Marriage and Money: Setting Goals For Success
One of the questions I get consistently from clients is: how do I get my spouse on board with keeping a budget? Followed by, oh and how do I get them to stick to it?
The answer is simple. We want to look beyond just the budget. The day to day spending is what will make a big difference in the long run, but it’s the reason for the saving, the goal behind the financial mindfulness, that keeps it sustainable in the long run. As we have already seen, it takes a while to get going with a budget and some of those bumps along the way can be extra challenging when you’re trying to figure them out with your partner. The key is to not get bogged down with the details and to keep your eyes up (and on the prize).
Like I mentioned in my post about communication, it’s really important to set “money dates”. The idea is that if you set aside some time to talk about money, inevitably you’ll end up talking about much more than money. You’ll talk about the lifestyle you want to lead. Depending on how long you’ve been married, this could look like a whole bunch of different things from where you want to live, what car you want to own, whether or not you want to have kids, or whether or not you want to fund their college education. This is a critical step. If you haven’t done this recently, go grab dinner together and set some big goals. Set goals for the next year (more immediate big purchases), and goals for the next five, ten, even twenty years. What do you imagine your life will look like? What does your career look like? What’s your lifestyle like? What’s “retirement” look like? When even is retirement?
The goal here is to dream as a team. We want to push you to imagine the life you’d love to have. Then, we can start to plan for it. You can think about savings goals for purchases or your retirement accounts. The key here is you’re making big financial decisions together. You both have equal say. You’re both working toward building a life you’re both happy with. In short, you’re setting your eyes on the same prize.
So, coming back to the initial question, how do you get your partner on board with a budget? You start with the “why”. You start by defining, for the both of you, what an awesome life would be and then you get technical with how to get there. We’ve seen, over and over, that couples that build these plans together are equally invested and their goals are achieved faster.
In another post, we talk about setting boundaries and creating guidelines to help you, as a couple, be constructive and sustainable in your spending habits. But, when we think about why those boundaries exist, we have to remember that they serve our future goals. Let me make this tangible. I constantly get asked, What do I do if my spouse overspends on a budget category? How do I support them to keep them on track? Well, we already talked about constantly communicating and checking in, but now we can go one step further. Remind them of what’s at stake. Remind them of the goals and the dream you have. If you set those goals together, they should be just as invested as you are, they’re just getting lost in the short term. We’ve found that couples with solid financial goals have a far easier time keeping to a budget and creating financial practices that work well for them. Of course, it helps to have some simple tricks to mentally separate their money, like keeping a budget or special savings accounts!
Don’t have a budget yet? No worries! We’ll walk you through how to step one up, step by step. Register for our free 45-minute webinar on budgeting here.
Want to build more financial literacy? Join us for Financial Foundations, our online course that covers all the basics from budgeting to saving for retirement (oh, and we have a whole unit on money and relationships!). Learn more about it here.