How do I reconcile my reluctant husband to our budget?

amandanNovember 1, 2007

Any ideas on how to make our new, very strict budget seem less like a prison sentence to my husband?

Intellectually, he understands that we MUST budget, since our student loans have gone into repayment. Emotionally, he feels like he's having to disproportionately sacrifice to make this work.

And yes, most of the areas that need to be cut are HIS discretionary spending. I feel kinda like the wicked witch of the west, but I'm not asking him to do anything that I haven't ALREADY been doing for years.

I wish I had time to ease him into it, but he's avoided discussing it with me for so long that it MUST BE DONE NOW. And he's really very upset about it.

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Is there someone out there who he respects and will listen to and who can save you from being the evil witchy wife? He did spend the money and needs to pay (plus maybe grow up a little :-), but you shouldn't be put in the position of having to be the bad guy!

    Bookmark   November 1, 2007 at 6:01AM
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A few random thoughts:

Is there a "Consumer Credit Counseling" office in your area? Well worth a visit, or at least a phone call!

Talk to him about the things you CAN do! Libraries are free, find out about all the free local stuff to do in your area! Get the community calendar from the visitor's bureau! Check out Parks and recreation for stuff like free concerts and picnics. Put a positive spin on approaching your lifestyle with a new frame of mind!

Lastly, if you must....tell him there never was an "age of entitlement" and to put his big boy pants on!

    Bookmark   November 1, 2007 at 6:11AM
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I couldn't agree more about finding someone he respects who can be the heavy here.

If you can find a "heavy", then you can be the fun, positive one who points out all of the free and inexpensive ways to enjoy life.

Best of luck to you both...

    Bookmark   November 1, 2007 at 9:33AM
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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana

There is most always light at the end of the tunnel. Do you maybe know 'when' the 2 of you will reach the other end? Maybe if he doesn't see the new very restricted budget as 'forever' he would be more willing to go along with it.


    Bookmark   November 1, 2007 at 10:51AM
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I agree about finding someone who'll help him see the light.

Remember how someone said a while ago that when a financial advisor gave pretty well the same advice that her obstreperous hubs had been getting from her (about planning for retirement, I think it was, and working on implementation) for quite a while ...

... he pretty well took the medicine like a little lamb?

Maybe a (community-based, non-profit) credit counselling service? But watch the fees, including the hidden ones.

Do you have a close enough relationship with a religious agency that someone there might be able to help?

For example, a good friend with demon-strated money-managment ability, who could be briefed before hand and get into the issue over dinner sometime, unobrusively? (That "demon" in the earlier sentence was as looked at from your hubs' point of view). Sneaky, like.

On the other hand ...

... how about suggesting to him that, since you've been seriously, stringently saving for years, and he was spending like a be-sotted sailor ...

... that he owes you, say $500. (or whatever more or less legit. figure) per year to even things out for, what, about 10 years, or a reasonable number, or so?

That should sort of put things on a more or less level playing field, shouldn't it?

If he doesn't have the money, offer your willingness to let him spread the payments out over a period.

He could get a payday loan to help out if he's short, maybe - have you checked their interest rates, fees, etc. They're enough to blow your hat off - or maybe even your socks, cause, heck, a strong wind'll knock your hat off. And those guys are into heavier-duty money than that!

There's a pretty steep price to pay for being profligate - and postponing the payout just pushes the penalties to near a precipice!

Plus ...

... refusal to reform may result in near bankruptcy!

Spendthrifts find it hard to face reality.

Are there some shortcomings in his feelings of self-worth that he needs to massage by buying stuff?

There may be some underlying personality problems that need to be dealt with before one can expect to find success in dealing with the surface issues.

If you can find some ways of dealing with the issue in rather a light, humorous way, sometimes one can achieve more with lightness than with a heavy-handed approach.

Good wishes in this new adventure that you two are embarking on ... keep it that you're dealing with it together, please.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   November 1, 2007 at 1:57PM
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I agree with "he needs to put his big boy pants on", but I understand that you desire to initially go with a more loving approach...
Can any of his current discretionary spending be replaced with free alternatives? For example, in my town, you can spend as much as you want hearing live music, but there are tons of free events as well.
Giving up the $30 pizza night? How about learning to make pizza together?
Got some clutter along with that debt? Turn him in to a craig's lister or an e-bayer.
Best of luck!

    Bookmark   November 1, 2007 at 2:46PM
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Remember how someone said a while ago that when a financial advisor gave pretty well the same advice that her obstreperous hubs had been getting from her (about planning for retirement, I think it was, and working on implementation) for quite a while ...

