Newlyweds And Their First Budget

Lindsey just got married. How can she sit down and talk to him about how important it is to save? Dave offers some ideas for the discussion.

QUESTION: Lindsey in Chattanooga is 25 and just got married. She and her husband have never had debt. They’re talking about having kids soon, and she wants to get him on board with Dave’s plan. Lindsey’s husband is the free spirit. How can she sit down and talk to him about how important it is to save? Dave offers some ideas for the discussion.

ANSWER: He’s right. You don’t need to save for kids yet since you don’t have them. But he’s completely wrong in that he doesn’t want to sit down and work with you. This is a brand-new marriage, and it’s a huge opportunity for you guys as a couple to go ahead and solve what is the biggest stressor on marriages, and that is money. It’s not just debt. It’s the argument over money. It’s not that you get to make him do what you want to do or that he gets to make you do what he wants to do. It’s that we get on the same page. When he heard “marital budget,” he heard you telling him what to do. That’s his idea of a marital budget. He promptly came back and got defensive.

Probably a good way to restart the conversation would be with an apology for sounding like you were trying to tell him what to do. Just say, “You know, Dave Ramsey aside, Dave Ramsey’s not the problem here. You and me being on the same page, you being the man, me being the woman, us both wearing our big-boy pants and making decisions together about our future, now that’s a big deal. That includes some spending, some saving, and I actually thought about it, and I think starting to save for a college education for a child that’s not here yet—you’re probably right about that. My point is not that. My point is that I really want to be on the same page, and I want us to have a plan. I will get great comfort from my man helping me have a plan.”

You don’t want to do a deal where he doesn’t have a vote or doesn’t feel like he has a vote. You don’t want to do a deal where you don’t have a vote or don’t feel like you have a vote. We work together on this stuff. When you can do that, then you’re in that position to have created this quality communication between the two of you. That’s hard to do, but boy, this is the time to do it while you’re brand-new in the marriage before you have kiddos in the house and you’re still arguing about this, which is what most people do.

Statistics are that the biggest problem with marriages is money fights, which automatically means that it’s the biggest opportunity to have an unusually great marriage. If you solve the biggest problem, you got rid of the biggest problem. That’s big. That’s by being on the same page, on a written budget, together.

As far as getting a spender to learn to save, there are a couple of things that occur there. I’m a spender, and I have learned to save. Why did I do that? There are two things that happened. One is I got a vision past Friday. The Bible says where there is no vision, the people perish. When I was only thinking about the moment, I always spent in the moment. I read a study that says that poor people who remain poor think in short blocks of time like, “Thank God it’s Friday. Oh God, it’s Monday.” Poor people who become rich start to think in longer blocks of time about their spending. When I make this move with money, how’s it going to affect me? You don’t ask about Friday. We ask about 10 years from now. Once I grasped that there was a direct correlation between how long into the future you look with your money and whether you have any money, I started looking further into the future.

The other thing that changed me was I really started understanding it was a maturity issue with me. Adults devise a plan and follow it. Children do what feels good. Most spenders are givers. If he’s more of the spender of the two of you, he’s probably more of the giver of the two of you. I started figuring out that broke people can’t give. For me to become wealthy was how I was going to become a giver. It became a goal to save—not to buy stuff—but to build this huge empire so that I can give, give, give, because it’s so fun.

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