How Do You Help Your Significant Other See the light?

If you are one of those guys or gals who already bought into the FIRE concept and enjoys reading Early Retirement, Financial Independence, Personal Finance, Minimalism and Mustachian blogs you already know the significance of being on the same page with your significant other. But what if you are not on the same page? 

 

Several days ago, I came across a post on Mr. MoneyMustache’s forum. It was called “How to Convert your Significant Other to MMM in 50 Awesome Steps”. I thought It was a great list. I figured it wouldn’t be hard for fellow mustachions to put a few of them to good use in order to encourage their significant others. Knowing that I messaged the original poster “Lifejoy from MMM” right away. She was so nice and gracious and this was her response:

I think it would be more than sufficient to say “Lifejoy from MMM” 🙂

Nice of you to ask and let’s hope the list helps some people out!

 

Isn’t she great?

 

If you would like to find out more about MMM and Mustachianism please visit: www.mrmoneymustache.com. If you are not already a member become a member and be active in the forum: forum.mrmoneymustache.com.

 

Here is her list:

I was with a Mr. Normal McSpenderson and now I am with Mr. MMM Incarnate. Seriously, my spouse has gotten so on board, that he’s now more MMM than me! Anyway, I know there are a lot of threads about how to help your significant other “see the light” – so, this is what worked for me. It took a year or two to see some major progress, but the baby steps REALLY added up.

1. Read MMM and send a few articles to your spouse with the caption, “This is awesome! Thought you might get a kick out of it.” Case in point: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/04/18/news-flash-your-debt-is-an-emergency/

2. Be active on the MMM forum, and regale your spouse with tales from the “Overheard at Work” thread: http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/antimustachian-wall-of-shame-and-comedy/overheard-at-work/?topicseen.

3. Live in Canada (or make your IP Address say that you do) and watch lots of “Til Debt Do Us Part” – http://www.slice.ca/video/#til-debt-do-us-part/video . You know how when you’re watching a show that your significant other isn’t into, but it’s on, and they can’t help but catch parts of it? Well this show is GOLD. It’s all about couples who need to manage their money better. The host, Gail Vaz-Oxlade, makes them live on cash and within their means to get their lives back on track. She’s amazing, and she was a big influence on me and my significant other.

4. If you get really obsessed with Gail Vaz-Oxlade, also watch her shows “Money Moron” and “Princess”.

5. Need more? Her radio show is pretty good: http://www.newstalk1010.com/shows/gailvazoxlade.aspx . But if you want something more 100% finance related, the podcasts from Radical Personal Finance are EXCELLENT – http://radicalpersonalfinance.com/archive/

6. If your significant other is a reader, make sure you take these books out from the library: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/78428.Your_Money_or_Your_Life
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/900892.A_Random_Walk_Down_Wall_Street?from_search=true&search_version=service
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/178930.The_Overworked_American?from_search=true&search_version=service
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/178931.The_Overspent_American?from_search=true&search_version=service

7. Read those books yourself, and leave them around the house. Or, if appropriate, tell your significant other that this book you read was REALLY GOOD, and you think they’d really like it. Bonus points if you can ensure that it’s the only book they have with them on a long plane trip. Guaranteed they’ll take a peek! 😉

8. Do you have a cleaning service? You do now. It’s YOU. Cancel anything you’re paying for, and STEP IT UP. You are now the cleaning person. I don’t care about fairness, or whatever – if you are motivating this person to save money, you gotta show that you’re willing to do the dirty work. Literally. Let it be known in a nice way, not a passive aggressive way, that you care a lot about your savings and it’s worth it to you to do the cleaning yourself.

9. Same goes for meals. Want to spend less money on eating out? Well, get used to cooking. Maybe your significant other will help, maybe not. But you gotta take initiative and lead by example. This site is a good place to start: http://www.budgetbytes.com/

10. Make it one of your primary goals that food will NOT be thrown out. Shop more carefully, plan meals more carefully. You do not throw away money in this household.

11. Dates: Do you live in a fun city that puts on a lot of free events? Seek those out! If you live in a boring city, well, take action. Invite people over for board games, or host a wine and cheese night – potluck style. Take your significant other out on a romantic walk. Plan a scavenger hunt if you have lots of spare time and you’re feeling ambitious! Make it a fun challenge to think of fun free dates, instead of just going to the movies ten times a month.

