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The Same Page?


Have you ever said anything to your spouse and immediately regretted it, even when it did need saying?  I totally had one of those moments last night!

My darling hubby is a romantic at heart and came home with flowers after work, because he knew that I had had a difficult day dealing with the ramifications of the recent loss in our family.   Sweet, right?   Here comes my totally cringe-worthy moment.   My first words in response were “Thank you, but those really weren’t in the budget”.   Yeah, you can break out the pitchforks now, I am fully aware how awful that was!   Luckily, the hubby is awesome and totally got it and it didn’t cause a conflict, but I certainly felt like a jerk!

This event got me thinking to all the little things that we spend money on that are not really needed.   Hubby will bring me flowers, I will buy his favorite candy bar to sneak into his lunchbox.   Those  little signs of affection are very much important aspects of our marriage, and are something I need to plan for that I really hadn’t considered previously.

The flower situation also made me realize through the conversation that followed, that hubby, while wanting to get out of debt, is not quite ready to go kung fu, hard core on it yet.   That means I have a new aspect to the debt reduction challenge.  How do I make it happen as quickly as I want it to, while making sure that Hubby isn’t feeling the “pain” of it?  Any tips or ideas?

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  • Reply Alice |

    You can’t do it yourself. Either he is for it or against it, there is no in between. If you try to do it without his full commitment, there will be many disagreements and conflicts. You must be on the same page, or it will be a sad story, indeed.

  • Reply Mysti |

    I am guilty too of my husband doing a nice thing and I poop on it. So you aren’t alone.

    But if you are trying to shield hubby from the pain of this….it won’t work. He helped make the mess…he needs to help clean it up. He needs to feel the pain so he will be less inclined to have it happen again.

  • Reply Brooke |

    I have some experience with this! My advice is to focus on the big wins first. Focus on cutting expenses from the bills which will have the biggest impact – bills like communications, or auto insurance, or a gym membership – which will be cut every month going forward without additional effort if you find a lower cost solution. Then, make sure those savings go to debt. Show that results can happen. Once you both start feeling some success, you might surprise yourself with your motivation to find cheaper alternatives! Also, I always updated my husband with the monthly budget and dept progress over email since he had zero desire to talk about it. Over time as we achieve goals and made substitutions, the frugal mindset really sunk in as to now my husband thinks with that lens without being asked to. Also, it doesn’t hurt to lead through action – It is hard to justify cutting something painful to your husband if you have your own blind spot of spending! So 1) start with the less painful stuff 2) keep the lines of communication open and 3) model the behavior you want to see. That’s my advice!

      • Reply Brooke |

        Can you tell I’ve lived this? It really helps to focus on the easy wins – either because they are big savings or because they are easy to do. Then, once you have some success — and your husband can see that success — I promise it will be an easier sell to get you further to your goals. It also might be worth it to work the debt also in a debt snowball (meaning pay your smallest balance first, and only the minimums on the rest). These quick wins will show your husband you all can do it and help encourage you to continue (and perhaps inspire future frugality).

  • Reply DIY$ |

    Having been on the other side of this exchange I can say that your reaction might seem ungrateful but also could be a wake up call to him about how serious you really are. If he can see that you truly feel prefer he avoid even the smallest expense, that could help him get on the same page.

    One time I got my wife flowers and a few days later she pulled up the transaction while tracking expenses and let me know that while they were appreciated, in the future she’d prefer I find a cheaper bouquet/florist.

  • Reply tpol1 |

    As a debt-hater, I understand your point of view. Intense focus on debt payment is important but you should not feel burnt out in the process. Being an avid reader of personal finance blogs, I see a lot of people in debt paying mode set aside small allowances each month for themselves to be used however they wish. They do not question the use of this money. An allowance in the neighborhood of 10-20 dollars a week may be? Totally depending on what you can budget. So, if your hubby prefers to spend his allowance on you, he will be totally guilt free. Next time he may spend it on himself.

  • Reply Redgem |

    I have pulled that on my husband before. I used to like getting flowers occasionally, but ever since starting budgeting, I don’t like to budget flowers. So instead, he occasionally picks me flowers. I think it’s more the sentiment and thought behind the gesture that is important, rather than the dollars. So try to replace them with cheap alternatives. Write a sweet note to put in his lunch or bake some nice cheap cookies (not that a candy bar is very expensive). Make a card instead of buying one.

    As for getting him on board, I agree to start with trying to reduce your bills first. He won’t object to paying less for what he’s getting. Work on shopping sales for groceries and meal planning. What does he object to tightening? Is it restaurants? Try to recreate his favourite restaurant dishes at home.

    • Reply Amy |

      I am so thankful to have readers that get this situation! I think for the most part he just wants it not to “hurt ” so much. Starting with reduced costs for the same services sounds like a great place to start!

      • Reply Brooke |

        Also, evaluate if you really need the service at the same time — But say cable? Maybe go to a reduced package at first rather than cut it all out right now. Baby steps : ).

  • Reply Joanne Mahoney |

    I totally get it. I love my husband dearly, but he’s a little ADHD. He “nickle and dimes” his way through our check book. Even though he “gets it,” I have to remind him of our joint financial goals.

    Sometimes, doing a search for non-essential items on your on-line bank account, and showing how the money spent on little things adds up is enough motivation to get everyone back on track.

  • Reply Desperately in Debt |

    We built in a small allowance for each of us, each pay check to be spent on whatever, no questions asked. That way we can get our kids an ice cream every once in a while, something small for each other like flowers, or grab a lunch or coffee on the go that wasn’t budgeted without feeling annoyed at the other for spending (mostly meaning me feeling annoyed at him). We also take this money out in cash so there wasn’t “evidence” of how much was spent on something and at what store (again, so we wouldn’t feel annoyed at the other for buying something overpriced). This really took some of the pressure off our differing views on the debt reduction and also took some of the sting out of going full on, hard core on our budget and debt in all other categories.

    Coming together with my husband on finances and debt reduction has been the number one most challenging aspect of debt reduction but it is really essential to be open and clear about the goals, how you’re going to get there, adjustments that need to be made along the way, and sharing successes. Looking forward to following your journey! Keep it up!

  • Reply Jean |

    I second the “mad money” for each of you. If your love language is giving gifts, you NEED to be able to do that, but if you can only buy them with your cash on hand (mad money) then you will each need to be a little more cognizant of the price/frequency.

  • Reply first step |

    If gift giving is important to your relationship, I think there are several options: 1. build the spending into the budget 2. agree to give gifts that are free like writing notes or going to a free activity 3. set interim goals and give gifts as you meet the goals as a reward (at every $500 payoff or another amount that is important to you).

    While I agree that trying to cut big expenses is important, I think that most people tend not to worry about small purchases, and that can add up to a large amount each month. This is why tracking is crucial to changing how you allocate your money.

So, what do you think ?