Getting Partner to Follow Budget

Updated on May 18, 2010
S.M. asks from State College, PA
16 answers

My grandparents raised me with the knowledge of how to spend and save money wisely. During my late teens and early twenties I ignored their advice and lost everything I had. Now I implement the things they taught me when I was younger, and it's working out well - slowly getting me out of debt and paying the bills. My SO, on the other hand, was never taught how to manage money. His mother is a SAHM who takes care of everything without involving the children or her husband, so he never learned how to spend wisely. He makes enough for us to live on with a few hundred dollars left over each month for savings. We're trying to save up for a car, school loans that we'll eventually have to pay, etc. However, when it gets to the end of the week every penny from his pay check has disappeared. Some months we're even scrambling around to come up with money to pay the electric bill, because he spent the money on something else (he usually can't even remember what.) Any suggestions on how I can get him to start spending frugally and saving? We're expecting a baby in September and I'd really like to have this problem worked out before the little one arrives.

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So What Happened?

It looks like this requires a serious sit-down talk. I've tried to casually mention the issue to him before, and he said he would simply give me his paychecks from now on so that I can sort out the finances. However, he seems to have forgotten this statement. We'll go over it again, because I think that's probably the best idea for the time being.

I plan on reading the Dave Ramsey books suggested, as well as the other texts people brought up, but he won't read them. He has a learning disability and reading is very difficult and frustrating for him. I looked for a Dave Ramsey class (actually, any free finance/budgeting classes) in our area, but couldn't find any. Help?

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answers from Dallas on

I haven't read any of the other responses, just letting you know! I just want to say that it will be very beneficial to him to see where his money is going each week, sounds like he doesn't realize how much is spent on the not so important things.

Both he and you should be saving receipts, every last one. That way, every cent is accounted for. Add everything up each day for a week. See what happens. When we are held accountable this way, chances are we won't spend money on the unecessary stuff like lattes, fast food...etc.

Hope this helps. Seems like a pain but much will be learned from it!



answers from Detroit on

I agree with the Dave Ramsey book suggestion. If you can get him to actually read the book, it is such a great motivator for wanting to spend and save as you should.

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answers from Kansas City on

I would look into Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University! He has great ways to do a budget, and the biggest key is that you do the budget together. Within the budget you have "Blow Money" which is money spent with no questions asked. Once the blow money is gone that is it for the month! My husband and I would budget a certain amount for the month, and I would get half and he gets half. For instance, budget $100 for blow money and he would get $50 for the month and you would too. Once that $50 is gone you cannot take any from anything else. This really helps control what you decide to spend your blow money on. Here is Dave Ramsey's website: I highly reccommend checking this out; he is awesome!!!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

Hi S. - I would do a couple of things. First off, all of your paychecks should go directly into the bank - dont cash them and carry around the money. Both of you need to put away the ATM card, credit cards and the checkbook. Dont carry them around.

Give yourself a certain amount of cash every week for fun money - like for lunch, coffee, entertainment, etc. but when that's gone so is the fun.

I would also give your SO a list of the bills you both pay and when they are due. Show him what comes in and what goes out. Set aside what you are going to need for bills and expenses first and then savings, etc. and then the fun money. Education is really the only thing that is going to help him learn how to deal with money.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I set up a separate account for my husband and have an allotment of spending money that goes in it for him. He gets the set amount and when it is gone he has to ask me for more and I say yes or no depending on that month's expenses. Sounds kinda mean but since I pay the bills, set up savings, buy groceries and do about 98% of the errands from our joint account his money is pure fun money and he doesn't accidentally over spend from our "bills" account. I have our savings set up at a completely separate banking institution to keep that money safe from both of us! LOL I also recommend a book called "All Your Worth" written by a mom/daughter. It talks about setting up your bills and spending in proportion to your income.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

I can tell you from my personal experience. I am a single mom with one paycheck. No other income. I have to be very careful about any money I spend that is not related to the monthly bills. I created a spreadsheet in Excel for every pay. I start with my pay and deduct all the bills that I have to pay out of that check. I actually pay my rent biweekly as well. That has helped a lot too. What is left is what I have for gas and groceries and any fun stuff. If I go on a little spending spree, I will add that to the spreadsheet so that I see exactly what I have left. It really has helped me. It's the only way I can manage living paycheck to paycheck. Good luck.



answers from Pittsburgh on

I think Dave Ramsey would be a great idea for you guys. Let me also suggest as a way to track where your money is going. It is a little scary to put your passwords in for your credit card and bank, but I've been doing it for more than 2 years and I've never had any problems. (Money Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, etc say that it is safe... if you do most of your spending on credit cards, just put them in and not your bank account if you are worried about it-- obviously your CC have lots of protection on them). It is fascinating over the course of a year to see where the money really does go, and has a GREAT budgeting feature.


