She loves you.
Now you know that can’t be bad.
–The Beatles, “She Loves You”
Marriage and Money: Suggestion #1 for Persuading Your Spouse to Save — Keep Your Expectations in Check.
Understand that your spouse has a different personality than you and takes in information in different ways. Don’t expect what works for you to work for your spouse.
It will probably take some for you to figure out what works for your spouse. Try to exercise patience.
Managing your money well is in many ways akin to managing your diet well. All of us who have tried to lose weight have had moments when we wished that results could be obtained more quickly. When I have one of those moments, I remind myself that weight isn’t usually put on quickly either, and that that reality will help lock things in after the weight is taken off. It’s like that with saving. Learning to save effectively takes time, but provides benefits for a long time to come. Approaches that generate quick results are suspect.
Marriage and Money: Suggestion #2 for Persuading Your Spouse to Save — Keep Money Issues in Perspective.
Saving is important. I wouldn’t have devoted so many years of my life to studying it if I didn’t think it were a topic of great importance. I learn all the time of still more reasons for seeing saving as important.
It’s not the only important thing, however. Don’t let your desire to help your spouse learn how to save more effectively cause a rift in your marriage. Do not do this. Do not do this. Do not do this.
You are asking your spouse to change. That’s difficult. Always keep in mind that you are asking something hard of your spouse.
Don’t quit, though. Pushing too hard is a mistake. Pushing too soft is a mistake too. When you find yourself pushing too hard, remind yourself what the marriage means to you. When you find yourself pushing too soft, remind yourself what the marriage means to you.
You will hurt the relationship if this matters and you drop it because you encounter some resistance. You have a need to have a spouse that manages his or her money more effectively. And your spouse has a need to have a spouse that pushed him or her to manage his or her money more effectively. Helping your spouse is part of the deal. Giving up isn’t helping.
Apply only so much pressure, but do apply some pressure. I mentioned that this improvement project is hard on your spouse. It’s hard on you too. The hard part for you is knowing just how much to push.
You need to rely on all of your knowledge of what makes your spouse tick to figure that one out. There is no such thing as a pure money topic. Successful money steps are money steps taken with an appreciation of how the money issues in question relate to other aspects of your quest to make something meaningful out of your life.
Money questions matter. Non-money questions matter too.
Marriage and Money: Suggestion #3 for Persuading Your Spouse to Save — Watch for the Miscommunication That Goes With Being in Love.
Everyone wants to manage his or her money effectively. I mean, come on.
The reason why you are hearing resistance to your ideas is that your spouse hears the words you say as signifying something other than what they signify for you.
You say: “I want to know that we will have enough money to be able to retire.” Your spouse hears: “I want you to give up on some of your crazy dreams and start being more responsible and boring.”
You say: “Do you really need to pay $3 for coffee everyday?” Your spouse hears: “I don’t think of you as being so special that you deserve extravagant treats just for showing up at work.”
You say: “I’m worried that we have so little to fall back on if you lost your job.” Your spouse hears: “I don’t have confidence in you.”
Does the fact that your spouse hears things in such scrambled-up ways mean that he or she is a doofus? Oh, no. It means that this guy (or gal) is in love with you!
A guy (or gal) who is in love with you can’t stand to think that he (or she) is letting you down in any way. It’s often not possible to talk with a spouse with as much ease as you can talk to a friend because your spouse is so much more than a friend. The more caring that is there, the more delicate is the communication issue.
Marriage and Money: Suggestion #4 for Persuading Your Spouse to Save — Let Your Spouse Do it His or Her Way.
Some people cannot tolerate the idea of being given a set amount of spending money for the month. Some people are just fine with the idea. Don’t assume that because you cannot stand it your spouse cannot stand it either. If that is what works for him (or her), use that.
Some people save by cutting out luxuries. Some people really enjoy luxuries and cannot bear the idea of giving them up. Perhaps your spouse can listen to pleas to spend less on luxuries, but not to pleas to give them up altogether. Perhaps you could frame your saving arguments in such a way as to persuade your spouse that saving effectively allows you both to enjoy more luxuries over the course of your lives.
