One of the questions that frequently comes up when I talk to wives about debt freedom, is “How do I get my husband on board?” I am not a marriage counselor by any means, but I have been married for almost 10 years. From the time Brad and I became aware of what “Debt Freedom” was, until we paid off every debt but our mortgage, took roughly 5 years. So we have spent half of our marriage working toward debt freedom. Here are a few things I have learned along the way:
1. As a matter of principle, I would advise anyone to put their marriage before debt-freedom. You may have to go slower in paying off your debt than you like, but having your husband’s cooperation will be better for your long-term future. I have run every major financial decision I have made by Brad first, before going through with it. Remember, your marriage and your finances will be better if you work with each other, rather than against each other!
2. In the meantime, you can do lots of things to convince him what a good idea it is!
- You can cook food from scratch, then tell him how much money you saved by not eating out, and remark on how much better home-cooked food tastes.
- Shop with sales and coupons, and tell him how much you saved.
- Call your insurance and utilities companies and lower your bills.
- Sell some things to make money, or make a large purchase with cash instead of credit.
Each time you “show and tell” your husband how much money you are saving or making, you will be teaching him about debt-freedom.
3. If you haven’t started yet, begin meal-planning and grocery shopping for your family once a week. Sit down with your calendar or planner, and think about what your family likes to eat. We usually do oatmeal or cereal for breakfast, and pb&j sandwiches with fruit and veggies and cheese on the side for lunch. Once you find some foods your family likes to eat regularly, meal planning becomes more predictable from week to week. I know some people even cook the same dinner meals on certain days, like Spaghetti Mondays or Taco Tuesdays. If you’re not great at cooking from scratch, you can start by just keeping your house stocked with good food that’s easy to prepare so you’re less likely to eat out in a pinch. You could learn how to make a few simple things in your crock pot (like a roast beef with carrots, potatoes, and onions) or keep fixings on hand for simple salads (spinach, craisins, apples, walnuts, and salad dressing). Remember, the less you go shopping and eat out, the more you save!
4. You can make saving money a fun pastime for your whole family! Take advantage of free promotions, on-line giveaways, free community activities, and inexpensive entertainment. If you make saving money fun, it will not seem as burdensome.
5. Another idea is that you and your husband can each have a “fun money” allowance each month to spend on whatever you want. Agree on a fair amount together, and then budget for it. Then your husband can buy what he wants without it impacting your overall family budget.
It may take a long time, but gradually your husband will become aware that you are making smart financial decisions and begin to trust your good judgement. I’ve heard that in every marriage there is a saver and a spender. Your husband may never think exactly like you, so be careful not to make him resent you in your campaign for “Debt Freedom.” Together you can make a great team! Opposites attract, so I’m betting your husband balances you out in more ways than one. If you are the saver and he is the spender, then you will make sure the bills get paid, and he will make sure you remember to have fun along the way. Finally, remember not to resent him for being who he is, and look for ways to appreciate him as you work together toward debt freedom!
What advice would you give wives who want to get their husbands on board with debt freedom?