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Getting out of debt is hard. Trying to get out of debt when you're not on the same page? Impossible.
It's like you're trying to fill in a hole while your other half is on the other side digging deeper.
Completely changing your way of life and working towards debt freedom does not come without its challenges. One of the hardest parts of the journey is getting your spouse on board. Why is this such a hard task? It's because most people don't want to change their lifestyle. They like their cars, going out to restaurants, and buying what they want when they want.
Then you come in and say we're changing everything. No more going out to eat. Cables gotta go. And your favorite hobbies? Forget about it. No wonder they don't want to get on board and get out of debt. It's like ripping a band-aid off to them. No, worse. It's soul crushing.
Josh and I were dating when I started my debt free journey. I tried to get him involved multiple times, but he wasn't interested. He's the spender and likes to go out and do things.
This made me feel a lot of guilt in the beginning. All those things weren't in my budget, so he would end up paying if he wanted me to go along. Months later I was still working on getting out of debt and making really good progress. I talked a lot about what I was doing and he even shared how much debt he had with me. We were making progress. Then he said those dreaded words.
I want to be debt free before we get married.
Those words were heartbreaking to hear. He wasn't working on his debt free journey but wanted to wait to get married until he was debt free. That sent signals to me that our relationship wasn't that important to him and that we were never going to get married. Over time and talks, we got on the same page. It took a full year to get him on board. I am thankful every day that we're on this journey together. I’ve gathered 5 tips from my own experience to get a reluctant spouse on board.
1. Start with why
Instead of going straight for the kill and cutting out all unnecessary expenses, start with your WHY. Sit down with your spouse and have a talk about what you want your future to look like.
Does it include traveling? Providing the best life for your kids? Being able to buy a house? Financial stability?Whatever your why is, really focus on that as your driving force for wanting to get out of debt. Have a dream meeting about all the things you want to do and then transition into a talk about how you can make it happen.
I'm Amanda. My husband and I paid off $133,763 of debt in less than four years! During our journey, I realized what my true passion was in life: helping others become debt free and reach financial independence. You can learn more about us here.
2. Do not nag
Yes, this is a tip for getting your spouse on board! Nothing is worse than nagging your spouse constantly to get out of debt. You have to be careful with how you approach the situation otherwise your spouse will completely shut down when the subject comes up.
3. Listen to The Dave Ramsey Show
When you’re cleaning around the house or driving somewhere in the car, pop on The Dave Ramsey Show. This is an extremely effective method because they will hear people call in who have similar situations to yours.
Having your spouse hear about their troubles and then Dave giving advice on what they need to do is an eye opening experience. Especially because it’s not coming from you. That may sound offensive, but it’s not. It just works out to where your spouse will listen to someone else on the topic more than you. And that’s a good thing. Let Dave Ramsey be the bad guy knocking some sense into your spouse.
Before long, your spouse will be talking to you about the show! They’ll say things like, “That car is way to expensive for them” or “I can’t believe how much they spend eating out each month”. It’s a happy day when your spouse opens up like this and a major step in your debt free journey together.
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If you’re the type of person that picks up a new hobby one week and then finds a new one the next week, you need to show you’re committed before attempting to get your spouse on board. Add up all your debt, create a rough draft family budget, and work out a plan to show how you both can get out of debt. This will show your spouse initiative and that you’re serious about it. If you take it seriously, they will take it seriously.
5. Attend Financial Peace University
Financial Peace University is a 9-week class that teaches you how to do everything from budgeting and paying off debt to walking you through insurance and setting up a legacy box. Each week you will have a video lesson from Dave Ramsey, a small group with your coordinators where you talk over the lesson, and then homework each week. The group setting provides accountability throughout the course. If you have the chance to take it in person, do it.
This is my favorite tip because it’s how Josh got on board with getting out of debt – while we were dating! For Christmas one year I told him I didn’t want a gift, just 9 weeks of his time to go through the course. He had been listening to The Dave Ramsey Show for a little while and was coming around. After lesson four, dumping debt, he was on board. Dave Ramsey does a fantastic job of opening up your eyes on your relationships with debt and providing practical steps to knock your debt out. Once you have the FPU kit, you can take the class as many times as you want. I’ve been through it three times. It’s great to have a yearly refresher.
Allocate spending money
It is necessary, so necessary, for you both to have your own spending money that you buy whatever you want with. If your budget is so tight that no one can have fun, they aren't going to want to keep doing this. During our whole journey, Josh's spending money has been at $100 a paycheck. This may seem excessive, but it is a small price to pay to have him on board. That amount works for us, but may not work for you. Take a look at your situation and figure out what is a good amount for your family.
These are the tips that have worked for me over the years. While we have strayed for the budget at times, we're both committed to paying off all our debt. It's such a great feeling to be on the same page with your spouse.
Was it hard for you to get your spouse on the same page?
About Amanda Williams