You’re trying to change your spouse and that’s always a delicate business. Make the changes being suggested as palatable as possible by designing them in ways that makes sense to your spouse.
Marriage and Money: Suggestion #5 for Persuading Your Spouse to Save — Make It Romantic.
The saving quest is a romantic quest.
There was something I read about divorce once that made an impression on me. The author of the book I was reading noted that couples that divorce can never look at their photo albums in the same way again. All of the pictures have that person in them, or some friend or relative of that person, or were taken in a place you went to with that person.
The photo album problem is hardly the biggest problem that comes with divorce. There’s a sense in which it is a very big deal, though. We look at photo albums to review our progress through life. We feel weepy when we look at our high school yearbooks because we think back to the challenges we faced back then with the knowledge that we have overcome some of them that we thought we would not be able to overcome and we have failed to overcome some others that we thought we would be able to overcome. Our lives are a story. Every day we write the book on our romantic quest to make our lives mean something.
The point of saving is to become able to do more exciting things with your life. So many money advisors miss this. It’s a point of critical importance. It’s the reason why saving, properly understood, is not at all a boring business. It’s exciting stuff.
Your spouse is your partner in your romantic quest and you are her (or his) partner in her (or his) romantic quest. Use this.
Budgets are sexy. True fact. Spend three hours going through each item in your budget and talking over how that money could be put to different uses so that both of you can make more of your lives and you are going to close the budget binder turned on about the idea of spending some quiet time with your spouse.
Please do try this at home. Budget sex is great sex.
Marriage and Money — Suggestion #6 for Persuading Your Spouse to Save — Celebrate the Victories.
Each step forward creates momentum. Saving effectively gets easier and easier and easier over time. It’s like running. It’s boring the first time because you are out of shape. It’s fun after you get good at it.
Don’t get greedy when your spouse makes progress. You don’t want to be a nag pushing for more. Remember the importance of patience. Let your spouse enjoy the satisfaction that comes with having made some progress. Have confidence that the wheels will begin to turn on their own power if you give them a chance.
At some point, your spouse will be asking questions about ways to save even more effectively. That will happen when he or she begins to think of the saving idea as his (or her) idea. If you nag, this never happens. If it happens, the wagon starts picking up speed quickly.
Marriage and Money — Suggestion #7 for Persuading Your Spouse to Save — Don’t Let It Become a Chore
The single biggest reason why many people are not able to save effectively is that saving has come to be viewed in such negative terms. Saving is for tightwads. Saving is for misers. Saving is for losers. Saving is for the timid.
Don’t sell it that way.
Saving is spending less on some things so that you can spend more on other things. Saving is spending less at some times so that you can spend more at other times. Saving, properly understood, is always about making better choices and obtaining greater value from a limited pool of earnings. Saving is buying freedom, and freedom is cool.
If your spouse has doubts about this, use some of the savings to finance a splurge. Make saving enjoyable. Think about diets again. You lose more weight on a diet that never again permits you to eat ice cream. Except for one thing. You don’t stick with a diet that never again permits you to eat ice cream.
You want your spouse to sign on to a spending plan that will last for a long time. There’s got to be some pleasure in it for that to happen.
Marriage and Money — Suggestion #8 for Persuading Your Spouse to Save — Do Your Part Regardless of What Your Spouse Does.
If you are denying yourself some things you would like to spend money on because you see the importance of saving and your spouse is not doing the same, you are going to feel temptations to give up the cause because it is not working out in a way that is “fair.” That’s mixed-up thinking.
First of all, you might persuade your spouse over time if you continue the fight on your own. If the spouse who believes in saving gives up, the battle is lost for good.
Second, you will not feel good about yourself if you go along with a spending program that you do not believe in just because it is the only way to get on the same track as your spouse. You want to lift your spouse up, you do not want to permit your spouse to pull you down.
Things change. The trick is being properly positioned when the change comes. Someday, someway, sometime, your spouse will show interest in saving. You want to be as well-developed in your saving habits as you can possibly be when that day comes.
Don’t you end up being the spouse that caused the partnership’s saving dream to fail.
With a love like that
You know you should be glad.
Yeah, yeah, yeah!
Yeah, yeah, yeah!
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah!