I am one of the lucky ones. I may be about a hundred times more enthusiastic and rah rah about getting out of debt than my spouse, but he is fully on board with the process and basically goes along with whatever I come up. He participates and gives his opinions when asked, and his end aim is the same as mine – to get out of debt as quickly as possible in a manner that doesn’t create new debt along the way.
But not every person is as lucky as I am. When the lightbulb goes on and your brain makes the commitment to debt reduction, sometimes your spouse or the rest of your family isn’t quite as on board as you are. So what to do if you want to get serious about debt reduction but no one else does? This question was posed to me in the comments of Free Money Finance’s March Madness contest where Snowflaking: A Primer ultimately won. Here are three measures you can take to encourage a reluctant spouse or other family member to make debt reduction a priority.
Get Them Invested.
There was a process that your brain went through to get you excited and motivated to reduce your debt – repeat that process. Show your family what you experienced to get you to the point you are today. Give them updates and progress – even if you can only snowflake a few dollars a week, show them what a difference that can make over time. Make a chart or a graph depicting the changes that can happen through small steps like choosing to eat a home twice more a week, choosing to bring your lunch from home every day, or choosing to have that movie night in instead of out. I love the snowball chart here that you can depict different scenarios. It has been an invaluable tool in my debt reduction planning.
People love games. Turn debt reduction into a game, a challenge, and a competition. How many things can you do in a week to save money and have it available for debt reduction? Can you shave $3 off your last grocery bill? Phrase everything like a game against yourself. Make debt reduction FUN. Because truly, it can be. Don’t focus on the negative – keep it a competition to do better and go further.
Explore the Big Picture.
What is debt holding you back from? How much money to you pay to debt each month? Each year? What other dreams do you have that debt is holding you back from? Put things in dollars and cents – this is what we could do if we didn’t have debt. This is the dream we can reach. This is where we can go. For me, the idea that we’ve paid almost $15,000 to debt this past year is pretty sobering. Imagine your life with $15,000 (or whatever amount) more a year that is YOURS to decide what to do with.
The key, to me, is to focus on the positive. Focus not on what you give up, but what you can gain. If all else fails, offer to have a trial run. If you can get your foot in the door and put these tips to use in creating excitement and exploring what could be – you may be able to sway opinion to your side. Just don’t give up! Keep at it and you can succeed a little at a time.