So far I’ve shared the first two steps of my husband’s ingenious method that he used to get me onboard with YNAB:
So you’re trucking along. The formally uninterested spouse has started managing the category from Step 2 very well, consistently. You’re even noticing a little spark in his eye when he’s talking about ways in which he’s successfully managed his category.
That means it’s time to implement Step 3. In my crafty husband’s words:
Spouse owns a long-term category for something s/he cares about.
“Hey honey, you have been talking about going on a trip to Napa Valley. I think we should do it! What do you think, next July? Let’s see…that’ll take us $100 a month until then. Let’s set that aside in our “Trips” category! Cheapskate??? Who me??? I’m your lovable, fuzzball spouse who loves to make awesome things happen!
Ulterior motive: you’re teaching them Rule 2. In our family, this has worked best with Christmas, birthdays, and vacations.
I remember the first time he told me this; it was about the Christmas category. You see, my husband knew me. He knew I hated having to cheap-out on gifts when my sisters-in-law went hog-wild on my kids’ presents.
Talk about embarrassing. My kids are opening presents, and I’m sitting there with my eggnog adding up how much these girls spent as the wrapping paper and ribbon fly through the air with wild abandon. Then their kids open the presents from me, and I see confused looks of, ‘Is there another box?’*
So in some January several years back, my husband asked me, “How much do you really want to spend on Christmas this coming year?” With the memory of Christmas Eve with the family fresh on my mind, I went a little overboard. He kindly obliged, and we started saving every month for Christmas.
With the money in the category already, I was so excited that I’d get to shop all year long for Christmas. Then October rolled around, and I was finished shopping. That. Was. No. Fun. At. All.
BUT I learned how to manage a long-term category on my own! I got a really good feel for what worked and what didn’t work. (For instance, I wait to shop until October now so that I have a better idea of what everyone wants.)
Having control over the long-term category gave me the freedom to make the choices for myself. I didn’t want my husband to control that category when he wasn’t the one buying all of the gifts. So I felt obligated to do well with it since he was surrendering a large sum of money to my control.
Something a lot of people do when they feel out of control is try to hold the reins even tighter. But this is so damaging because you create a power struggle and even a parent vs. rebellious teen relationship.
Our marriage counselor used to tell us:
The more you hold onto control, the less you have of it. But the more you surrender control, the more control you actually have.
This builds so much trust and puts you on the same team, which is what you want for a healthy relationship, financially and in every other area.
*(For the YNAB record, I’ve changed my tune on Christmas gifts, but that was my mindset at the time. I’ll get on my non-commercial Christmas soapbox later in the year.)