When it comes to improving and optimizing your finances, it’s crucial to be on the same page with your partner. You don’t have to think the exact same way or have the same goals but you should have a common purpose and game plan. This is even more important when you have children because your actions no longer just effect the two of you.
Our family finances drastically improved once my husband and I got on the same page. We went from unintentionally spending and living in the moment to purposely planning and investing for our future. Our family saving rate substantially increased once we came together and started working towards our future goals.
How? It wasn’t easy.
While my husband isn’t a natural spender, he’s not a number’s guy. I’m the planner and self designated CFO of our family. When it came time to think of ways to rapidly increase our saving and investing rate so that I could “retire early”, I was met with some skepticism.
“You want to do what, and how and where, with my money? Girl, bye….”
Ok, he didn’t say that but I felt he was thinking that when I approached him with my brilliant idea of rapidly increasing our savings rate so that I could retire by the time I reached 40 years old.
The plan I presented was this:
Let’s increase our overall saving and investing rate. This means that you will have to increase your pretax retirement contributions from just 7% to almost 50%. Your take home pay will be cut in half but the good news is, I’ll get to retire early……”
Yeah, no. That wasn’t going to work.
I was going to have to approach the situation completely differently in order to get him on board.
Here are the 5 things I did and what you can do too to get on the same financial page as your partner:
1. Not So Subliminal Messaging
Slowly start mentioning and sending your partner personal finance articles, sites or quotes that you find to be interesting. Don’t push too hard on the subject, just casually mention it.
You can say; “I found this interesting, thoughts?”, “Do you agree or disagree with this?”or “I loved this”.
I started off by sending my husband articles like this one from Mr. Money Mustache and started mentioning how awesome life would be if we both got to retire earlier than the standard retirement age.
Only send things you truly find to be interesting or thought provoking. You should be genuine in your reason for sending the information. Let them form their own opinion from the information you send. Remember, the goal here is not to manipulate your partner but to have them willfully join you on the financial journey.
2. Have A Family Planning/Budgeting Meeting
After having a few casual discussions about your goals and finances, it may be time to sit down and have a family planning meeting. The purpose of this meeting is to plan out how you can realistically accomplish individual and family goals.
At this meeting you can; set goals, review or create a budget and develop a plan that you both agree on. You need to get your partner to buy in; they need to have a stake in the plan. They will feel some ownership and commitment to the goals you create together.
In our case, we started to have family planning and budgeting meetings where we both discussed what we wanted out of life as a family and individually.
3. Create & Stick To Your Budget By Using Apps
Another key to getting your partner on board is sticking to whatever budget you come up with. Want to pay off debt in 2 years? save for a house? or retire early? You need to create a budget and stick to it.
The easiest way for us to stay on track with our budget in through the You Need A Budget (YNAB) app on our phone. While I am the one who reconciles the budget every month, we both have the app on our phone and we can check the budget at any time. We know exactly how much we have left to spend in each category to keep us aligned with our goals.
4. Be Flexible
You need to be flexible. Your goals may change or your partner may change their mind. Your financial situation also may change which can force you to reconsider your goals. Ideally, you two should be periodically checking in on your goals and progress to make sure you still want the same things.
You can help avoid resentment as long as there is open communication where both parties feel free to express concerns without backlash or judgement. If your partner has a completely different goal or want in life, hear them out and figure out a way to make accomplishing both your goals possible.
For example, my husband may want a luxury car in the future and that’s ok. What does that mean for our goals? I am willing to push back my retirement date a few months or work a little harder to save up for it.
The carrot for me is early retirement, the carrot for him may be a bad ass brand new car. It’s not up to me to judge his goals because they are different from mine.
5. Make Gradual Changes
We didn’t jump from contributing 6% to 48% of my husband’s gross income to pretax retirement accounts overnight. We started gradually increasing his contributions every month. One month it was 7%, the next month we bumped it to 8% and so on.
I also reiterated to my husband that everything was reversible and we could always reduce the % if things got too tight or if he was uncomfortable.
At first, I didn’t really know how I would convince him to get on board with my early retirement plan. I didn’t want him to feel like I was pushing my dreams on him and that he had no say in the matter.
He had to be 100% on board and fully invested in the decision. The same goes for you if you’re looking to make some changes to your financial situation. If you jump in too quickly or are too aggressive with the subject, the results may not go so well.
Remember, just because you want to reach a goal doesn’t mean that your partner has to want that same goal. Getting on the same financial page is not always easy but it’s critical in attaining the life you want.
To start improving your finances with your partner today, download your Free Relationship Financial Goals Worksheet where you can identify and prioritize your money goals as a couple.
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