Money can be a messy, touchy subject in even the best of relationships. But if you happen to end up with someone who holds wildly different views on money management, things can get downright painful. Of course, it doesn’t help if your partner’s financial habits are more destructive than helpful.
While it’s true that reaching financial middle ground is a significant key to your collective success, finding that middle ground doesn’t have to be a chore. It takes a combination of patience, negotiation, and open communication. If you’re willing to put in the work, you can whittle away those bad habits and eventually get everyone on the same page.
Step 1 – Identify the bad habits
To start, be clear about what it is exactly your partner does that’s so contrary to your goals. Do they shop too much? Are they excessively tight with money? Simply telling someone that they’re “bad with money” isn’t helpful. Be specific.
Step 2 – Understand the costs associated with these bad habits
Negative habits aren’t simply ones that you dislike. There has to be some cost associated. When your partner engages in these habits, they cause you, as a unit, to lose something. Understanding that cost can go a long way towards convincing someone to make a change.
Step 3 – Make an effort to understand their point of view
Though it may not seem like it, there’s almost always a reason why people behave the way they do. People often overextend themselves shopping because shopping is a coping mechanism for them. Some people who experienced great poverty have an extremely difficult time spending money, even when they have plenty.
Approaching their bad habits with empathy not only makes things less contentious, it can also help you when trying to come up with alternative behaviors.
Step 4 – Agree to mutual goals
It’s almost impossible to get someone to break a bad habit if they don’t see an incentive to do so. While it would be nice to think that your happiness is incentive enough, it doesn’t really work that way.
Instead, tie those changes to mutual goals. Make a clear connection between the things you want as a couple or household and the ways that their bad habits are preventing you from getting what you want. It’s not about guilt or shaming a loved one – it’s all about reaching your goals.
Step 5 – Put your money where your mouth is
Be willing to make changes of your own. Mutual goals, after all, should involve mutual effort from both parties. Don’t ask your partner to act one way, while you act a different way.
Step 6 – Keep it positive
Whenever possible, try to keep things positive. Celebrate success. Avoid harping on failure. Always keep in mind that change isn’t easy. As long as your partner is trying to break those bad habits, that effort should be lauded.
It takes time, but if you remain open and positive, eventually you and your partner will be able to weed out those bad habits.