12. Cell phone bill. Slash yours. Slash it to hell! Get that number down as low as humanly possible. Tell them how relieved you are to not be spending so much on your cell bill; enquire how they feel about their bill – are they getting a good value? Baby steps. Hopefully they will come to the conclusion on their own that there is some wiggle room.

13. Plan together about retirement options. This is when you present the FIRE dream. Tailor this to your significant other and how they will handle such thinking.

14. If you can find them a real-life FIRE role model, that is good! It shows them it can be done, and they can see that person living the life they want instead of slaving away until 65. My significant other wanted to “work forever, just like his dad” until he met my FIRED dad, and thought to himself… hmm, this early retirement stuff looks pretty darn sweet.

15. Try out You Need a Budget (YNAB): http://www.youneedabudget.com/

16. Try out Mint: https://www.mint.com/

17. Or, make your own budget in your own way.

18. YNAB and Mint worked for us to a point, but the thing that REALLY works was the jars, a la Gail Vaz-Oxlade: http://www.gailvazoxlade.com/articles/budgeting/magic_jars.html
You budget with cash in jars. It’s very visual. Works well for me. My significant other really dislikes using cash, so we agreed to do it for one month and it has had lasting effects!

Speaking of visual…

19. Colour in your debt or savings progress: http://www.debriefdaily.com/lifestyle/adult-colouring-in/

20. If you’re still using credit cards, put a picture or a note taped onto your VISA that is a reminder of your goal, be it DEBT FREE FOREVER or FIRED BEFORE 40. Something like that. Or a picture of palm trees! 🙂

21. Employ this awesome tactic when your significant other wants to buy something insane, like a brand new Jeep:

Step 1. Say, “You know, I’ve been thinking about it, and you were right. It really is time to replace your vehicle. It’s too unreliable, you’ve put up with repairs for a long time, and you deserve something better.” [It’s important to say “You were right” — don’t leave that out]

Step 2. Say, “You’ve said you want a 2012 Jeep Wrangler — any reasons you want that car in particular?”

Step 3. LISTEN. Don’t say a word to refute anything about the 2012 JW. Listen to everything she says, pay close attention to the reasons she gives. Instead, nod your head, and say things like, “I see” or “That makes sense.” If she seems to run out of reasons, ask her “Anything else?” Then listen some more.

Step 4. After she’s done giving reasons, say “Okay.” Then take some time on your own to think about it. This tells her you listened and will seriously give it consideration. If she presses you to give an answer about it, tell her you’d like a little time to digest what she’s said and to look for some ways to get her what she wants.

Step 5. Look around for vehicles that meet the criteria she gave you AND that are cost-effective. Come up with several options for her to consider in addition to the JW. Example: She says “reliability” is her number one concern, you find the Consumer Reports pick for the most reliable car in your price range.

Step 6. Present her with the options, and include the JW as an option. Show her the pros/cons of each vehicle and how they might meet her criteria, and of course include cost in the equation. Now, she should be seeing you as presenting an objective set of choices, not a sales pitch in favor of the car you want her to pick. LET HER MAKE THE CHOICE.

Step. 7. If she chooses the JW despite it being inferior (and more expensive) to the other choices, tell her you want to find a way for the two of you to pay for it without going into debt, decreasing your retirement savings, hampering college for your kids, etc. Ask her what she thinks you both should do — earn extra income at a second job? Cut expenses somewhere else? Give up some other future purchase or expense like the spring break trip? Make it clear that you want to get her the vehicle she wants, but that there’s no free lunch. She’ll have to consider tradeoffs if she’s going to pick an expensive car “just because.”

(the advice is solid gold!)

22. Embrace minimalism. Being happy with what you have and wanting less is a big key to personal fulfillment, living in a smaller space, and saving all the monies! Some great starting points: http://mnmlist.com/archive/ , http://www.theminimalists.com/archives/#popularhttp://www.becomingminimalist.com/ .

23. Cut your own hair. I will accept no excuses on this point. If you’re a man, you should find a time in your life when you don’t need to look SUPER PRETTY and use that as an opportunity to let someone wield a buzzer to your head. There are a million youtube videos that show you how it’s done, and if you get someone to practice and do it for you, you’re SET. I’ve been cutting my husband’s hair for years, and he looks pretty fab. For my own hair, I’m getting my hairdresser friend to show me how to cut it, but there are also “HAIR MODEL WANTED” opportunities available for the brave. Also, most of my friends get about one haircut per YEAR, so if you can last that long and go to a cheapo place, I guess $10 is not the worst waste. Unless you’re a hair model, I see no reason that we should be spending $60 every three months. Yep.

