How to Get Your Spouse More Involved in the Family Finances

In many marriages, there is the financial geek who enjoys setting the budget, paying the bills,  and managing the money. 

Often the other spouse wants no part of the finances.

While this is not always the case, it is true for many marriages.

This arrangement may work well for awhile, but over time, the spouse who handles the money may feel burdened by being the sole financial executor, especially if the family struggles with debt.

While the financial geek may never get his or her partner as excited about finances as he or she is, there are some ways to get your spouse involved more.

How You Can Get Your Spouse More Involved in the Family Finances

Ask about your spouse’s parents’ arrangement.

Whether we want to or not, many of us unintentionally mimic our parents’ behaviors.

When I grew up, my mom handled all financial decisions as my father was an admitted spendthrift.  He was happy to hand my mom his check each week and let her make the decisions, while she gave him a set amount of money each week that he was allowed to spend.

My husband’s parents had a similar arrangement, though not because his dad was a spendthrift but because he was a workaholic who was not home often.  It is no surprise then, that as the woman I handle the finances as that is the model we both experienced.

If you and your spouse are in conflict over how to handle the finances, examine your backgrounds; growing up with vastly different financial models could be part of the problem.

Speak to what is important to your spouse.

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The financial geek in the family often is excited by spreadsheets and grid charts, while the other partner is not.

If the geek goes into too much detail, the spouse is likely to tune out.

I keep detailed charts showing how our debt repayment progress is going, and I get motivated each time I see a visual reminder of our success.

My husband does not care.

What he cares about is how much longer we have to work as hard as we are and keep sacrificing time together.  Rather than telling him our debt free date is projected to be 18 months from now and then we can start investing further in our retirement, I will tell him that within 18 months we can slow down our work schedule and spend more time together as a family as he would like.

That is his priority, and he will be less likely to lose interest when I speak to him in reference to that goal.

Meanwhile, we must compromise; he tolerates my gazelle intensity, and I try to slow down my fervor to still make spending time with him a priority.

Keep it short.

financially involved

How do you get your spouse more involved with money?

The financial geek could probably talk about finances endlessly while the other spouse may just want a quick run down of the finances.

Agree on an amount of time to spend, say 20 minutes once a week, that won’t be so long the spouse becomes bored.

Loosen your control.

Some financial geeks have an iron grip on the finances and don’t like it when the spouse spends more than they perceive is acceptable or buys something the financial geek does not think is wise.

Remember, for marital harmony, choose what to get really upset about.

If your spouse’s lunch out is not going to break the budget, don’t make a fuss.  The non-financially detailed spouse is much more likely to work with financial geek if he doesn’t feel like he is being reprimanded constantly.

Sit with your spouse and agree on a set amount of “blow” money per week.  If you each have $30 of blow money each week, both partners should have free rein to spend it as they see fit.

Agree on large financial purchases.

While giving each partner some autonomy with weekly blow money is important, make sure you agree on large purchases.

Some couples agree on a designated amount that they must talk to the spouse before they spend.  For instance, you and your spouse could agree that if either of you wants to buy something more than what you are allowed weekly in blow money, you must first consult one another.

Finally

In most marriages, there is one person who does more with the finances than the other.

However, to avoid serious financial repercussions, it is best to spend time together going over the budget and agreeing on purchases.  The financial geek should be willing to loosen some control and give the partner who doesn’t do the budget some financial freedom, while the other spouse should take at least a modified interest in the budget and the workings of the family finances.

How do you get your spouse more involved in the finances?

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Published or updated October 23, 2012.

Comments

  1. Great post that unfortunately most people don’t take to heart.

    Aside from all of the reasons you mentioned in this post, what happens in the event that one spouse dies, and that spouse happens to be the one that handled all the finances? Suddenly, the newly widowed spouse is left in a state of emotional distress, with a world of financial responsibilities on his/her plate with little or no guidance.

    At the least, spouses should discuss at least monthly their current financial situation, go over changes in that time period, and have some kind of storage area where all this information is kept. Also, a written agenda of sorts, discussing how and when different bills are paid, or where certain assets are, would be very helpful.

    Thanks again for the great post!

    Joe Perrotta

  2. It is best for the spouse to agree that the financial goals are important to both parties. If he/she does, it is much easier to achieve the goals.

  3. Some of these questions should be asked looooooooooong before your partner is a spouse, yes?

  4. Great post! I am definitely the financial geek of the household. I do tend to go on a little more than she can handle sometimes, I’ll try keeping it to 5-10 minutes once a week and see how that goes, thanks for the advice, never really thought of that ;-)

  5. Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager says:

    I’m not married, but Adaptu has a great community full of tips for people getting married or married. Check it out: https://www.adaptu.com/community/love-and-money/

  6. I need to have my wife read your article. I take care of all our finance and I would love for her to learn and be able to jointly do it.

  7. My wife and I work harmoniously; at least on spending. We have very similar opinions and goals with spending, so we are both on the same page. More recently, I’ve asked my wife to take over the bills that require a check payment. Admittedly, I was bad at paying them, because I hate writing checks and sending letters. Plus, it was a way to get her more involved.

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