A Word of Warning

Posted by in Communication

I’ve put out some pretty nerdy posts lately, a lot of you have loved them. This tells me you’re pretty nerdy, too.

You’ve written to me saying how easy I’ve made things and how you now have hope and feel empowered to pay down your debtbuild an emergency fund, or whatever else you want.

That’s awesome! I’m happy for you and glad I could help.

But…

If you’re in a relationship…if you’re on this journey with someone else, be careful! Odds are they’re not as nerdy as you. They’re not as excited as you about the spreadsheets I gave you. They might not even understand this stuff as well as you.

So don’t scare them off.

Some of you went ahead, used the tools I provided, and realized you could pay off your mortgages in 6-10 years! (Even though I said not to look at your mortgages right now…lol)

That’s awesome, but it also assumes a budget optimized by you. It also assumes your life today will stay the same until your debts are all gone.

While I have no doubt you could hold the line and stay focused on your goal long enough to hit it, your partner might have different plans.

Maybe they want to go back to school. Perhaps they’d like to go on a vacation or two more than you think. What if they want to quit their jobs to stay home with the kids? Do you even have kids yet?

So if you’re super motivated and excited to pay off your debt like we did, build up a big emergency fund, or something else…but need to, as some of you have put it, get your partner on board…

DON’T DO A FREAKING THING UNTIL YOU READ THE REST OF THIS!

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Here are two scenarios I want you to avoid.

First. You’re super excited and motivated about your new plan to pay off debt, build an emergency fund, whatever. So you build your budget, put it in place, and never tell your partner.

You probably handle the finances for your family anyway, so you figure “What’s the harm?”

Here’s the harm.

Even if you never communicate any changes, your partner will eventually notice things have changed. Maybe you sold something without telling them. Maybe you cancelled your cable or downgraded your internet speed. Or maybe you’ve started buying stuff in bulk to save money.

Whatever it is, they’ll notice and realize you unilaterally made a decision(s) affecting both your lives.

And while you and I know your intentions are good and pure and noble, all they’ll know is you didn’t trust or respect them enough to include them in the process.

If nothing else, they’ll do something they’ve always done and it’ll irk you. Why? Because it violates your new plan they know nothing about. you’ll freak out about it or internalize it.

Either way it’s a money-fight waiting to happen.

Second. You’re super excited and motivated about your new plan to pay off debt, build an emergency fund, whatever. So you build your budget, put it in place, and force it on your partner.

“Hey honey! I got this great idea for our finances from some dude on the internet. It’s going to be awesome, but we need to sell your car.”

Uh, no. Don’t do that.

Again, that’s just you making decisions for them. How well do you think that’s going to go over?

It’s not that our non-nerdy partners don’t care about money. It could just be they’re scared of change.

Consider how much ownership and responsibility they’ve had in the process. Do they even have any or have you always “handled” all the finances yourself without really including them?

Maybe they’re intimidated by the process and don’t want to face what their lives look like when quantified and laid out on a spreadsheet.

Maybe they never learned this stuff. (How has their family handled money?)

Maybe they just prefer the art of life, more than the science.

Maybe they’ve never been asked their opinion before.

Whatever the case may be, don’t impose your plan on your family without including them.

Ask their opinion and give them a voice. It could be they’ve never had one.

What to do instead

One of the best ways to have a fruitful chat about money with your partner is to not talk about money. Instead, ask your partner about their dream life. What are they doing? Where are they? (Hopefully still with you…lol) What does that life feel like?

Whatever it is you’re proposing means change is coming. And change requires a theory. Change requires a vision of the future different from your current situation.

People change when the pain of staying the same is finally greater than the pain of changing. So before you can realistically expect your partner to get on board and change, they’re going to have to have a darn good reason to.

Similarly, make sure you yourself have a good grip on why you want to do this. Don’t just say “hey honey, I got this idea from some dude on the internet…I think it’d be cool if sold your car…make our own toilet paper…or something else to reduce our expenses for the next X years…”

No…please don’t.

Instead, share what you want life to look like. Share why you think the plan you’re coming up with is important and why it’s worth the change.

If you want more help, check out this other article I wrote about this idea.

Make sure they’re actually on board

Even if your partner says they’re on board, even if they seem like they want to change, even if you get a warm and fuzzy feeling about moving forward…WATCH OUT!

Some folks want to keep the peace and will do and say anything to limit tension. The downside is, they internalize their tension, fear, and lack of control. It’ll come out sooner or later and it won’t be pretty.

So what do you do?    

When you guys have a shared vision for your future and a plan you both agree with, start implementing it ONE THING AT A TIME.

Two reasons.

First. Ever notice how there are still fat people after the New Year, even though the most common New Year’s resolution in America is to lose weight? These folks make all their resolutions to finally get in shape and take their health seriously.

But then Easter rolls around and they’re still rolly-polly.

What happened?

More often than not, they did too much too soon. They haven’t run in years, then go out and run five miles. They haven’t lifted weights in years and on their first day back in the gym go for their old Personal Record. Or they completely cut out sugar and starch from their diet, even though it’s all they’ve eaten for years.

Then pretty soon, these changes catch up to them. They hurt themselves, stop working out, get discouraged and miss their carbs. Before you know it, they’re back to their old lifestyle.

Don’t shock the system. There’s no need to change your entire lives in one fell swoop. Instead, set yourself up for success by focusing on one thing at a time until you get it right. Then tack another change on top of that. Then once you get that one right, tack on another…and another…and another.

Second. Going slower than you think you need to is a way to make sure your partner is really serious instead of just paying you lip-service, trying to shut you up, or not really bought-in.

If they’re really serious, pretty soon they’ll be the ones clamoring to change something or otherwise speed up your progress to your goal. When they’re asking you what’s next, why it’s taking so long, or coming up with their own ideas/actions to move your plan forward…then you’ll know you’re both on board.

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