... he pretty well took the medicine like a little lamb?

(Laughing) Yes, that was me joyful... Something about the words of wisdon coming from a guy wearing a suit sitting in a nice office...

    Bookmark   November 1, 2007 at 4:32PM
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While I also agree that the OP's hubby "needs to put his big boy pants on", the potential problem I see is that if he doesn't really buy into the strict budget, then she could be in the position of "enforcer" and the budget could become the center of money arguments.

Or, he could take a passive/aggressive approach subtly sabotaging her efforts.

I do think that the best chance of success happens when both are truly in agreement - and it may take an outside party to help the OP's spouse rein in his spending.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2007 at 4:36PM
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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana

Intellectually, he understands that we MUST budget, since our student loans have gone into repayment. Emotionally, he feels like he's having to disproportionately sacrifice to make this work.

Do you have things down black on white? Have you sat down and gone over the plan with him? Maybe he knows all of the ins and outs of it all, and why it must be done he will accept things better.

Emotionally, he feels like he's having to disproportionately sacrifice to make this work.
He thinks he is giving up way more than you are to make this budget work? Does he maybe think/feel that the grocery/household/misc money is all yours to spend as you please?

How does his 'spending' money compare to yours? Does he maybe feel he 'deserves' more because he earns more?

Maybe he just needs to understand it all.


    Bookmark   November 1, 2007 at 5:52PM
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"Put your big boys pants on" ... I had to laugh and I love it! And it about sums it up!

If he needs more money to spend then tell him to get creative ...
work overtime
get a 2nd job
sell those "big boy toys" he doesn't use
clean out the garage and he'll have a pile of stuff to sell on ebay
learn to shop smart for the best deal
learn the difference between "need" and "want"
do the work himself rather than paying someone else to do it

Most important ... he should learn to be thankful for what he does have ... rather than what he doesn't have

    Bookmark   November 1, 2007 at 7:45PM
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I kind of had that situation when we first got married - 29 years ago. DH is by nature more of a free spender than I am and I'm pretty anal about accounting for where the $ go. We got married while we were still in college so we had very little $ and DH said I should make sure we could "afford" to get married.

So I figured out what our total income was going to be and wrote out the monthly budget - black and white as someone else mentioned - every dollar allocated. Have you done that? If so do you both agree with how the budget is allocated? Is there something he would suggest be done differently - dollars allocated in some different way? Is it possible to come to mutual agreement on the budget in black and white? Could you compromise on something to make him feel better about the overall budget?

We still do something like this for major expenditures. Once we had greater incomes DH had all kinds of ideas about things to spend it on - we didn't really have mutual agreement on this. So we allocated a limited $ amount per year to spend on things over $1000 - vacations, things for our house, etc. Then I made a list of everything that came up like that - we prioritized it - and when we ran out of $ for the year I put things into the next year. I think I had five years of "stuff". We no longer had any disagreements about it though - we just worked our way through the list as $ permitted. At one point we had a period of unemployment - everything like this went on hold - deferred to a future year. We still do this - no matter how much you earn you can still spend more than that if you're not disciplined.


    Bookmark   November 1, 2007 at 10:11PM
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Some people have a difference of opinion about what is "discretionary" perhaps he doesn't agree that all your expenses are non-discretionary.

I think it is tough to offer any useful advice communicating between the two of you without having an actual budget to refer too.

I agree you need to find an advisor. Perhaps there will be give and take BOTH ways on the budget.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2007 at 9:43AM
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when my wife and i were dating SHE could hold onto money longer than anyone i ever met. i could barely make it out of the parking lot on payday before my money was gone.

now, i watch over the money like a hawk. she can go to teh store for 20.00 worth of stuff, and come home having spent 300.00. her answer, well we had it in the account and we really needed this. no, it was in the account right now but it was budgeted to go with money from next week to pay X bills.

the way i quit blowing money was simple. i carry NO money, my CC are all kept at home, and i rarely have my checkbook with me. if i want to get something, i have to go home, get a check or the ATM card, then come back to get it. that stops a lot of purchases real quick.

now, i do cut grass as a side job during the cutting season. this money i use to pay my credit cards as well as all expenses related to my mower and lawn equipment upkeep. i make enough money doing this to pay for new stuff for my lawn service. my wife will spend MORE money when i am getting this income, and i end up having to take part of the mowing money and put with our household account jst to pay the bills. it's going to be tuff the next few months getting her to understand tha tsince i did not get to save some of the money this year, we are going to have an additional 350.00 a month coming out of our checks to pay the CC bills that i was paying. the CC was supposed to be for my business expenses only, but i ended up having to pay a few medical bills with them and that is why they are run up over 16k right now. hopefully i can get her to stick to MY budget so we can have them paid off by next summer.

i know how hard it is to get the other party to stick to the budget, so i wish you the best of luck!

