How do you keep your spouse/partner engaged in YNAB?
Hi! I'm excited to learn about this new forum and see how it works out. :)
I am the primary budget/money person in my marriage. I pay the bills, I reconcile our YNAB accounts, etc. And I mostly enjoy it. Lately, my husband seems to have fallen off the YNAB bus. He'll enter his purchases into the app, but isn't really looking at categories, where the dollars are, etc. At the end of the month I am the one cleaning up YNAB and reshifting dollars.
When we first started YNAB (Jan 2015) it was great! It helped us to come together and focus on our financial goals. We have had some additional financial hardships, and we are weathering them, but I think my husband is preferring the ostrich in the sand technique. Has anyone been through something like this with their significant other? How did you get them to re-engage with your budget?
I'm also the primary YNABer in the house, and I totally hear you. My hubby doesn't do the ostrich, but he doesn't really check the category balances before he spends. Here are some things that have helped me a lot:
1) Try importing more frequently: I do it almost daily, but even 2x/week could help you stay on top of things so it's not so overwhelming. Then, #2 is important...
2) Be a budget ninja: Maybe you're like us in that the planned "date-night" budget meeting really isn't your style. My husband CANNOT sit still for it. Instead, I will ask about individual spending (not the everyday stuff, just things I wasn't expecting) sneaky-like when we're brushing our teeth or cooking dinner, or I'll send him a text. Because I import so frequently, these questions aren't surprising to him, but they're not so frequent that it gets annoying, and it's not all at once in a budget meeting, which can be overwhelming.
3) Do the nitty-gritty yourself, but make a point to talk about the priorities and goals together: When we get paid, I'll do the main budgeting first, like assigning the bills and any everyday categories that we always fund with the same amount. Then I'll ask him to come in and we'll talk about our priorities and goals and where any extra dollars should go (if there are any. Usually the first paycheck of the month all goes toward bills and funding everyday categories, so we really only have this conversation about once a month). He seems to like that method, and I'm sure it feels much more positive for him. I'll also remind him of any overspending and ask if he's expecting anything new in the next few weeks/months, and I'll say something like "we should make sure to stick with our categories this month so we can make sure we're reaching those goals" (always "we"! 😉).I think that has helped him have a more positive experience around budgeting. That may also help with those tough conversations about weathering financial hardships, but framing it in a positive way - "if we stick with our plan, we're going to get through this just fine. SMOOCH I love you!"
Hope this helps!Reply
Orchid Wizard - You're doing a great job! Sky Blue Violin 's suggestion is similar to how I got my husband excited about the budget - I set him up with his own category group and let him decide what he wanted to do with it. He has a handful of categories for different things he wants to save toward. And he knows that if we have extra money during the month, part of it goes toward his categories. I couldn't believe how much it changed his attitude! :)Reply
I hear you - my wife definitely prefers the "ostrich in the sand" method. As a young married couple, looking at our money can produce a lot of anxiety and possibly guilt. Plus, she's just less jazzed about numbers in general.
I've found the Reports function pretty helpful here. We hit our YNABiversary a couple months ago, and I found that a good time to look at our trends, net worth, etc. I would turn the laptop to my wife and say, "Look how much better we are with eating out!" or "Check out how much money we were able to give away!" Those are more visual and show a sense of progress, which I think helped her to be more engaged.
I also like to have a mini "Underspent" celebration every month. When I go into those spending categories where we spent less than we budgeted, I throw it all back into "To Be Budgeted" and say, "Check out how much we paid ourselves this month!" That's typically followed by a conversation of where we want to put that money.
And if we ever get to make a big, fun purchase, I like to make sure the credit goes to the budget. I surprised my wife with a weekend trip to Canada, and throughout the week, whenever something cool happened, I would say "Thank you Travel Fund" and we would fist bump. Now when we think about our budget, a least a little bit of us is thinking about that awesome trip we got to take.
For my wife, it's being able to focus on the positive things that come from our budget and approaching it with that mindset.Reply
I answered a very related question here...
I don't see a way to link directly to an answer (feature request please) but it definitely applies here.
But there aren't too many answers so just look for Khaki Vacuum's answer.
One thing I will add is that my wife is improving on entering transactions but I would say she forgets about 40% of the time. One reason she is improving is that I bring it up every.single.time we discuss the budget. But I am always nice about it. The truth is, I am happy she is improving. And also, since we import most of the transactions it really doesn't bother me (except for knowing that she was spending without thinking of the budget). The only thing that really annoys me is when she writes a check without entering it into YNAB (since it is invisible until it hits the account) and that pretty much never happens anymore...she really gets that (and I am the keeper of the checkbook so I can remind her when she asks for it). (YNAB oh YNAB, where is my checking number field?)
