“Patience gives your spouse permission to be human. It understands that everyone fails. When a mistake is made, it chooses to give them more time that they deserve to correct it. It gives you the ability to hold on during the rough times in your relationship rather than bailing out under the pressure.” ~ Stephen Kendrick
[T]hroughout the course of our Challenge I have heard from so many of you who are claiming dramatic changes in thinking and behavior. You are learning to live and love frugality — yet many of you have expressed concern regarding your spouse. Today, the 21st day of our 23 Day Frugal Living Challenge, I’d like to speak a word of encouragement to those of you struggling to covert your spouse from wasteful spenders to frugal champions.
Many of us understand the societal pressures that comes when attempting to live frugally — but the ultimate discouragement comes into play when we struggle to covert a spouse that is resistant to any change in thinking. When I asked on Facebook for you to list your biggest obstacles to frugal living — whether or not you were joking or serious — most of you commented and said your biggest obstacle was…”my spouse”
Here’s the hard cold truth: You cannot change your spouse (And if you’ve been in a relationship for any length of time you know this! But it’s still worth repeating.).
Any lasting change can only come from within and the individual must be willing to make the change on their own terms.
I know this sounds like such a downer, but I’m here to encourage you and say, never give up hope! If you are to have any success in converting your spouse over to the frugality side of the fence, you must first understand a few things about wasteful spenders:
- They were never taught the concepts of money management. Unfortunately, the ability to manage our money is not innate…we have to be taught these things…and if we’re never taught we, by default, start to pick up bad habits.
- Therefore, wasteful spenders do not fully understand the concept of money.
- They aren’t able to make the distinction between happiness and money.
- They don’t understand the freedom that comes from proper money management and enjoying what they have.
- Any confrontation of, or challenge to, their spending habits is seen as punishment and only pushes them toward more wasteful spending.
What are we to do?
In love, we persist. Never give up! Here are a few suggestions to guide you along the process of converting your spouse:
Spearhead the conversation.
There never seems to be a good time to talk about money, but right in the middle of an argument is probably not the best time to bring it up (just sayin’). Always try to spearhead the frugal living conversation when your spouse is stress-free, or at least in a good mood. You may even want to set up a specific time to sit down and talk about it.
Gather the Stats.
Come to the conversation with your numbers clearly listed. Use whatever visual tools (charts, graphs, spreadsheets, etc.) necessary to communicate the flow of money in and out of the bank account. In order for this to be effective you have to take the lead role and begin now tracking your spending habits. There are several really excellent tools out there ready to help keep you organized.
Never name call, accuse, or blame.
In the heat of the moment I know it’s difficult to stay calm, but it’s vital that you find a way to stick to the facts. Name calling, accusations, and blaming will shut down your conversation and render any future discussions on the topic useless. Resist the temptation to inject your “feelings” about the matter and simply relay the facts. It’s hard to argue with the facts.
Together come to an agreement on financial goals. Sometimes when we talk about money — especially this day and age of plastic — it seems like some theoretical concept. We generally have a hard time visualizing it. This is why goal setting is vital to our financial victory and vital in converting a wasteful spender. Be specific! Agree on the time frame in which the goal will be reached. And find a way to keep the goal at the forefront of you thoughts.
Zero to sixty is just not a realistic financial strategy. Establish a list of small changes that you can recommend to your spouse and begin slowly implementing them one at a time. For example, suggest using the 30-day list for large purchases. Commit to it for a 2-3 months and see how it goes. If he/she embraces it, move on to something else. Here’s another one…does your spouse hate to take leftovers to work? Why don’t you suggest he/she choose only one day a week to brown bag it. Baby-steps!
Allow for an allowance
Okay…I know it sounds silly to allow an adult to have “an allowance” but here me out on this:) Just this one tip makes all the difference for me and my husband. This type of discretionary spending is a pre-set amount of money — whatever amount fits into your budget — that can be spent without criticism from either party. It’s great! No questions asked, just a little fun money:)
Direct them to the Challenge.
Gently recommend that your spouse read through the posts of the 23 Day Frugal Living Challenge:) And conveniently leave other books on the topic laying around the house (i.e. The Complete Tightwad Gazette and Your Money or Your Life)
Learn the prayer of serenity.
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” Memorize it!
Neither my husband nor I were raised to live frugally — we
have learned are learning to live it slowly over time. Sometimes he does better than me and vice versa. Try not to push your spouse too hard, it only leads to resentment and bitterness. Respect their attempts at frugal living and understand that changes in behavior come as a result of changes in thinking and desire.
Now It’s Your Turn
Daily Goal: Talk with your spouse and set a date to discuss your financial concerns, goals, and changes you’d like to implement.
Download: The 23 Day Frugal Living Challenge Daily Goal Sheet
Subscribe: Be sure not to miss a day of the Challenge! Click this link to receive the 23 Day Frugal Living Challenge by email.