Spouse Involvement

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  • Avatar AZPT 
    Status: Other Professional
    Posts: 76
    Joined: 02/02/2019

    I purchased the WCI book from Amazon after just a few days on the forum, waited for it to arrive around dinner time today, and had it finished before 9pm.

    Wow, what a great read that is packed full of pearls and to-the-point information.

    As I have stated in other recent threads, I have recently committed to changing my family’s financial outlook and am currently consuming as much material and information I can to make this change. The next step is to present all this to my wife, as her involvement is equally – if not more – important to this process than my own. We have had many a discussion in the past regarding “budgeting”, “saving”, and “cutting down on costs”.

    Each meeting typically goes the same way:

    • I present a lot of information and verbalize my concerns about our situation and why it’s a problem.
    • She gets overwhelmed and defensive [mainly d/t a lack of financial knowledge], and makes it seem that I am over-dramatizing our situation.
    • We come up with a “plan” (mainly to conclude the conversation), that we then have a difficult time sticking to.

    I promise our marriage and communication isn’t as terrible as this makes it seem 🙂 For whatever reason, our finances have always been an area of stress for us. We have never been flat broke or living paycheck to paycheck. But, I know in the back of each of our minds we have largely ignored it, and just hoped it will work itself out. No more.

    As I hope to have a different outcome this go-around, what are some strategies that helped YOU and your SO when it came time to get serious about your financial plan? I know I need to share my resources with her and encourage her to consume the material, but what else?

    My initial strategy is:

    • Jointly create an Investing Personal Statement. I love this idea and have seen many posted on WCI.
    • Ask her when she would like us to retire. (I am a PT, she a PA. Each currently 32yo)
    • Breakdown our current Savings Rate and future projections of what that will give us at retirement age.
    • Compare this value with the value we will actually need at retirement for the lifestyle we desire.
    • Determine the actual Savings Rate we need for this amount.
    • Then, determine within our budget where our spending is really going, and recommend we begin to “pay ourselves first” with ~20% of income going towards retirement investing, etc etc etc.

    What else?

    #188808 Reply
    Liked by Roentgen
    ENT Doc ENT Doc 
    Status: Physician
    Posts: 3355
    Joined: 01/14/2017

    Sounds logical to me.

    #188830 Reply
    Liked by AZPT
    Avatar Peds 
    Status: Physician
    Posts: 3998
    Joined: 01/08/2016

    Find a different way to present the info.

    #188849 Reply
    Liked by AZPT, jfoxcpacfp
    jfoxcpacfp jfoxcpacfp 
    Status: Financial Advisor, Accountant, Small Business Owner
    Posts: 7797
    Joined: 01/09/2016

    If she has a lack of financial knowledge, I don’t believe she will be ready to hop in to creating an IPS. Baby steps, start with what she is most familiar with – probably spending and saving. I think you should start by acknowledging you haven’t been handling things well when it comes to financial discussions (not unusual, don’t kick yourself too badly) and you want her input. Tell her you really want a partner in finances and want help, too. You want to both be on the same page and you are concerned that, if something happened to you, she might be taken advantage of by a financial predator. Then sit back and see what she says.

    Set aside a specific day each month to have a family business meeting, maybe an evening to go out to a neutral location. Let her lead the conversation and take turns being in charge of the meeting. If you could get her to read the book, that would be great, but you can’t drag her into reading it. Maybe there is a personal finance for adults class at a nearby school or community college you could both take together.

    Johanna Fox Turner, CPA, CFP, Fox Wealth Mgmt & Fox CPAs ~ ~ [email protected]

    #188855 Reply
    Avatar goatmom 
    Status: Physician
    Posts: 49
    Joined: 09/21/2016

    I agree with Johanna.  Instead of a presentation of information – how about asking her about her dreams/hopes/plans for the future?  You say you know what  is in the back of her mind.  Are you sure?  The back of her mind might be saying I hope I don’t have to sit through another meeting about this stuff. You say you “need” to share information with her.  You say she gets overwhelmed with all this knowledge.  Maybe she is just irritated at how you are going about this. One thought is to get an outside source to sit and talk with you both and come up with a financial plan.  It might be a better plan to have a neutral person lead the discussion – not a presentation.  Best of luck!

    #188863 Reply
    Liked by JWeb, AZPT, Anne, jfoxcpacfp
    Avatar WuzUpDoc 
    Status: Spouse
    Posts: 35
    Joined: 11/03/2018

    My husband is not financially literate and I handle all the finances. He really has no interest in reading books and any talks I try to start end up in blank and disinterested stares. Here’s a couple of things that work for us:

    This sounds totally nerdy, but when we were transitioning from med school into residency, I read the WCI book and then made a PowerPoint for my husband outlining what was recommended and where we stood. It allowed me to lay things out in a concise manner and not overwhelm him. He’s even asked me to do it again as we move into a job.

