How can I encourage my boyfriend to save?

Hi YNABers! 

I have been trying to talk to my boyfriend about finances recently because we plan on getting married within the next few years. My parents did a really great job instilling financial responsibility and setting up my credit, but his didn't. He has a habit of spending because he sees it in his bank account. When I had to take his car in for repairs, he couldn't pay me back right away and was baffled that I had a few hundred dollars saved for emergencies just like that. He even makes more money than I do but can't figure out how I save more. I showed him YNAB and he seemed less than enthusiastic about it, but I know it would help so much!

Does anyone have any suggestions for how to talk to him about this without telling him what to do? It doesn't even have to be YNAB specifically, just something to help him save. I want him to have a solid financial plan for himself and our future!

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  • As someone who resisted YNAB for YEARS, despite my BFF doing it and living in denial about my finances (hiding finances from my SO), my advice is to lead by example.  Some people (like me!) are resistant to change and get triggered/weird when someone tells me what to do. I'd suggest opening YNAB in front of him whenever you talk about $, gloat about how awesome it is that you're "x numbers of paychecks ahead", etc. Basically look like you know what you're talking about and express how happy it is making you. Maybe he will get a clue ;)

    Like 3
      • Alex
      • ottobot
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      xgirlmama Definitely something I will be doing! Hopefully I can get him on board soon!

      Like 1
  • And don't combine finances with someone unless and until they're transparent with you about their financial situation and you have had lots of discussion and are sure you are all on the same page about things.

    Around here, they talk about having "values summits" to make sure that YNABbers and partners are wanting their money to do similar things.

    I was married for over 20 years to someone who would just never save or control his spending and I surfed on top of that wave trying to somehow find a way to meet all of his needs and wants. I got sick and tired of that and never having money for anything I wanted so that I even forgot how to want things for myself and ask to have my turn with the fun money. I don't think it was explicit, but it was absolutely meeting his needs to do things that way, so there was zero incentive for him to change the way he was doing it. Not even when repeatedly told how miserable it made me that he would not give me this gift of reining  himself in enough for me to have a chance too.  He's been out of my life for almost five years now, and I've been using YNAB for a little over three of those and it is SO liberating to set my own priorities for my money now!

    Now, my fiance is disabled and can't fully manage his own finances, but we still check in with each other so that we're on the same page. Sure, he'd like to make our house look all cute and nice, but he also wants to travel. We've agreed that we will do what it takes to keep our home safe and secure, and we will travel, and making our house homier will be a lower priority.

    Once your boyfriend has established in his mind what his goals and priorities for his money are, he'll be more motivated about a plan and mechanism to save toward those.

    Like 6
      • Alex
      • ottobot
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      bevocat I'm definitely concerned about being on the same page financially before we get married. I've seen people combine some, all, or none of their money when they get married so I'm not sure what would be right for use, but I do know that we need to make some common goals. Thank you for sharing your experience! I'm glad you found some freedom and happiness!

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  • While I do not have an answer for you, I can say that it will save friction in your relationship to be on the same page financially. I married someone who has an MBA and assumed he would be great with money. He was bankrupt two months into our marriage! I love him dearly, and we have been pretty compatible, but like bevocat  he was the idea guy and I scrambled to cover the costs and eventually felt like the nag and the gatekeeper and spent more time up at night worrying and got resentful. It has just been this week that he explained what it was like growing up poor.

    So you can sure make a marriage work without understanding each other’s views on money, but it would be a lot more fun if you did before you made the commitment.  I also think about how much farther ahead we would be financially if we had found YNAB earlier. Chapter 9 of the YNAB has good thoughts on money and relationships.

    Like 2
      • Tobias
      • Toviathan
      • 1 yr ago
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      Julie You made a really great point in here, with your husband explaining what it's like growing up poor. It really warps your ideas of how money works. You get it into your head that any money you have has a shelf life and that you had better spend it quick, or else it will be eaten up by something. Saving is this weird notion that would only be possible if you just had more income to work with. But then you get more income and somehow nothing changes.

      Scarcity in that mind set leads to a lot of self-destructive money habits. One of the things I have really valued about YNAB is that it takes the concept of scarcity and turns it around by really driving home the concept of true expenses. By embracing your true expenses and treating those irregular items as regular, the surprises don't have to eat all of your available cash, so you feel better holding on to it for longer periods of time. It used to make me uncomfortable seeing an excess of cash sitting in my accounts. It was like an omen of something terrible (and expensive) about to happen. Those are all very difficult things to unlearn. Difficult, but also the most rewarding when the light bulb finally comes on.

      Alex I also second the leading by example. My husband was not a believer, but by watching me take control of our finances, I got him on board. We already had completely combined finances though, so it was a lot easier to show him when the overdrafts stopped and we had more available than we ever did before.

