for Getting my Spouse on Board?
« Reply #2 on: June 28, 2013, 10:24:57 AM »
MsSindy, you and I are definitely speaking the same language! I definitely don't want to nag, I don't want to yell or put down either. Sometimes I'm the one who makes a mistake and I wouldn't want to be treated like that (I beat myself up enough, I think my spouse probably does too).

Then again, I don't want to eat lentils for dinner! I will try to find a budget-balancer to take the sting out of the screwups. This month's screwups total about $525, so I'm not sure I can cut that much out of our budget but I guess it's less about actually balancing the screwup as it's about acknowledging that something's gotta give when we have increased expenses.

Over the past few years, I have noticed a change -- my spouse will tell me about how co-workers are wasting their money by buying lunch every day, and things like that. So in theory we're on the same page, but it's hard to match actions to our goals.

pachnik

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Re: Any Recs for Getting my Spouse on Board?
« Reply #3 on: June 28, 2013, 10:30:34 AM »
Yes, i agree with lead by example. 

I have been here for about 3 months but I am making changes - little ones for now like buying newspapers only half the time, not visiting coffee shops, tried (unsuccessfully) to lower my car insurance.  Anyway, my husband has definitely noticed and this morning, he pointed out something that I could do that would give me $20.00 today.  He said "Isn't this what MMM would do"!


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Re: Any Recs for Getting my Spouse on Board?
« Reply #4 on: June 28, 2013, 10:35:00 AM »
Slow progress. It will take time. Similar to MsSindy my wife has started pointing out anti-MMM stuff too and is using that to help shape future decisions. I've also had her more involved with our cash flow, as I was handling all the bills, money stuff, which gave her zero insight in to how we were doing. So instead of "protecting her" from all the money matters, involving her helps make better decisions.

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Re: Any Recs for Getting my Spouse on Board?
« Reply #5 on: June 28, 2013, 10:35:30 AM »
In situations like these, I'm a big advocate for personal budgets/allowances to take all the guesswork out of it. I.e., all the household and shared expenses are paid together, mandatory savings/investments are made for both of you (hopefully at a high percentage), and then some amount is allocated to each person to spend however the hell they want. If someone messed up incurring some unnecessary expenses (like calling Canada or getting speeding tickets), then those costs would come out of their personal budget. Then they have personal responsibility and feel the impact of their decisions or mistakes. So if my thing was buying Starbucks every day, and I screwed up, I'd have less money for Starbucks every day.

Rebecca Stapler

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Re: Any Recs for Getting my Spouse on Board?
« Reply #6 on: June 28, 2013, 10:36:53 AM »
Slow progress. It will take time. Similar to MsSindy my wife has started pointing out anti-MMM stuff too and is using that to help shape future decisions. I've also had her more involved with our cash flow, as I was handling all the bills, money stuff, which gave her zero insight in to how we were doing. So instead of "protecting her" from all the money matters, involving her helps make better decisions.

Please share -- how do you involve her? I'm not sure how to get my spouse involved, beyond celebrating the big payoffs to our SLs. I also posted a tally of our current SL balance, which is going down.

Forcus

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Re: Any Recs for Getting my Spouse on Board?
« Reply #7 on: June 28, 2013, 10:56:24 AM »
Slow progress. It will take time. Similar to MsSindy my wife has started pointing out anti-MMM stuff too and is using that to help shape future decisions. I've also had her more involved with our cash flow, as I was handling all the bills, money stuff, which gave her zero insight in to how we were doing. So instead of "protecting her" from all the money matters, involving her helps make better decisions.

Please share -- how do you involve her? I'm not sure how to get my spouse involved, beyond celebrating the big payoffs to our SLs. I also posted a tally of our current SL balance, which is going down.

Alot of her comments are "I wish we could afford....." She uses Excel a lot for work, so speaking to her in a language she is familiar with, I use spreadsheets to show how we have the ability to pay for many things, but affordability means getting something while not affecting future goals. Example, she drives a Ford Escape but really likes this X3 I showed her (my mistake). I pointed out that with total cost of ownership, the monthly difference is $300. No big deal for us, but over 10 years, that's 36k which is more significant. I also point out that sure, you can look rich but it doesn't mean you are - lots of people around us have tons of toys.... on payment plans. We can afford payments just like them but in the end, it will just be a used car, or used furniture, or....... I try to re-iterate our big goals and the impact to those goals graphically.

