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3 Steps to Getting Your Spouse on Board with Your Goals

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get your spouse on board with your goals

The following article is from Mike, our staff writer. 

We all have things we want to accomplish but sometimes the daily grind of life gets in the way and we find ourselves going through the motions rather than deliberately working towards our goals.  Even more frustrating is when you and your spouse aren’t focused on the same goals.  Rather than working together you end up getting in each other’s way.

If you find yourself in this situation just follow this simple three step formula to make sure you and your spouse are on the same page and working as a team.


The first step is to sit down and make a list of every major goal you have.  Your list should include both individual goals and joint goals you plan to reach together.  Here’s an example of what your list might look like…

  • Retire early.
  • Send the kids to a private school.
  • Add an addition onto your house.
  • Go back to school and get your Master’s Degree.
  • Backpack your way across Europe.
  • Start your own business.

These are just examples, but they should get you started as you brainstorm your own goals and devise a plan to achieve them.

Next you need to prioritize your list of goals.  Most of us don’t have a never-ending supply of money, so we have to decide what is most important to us and what we can live without.  Maybe you don’t have to retire early if you’re able to start a business that you love.  Maybe you can live without the addition on your house as long as you get to travel and see the world.


Once you put your list together, sit down with your spouse and discuss your goals with each other.  You probably have a lot of goals in common and those are the ones where you’ll have no trouble supporting each other.

Of course, it’s likely you’ll have some goals that don’t overlap.  You might even learn something new about each other and discover a part of your spouse you didn’t even know existed.  Maybe your spouse thinks you love you job and never knew you are questioning your career path.  Or maybe you thought she was content being a housewife and had no interest in starting her own craft business.

This is a golden opportunity to get to know one another better.  Don’t fret if you aren’t crazy about some of your spouse’s goals.  Odds are, she isn’t crazy about some of your goals either.  The important thing is that you take time to listen to each other’s reasoning and try to understand why they are so important to them.

Take Action

Once you’ve worked together to build a list of goals that you both agree on and you’ve prioritized the items on your list in order of importance, it’s time to start working towards them.

Identify the steps you need to take to achieve each goal and create a plan to help you reach them.  For example, if you want to travel the world you may need to cut down on dining out and re-route that money into your travel fund instead.  I find having targeted savings goals helps me stay focused on the target, so I always recommend setting up separate accounts for each goal you have.

Some of your goals may seem large and out of reach right now.  But the first step is the most important one, so start taking action today and before you know it you’ll be living the life of your dreams.

Photo Credit: flickr kevin_sanjuanislands

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{ 24 comments… add one }

  • Income Surfer March 28, 2014, 1:59 am

    Being on the same page with my wife was hugely important. For us, prioritizing was the hardest part. Like you said, most people don’t have enough money to do everything. If they did….I figure they still wouldn’t have enough time :o/

    Once we were on the same page, taking action was the easy part. We all love to be part of an efficient team…..all rowing in the same direction if you will

    • retirebyforty March 29, 2014, 7:55 am

      It’s much harder than I though to communicate about finance to my wife. Before I blog, we rarely talk about finance. Now she edit every post I write and we understand each other much better. Life is just too busy, but we still need to make time to talk finance.

    • Mike Collins April 1, 2014, 5:08 am

      Setting priorities is the most important thing. You can’t have everything so you have to figure out what is most important to you and what you can live without.

  • jane savers @ solving the money puzzle March 28, 2014, 5:02 am

    Or you could just divorce them. That worked for me. Some people are not interested in changing their behaviour. The ex makes 3 times what I do but I am sure I have more cash in the bank. He does have a lot more cars, 4 wheelers and snowmobiles than I do. He has ordered a brand new Corvette.

    Sometimes people can’t get on the same page about finances or anything else that is important.

    • retirebyforty March 29, 2014, 7:58 am

      Ugh.. That’s not good. Probably better to not get married if you’re not on the same page. We really need a financial compatible quiz.

    • Mike Collins April 1, 2014, 5:09 am

      Hi Jane, that is certainly a solution but I would hope it’s the exception. Ideally you could work out a plan together but some people just don’t compromise.

  • Chattanooga Cheapster March 28, 2014, 7:02 am

    I couldn’t agree more. It’s no coincidence that I’m working on a similar post for my young blog.