    Bookmark   November 2, 2007 at 2:48PM
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I want to echo what chemogirl and gibby3000 said.

Put income and expenses in a spreadhseet. Do this for the previous year, or as long as you have recoirds for. Project out the same for the coming 12 months. Try to get everything in there. In Black and White.

Show your hubby where the money is going. Have him suggest where money is not being well spent.

"big boy pants" - love it.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2007 at 7:57PM
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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana

I remember one time when Richard Simmons was on Dave Letterman. Richard was wearing his usual work out costume of silky shorts and muscle top. Dave asked him when he was going to start wearing 'big boy pants'. On that same show, they took Richard out shopping for some more 'mature' clothes.

Sorry to highjack back to the budgeting.

When one writes down all the givens...things that must be paid, and then one subtracts that amount from the total income, one can see just how much money is just slipping away...through the fingers...with often nothing to show for it. If spending is looked at that way, one usually sees that they really do have a lot of spending money...for really nothing.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2007 at 12:44AM
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Hi David (of David and Kasie fame), and Amandan,

When you speak of the budget at your house, you refer to it as "MY" budget (capitals yours).

How close is it, currently, to being, "OUR" budget?

How possible may it be to come to the place where it may have become "OUR" budget?

No doubt that will take some maneuvering, discussion, compromises, etc. to bring to pass.

But if that can't be managed ...

... one can almost guarantee that it won't work.

Do you think that, if it hasn't been publicized to the loved one, that it would be better to sit down with the loved one and work one out from scratch?

I think that there'd be a better chance of the other person being willing to give it much more whole-hearted (or more or less so) support.

Maybe the idea of investing to aim toward early retirement, or some other attractive use of the money, might give the partner some attractive alternative use of part of your income which might encourage willingness to choose and then follow a somewhat different path.

Good wishes for success with getting your financial house in order. And keeping it there.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   November 3, 2007 at 1:28AM
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My Dad used to say that apparently the only way to get some critters to see common sense ...

... was to it 'em over the head with a 2" X 4" [piece of lumber used in house construction and for many other useful purposes].

ole joyful

    Bookmark   November 4, 2007 at 4:20PM
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I just read an article about this yesterday and here is what it suggested:

How to have a successful budget meeting with your spouse

Glblguy is the author of Gather Little By Little , a Christian personal finance blog focused on growing wealth using common sense biblical practices and based on the wisdom found in Proverbs 13:11 - "He who gathers money little by little makes it grow."

Prior to getting control of our finances, the main reason my wife and I would fuss (that means fight/argue here in the southern U.S.) was over money and finances. Turns out, we werent alone. The number one reason couples fight is over money. Studies also show that the number one cause of divorce in the U.S. is due to money. Why? Here are just a few reasons:

· Communication - Really this is lack of communication.

· Control - This involves one person in the relationship having primary responsibility over the finances.

· Family - Examples include: Cost of children and how money is spent on them, in-laws or parents having influence over your finances

If youÂll note, none of these issues really have anything to do with money. The reason couples fight over money isnÂt due to money itself, but due to the core feelings and emotions they have surrounding money. Money is the symptom, the 3 reasons above are the actual problem.

Fortunately, these three problems can be easily resolved, assuming of course you have a strong and healthy marriage. How? Have a weekly or monthly budget meeting. Personally, I prefer weekly, but for some a monthly meeting works as well.

What is a budget meeting? A budget meeting is an opportunity for you and you spouse to sit down together and review your finances and your budget together. If you didnÂt quit catch the key point here, let me state it again: together.

HereÂs what you need to do:

· Decide who will be the accountant - General management of your day to day finances is best handled by one person. Updating your budget and net income statement, and tracking your day to day expenses is logistically difficult if 2 people are doing it. Who should do it? The detail oriented person. In our marriage, I am the detailed person so I do it. If you feel like neither of you are, then just decide which one is more than the other. Typically this isnÂt a hard decision to make. I think we know the answer to this

· Formulate a budget and make it the controller - The next step is to formulate a budget together. Pick an evening and a time when both you and your significant other can sit down by yourselves in a quiet setting and spend 1 - 2 hours working up a budget. If you arenÂt sure how to do this, please read my article on creating a budget. I feel this has sort of been done but do you? We have about $500 every pay period to use for gas and food (eating out and groceries) and anything else we need to pay for. ThereÂs not much left to decide where it needs to go. I do believe you do not spend on anything other than food without me.

