Convincing your partner to break their bad money habits

silouettes of a man and woman

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 1Identify 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 2Understand 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 3Make 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 4Agree 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 5Put 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 6Keep 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.

Tagged in Money and relationships, Navigating change, Reducing expenses

Jesse Campbell is the Content Manager at MMI, focused on creating and delivering valuable educational materials that help families through everyday and extraordinary financial challenges.

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