answers from Dallas on

What's working better for me and my husband is that I hold all the money. (We're expecting in July, so money is #1 priority since I'm not working). We have our joint checking account, and every other Friday he signs the check, I deposit. He doesn't have a debit card, but I do. I take care of all the name it. I give him money for cigs and snacks at work and gas. I write down all the money used and where it's gone to. If he needs something else, then we talk about it and we go together to buy it. He has no control on his impulses, but he quite happily went along with it because he wants to provide a good life for our son. Good luck. That may be the only way to do it...



answers from Indianapolis on

Here are two suggestions:
1) Have his check automatically deposited so he doesn't get cash to spend when depositing. Then, have automatic transfers set up so that small amounts go into different accounts - $50 to savings, $100 to loans, $100 to a car account, etc...ask the electric company to put you on a budget plan so that you owe the same amount each month and then set up automatic payments on a day when he gets the paycheck to make sure it's paid before he gets more money out for something else. Gas will do this as well. I don't think you have budget options for any other utilities, but you can set up automatic payments for almost every utility and bill out there!

2) Stop using all credit cards and debt cards except for in emergencies until you are good at staying on budget. Get enough cash out to last you as long as you need it to and agree not to revert to cards when the cash is gone.

Good Luck!


answers from Allentown on

Hi Scarlett:

First thing is to do things with.

You all sit down together and decide:
Your income and expenses for the month.
How you are going to deposit the money/ Who is going to do what and where.
Every step needs to be negotiated.
It is a shared responsibility of who is going to do what.
Hope this helps. Good luck. Thanks for asking. D.



answers from Detroit on

My husband is the same way. I handle all the bills for this reason and have completely restricted his online access to our main bank accounts. I got him a separate bank account with a debit card. Each week I put a set (small) amount of "mad money" on the card that he can spend on going out to eat, stopping for Starbucks, and whatever else he wants. If I send him out food shopping or something I can just transfer the money to his card (our main account and his little account are linked online, so this makes it easier because the transfer is instant).

Another thing you could do would be to see if his company offers direct deposit and if you can split the amount -- the bulk to go into your main account and some to go directly into a savings account or short-term CD.

Good luck!



answers from St. Louis on

What works in this house is DIRECT DEPOSIT (joint account) and I take care of the finances.

I give my husband an "allowance" in cash out of every paycheck. That's it!! If he doesn't have the cash for something, he can't have it!!

Have your household budget down on paper with a set amount being put into savings each week. Some banks will even transfer it over to your savings for you.

Good luck and stay firm or you won't have anything saved and little ones cost a whole lot of money!!!



answers from Toledo on

Buy him this book and both of your read it. The Total Money Make Over by Dave Ramsey....absolutely an awesome read and he will learn a ton. And if you are interested in adding to your income part time or full time, from home, visit my site at M. :)



answers from Indianapolis on

Some people are born spenders, others are born savers.
I'm not so sure it's taught as much as it is who you are (though I believe in teaching my children to be responsible).

My sisters and I were all brought up very consistently (5 year total age difference). My oldest sister is constantly in debt and overdrawing her checking account. I'm not sure if she has a dime saved for her 3 kids to go to college in a few years. I've always been a saver and am much more frugal. I honestly think it's my nature (though I HATE bargain shopping).

My husband and I are both working parents. When we got married, we decided on the following system because he's a spender, and I'm a saver.
We each contribute equally to a joint account each month based upon our known expenses (mortgage, car, childcare, utilities, food, college funds, 401K, etc.) and assumed expenses (clothes, shoes, birthday presents, something breaking and requiring repair). What is left-over from each paycheck is automatically put into our personal accounts so we can spend or save as we wish as long as the joint expenses are paid.

We met with an accountant a few months after we married. He told us, soberly, that we were already behind the 8 ball in saving for college/retirement the day we started our first job. So, I'd be sure to budget savings into the equation if possible.

A lot of church groups have Dave Ramsey classes, and there are a ton of free on-line resources.

Good luck!



answers from Philadelphia on

we just started a budget and it's been great! I never realized how much money my husband was wasting and getting us in a ton of debt. when he gets paid, I pay all the bills and then we split the leftover. If he put anything on the credit card, I take it out of his share. It's been working REALLY good for us!!!!!!!!!!! well for me, i should say... he's been miserable. :-)



answers from Pittsburgh on

Dave Ramsay, Dave Ramsay, Dave Ramsay! Seriously, it WILL help him and he will see just how pretty he could be sitting in the future if he gives every O. of his dollars a "name" and a plan!
It's not unusual for O. partner to be the money nerd (you) and O. to be more impulsive (him), but with an agreed upon plan and goals, he will come around! Good luck to you both!

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