Creating the budget together is important and allows both of you to have equal input into your finances. Each of you has a "vote" regarding where the money goes and how it will get spent. Having a "vote" is important, it gives you ownership in the budget and the process.

Once you have the budget in place and have agreed on what is being spent where, agree to follow it together. I would suggest you come up with some physical or verbal way of agreeing. This can be as simple as both of you signing at the bottom of your budget, verbally saying to other "I agree to follow this budget" or just simply handshaking. My wife and I do a pinky shake. This seems a bit silly at first, but has a powerful and lasting effect. For example, when IÂm over at our local electronics or book store and I see something I really want, before I just go and buy it, a mental picture of that pinky shake always appears in my head reminding me of the commitment I made. At that point, unless we budgeted for it, I walk out.

By doing all of the above, you solved both the #2 and #3 reasons couples fight over money: Control and Family. By doing the budget together and agreeing to following it, the budget now becomes the controller of your finances. Since you both had input and both agreed, the issue of one person controlling the money and the other person feeling powerless is now gone. The budget, that you both agreed to, now controls the money. All blame for control is the budget.

You also solved the family problem since you both had input into the budget and you both agreed to follow it. The budget canÂt be changed unless you both agree. Since you both did it together and current or previous family influence to the budget was factored in as you did the budget together.

Call a budget meeting

Here is where we solve the #1 reason couple fight over money: Communication.

Pick an evening where you and your significant other can meeting for about 15-30 minutes to review the finances. I would suggest doing this weekly, but at the very least it needs to be done monthly. The person that is responsible for tracking the budget should update the budget and current expenses prior to the meeting and come to the meeting with an updated budget report. The report should show the budget, how much money is remaining in each budget category, and any remaining bills or expected payments they are aware of. It seems we never manage to actually do this. The intent is there but we donÂt follow through on it.

Both of you should walk through the budget report together. Discuss areas where you have to much money allocated and where you donÂt have enough. Make adjustments as necessary to cover upcoming expenses, but agree to those adjustments together.

Reviewing the budget weekly has a profound impact on communication. Communicating weekly lets each spouse know the current status of the finances, provides an opportunity to discuss areas where too much money has been spent and discuss upcoming unplanned expenses. These are expenses you may not have been able to plan for when you initially did the budget.

Our meetings take all of about 10 minutes and since we have been doing this I canÂt recall the last time we fought about our money. HereÂs a few things IÂve learned along the way though to help you out:

· If one of you overspends the other shouldnÂt get upset. During the budget meeting, just move the amount overspent from another budget category. If there isnÂt enough money, pull it from the emergency fund. With my wife and I, just having to do this is punishment enough for overspending. I feel terrible when I overspend, as I broke the commitment, and feel the impact of overspending when we have to move money around.

· Realize this is a journey and you will get better with time. When we first started budgeting, I was too detailed about it. I wanted it to be correct the first time and managed it to the tee. As a result, my wife didnÂt want to follow it anymore as it was causing her too much stress. Realize that each month you do a budget you will get a little better at it. If you overspend or donÂt follow it exactly, itÂs ok. You will get better at it, it just takes some time.

· Do the budget for the upcoming month before the month arrives. Spend your income on paper before you even get it. Trying to keep a single budget to cover all months is confusing and difficult. Do a budget for each month a few days before that month arrives.

· How you keep your budget doesnÂt really matter. I use a spreadsheet, but paper works just fine and so does extensive software like Quicken or Money. Just use what works for you and makes it easy for you to manage and track. Remember, we are trying to reduce stress not increase it.

· Mistakes of the past are forgotten. DonÂt bring up mistakes from the past. What happened happened, and you canÂt change it. Decide to move forward together. Bringing up mistakes from the past just causes stress, tension and breaks the team environment thatÂs being established.

Wrapping Up

I challenge you to give the above process a try for 3 months. In my experience in will make significant and positive change in your

relationship and in your finances. This process changed our lives, hopefully it will change yours as well.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2007 at 10:03AM
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By finding low cost (free) entertainment venues and by volunteering a good portion of free time to worthy causes, you'll find the 'good life' isn't all that costly and that you can start meaningful saving for retirement

    Bookmark   November 14, 2007 at 1:38PM
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