It takes my husband a little longer than me to get around to enjoying the process of working toward our financial goals. He understands why we’re doing it, he just wishes we could “live a little more.” I don’t fault him for wanting to have more of a life, but I would get frustrated that he didn’t understand why I was pushing so hard to save money.
It started when we were paying down debt heavily. At first he doubted we could really do it, but then after a few successes, he realized my plan was completely doable and got excited about it. Then we got into saving-for-taxes mode, which neither of us enjoyed, but it had to be done.
When we had the money for our taxes saved, my husband complained a bit about my resistance to renewed spending. But I had a plan. I wanted to save as much as we could towards our new house. Even though the down payment was a gift from my dad, I knew we’d want some extra. It turns out we also need something called a “reserve,” which is cash on hand beyond the down payment and closing costs.
So, he understood why we were saving so hard, but he didn’t really like it. Then a few weeks ago, out of the blue, he said, “Saving money is fun.” It was a breakthrough! He finally understood it. I think seeing our sizable savings account balance, in addition to the money waiting to be paid to taxes (next weekend), made him realize that we were doing this for a reason, and that the act of saving money itself could be enjoyable.
We’ve reached a point where we’re saving about 25% of our monthly after-tax income. Of course, I will point out that we have a high joint income. That wouldn’t have been doable when we had our current expenses and much lower income.
Now he’s all about the saving money. We’ve come to an agreement on our goals and are prioritizing what we want to do. Since we’ve got a cushion, I’m more comfortable with the occasional splurge, as we did with the Elton John/Billy Joel concert.
It’s also changed our perspective on our desired home price. Instead of buying as much as we can, we’re looking to buy something really cheap that needs updating, but will see a sizable increase in value after we fix it up. Buying cheaper will bring our mortgage pretty close to our current rent, and allow us to put more money towards our other financial goals like boosting our emergency fund and sving for retirement, both of which he’s finally seeing as things we need to be working on.
The moral of this story: it can take a while, but if one spouse keeps plugging away at the goals, the other spouse will get there. If your spouse needs better motivation, figure out a joint goal and then demonstrate how much faster you’ll get there if you commit to saving.
It certainly worked for me.