Another comment - "It doesn't seem like we are moving ahead....". From her viewpoint, with me handling the money, that would certainly seem true - not a whole lot in savings, same house, same cars, etc. even with a gross income of 6 figures. But I show her the pertinent numbers - 401k balances, home equity, current net worth, 5 and 10 year projections of net worth, and it makes more sense. She wouldn't look at June this year from a year ago as any different as far as our lifestyle. But in that time, we've gone from a negative to positive net worth, a swing of about 80k. That's a much bigger deal.

Forcus

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Re: Any Recs for Getting my Spouse on Board?
« Reply #8 on: June 28, 2013, 10:58:18 AM »
I'm in the same boat. DH overall is on board with paying off debt and saving money but just does not understand how things add up. And since we make decent money he doesn't see these small purchases as a problem. For example tonight he invited 2 couples (one has 2 toddler) over for a cookout...one couple is bringing a side. Then Sunday we have another 4 people coming over for ANOTHER cookout. He's asking me to pick up all this stuff when I go grocery shopping and when I ask him what everyone else is bringing he doesn't know. It just didn't occur to him how much burger/brat/buns etc cost for 7 adults (we have a roommate as well).
I'm trying to compile how much we spend on stuff like this every month, but since it gets mixed into the grocery shopping it's hard to break it out

I've started doing a monthly review of actual expenses. It would be pointless (to the wife) to try to quantify $10 or 20 here or there. But when they roll up to an "optional expense" number of a couple grand in budget overages a month, it's an eye opener.

Rebecca Stapler

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Re: Any Recs for Getting my Spouse on Board?
« Reply #9 on: June 28, 2013, 11:05:38 AM »
In situations like these, I'm a big advocate for personal budgets/allowances to take all the guesswork out of it. I.e., all the household and shared expenses are paid together, mandatory savings/investments are made for both of you (hopefully at a high percentage), and then some amount is allocated to each person to spend however the hell they want. If someone messed up incurring some unnecessary expenses (like calling Canada or getting speeding tickets), then those costs would come out of their personal budget. Then they have personal responsibility and feel the impact of their decisions or mistakes. So if my thing was buying Starbucks every day, and I screwed up, I'd have less money for Starbucks every day.

I like this approach. one kink in this is that my spouse would just absorb the hit into the dreaded credit card and ignore it. We each have personal credit cards, but my spouse carries a small balance and has no qualms about it.

Thinking about this though, makes me realize that my spouse doesn't get paper bills for this cc (and also doesn't check mint.com). I think I will finagle a way to get this cc off of "paperless billing," so the facts can speak for themselves.

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Re: Any Recs for Getting my Spouse on Board?
« Reply #10 on: June 28, 2013, 03:00:35 PM »
I tried to explain to my wife that we needed to cut back.  I use Mint.com and when she saw what was coming in versus what was going out and where she couldn't believe how much she was spending on groceries to go along with the cash she was taking out.  When she realized what she was paying for in cash for things we were already over budget for.

This was the first month she really tried to keep under.  It didn't work very well, but I'm proud of her for trying.  Next month we'll do better.

Rebecca Stapler

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Re: Any Recs for Getting my Spouse on Board?
« Reply #11 on: June 28, 2013, 03:07:55 PM »
My spouse doesn't look at anything financial. I just don't ask for help in this area because it tends to get messed up with too many cooks in the kitchen, or if I rely on my spouse to get some financial thing done -- it will either not get done on time or be an emergency the day before the deadline. It does not help my stress level.

I think I should print out a monthly summary from mint and share it. I wish I could print out a snapshot that has the spending per store -- not just per category -- and puts it in a neat chart. But I'll print something out even if it's imperfect. And now is the perfect time to do it for the month.