24. For the ladies: explore these lady product options: http://lunapads.com/ and http://divacup.com/. If you find a cheap and reusable option for razors, PLEASE let me know.

25. Ladies: learn how to paint your own nails. No one should be paying for manis and pedis; that will just make it 10x more special when somebody gets you one as a gift! Get a nail buffer from the dollar store, it’ll make a big difference – http://www.sallybeauty.com/Nail-Buffer-Block/SBS-707914,default,pd.html#start=1 .

26. If you’re in debt, you should really be taking a break from drinking. Or if you do drink, it should only ever be with alcohol you bought at the cheapest place possible, AKA NOT at a restaurant. One life hack is to host an awesome party where you know people will bring you booze 😀 and then make that last as long as freakin’ possible.

27. Host clothing swaps. Never buy clothing again. General layout, but adjust as necessary: http://www.oprah.com/style/Clothing-Swap-How-to-Host-a-Clothing-Swap .

28. If you’re going to the clubs, find out how to get in for free. Often this means getting on the guest list (only requires foresight and planning) or arriving super early, like before 9pm. WORTH IT. Spend the whole night drinking water, and you’re golden!

29. Essentially, demolish your personal spending as much as humanly possible. And now that you are this shining example of mustachian bliss and your significant other has noticed the extra piles of money around, one would hope that they will take a page out of your book and start to move in the same general direction.

30. Read this blog from start to finish: http://livingafi.com/ .

31. Get familiar with calculators: http://www.firecalc.com/ and https://networthify.com/calculator/earlyretirement?income=50000&initialBalance=0&expenses=25000&annualPct=5&withdrawalRate=4 .

32. Get familiar with your local library. Make it like a cute, old-timey date! Get your library cards, and take out some books, magazines, or some libraries even have video games… explore! Everything at the library (in most communities) is FREEEEEEEEEE. How amazing is that? If you haven’t seen Fight Club yet would like to re-watch Fight Club for the billionth time, this would be a good option to sign it out and be reminded that we’re all materialistic whores. Ha!

Ok, I’m a little obsessed with Fight Club.

33. If you and your significant other are debating a money matter, sometimes it is helpful to get a third opinion. Post on the “Ask a Mustachian” section of the forum, and get some solid, objective, advice! Just take it with a grain of salt, because only you and your significant other have a complete picture of the situation.

34. While you’re at it, post a case study and get ripped apart kindly helped by the awesome people on here – http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/how-to-write-a-‘case-study’-topic/ .

35. Go to a MMM Meet-up. If there isn’t one in your area, start one! Being around like-minded people will help you and your significant other feel more comfortable about your goals. (These meetups get advertised in the forum, so search your location or make a new post about it!)

36. If you’re considering marriage, consider an alternative engagement ring. Moissanite is a material I’ve been very impressed with. Check it out! 1/10th of the cost of diamonds, with verrrrry similar properties.

37. Now that you’re a minimalist, you’ve probably gotten rid of all your crap, right? (Bonus points if you sold it). Time to move to a smaller home! Make sure you get on the library wait list for this awesome book: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22318578-the-life-changing-magic-of-tidying-up . And while you’re waiting, join the Konmari Adventures group on Facebook, and look at the very inspiring before/after pics of people getting rid of junk they don’t need: https://www.facebook.com/groups/KonmariAdventures/ .

38. I know you love meat and cheese, but they are $$$$! So read “Eat to Live” and strongly consider putting your money (and your health) towards fruits and veggies 90% of the time: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34451.Eat_to_Live . IT IS SO MUCH CHEAPER!!!

39. On the rare occasion that you just NEED to get out to a restaurant for a date, consider going for JUST a drink, or JUST an appetizer, or sharing an entree. There are so many ways to make eating out affordable (lunch specials on a weekday?) so make it infrequent and planned.

40. If you get given gift cards, put it in your gift budget jar. Ironic, amiright? But ever so useful.

41. This seems too obvious to mention, but I guess I should make sure that if you’re using a credit card, you better be getting some epic rewards for that shiznad.

