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What to Do When Your Spouse Doesn’t Want to Be on a Budget

Australian (1)
I got an email from a wife recently that felt like she was facing a brick wall when it came to her family’s budget.
Her and her husband were facing debt and bills they couldn’t afford, but her husband wasn’t willing to discuss them or follow the budget she had created. She emailed me looking for help, how could she get her husband to take part in the budget she had created?
I wish I could say I had a quick fix or miracle answer to her situation, but unfortunately there isn’t one.
When my husband and I first got going with the Total Money Makeover it was my idea, not his, or ours. He too was reluctant, but fortunately for me as soon as I showed him the numbers he quickly came to the same conclusion I had… we were in trouble and needed help.
Now that we’ve been on this financial plan for a couple years I realize how fortunate I am to have entered this process with my husband at my side, because many others aren’t as lucky.
If you’re facing a reluctant spouse while trying to clean up your finances there’s a few things you should know.
1. You’re not alone.
You aren’t the first, nor will you be the last person to face what feels like an hopeless and heart breaking situation. Take a breath and relax. This situation is not as impossible as it feels when you’re in the moment.
2. Re-evaluate your motives.
What do you plan to get out of getting on a family budget your spouse will follow? If you’d like to get them to spend less money and instead funnel it into an activity of your choosing, you might be a little off target. Your motives need to be entirely pure. A family budget needs to be a joint decision, that mutually benefits both of you.

3. Create an action plan.
If your goal is to have your spouse be on board with your budget, then you need to approach it as a joint decision, not a lecture. Remember that your spouse hasn’t “seen the light” just yet – they’ll need a slow warming up period. What is your current financial situation? What could your financial future be like if you both agreed on a budget? Help your spouse see the vision the way you already do.

4. Be patient and respectful.
Being told that you’re doing something “wrong” is hard. Some spouses might take this as a personal slam on their own abilities to provide for their family and automatically go on defense. Remember to remain calm, don’t take it personally, and keep a level head. Be prepared to give your spouse the time and space they need to digest what you’ve shared with them.
5. When in doubt, call in reinforcements.
You know how time with your best friend can calm your nerves in a way no one else can? Well, similarly, if you’re at an impasse with your spouse about your finances you might need an outside person to help. It could be a trusted friend, mentor or a religious leader. Or, if you’re like me you seek out the advice of Dave Ramsey, because let’s face it he’s my “go to” financial advisor. (He has great advice to offer on his website.)
A reluctant spouse is not the end of the world, even though it may feel like it. Pick your chin up, you will get through this one step at a time.
Do you have advise for other people facing a reluctant spouse? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.


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