The following post is from Melissa Batai
What do you consider “broke”? The answer to this question varies widely. Someone might consider themselves broke when they bounce a check or their credit card is declined. Some might consider themselves broke when they have less than $1,000 in their checking account.
For me, I consider myself broke if our cupboards are bare and we don’t have money to pay our bills. However, food is a touchy subject for me. If the freezers start to get emptier, I feel edgy and want to buy groceries.
My husband rarely spends money, but he considers us broke if there is no money for extras—he wants to be able to maintain his bike for exercise and take our kids out to do something fun once in a while.
Do you know what you consider broke? If you’re married, do you know what your spouse considers broke? Knowing the answers can help you get on the same page financially and help you pay down debt (if you have it) as a team.
Listen to Your Partner
Your partner may not be able to verbalize what “broke” means to her, but chances are, she tells you. Dave Ramsey famously says that when he began his debt payoff plan when he was broke, he and his wife got in a huge argument about how tight the budget he had established was. His wife yelled, “I need more money for groceries!!” She wasn’t saying, “I feel broke if I don’t have enough money to feed my family,” but that’s what she was letting him know.
I recently trimmed our grocery budget quite a bit, and I’m not going to lie, it’s been a bit of a struggle keeping to the budget. My husband started to get grouchy every week at the end of the week when we ran out of fresh fruits and vegetables. He needs healthy, fresh food in the house, and if we can’t get that on our grocery budget, the budget is too tight for him. I heard him and make sure that I always prioritize fresh fruits and vegetables.
Acknowledge Each Person’s Beliefs to Work as a Team
If you’re trying to pay down debt and you feel that your partner is resisting every step of the way, you may make more progress if you acknowledge your partner’s concerns and make changes as needed.
If you want to have a $1,000 emergency fund and pay down debt aggressively, but your partner wants to have a $5,000 emergency fund because that makes him feel more secure and less “broke”, acknowledge that. Sure, if you build your emergency fund to $5,000, that means you have $4,000 less to go on your debt, and you’ll get out of debt more slowly, but it’s okay. What’s more important is making your partner feel comfortable with the process, allowing you to work as a team. You’ll make more progress working together as a team, anyway.
When Ramsey increased the family grocery budget, his wife no longer fought him on a “live like no one else so later you can live like no one else budget.”
If you haven’t done so, talk with your partner about what makes him feel broke, and then do what you can to make sure he doesn’t feel that way. Respecting one another’s views will help you more successfully manage your money together.
My Question for You
What makes you feel broke? What makes your partner feel broke? Have you discussed this? What else do you find gets you on the same page financially?