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Ask Dave

You Both Have A Vote

Sarah says her husband thinks getting on a plan is a good idea, but when they joined their finances, he got worried about spending money the way he wants to.

QUESTION: Sarah in Louisville says her husband thinks getting on a plan is a good idea, but when they joined their finances, he got worried about spending money the way he wants to. Sarah doesn’t want to bully him and tell him no to everything. Dave says it isn’t about becoming his mommy but communication.

ANSWER: You’re not being a bully. It’s “we both have a vote on our money.” So far, him buying this or buying that and neither one of you communicating and working on the same page has gotten you where you are, and you don’t like where you are. Neither one of you likes where you are. Something’s got to change.

This is not about you becoming his mommy and telling him he can’t buy something. It’s about him being a grownup and the two of you looking at this together and saying, “We can afford to buy this,” or, “We can’t. It doesn’t fit in our plan.” I’m not trying to set up something in The Total Money Makeover where you start telling him what to do or he starts telling you what to do. It’s the two of us together making these decisions.

If you keep doing what you’ve been doing, you’re going to keep getting what you’ve been getting. He can’t sit with the same amount of information and knowledge that he’s always had and expect to go to a place that he’s never been before. You have to put new stuff into your brain and change this deal. The point of being on the same page and both of us being committed to changing our lives is going to involve some pain. You’re going to get outside your comfort zone. The way you’ve been acting has been comfortable. The results just suck. We’re going to become uncomfortable to get the results we want. That means I’m going to write out a budget, but it’s not going to be right the first time. You’re actually going to sit down and look at it with me. The two of us are going to have a vote, and we’re both going to come up with a budget that’s balanced. This thing’s got to balance.

This is not easy. It’s a pain in the butt because it involves hoisting yourself up out of the recliner and turning off the television, sitting at the kitchen counter, and telling yourself no. I’m not going to tell you it’s easy; I’m just going to tell you it’s worth it. The first week you do a budget is one of the hardest parts of the whole Total Money Makeover. The first month, you’re going to have 18 emergency budget committee meetings to adjust as you go. You’ve been doing it wrong for a decade. You’re not going to fix that in one sitting. This thing called change is a pain in the butt, but it’s going to help your marriage, cause you to have hope about the future like you’ve never had before, and it’s going to be painful, but it’s going to be worth it.