    I always thought my spouse would be a barrier to saving more money. It turns out that she was just unable to connect long term financial goals to short term decisions. Now we have “budget meetings” where we agree on goals and it gives my frugality a little more context.

    • retirebyforty March 29, 2014, 7:58 am

      Looking forward to it. Great job getting her on board.

    • Mike Collins April 1, 2014, 5:10 am

      Sometimes you just have to keep trying and maybe explain things in a different way. I’m glad it finally clicked for your wife and you’re on the same page now.

  • John @ Sprout Wealth March 28, 2014, 8:17 am

    Great tips Mike! I think so much of this comes down to communication and being clear with each other so you can set the appropriate expectations. Our issue is prioritizing and determining which issues are most important after listing them out when one isn’t obvious. but, having that open line of communication is a huge help towards that.

    • Mike Collins April 1, 2014, 5:11 am

      Couldn’t agree more John, communication is key. You can’t just assume your spouse feels and thinks the same way you do.

  • Money Beagle March 28, 2014, 10:18 am

    Negotiation is often necessary, I would guess that falls under the communication element though depending on the goals, the differences, and the way each sees the plans and priorities, this could be a separate activity.

    • retirebyforty March 29, 2014, 8:00 am

      I can see that. We rarely negotiate much, though. We are both frugal and we both trust each other to be good with our spending.

    • Mike Collins April 1, 2014, 5:12 am

      Good point. If you and your spouse are really not seeing eye to eye on something you may need to negotiate and find a fair compromise.

  • Tom March 28, 2014, 10:22 am

    It’s always a balancing act between two people, sometimes compromises need to be made on each side if you and your spouse really want to make this work. Maybe for one person it means working more than they wanted/planned to but the other feels they may be sacrificing too much of their life now.

    • Mike Collins April 1, 2014, 5:15 am

      I agree, you usually have to compromise at some point. A little give and take can help you come to an agreement.

  • Justin @ Root of Good March 28, 2014, 2:06 pm

    We have always been on the same page financially, so that made growing our wealth pretty easy. It’s tough if one spouse wants to save and the other is comfortable spending most of the paycheck.

    The example you give near the end – if you want to travel the world – describes us. We have saved a lot to retire early, and now we are able to enjoy traveling the world. Which with kids means a five week road trip to Canada this summer. 🙂 It’s all about spending money where you want, and saving money on things that are less important.

    • Mike Collins April 1, 2014, 5:14 am

      You’re lucky to be so compatible with your wife! Enjoy your trip!

  • Jon_Snow March 29, 2014, 9:05 am

    My wife is on board with me leaving my job this year… she wants to continue to work for a spell. This will allow us to pad our ER stash a bit more before she joins me in ER… it really is a perfect situation.

    We really couldn’t be more in synch than we are. It’s quite wonderful to have a great partner in life.

    • retirebyforty March 30, 2014, 11:49 pm

      Good luck. It will be a big adjustment, but I think you’ll enjoy it. It’s great to have a partner who are on the same page financially.

    • Mike Collins April 1, 2014, 5:16 am

      That’s great that you and your wife are so in sync! Hope you transition smoothly after leaving your job.

  • Darren March 30, 2014, 4:00 am

    Joe, I’m retiring from the Army next year. Some people tell me that I’m making the right decision and will have no problems finding a high-paying job with my skill-set, experience, and work ethic. Others ask me why I’m leaving, because I’ll be up for promotion next year and can increase my military pension by staying in a few more years.

    I’m 40 and when I stumbled upon one of your posts on another blog. RB40 just rang a bell in my head. Your blog and others I’ve only recently found are truly informative and inspiring…which is why I’ve set up my own blog to be part of this great online community of people who have figured life out or are clearly on the right path.

    My wife has always been supportive of everything I do. Now, I realize more than ever that I need her to be actively engaged in what I do because this needs to be a collective, team effort.


    • retirebyforty March 30, 2014, 11:51 pm

      Darren, best of luck! Thanks for reading RB40. It’s great that you started a blog. I’m looking forward to hearing more from you. It really is a team effort. Life is much easier when we’re all on the same page.

    • Mike Collins April 1, 2014, 5:18 am

      Hey Darren, welcome to the blogging world! Looking forward to hearing more from you.

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