All of this works because my wife is on-board with the idea of budgeting. I am not sure what I would do if I had a spouse that actively resisted it.Reply
My husband is totally hands off with ynab. He is not a spender and he doesn’t sabotage but he’s not about to talk about category averages or input his purchases.
HOWEVER his brother was confiding in him that he’s having trouble aligning finances with is partner and my husband told him, “my wife uses this great site to plan our budget and it’s saved us so much money. Our account balance keeps going up and up.” I was thrilled to hear it. He’s on board in his own way.
He’s also a stay at home dad and does most of our grocery and household buying but he doesn’t check the budget. We make it work by
* putting balances of low categories on the whiteboard in our kitchen, like “groceries and gas getting low” and he will be careful.
* show him income/expense report at the end of the month and how much GREEN balance there is at the end. He does most of our buying so this makes us both feel accomplished
*asking him where to put extra money when I fund the categories (once basics are covered and it’s a matter of putting money toward vacation or new car or whatever).
*asking him where he wants to move money from when we’re going to overspend a category, usually dining out.
The main thing for myself is to appreciate what he does in his way, rather than trying to get him on board with ynab as a system.Reply
In addition to the tips above let me throw out this possibility. Males are raised in the US with the idea they are responsible for providing for the family. The old "bring home the bacon" idea. It can be depressing to a man if he can't bring in enough for his family to live like they want or like they perceive others live. The reluctance to look at categories before spending or to work with the budget itself can be an avoidance of the feeling he is a failure. If he was a success you wouldn't have to budget or look at categories. So he may play like it is not necessary to make him feel better. Just food for thought.Reply
I am the Type A nerd in our marriage, my husband is the free spirit. He is happy to let me do my thing on YNAB. He doesn't spend much and he doesn't do anything to ruin the budget. I probably do 75% of the budget spending and it works for us.
My husband also doesn't enter transactions, but like I said, he doesn't overspend or go crazy, so he gives me the receipts and I put them in YNAB. It works for us.
We do, however, discuss important financial goals, where our savings is at, net worth, what we want to plan for the future, if we're spending too much on XYZ category. So we have the conversations, he's just not in YNAB like I am. But the discussions are being had, which is the important thing and he gets to voice his opinion (or usually defer to whatever I think his best).Reply
I would never be able to get my husband to enter transactions on YNAB. We have a joint account and then two separate accounts so that means I only track his expenses on the joint account, which I'm easily able to do using the import feature. I actually wouldn't want him to see YNAB because I don't want him to see MY overspending (which I am really trying to rein in). So, to me it seems like a win that your husband is engaged at all!Reply
I introduced my fiancee to YNAB some months ago (she was using an expense recording app before, can't remember the app name). Thanks to YNAB being kind to allow us to login at the same time, she's now using it more frequently than I am! But now I've regained my motivation to fill in my YNAB. Just weeks ago we discovered the wish farm technique and we're trying to nurture our individual farms. She is ready to harvest her first small crop; too bad the thing she wants to buy was not available yesterday :)
As for bank accounts, currently we do not have any plan to merge our accounts or open a new one for merged. Maybe later it will change, but now we are focusing on our marriage preparement. I was thinking for creating a new YNAB budget for merging our household needs, but I don't think currently we can transfer from one budget to another (and that might complicate things)...Reply
My DH and I have been married for about 19 months. He's 51, and I'll be 42 in a few weeks. It's a first marriage for both of us. So before we got married, we had a lot of discussions on how we wanted to handle finances.
DH really didn't enjoy handling finances and preferred to not think about it more than knowing he had money to cover his bills and to play with if he wanted. Whereas I had had some big financial missteps in my early 20's which caused me to go to first Mary Hunt, and then YNAB - IOW, I became a fanatical budgeter.
I'm the one that does everything related to YNAB and paying bills. I also do the majority of the spending. Once a month I inflow the month's income (we are buffered) and budget to the categories that are pretty much set in stone. Then DH and I have a meeting to discuss where the remainder will go. I have him look at the budget in case he wants to make any changes. We have three main accounts - our joint account that we both spend from, a second account that is in my name (for the 5% interest), and then DH has his own account for his spending money. (Plus a lot of PIF credit cards for cash back.)
We had our December meeting last night. One of our discussion topics was where the money was going to come from to register the Honda CRV we bought a few weeks ago (Craigslist for $4k.) As part of that discussion I asked him what his plans were for selling one of our other vehicles. We currently have five - 4 working and one non-working.