42. Also seemingly obvious: YOU SHOULD NOT BE PAYING BANK FEES. You should not be paying the bank money, to let them use your money. That is insane. If you’re a student, free banking is easy to obtain. If you’re a working adult, they might be a little shifty-eyed about the idea of free banking, but the second you mention the bank down the street they will suddenly be VERY creative about your options. Trust me. You will definitely be able to find free banking if you have a little moxy and determination. DO IT.

43. Do not nag your veggies. This should be a positive experience that will boost you up. If they want to make a purchase that is not in line with the plan, you can say something like, “Well, I don’t want to stand in the way of your desires, but I’m a little uncomfortable about this purchase because it would take us further away from our goals.” Goals that you discussed together, during step #13 and others.

44. Do not let this turn into a “Parent/Child” relationship. You are equals. You are doing this TOGETHER. And if you’re not…. well, there’s always a lifehack around it. There is always an Option C.

45. If you want to get really intense about the conversion, read “How to Win Friends and Influence People” and “Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard” by Dan and Chip Heath. I have found these two books to be the most useful if you want to manipulate encourage someone to see your way of thinking – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/4865.How_to_Win_Friends_and_Influence_People and https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8140252-switch .

46. Pick your battles. They want to buy the more expensive toilet paper, and you’re penny pinching. Is that really the biggest fish you could fry? Pick your battles wisely. Save your encouragement for changes that will have the biggest positive change.

47. Reaffirm, support, praise, brag! When you significant other makes a positive change, be their number one fan!! My significant other started taking a lunch to work (because I was making him a lunch to take to work) and I made a visual money tree and put an $8 leaf on the tree every time he brought a lunch to work, to illustrate how much money we were saving. I brag about my significant other on the MMM Forum, and praise him to his face. Keep it real, but be specific and appreciative. Change is different for everyone, and is seldom easy.

48. Speaking of lunches, get accustomed to making bigger dinners so that you can bring the leftovers for lunch. Easy, peasy! And if you or your significant other are too much of a snob for leftovers, I suggest you start making more delicious dinners so that you can’t WAIT to eat it again on day 2!

49. Pamper your spouse, the free way. If your spouse is suffering (and they shouldn’t be, because you’ve been doing all the hard parts) but if they’re suffering and adapting to the changes, pamper them. This MMM thing is YOUR idea, and they’re being a wonderful person by being the littlest bit open to it. So I want you to tell them, wow hon, I really appreciate you being open to this idea. Let me rub your feet or watch that dumb show you like or spend time with you and your mother or go to the museum you always wanted to check out or DO SOMETHING FOR YOU, THAT YOU LIKE, because I respect and appreciate that you’re opening yourself up to MY interests. Just because FIRE and MMM are such obviously amazing things to be interested in, doesn’t mean your significant other will catch on right away. So make sure you reciprocate by pursuing their interests with renewed vigor.

50. Tailor this process to your spouse. Some people like to read. Get them reading material and have it easily accessible for them. Some people like to watch tv; choose things that might inspire them to become a MMM master. Other people like stats and graphs – there are so many options out there! Really consider the needs of your significant other, and how they like to learn. What will appeal to them? A vision board where you lay out your retirement dreams? A jar full of all the money you saved because you stopped paying for a cleaning service? Your toned thighs and calves because you started biking to work six months ago? Yep. Do what works for you, but more importantly, find out what works for them. Your imagination is the only limit, so think outside of the box!

Let’s recap:

Step One: Lead by example. Are you spending money on something? Can you stop spending money on it, with zero effort required by your significant other? THEN DO THAT. NOW. Stop using your significant other as an excuse.

Step Two: Positive influence. Introduce them to your new hobby of SAVING ALL THE MONEY SO THAT YOU CAN HAVE FREEDOM. Do it in a way that will speak to them.

Step Three: Plan goals together. And if you both want FIRE, you are able to help them with that. If they don’t want FIRE, you can plan to have separate finances or whatever.

 

If you have additional items to be added to the list please leave a comment.

 

4 thoughts on “How Do You Help Your Significant Other See the light?

    1. @need2save: I know it is a long list. But I thought it would be very helpful for some of our fellow mustachions. It has been a while since I watched Fight Club I was planning on watching it again some time soon. I hope it is on nextflix.

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