      Like 2
      • bevocat
      • Sometimes, It Just Sucks to Be You
      • bevocat
      • 1 yr ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      Tobias Jeez! I've known my ex since we were 13 and 15, and we both grew up poor and I never thought of it that way. But that's exactly how he was with his brothers as tweens/teens-- Mom would buy grocery treats and the would be like a swarm of locusts on that stuff and it would be gone in a day or two. They just could not make any amount last! I, on the other hand, would never ever take the last of something and it took years of him encouraging me that nobody was going to yell at me for finishing something. It never crossed my mind that that's why he was the way he was with spending and why I have been able to learn to budget!! That's so insightful!

      Like 3
      • Tobias
      • Toviathan
      • 1 yr ago
      • 4
      • Reported - view

      bevocat I find how people's background influences their money habits very interesting. I've sort of been witnessing a reversal of this happen with my friend, where she came from a very wealthy family/upbringing and is now basically living around the poverty line. She is just so used to money being there that she has gone into complete dragon mode (massive cash hoarding) and does not know what to do without having all of the excess. So even though she has the money she hesitates to even pay a bill because she feels so close to the edge. I have literally watched her with enough cash to cover three months of expenses (assuming her conservative spending patterns) consider not paying a bill on time so she can wait until another paycheck comes in just for the "cushion."

      Money does crazy things to people's minds.

      Like 4
      • Alex
      • ottobot
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Julie We've had a few of those conversations, but I think it's a great idea to really understand each other's habits and priorities when it comes to finances. I'll be taking a look at chapter 9, thank you!

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      • Alex
      • ottobot
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Tobias My boyfriend grew up in a very similar situation as I did, but his parents never discussed financial responsibility. Whenever he receives gift money, he automatically spends it on something he wants because "it was meant for a gift" whereas I typically put it away. 

      I think at some point, we will have combined finances because that makes the most sense to me. I hope he can learn some things (and maybe even sign up with YNAB!) before then!

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      • Tobias
      • Toviathan
      • 1 yr ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      Alex My parents did the same. I was never taught anything about money. My mother says she thought it would add undue stress to my life to have to think about money before I was an adult...needless to say it didn't end well. So instead I got to learn by picking up the pieces after putting myself near financial ruin before I was 20.

      Best of luck with the boyfriend! As with anything relationship related, the answer always comes down to honest and open communication both ways.

      Like 3
    • Tobias I've never heard it explained this way, with shelf life and two ways to look at scarcity! Thanks.

      Like
  • Hi Alex !

    My husband took some coaxing - lots of coaxing - before he was willing to actively try YNAB. Be patient and, if you can, try to walk down the path with him instead of trying to tell him where to go. I've learned it's easier to walk hand-in-hand with the doubtful than it is to try to point and direct them. :)

    If you have a moment, take a look at our Join Forces Guide - we offer a number of tips and tricks on budgeting together. 

    Like 4
  • My wife and I had premarital counseling. It was good. The counselor (also our pastor at the time) brought up a lot of these issues for us to talk about and more.  I'm not saying it makes everything roses, but it helps to have a 3rd party bring up the topic. 

    Like 5
      • Alex
      • ottobot
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Ben Khaki Storm We've talked about counseling in the future, so I'm glad to hear you had success with it! I think a third party will help him feel like he's being talked to rather than pushed into.

      Like 1
  • Nick trues guide is very good if you can get him to watch it sometimes men listen to men...

    Like 2
  • opps just realised that was very heterosexual centric sorry if I have offended 

    Like 2
  • We have his/her/joint money.  We need to agree on what happens with joint money, what we do with our own money is our business if it doesn't affect others.  We've done it this way for 20 years.  It works well for us since I'm the saver, and he's not.  My spouse was not thrilled about YNAB but all he asked is that we do not practice austerity.  And we don't.  There are categories in the budget for fun things, for unnecessary things, for eating out.  In fact, the budget lets us do more fun things that previously I would have been too cheap to do, too cheap to let loose and spend money.  Now, if we want to take all the kids to the movies, we can, there's money in the budget.  If we want to day trip to a museum or go mini-golfing, there's money in the budget.  If we want to eat out, there's a certain amount of money in the budget.  

    So if I want to blow my money on a purse or a class on something only I'm interested in, or hoard, hoard, hoard, it's my money.  If he wants to buy some stupid expensive video card processor thing for his computer, I don't get it, I don't have to get it, and I don't caaaaaaare because it's his money.  

    Like 6
      • Mx Emmin
      • Orchid_Banjo.5
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Technicolor Cheetah  I think this is how I'm likely to work it if-and-when I find that special someone

       

      Its certainly not how I worked it w the last guy and that ended terribly, still trying to fix the financial mess that relationship left me in

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