He correctly intuited that I wasn't liking the thought of insuring/registering five vehicles - plus the space they take. After some discussion, I agreed that I could see where he's coming from - he's a delivery driver. Of the 4 vehicles that are essentially his, the CRV is the most valuable. The CRV is primarily for snow days/winter use. The Prizm might last another year or two, which would be of greater value than the $3 or 400 he might get for selling it. The Civic needs a new transmission, and then could be good for another 4 or 5 years. The truck has proven to be fairly useful, and probably will last a good ten years or more. He thinks that we can switch insurance from one vehicle to another, so we only have 4 at the most on insurance at a time. This is something I'm going to have to research.
Another compromise we've had is with cash on hand. I've generally been a plastic only spender with very little cash on hand. DH likes to have a good stash of cash on hand at all times, and mostly spends cash. So after a bit of thought I agreed to keep a certain amount of cash at home - an amount that wouldn't affect our interest earnings that much. DH also has been using plastic more - I just have to tell him when to switch cards (12 debit transactions on our joint Credit Union card for the 3% interest), then the rest to our Citi DC card.) He doesn't totally like it, but I think he's getting used to it. :)
TLDR - A lot of talking. A lot of listening to understand. A ton of compromise. Using each others strengths the best you can.Reply
I do all of the actual work. He loves the budget, the flexibility, the results, he just hates the actual legwork. He's got YNAB on his phone but never checks it. Never enters a purchase. Nagging him to do it was annoying for both of us. So I do it all, because I don't mind. It's less stressful for us, at least.
He has an allowance transferred to his personal checking every month for his own stuff. If he needs to spend money from the joint account, like for home improvement stuff or car stuff, he usually just says hey it's gonna be x dollars, is that ok? And I just say "yes" if it's little stuff, because we live well below our income right now, and "hang on let me check" if it's big (like new tires or something). When his transactions download, I either add it to the right category (Lowes is pretty obvious, for example) or I ask what it was for. If he goes over a bit in one category, I just move money around, no big deal. That's what YNAB is best at. If he goes over a lot, we have a little chat and go over the numbers. When money was tight, he knew to be more careful.
Rather than forcing your husband to remain fully engaged when he is unwilling, maybe just accept the status quo like we did, and have him check with you first if he's going to spend more than x in a category. Then just keep him updated on major categories like big goals. And don't worry about moving money around. If it is difficult, maybe use that Stuff I forgot to Budget For category as a slush fund for some minor overspending?Reply
I've (we've) been using YNAB for several years now. However, I have never been able to persuade my wife to participate. Needless to say, it has been really difficult to keep things up to date, and I'm afraid I'm close to the point of just throwing in the towel. She really hates the word budget and is convinced that we might as well use the word "deprivation" instead of budget. This in spite of periodic spells over the years where I have been able to show her, through YNAB, that we can easily have "fun money" in a budget. And, we have managed to save a fair amount of money for retirement. But it has been virtually all me doing the work on our finances. I'm very frustrated, especially when I read this thread and see that, more often than not, it seems to be men who don't really care that much about budgeting. When I suggested that we set January 1 as a target date to make a 'fresh start', she agreed to try, but refuses to review the basic YNAB rules or spend any time refreshing her knowledge of how this is all supposed to work. I think it's fair to predict how it's going to go this time... pretty much the same as it always has. I realize I may be coming across as having a poor attitude, but I've tried everything I can think of to convince her that a budget is a great tool and that it can be fun, but she's simply not interested. It's a significant problem because it's so important to me...
Is there anybody out there who has overcome this situation? More and more I want to give up and let the financial chips fall where they may, which would not be good because I'm only a few years (hopefully) away from retirement.Reply
Our situation is similar in some respects. I handle all our finances. My wife does not want to be bothered. Fortunately she is very responsible in her spending. We have planed a discussion next week about what we want to do next year. From that I plan on developing our goals and budget accordingly. You might be able to approach it from the direction of setting goals for the year. Are there home improvements, appliances that need replacing, special vacations, etc. ? Importing often will help you keep the budget up to date. Just relax and roll with the punches. You said you have been able to save with YNAB, so “throwing in the towel “ is not going to make things better or less stressful.Reply
Thanks for the reply.
Yes, I agree that giving up is not the answer (but I am talking years of this...) We had a very brief discussion (brief not my choice) about making a Fresh Start. The conclusion is something to the effect of: "Just tell me how much I can spend and for what, and I'll try" So, I'm working on tidying up 2017 YNAB the best that I can and plan make a fresh start using whatever our checking and credit card balances are at the moment. I'd rather set goals as a couple but won't have that luxury at the moment. We'll have to adjust as we go. We have a fairly minimal number of categories, but I am going to try to pare that down even more with the hope of making it easier for her to participate in real time. That's the plan...Reply
I can definitely relate to this situation. I've been on and off the YNAB wagon over the years, and with 2018 freshly budding, I figured it was time to give this another go.
