How to Get Your Partner On Board

I’m reading a terribly interesting book right now, Thinking, Fast and Slow, and it’s got me thinking a lot about first impressions.

One of the most common questions we get at YNAB is, “I want to budget but my partner doesn’t. How do I get my partner on board?” You are dealing with the power of first impressions right here. If you have the opportunity to make a first impression, you really have to make it count. You’ve got to do it right.

For example, today I forgot I was filming. And I am wearing a baseball cap and am dressed very casually (even more than normal). If you are new to Whiteboard Wednesdays, you might think, “This is the owner of YNAB? Huh. I’m not too impressed with this guy.”

But if you’ve seen other Whiteboard Wednesday videos, you have a bunch of previous experience and knowledge to filter through. You’d probably just briefly make note of the baseball cap (kinda weird) and move on without much thought. You’ve already decided whether or not I am worth watching for three minutes every Wednesday. (Hopefully, yes.)

So, back to the budget. If you are trying to get a partner on board, you have to be sure the way you introduce the budget is positive. It’s all about the first impression.

You don’t want them using their prior impressions of a budget (prison, restriction, limitation) to be the filter. You need to rewrite the budgeting story. You want to paint the picture of the budget as a way to go on vacation or buy that thing you’ve wanted for a long time. You have to change their first impression of budgeting.

“Oh, budgeting would mean we could go out to dinner guilt-free?” Yes. Absolutely.

“Wait, budgeting doesn’t mean cutting back, it means letting loose on the things we really care about? Go figure.” Exactly.

So that first budgeting meeting you are proposing? Have it be super short and positive and fun, dreaming about the things you’ll be able to do as you save more. Or whatever that looks like for you.

Because if it is positive, from that day forward, your partner will have a positive association with the budget. That first impression will influence their approach and hopefully, in no short order, you’ll have an enthusiastic budgeting partner by your side.

Take some time to craft a positive, first budgeting experience and I promise you it will go a long, long way.


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Until next time…