    The other thing that helped him was taking the Dave Ramsey course together. It presented information in a way that made sense to him and helped him understand the importance of saving, budgeting, and investing. I don’t believe DR’s info so very useful for high earners, but where your wife is not financially literate, it may be a good start for her and open up some discussions.

    #188866 Reply
    Faithful Steward Faithful Steward 
    Status: Financial Advisor, Small Business Owner
    Posts: 439
    Joined: 06/12/2017
    Earnest refinancing bonus
    Each meeting typically goes the same way: I present a lot of information and verbalize my concerns about our situation and why it’s a problem. She gets overwhelmed and defensive [mainly d/t a lack of financial knowledge], and makes it seem that I am over-dramatizing our situation. We come up with a “plan” (mainly to conclude the conservation), that we then have a difficult time sticking to.

    Click to expand…

    From what you described, it sound like YOU are presenting her with YOUR plan. You’re starting with the HOW before you ever get her to buy into the WHY.

    Another part of the problem may be that you may be coming at it from two totally different perspectives on money. If you can’t understand and take into account her views on money and finances, and vice versa, this may always be an issue.

    If you would find it helpful, I use a behavioral finance tool called DataPoints. It was created by Thomas J. Stanley (the author of The Millionnaire Next Door) and his daughter. They have a Financial Perspectives assessment that takes about 10-12 minutes to complete. I’d suggest that you and your wife take the assessments, separately, and then compare and discuss your results. This may help bridge the gulf that the two of you obviously have when it comes to financial matters. If you’d like to take the assessment, simply shoot me an email to [email protected] and I’ll send you both an invitation.

    Michael Peterson, CFP® | Faithful Steward Wealth Advisors | (717) 496-0900

    #188870 Reply
    Avatar AZPT 
    Status: Other Professional
    Posts: 76
    Joined: 02/02/2019

    Lots of good perspective and suggestions… thank you!

    I agree that a large part is likely how I have been presenting the info in the past, which is why I thought instead of starting with the What, I instead target the “Why” (what she expects retirement to look like, her priorities, etc). Many other good tips suggested here which I will incorporate as well.

    #188875 Reply
    jfoxcpacfp jfoxcpacfp 
    Status: Financial Advisor, Accountant, Small Business Owner
    Posts: 7797
    Joined: 01/09/2016

    I frequently recommend The One Page Financial Plan by Carl Richards to the point that I have given away copies. This might be a better place for your dear wife to begin. This is one you don’t need to get the audiobook, though – the pictures are very  helpful.

    Johanna Fox Turner, CPA, CFP, Fox Wealth Mgmt & Fox CPAs ~ ~ [email protected]

    #188889 Reply
    Liked by AZPT
    Avatar Crockett’sRiver 
    Status: Physician
    Posts: 167
    Joined: 05/24/2018

    Giving a presentation hasn’t worked so you need to find a different approach. Do you understand her thoughts and attitudes toward money? What’s her background? How does she best learn information? Some people love a bunch of numbers, some need to take information away to process on their own and then come back to the table.

    It’s important to approach these conversations without an agenda – meaning, if your end goal is to convince her how right you are, she will figure that out and it won’t go well. The important thing now is not to have an ideal asset allocation, it’s to become a stronger team.

    If you read the WCI book in one evening I’m guessing you feel pretty strongly about this – most of us here do too. Remember that this is a process and will take time.

    And by the way, most couples fight about money at some point. Welcome to the club ?.

    Career and finance for PCPs at

    #188896 Reply
    Liked by Anne, AZPT
    Avatar juststarting 
    Status: Physician
    Posts: 18
    Joined: 06/26/2018

    WCI book is great.  I read it twice.  But it may still be a little too technical for a complete newbie.  I would suggest some very light material first for your spouse.  Try “The Index Card” book by Olen and Pollack.  Your spouse can finish it in 1-2 hours.  Very easy to understand.  Another little nugget that helped me in the beginning was the “If You Can:  How Millennials Can Get Rich Slowly.”  You can find that on the Boggleheads website.  It doesn’t completely apply to high income earners but it’s a good toe dip into the water.


    #188902 Reply
    Liked by Hank, AZPT, jfoxcpacfp
    Dreamgiver Dreamgiver 
    Status: Physician
    Posts: 812
    Joined: 03/09/2017

    My wife and I were in a similar situation a few years back. We’d also get into arguments every time we talked about our financial plans. I am the financial person. She grew up with intelligent parents, medium earners, but big spenders, to this day retired with a 6-figure income and living paycheck to paycheck, paying overdraft fees every month. My wife is not a big spender at all but does not know how to make plans and how to invest, and just does not care about any of it. The following things have made things better:

    -Set a pleasant situation to go over your finances, set a date with her, buy her flowers, open a bottle of wine, casually talk about goals and such, do not sit down at a table with pen/pencil/computer or such. Find out what motivates her. For my wife, she wants to have the freedom to switch jobs in the future when she gets tired of her current work environment. Saving a lot of money towards that goal makes the sacrifice more palatable for her.

