Money is a leading cause for divorce. In fact, communication issues involving money is often the primary cause.
It’s not going to happen to you, because you’re better than that. But it is a sad stat for the rest of the world.
You have a growth mindset. You’re here learning about money and marriage, because you’re different. And different is good, especially when it comes to things like divorce, because, sadly, divorce is the norm.
But what do you do if you want to get better at finances and you seek financial change, but your spouse doesn’t?
According to a SunTrust survey, “Some 34 percent said they were the saver and their partner was the spender, and just 13 percent said the reverse. That also means that 47 percent of the respondents said they and their partner had different saving and spending habits.”1
Typically one of you is the saver, and one is the spender. I know this is true in my marriage, because I’m the spender.
So what do you do when you can’t come to an agreement? What if your spouse doesn’t want to budget and you do? What if your spouse doesn’t think it’s important to save for retirement now and you do?
Well, let’s talk about that…
Why are They Not on Board?
This is the first question to ask.
The most common things for a spouse to not be on board with is budgeting and investing.
There has to be a reason, and here are a few common ones I’ve seen:
- Your spouse didn’t have much growing up, so now that they have some money, they don’t want to be limited to a budget
- Your spouse thinks budgeting and investing is too complicated, and keeps wanting to put it off until you two can talk to a “professional”
- Your spouse doesn’t think budgeting works – they may have tried it in the past for a month or two, and didn’t really get the benefits they were looking for, because budgeting often takes a long time to find success with it
- Your spouse is afraid to invest money in the stock market, because “you never know what’s going to happen” or they “don’t want to take a chance of losing all their money”
These are a handful of the many reasons couples disagree on finances.
While ultimately they have to make the choice, you can do your part in getting them on board.
You’ll also have to be financially responsible regardless of what they choose to do.
5 Ways to Get Your Spouse on Board
The most important thing is to not give up. There are several things you can do even if they don’t want financial change.
Here are some strategies I’ve seen work in many marriages:
- Make it fun. If your spouse hates the idea of a budget, show them how you can each set a certain amount of spending money each month to spend on anything you want.
- Show the facts. Show your spouse how much money you can save each month by budgeting. Show them how much you’ll have in retirement if you start investing now.
- Make it emotional. Money is an emotional thing. You can’t change that. You can, however, use it to your advantage. Show your spouse how it makes you upset when they aren’t on board and/or how happy you would be if they were on board. Don’t be manipulative, but you have some legitimate feelings about it, and they should know that. This should at least be enough to get them to give you a trial period to try budgeting or investing.
- Keep doing your part. Whether your finances are separate or together, you can always do your part. Keep showing them how much you’re saving/earning by budgeting/investing, and eventually they’ll start to believe.
- Keep loving them. Don’t be a statistic that gets divorced over money. Even if it takes years to get on the same page, make sure your spouse understands that you’ll love them no matter what.
Stay-at-home spouses deserve an entire section on this topic, because this is a common scenario. You can still make financial change and get your spouse on board even if you don’t produce an income outside the home.
Let’s talk about some issues…
- Combined Finances – I believe married couples will always do best to combine finances. If your finances aren’t combined, you should really be asking yourself why you got married in the first place if you don’t trust this person with your money. This is my personal opinion, and I understand it’s not always popular, but I highly recommend at least asking yourself why your finances aren’t combined. It may be eye opening when you come up with the answer. If you want to better your finances and your spouse doesn’t, plead your case and explain why you should be the one in charge of the finances. Let’s be real, as a stay-at-home spouse, you contribute just as much (if not more) to the family as your spouse does. You need to at least have a say in the family finances.
- Spend Your Money Wisely – If you don’t produce an income, and you have a certain amount of spending money each money, spend it wisely. Consider saving it for a period of time to show them what you’re capable of, and how money grows over time. If they aren’t listening to you now, maybe a wake-up call is in order. Saving an abnormally large amount of money, or showing how far you made the money go, are both great ways to show why you should be the one handling the money.
If you’re a stay-at-home spouse who wants financial change, and your partner doesn’t, your primary goal should be to manage the household finances.
Explain why it makes more sense for you to do it. Tell them you want to improve your finances. Show them your plan. Tell them you’ve set aside a certain amount of time each day to manage the family’s money.
If your spouse is really busy at work, it probably makes the most sense for you to handle the money. You’re probably better at managing your time, since you’re used to having to manage it yourself.
3 Things Not to Do
These are things you need to avoid during this process of trying to convince your spouse to make financial change:
- Don’t nag or get angry. It’s not going to help anyone if you’re constantly nagging your spouse until you get your way. Approach them out of love, and understand their view. It takes patience.
- Don’t constantly tell them what other people say. Whether you’re quoting a financial guru or your financial-advisor cousin, it’s not going to help if you keep telling them what someone else said. You can sprinkle this throughout the conversations, but if you bombard them with “so and so said we should do this or that,” they’ll get defensive.
- Don’t get divorced over money. Don’t forget that money isn’t the most important thing in the world. You got married in the first place because you love each other. That’s more important. The money problems will be solved over time. Focus on the rest of your marriage, before you go get divorced over finances.
Be smart about it. You probably shouldn’t reference this article when you talk to them.
Husbands and Wives: Remember This
Remember to keep loving your spouse as they are, until they’re willing to change.
It will take patience and time, but you can get on the same page. It will happen if you can wait it out and do your part.
For the most part (statistically), for women, money is security. Women often like having a large emergency fund, because it shows her that she will be take care of.
For the most part (statistically), for men, money is either a tool or a game. More mature men see money as a tool to get the things they want and make things happen. Less mature men think money only exists for the purpose of fun. While fun is a big portion of what money can provide, it shouldn’t be the key motivator.
This is based on the majority of how men and women feel. Obviously it doesn’t apply to everyone, but it applies to most, that’s why it’s the “majority.”
Husbands, it’s important to remember, money may be security for your wife. Consider letting her control the finances, especially if she is the saver.
Wives, remember your husband may be afraid to lose control of the finances, especially if he is the primary breadwinner. Take it one step at a time.
Lastly, I will say this: one person should never have 100% control over the finances. It makes sense for one person to “handle” the finances, or be in charge of the finances, but the other person should always know exactly where you’re at financially. You never want to be blindsided by something merely because you don’t have any visibility over the money at all. Especially in the event of a tragedy.
If you are primarily in control of the money, create a complete guide to your family finances for your spouse as a reference if anything happens to you. If your spouse is in charge of the finances, encourage them to do this for you.
Further Bible Reading
Further Book Reading
- How to Raise Grateful, Selfless Children
- Don’t Just Teach Your Kids to Set Goals, Teach Them to Do This
- Alarming Studies That Show How Advertising Affects Your Kids (And How to Protect Them)
- Large-Family Minimalism: How We Declutter 5,000 Things a Year
- 47 Things You Weren’t Taught in School (That Our Kids Need to Know)
- 10 Practical Steps to Start Practical Minimalism
- Holland, K. (2015, February 4). Fight with your spouse? It’s probably about this. CNBC.