You may have joined the Debt Movement a few weeks ago. You may be pumped and excited to become debt free. You may be the “nerd” in your family, as Dave Ramsey says, who enjoys creating a budget, monitoring the flow of money and maybe even creating a visual guide to your debt repayment. Sound familiar?
Perhaps there is nothing stopping you. If you are fortunate, your spouse and kids are on board and just as excited to scream, “We’re debt FREE!” as you are.
However, for many just embarking on their debt payoff journey, this isn’t the case. You may be dealing with a spouse or kids who are reluctant to change their lifestyle, and honestly, who can blame them?
Dave Ramsey encourages people to live like no one else so later you can live like no one else. The problem is living like no one else in the beginning can be a real drag. Ramsey himself admits during their debt payoff time, his wife, who stayed home with the children, had to endure an entire hot, humid Tennessee summer with no air conditioning because it broke and replacing it was not in the budget. Yeah, not fun. Ramsey drove an old beater car that his coworkers made fun of. Now, he and his wife live in a multi-million dollar mansion that they paid for with cash.
If you are trying to get your spouse on board with your debt repayment plan, here are some steps to take:
Most people don’t like radical change. You have probably heard the old saying that the best way to cook a frog is to increase the temperature of the water slowly so he doesn’t perceive that it is getting hotter. Of course, I am not comparing your spouse to a frog, but the analogy works. If you take away all the fat from the budget, your reluctant spouse is likely to rebel. Instead, take it slow.
If you want to cut some luxuries from your budget so you have money for debt repayment, cut your own luxuries first. If you buy premium coffee, downgrade to the cheaper version. Let your spouse see you making sacrifices first before you even ask her to make any.
Many times people don’t want to attack debt because they don’t want their lifestyle to change. This is understandable. In the beginning of your debt repayment journey, try to find ways to maintain the same lifestyle for less. If your husband loves cable or satellite television, perhaps you can show him how much cheaper streaming movies and shows can be. He may agree to the cheaper change if he doesn’t have to sacrifice quality.
Take the time to sit down with your spouse every month to discuss the budget; let him/her have a say in how the money is spent (and applied to debt). Show your spouse how long it will take to pay down your debt at the current rate and how much interest you will pay. Then, show her how much less interest you will pay if you ramp up your payments. Show her how much extra you will have every month if you don’t have to service debt every month.
If you have older kids, you can also include them in the budget meeting. Many kids have unrealistic expectations of their parents’ finances. It is fine to show them the expenses and why you may not have money for every activity they want to participate in.
If you don’t want to take away all the sports and activities your children are involved in, let them know how much you can continue to pay. They can decide whether they want to drop some activities or find a part-time job to supplement your money so they can continue with all of their current activities.
If you are excited about paying down debt, but your spouse is not on board, take it slow. Don’t push a reluctant spouse. Instead, take the initiative and change your own life. Cut the extras from your spending and sell your stuff. As your spouse sees your determination, he or she may join you.
Have you dealt with a reluctant spouse when paying down debt? What worked best for you?
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The articles are written by personal finance enthusiasts (not certified professionals) based on their personal experience. What works for them may or may not work for you, and you should always consult a financial advisor before making important financial decisions.
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