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Re: Any Recs for Getting my Spouse on Board?
« Reply #12 on: June 28, 2013, 04:21:20 PM »
Re the separate accounts:

My husband and I each have our own separate account for discretionary spending (lunch out with coworkers, occasional used book for him, occasional thrift store shopping for me). We use debit cards tied to those accounts, and when the money runs out, the card is simply declined (overdraft protection is off). It's a great system, IMHO, because having your card declined is not fun, so we're more motivated to keep our eye on the balances. :)

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Re: Any Recs for Getting my Spouse on Board?
« Reply #13 on: June 28, 2013, 06:59:08 PM »
My spouse doesn't look at anything financial. I just don't ask for help in this area because it tends to get messed up with too many cooks in the kitchen, or if I rely on my spouse to get some financial thing done -- it will either not get done on time or be an emergency the day before the deadline. It does not help my stress level.

I think I should print out a monthly summary from mint and share it. I wish I could print out a snapshot that has the spending per store -- not just per category -- and puts it in a neat chart. But I'll print something out even if it's imperfect. And now is the perfect time to do it for the month.

Trends -> Spending -> by Merchant

There is a pull down for time (aka: this month, this year, etc)

change the graph to a bar graph (you'll see a circle and a bar in the left above the graph in the main display)


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Re: Any Recs for Getting my Spouse on Board?
« Reply #15 on: June 28, 2013, 09:27:32 PM »
I watched every episode of til debt do us part, princess, and money moron. My bf ended up watching many of them with me (they're on slice.ca).

He now quotes the host!

hybrid

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Re: Any Recs for Getting my Spouse on Board?
« Reply #16 on: June 29, 2013, 02:28:09 PM »
My spouse doesn't look at anything financial. I just don't ask for help in this area because it tends to get messed up with too many cooks in the kitchen, or if I rely on my spouse to get some financial thing done -- it will either not get done on time or be an emergency the day before the deadline. It does not help my stress level.

I do the books in our family as well.  But the reasons you list above do not equal "my spouse gets a pass on the financials".

She is an adult, she has a responsibility to at least take an interest in them, even if you are the one paying the bills and moving the money around.  I would suggest you go over the financials at the end of each month so she has a picture of where you've been and where the two of you are going.  Then, over time, things will begin to sink in.  You are going to have to be patient here and, sorry to say it so bluntly, own your share of this mess.  You gave her that "get out of financial interests free" card by taking on everything yourself,  now you are going to have to work on how to make it expire.  Been there, done that, so I feel your pain.

Rebecca Stapler

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Re: Any Recs for Getting my Spouse on Board?
« Reply #17 on: June 29, 2013, 10:10:06 PM »
I watched every episode of til debt do us part, princess, and money moron. My bf ended up watching many of them with me (they're on slice.ca).

He now quotes the host!

Awesome! I will see if we can get them in the US. I think I've seen Til Debt Do Us Part before. Our cable stations are limited, but we might get it. Even better if I can find them on Netflix.

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Re: Any Recs for Getting my Spouse on Board?
« Reply #18 on: June 29, 2013, 10:51:51 PM »
Wow great thread, I wam taking notes here, and I have a DW who is not particularly interested in ER, trying to see if I can still meet my goals, though!

MsSindy

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Re: Any Recs for Getting my Spouse on Board?
« Reply #19 on: June 30, 2013, 05:03:44 PM »
I think I'm starting to get him to seriously think about being able to retire by 40-45 but he's still somewhat brainwashed into thinking it's not possible so why try. Slowly turning him around with math, stats, and random tidbits :)

This is where I took a wrong turn in the beginning.  When I found MMM, I was talking to my DH about "early retirement". 
In his mind, he saw his father, who is old and bored.  "Retirement" did not work for him.  So, then I started using the term "F-U money", especially when he was complaining about his new boss.  Ding-ding-ding!  That was the term that resonated with him.  "Yeah, that's what we need.  Then when I've had enough I could just say f-u I'm outta here!".  So, sometimes just finding the right 'vision' can be the thing that motivates the person.  Also, I can't begin to tell you how much a motivator the new sucky job is.  Now, all that being said, he's still not going to bike to work or cut cable, but there are so many other things he does that is aligned, I feel that we'll make it there in a reasonable amount of time.

