Money can be stressful, and talking about money with your significant other can be downright terrifying. Despite this communicating with your partner about finances is crucial to the health of your relationship. Money is the leading cause of stress in most relationships, because it impacts so much of our day to day living. While it may seem easier to avoid these difficult conversations, doing so can hurt your relationship in the long run.
How to Approach the Conversation
A good teacher will tell you that making someone care about something is almost impossible. Showing them different things to care about and then letting them choose offers a much better chance of success. If you have personally decided you want to start saving money and then tell your partner “We need to save more money” you aren’t starting a conversation, you are giving an order. We like to make our own decisions so don’t take this choice from your partner. They won’t feel ownership if the decision was made solely by you. Instead choose to involve them in the process. Start a conversation rather than make an assertion. Consider using phrases such as:
“Can we talk together about coming up with a saving plan?”
“I’d like to get your input on how we can save money together.”
Change your Technique
You want to move from:
Recognize a desire to save > Create a savings goal yourself > Share with significant other > Expect them to get on board.
Express a desire to discuss your finances > Gather input from both sides> Create shared financial goals > Work toward those goals together.
It’s only when both sides have created shared goals that buy-in exists and moving forward will be possible. You don’t want one person’s role to be creator, implementer, and enforcer. Using the second approach you both become responsible for helping reach a shared vision. You have agreed upon goals, and sticking to them will be much easier.
Give Concrete Ideas
Another problem you can run into when you’re trying to encourage someone to save with you but you don’t give any tangible ideas. Often we start this conversation by saying ‘ we need to stop spending so much’ or ‘we need to save more money.’ These are vague, non specific statements. Instead you want to give concrete ideas.
Make sure both of you know exactly how you’re going to reach your savings goals. A goal without a plan to achieve it is just a wish. Dream together, create your goals together and then come up with the specifics.
Answer these questions:
- What is our timeline?
- How much will we need to save each month to get there?
- Where in our budget will that money come from?
- What account will we put the monthly amount into?
- Who wants to be responsible to transfer the funds?
- How will we check in with one another to see how we feel about our progress?
Going through this process will help both partners feel involved, responsible and empowered to move forward together.
Don’t just talk about money when you need them to change
Money doesn’t have to be a stressful and argument-prone topic for couples. Our problem is we tend to only bring money up when we’re in a bad spot or we’re frustrated with our partner. If money were part of our regular rhythm of conversation, we could have productive discussions about it without upsetting each other.
Your Money conversations don’t have to be like this!
If you want to shift your relationship’s financial future, don’t start this conversation by addressing every frustration you have with how your partner handles money. Instead try and focus on something they’ve done well financially. Do they give money to a cause they care about? Did they pay off any debt in the last couple years such as a car or credit card? Point that out, and commend them for it. Try and find time to talk about money with them where you don’t bring up anything negative.
In a follow up conversation, revisit these positives and bring them into a discussion of budget and spending. How can you take some of the things you’ve done well and apply them elsewhere in your finances? What are you BOTH doing well and BOTH struggling with? Admitting your own financial struggles shows you are focusing on improving as well.
How can you both work to hold each other accountable and also offer grace to one another when you mess up?
If you set a goal like setting aside $25 a week for savings and then your partner forgets one week make sure you don’t instantly point out the mistake and get angry. Instead, try asking (calmly) where the money was spent and if (s)he thinks there will be another part of the budget you can cut from to get that $20 back into savings.
Don’t just drop it and let it go. Offering grace doesn’t mean you get pushed over or ignore any problems. It simply means don’t elevate them beyond what they are, simple mistakes. Getting past small errors will help you to get past larger problems in the future.
If your partner sees that you’re not going to freak out every time they mess up, they’re more likely to admit a mistake and talk with you about them in the future. You’ll also be grateful when they use the same technique the next time you mess up.
The Wrap Up
How to get your significant other to save money?
- Create goals together.
- Create strategies to reach those goals together.
- Keep finances a regular part of your conversation, not just when there’s a problem.
- Treat small mistakes calmly and with grace.
- Hold each other accountable.
After all of this, do something romantic together after the conversation. If you’ve gotten this far you have certainly earned it.