I too find it difficult to get my spouse engaged in this. In past YNAB stints I've asked her to keep receipts (non US citizens, so no direct bank connection) and manually update, but that gets hella tedious for me and – well, to be that guy who's anal about receipts is not a good vibe to be honest. In addition, it still means spending first and then juggling money around after the fact which kind of defeats the purpose of YNAB somewhat. She's also the biggest "loose spending cannon" of the two of us (sorry honey, but it's true) and while I'm by no means perfect myself the biggest value would be if she got on board and checked budget balances before spending money.
Here's to hoping 2018 will be the year we finally get this to work!Reply
Financially, my husband doesn't like to be too involved. When I need to talk finances at some point, I need to give him a head's up a day or two before we will sit down and talk about stuff. He just completely zones out and can't focus on this stuff, so I try to be brief. Hopefully soon we manage to build up enough to be a month ahead and then it will be much easier for me.Reply
Thank you so much to everyone that has chimed in on this topic! I let my husband know I posted this here and just reading it together has helped lots.
Also, we found a new way to do weekly budget meetings. Don't laugh, or do because it's funny... on Saturday or Sunday morning, while still laying in bed, we both get out our phone and open the app. (Since the app has so many new features to allow for transitioning funds between categories and importing transactions, we realized we could use our phones to do our weekly meeting.) So we have a semi-snuggle and chat. It's been a fun and easier way to talk about categories! :)Reply
My husband acts like he's all for the budget. Pretends he's excited to pay down the debt and save money to travel. To my face. But behind my back he's been giving his teenage son hundreds of dollars spending money every month of out the LOC and eating out with friends on his credit card while I'm at work. We are starting couples therapy to deal with this. Maybe I should start my own journal about how that goes.Reply
My husband grew up with no money and he has a lot of worry about money despite the fact he has a very good income. He will spend $300 to eat out for one meal and then fuss over the last few stalks of celery going bad.
He's decided that he needs to keep his own bank account that I have no access to or knowledge of the balance. This used to make me a little paranoid but I know he's a good guy and he has this psychological need somehow.
He transfers money into our joint account for monthly expenses and I manage that, along with my own income, with YNAB. Before YNAB, he would sometimes accuse me of "spending all the money on junk", but now I can show him exactly where the money is going.
I share YNAB info with my kids often because I want them to know what it costs to run a household and not have this same fear of spending that their Dad has. My husband does like that I keep track of our investment accounts in YNAB and he likes to sit down with me to see how his Net Worth is improving.
When kids grow up not having the security of knowing there will be food to eat or a bed to sleep in, there are lifelong worries. Learning to enjoy spending money that you've earned on worthwhile items or dreams should be a financial and psychological goal.Reply
I'm the budget one, and I sit down with my husband on a monthly or bi-monthly basis to keep tabs on the budget. I set it up with as little categories as possible and kept it simple. I also set up a joint bank account that takes in income, pays the bills from the YNAB float, and gets things done. I monitor that. Both of us get a set, weekly "allowance" from this account, sent to completely different banks, in our personal accounts, to spend on gas, groceries, and our own discretionary funds that don't need to be tracked. That way, my husband doesn't need to use YNAB at all, really, which he prefers.
This has made it a lot easier as we're not on each other for every little thing, and my husband doesn't have to keep track of his day-to-day spending. So all we really have to discuss is whether the categories are serving us well for more major purchases (we recently had to shift around some home repair funds), and if we can increase the "family fun" budget.
Hope that helps, anyone!Reply
We handle it almost exactly like Khaki Python does. I have my bank accounts (too many, I need to pare them down, but that's beside the point). My wife has her bank account. Then we have our joint bank accounts.
My pay check direct deposits with a set amount going to the joint accounts and the remainder going to my accounts. DW's pay check gets direct deposited in full to her account, then there's an auto-transfer of a fixed amount to the joint accounts.
From there, I run two separate budgets. One is for the joint accounts, which includes rent, utilities, gym memberships, netflix, the emergency fund, insurance, and the generic "something fun" which generally translates to a trip of some sort. Then I have a second one that's "my" money. This includes everything else that I buy - food, charitable donations, various minor sinking funds, quarters for laundry, haircuts, audible, etc. This isn't to say that DW doesn't also pay for such things as well, she does. She just has absolutely no interest in keeping or paying attention to a budget.
She does occasionally ask how much we have in this fund or that fund, but I would estimate that it's no more than once a month.Reply