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Re: Any Recs for Getting my Spouse on Board?
« Reply #20 on: July 01, 2013, 09:03:23 AM »
Lots of great posts here.  I am definitely more frugal than my DH, and I think MsSindy's initial post summed up a great approach.  And the living it to set the example helps keep me on my toes.  I can come home from Goodwill with several great finds, but the bottom line sometimes is that I spent $ on something I didn't need (as in "oh, wow, a North Face shirt for my brother" -- for whom I don't buy gifts, so I am buying it just because it's a bargain, which means I spent $ I didn't have to and shouldn't have).   I find as I plan better for meals at home, we don't go out; when I make a choice to forego something, he likewise will follow suit.  And to have a vision/goal that you both buy into is key -- we are in our mid-50's and really want to retire soon, and the desire to "take this job and shove it" is a big motivator!   I "do the books" in our house, and when I want to show him spending patterns, he immediately gets defensive, so after considering a lot of the info in these posts, I need to examine how I can better approach this - clearly I am not introducing the message to him in a manner that makes him receptive -- I have to figure out a better way, because I do agree that seeing the dollars and cents, in and out, will tell its own story.  Thanks for all the great comments! 

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Re: Any Recs for Getting my Spouse on Board?
« Reply #21 on: July 02, 2013, 01:43:32 PM »
Leading by example has been huge for me and my bf.

Six months ago I was introducing him to MMM and similar things, but it fell on deaf ears.

Now, I was having a bad day and was grocery shopping, ready to drop money on ANYTHING (aka pricey junk food). Turns out, my months of gentle reminders had paid off! I was craving pricey junk food, and my bf was all "Or, we could get xyz for cheaper". I think he has internalized some of my nagging/gentle reminders.

So, lead by example, be gentle, and good things can happen!! We also do this thing where we go through a section of stuff in our house together. Example: we went through his cds, him laying on the couch and me holding up each one to him and he deciding to keep or donate. We did this, because he initially wanted to buy a new cd tower. I suggested we make sure he wasn't able to make any more room on the ones we had.

Yaaay! Patience though. This has been slow going, but baby steps in the right direction.

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Re: Any Recs for Getting my Spouse on Board?
« Reply #22 on: July 04, 2013, 09:46:19 PM »
Lots of great posts already so I'll keep this short. Jacob Lund Fisker includes an example in his book or blog (can't remember which) in which he discusses walking by a used car lot with his significant other. He started discussing how his savings could buy this car outright. Then the next time they could buy these two cars, then these five, etc. etc., and that helped get her on board. Perhaps a helpful thought to use examples like that to help solidify in real world terms the impact of the savings growing.

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Re: Any Recs for Getting my Spouse on Board?
« Reply #23 on: July 06, 2013, 06:40:50 PM »
I'm in the same boat. DH overall is on board with paying off debt and saving money but just does not understand how things add up. And since we make decent money he doesn't see these small purchases as a problem. For example tonight he invited 2 couples (one has 2 toddler) over for a cookout...one couple is bringing a side. Then Sunday we have another 4 people coming over for ANOTHER cookout. He's asking me to pick up all this stuff when I go grocery shopping and when I ask him what everyone else is bringing he doesn't know. It just didn't occur to him how much burger/brat/buns etc cost for 7 adults (we have a roommate as well).
I'm trying to compile how much we spend on stuff like this every month, but since it gets mixed into the grocery shopping it's hard to break it out

I've started doing a monthly review of actual expenses. It would be pointless (to the wife) to try to quantify $10 or 20 here or there. But when they roll up to an "optional expense" number of a couple grand in budget overages a month, it's an eye opener.

That's basically what I'm trying to do but I need to start keeping actual receipts instead of using bank statements. Like I said, in the case of the cookout stuff it's intermingled with the rest of our groceries.
Also we each have a personal checking account and personal credit cards so I can't always see what he spends. He's not at all secretive about it but gets kinda annoyed when I start looking closely at his spending. We do have joint accounts and I give him his "allowance" (agreed upon by both of us) into his account every week and his credit card has a pretty low limit (he likes it that way) so he's not getting at all extravagant but it does make it harder to point out how it all adds up over time

RE: groceries bought for guests:

Do you use Mint?  If so,  I recommend "splitting" grocery and restaurant bills.  For example, if we treat friends/relatives at restaurants, I'll split the restaurant bill on Mint, keeping my wife and my portion under "restaurant" but putting the friend/relatives' portion under "gift."  I also do this with groceries. 

I haven't changed my spending as a result, but it puts things in (accurate) perspective.