    -Be ready for more blank stares, nothing wrong with that. I am sure you have a blank stare in other aspect of your life where she excels

    – If she is ok with that, take over her financial stuff. This does not mean telling her how to spend her money or giving her an allowance! This means having shared access to her investment and retirement accounts so that you can manage things correctly for her

    -Set up automatic transfers into the retirement and investment accounts from her paycheck. That way, whatever is leftover, she can spend as she wishes and you don’t feel the stress of not saving enough

    -This worked for us: keep things separate. This means retirement of course since you can’t commingle that, but also taxable accounts and checking accounts. As the money starts growing, she can see what her portion is and will be more likely to be happy with the plan for the long term. She will feel individually invested and will not resent you.

    I recommend using Mint for monthly budgeting and Personal Capital to keep track of investments and retirements accounts. As it turns out, my wife has grown to love Mint despite a rocky start and now she does all our day-to-day budgeting. I do the long term stuff.

    This was the hardest thing for me to understand…we all have our individual spending patterns and yours are not necessarily better than hers. Save what you need to save according to your goals, pay off what you need to pay off, and then let your spouse do what she wants with the rest. It is extremely liberating to spend money without stressing about it after the necessities are taken care of.

    #188907 Reply
    Avatar JBME 
    Status: Spouse
    Posts: 461
    Joined: 03/26/2018

    I have struggled mightily with this one but have a few suggestions based on my own personal experience. I’m the finance guy in the family and my wife is the doctor. She has zero interest in personal finance. I’ve tried books, tried just passing links to certain good blogs on this site via email or text, etc. My last idea to try to get her to see the big picture is maybe I can get her to come to the FIRE documentary that’s due out this year. I know from her everyday talks she wants financial freedom and the ability to scale back so she can have better health and more time for herself and family. She doesn’t know how to get there. She hasn’t handled her medical school loans well at all and we’ve paid maximum interest on them over the years. Fortunately we’re almost done with the standard repayment plan that was never refinanced. She’s also in year 9 of working at 501(c) organizations so she could have certainly gone the PSLF route but had no interest in learning about the program and getting the paperwork done. It’s cost tens of thousands of dollars extra in payments because she also doesn’t want to accelerate payoff.

    About a year ago I presented her with a plan to get us where she’s said she wants us to be. When the plan projected we’d have $1m in retirement savings by age 40, her immediate reaction was “what?! why do we have so much in retirement while I constantly feel like you’re making me pinch pennies and control my spending habits?” I knew there was no way I was going to get her see the big picture  and see that this is how we get on the path to financial freedom and doing what we want to do rather than what we have to do. So I did two things:

    1) I reset my expectations. Instead of trying to promote this idea of saving up as much as possible (and coming across as cheap), I had to be okay with saving “enough.” That meant if I wanted to save 35% but that was going to crush her, I needed to readjust and see that we could come to a medium of 25% and we’d still reach our goals.

    2) I did baby steps. From 2012-2017 she was only contributing enough to a 401k to get the match at work, but she wasn’t maxing it out. She also wasn’t doing the backdoor Roth IRA or contributing to her government 457b plan (which neither of us knew she had for 6 years). Instead of saying in 2018 let’s do all of that, I got her to agree to max out her 401k contribution at the beginning of 2018. In the middle of 2018 we had some spare cash and by then she sort of forgot she was doing the max on her 401k (set it aside and forget it seems to be working for her) and she agreed to let me take that and fund her backdoor Roth IRA. At the end of the year she was okay starting the 457b plan in 2019 and maxing that out. So here we are and all of those things are on autopilot.

    We still have a HELOC and student loans that are really bothering me, but I try to remember and tell myself that my wife thinks differently than me. I personally don’t see it as a sacrifice for her to contribute the max to a 401k, 457b, and backdoor Roth IRA. But she does see it as sacrifice, and it’s important to some degree to be okay with that even if you don’t understand it.

    So bottom line is don’t do presentations. Take it one step at a time, baby steps. You also need to just discuss with her what she thinks she wants 5-, 10-, 15- years down the line. Both my wife and I have no desire to retire in our 40s, so it’s not worth rocking the boat too much to get to our FI # at the cost of our relationship. I don’t want to be FI and single in my 50s, that I’m sure of!

    #188941 Reply
    Avatar AZPT 
    Status: Other Professional
    Posts: 76
    Joined: 02/02/2019

    Even more fantastic replies with other good suggestions. Thank you all so much.

    #188951 Reply
    Drop it into MD Drop it into MD 
    Status: Physician
    Posts: 440
    Joined: 09/20/2018

    Similar situation here.  I was bitten by the DIY financial bug but I cannot get my wife interested at all.  She allows me to make the decisions now and since she is naturally more frugal then I am everything has been working out well.  However I would really like her to understand what I am doing because I think it is important.  Just like informed consent.  It is hard if the patient has a minimal idea what you are talking about but agrees because they trust you.  It is a means to an end but it is much better if they truly understand.

    #188982 Reply

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