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Why Women Can't Control a Man's Finances
Talking about money not going so well?
Women find it difficult to control a man's finances. In a Dave Ramsey FB group, a member of the community expressed her frustration about her husband’s expenses and getting them under control. Conversation after conversation, promises made and promises not kept, they talked and talked, and still are not in agreement about a financial strategy. Why do women find it difficult to get their husbands to agree to becoming more financially responsible?
Women tend to be more risk adverse than men.
Some of the most dangerous jobs in the world like lumberjackers, oil workers, police officers, and miners skew overwhelmingly to be a man’s job. Because women innately gravitate towards people rather than things, and elicit higher negative emotions, they often find themselves engaging in activities that aren't as risky.
It is no surprise that women often are the initiators of conversations about financial responsibility with their partners. Developing a budget, creating a financial plan, generating new sources of income, and being more mindful of expenses are some of the main topics addressed when discussing money with a partner. With all relationships, it's not always easy to get both individuals rowing in the same direction. For the reasons I will outline below, men tend to be more reluctant and stubborn about adhering to a financial plan from their partner.
Facebook Post in Group: The Ramsey Baby Steps Community
This FB user expresses the sentiment many women have when trying to get her partner on the same financial page. According to her post, they've had several of these types of money management discussions, all of which end up falling short of any real, meaningful change. How can this wife be more effective in her conversations with her husband?
Money is freedom.
The relationship men have with money is that money is power, and power is freedom.
Because money is freedom, to "budget" or "curtail" or "manage" money is conflated with limiting freedom. When men feel like their money, and hence freedom, is being taken away or having less control over it, then the fight or flight mode kicks in and men get frustrated, ornery, or shut down completely.
The Strategic Approach.
Now that we have a first principle understanding of a man's relationship towards money, broaching this subject with him should be more empathetic and strategic. The ability for a woman to convey that a financial plan equates to more freedom will knock down the man’s Berlin Wall of fear and stubbornness.
Saving money now means more freedom later.
Sacrificing certain purchases now, means more freedom later.
Being on a budget now, means having more money later. And more money later means more freedom.
I applaud women in these instances for broaching this subject. A relationship needs to have a strong financial foundation so that the couple’s future is rooted in practical realities. If women didn’t bring up this topic, then men would continue to stay steady on their path because they may not want anything to disrupt the current trajectory of life.
Rules for negotiating a financial plan.
Rule #1. When negotiating, refrain from personal attacks.
Rule #2. When negotiating the financial plan, assign a time limit to when the negotiation ends. Either there will be a formalized plan or the negotiation may have to continue another time. In either case, these are both good outcomes.
Rule #3. When negotiating, be able to understand each other's pressure points. A pressure point is a topic of strong interest that may make or break a deal. Each partner will have their own, and understanding what these are will benefit you during the negotiation. For instance, if the wife in the above FB example is wanting to save money because a future medical issue may arise with her elderly parents, then this pressure point is something that if the husband does not give proper attention to this matter, then this may break the deal. There’s no need to argue and debate the pressure point if you do not fully understand what it is. Ask questions to affirm your understanding, and eventually, this will be a negotiation tactic you can apply to your advantage later.
Rule #4. Entice your husband to make a decision.
A decision maker can be motivated to make a decision if you are able to answer the right questions for him or her. For instance, a detail-oriented engineer who loves processes isn’t motivated to make a decision based on a bottom line. If you say to this engineer, what city would you like to retire in? This is a big picture, bottom line scenario which does not provide the necessary information to this engineer-personality to make a decision.
Below is an overview of four decision-maker personalities, which includes characteristics and recommendations on how to motivate a decision.
Characteristics: Animated facial expressions dynamic tone, persuasive, creative, wants to be liked
Recommendation: Extroverts make decisions with the answers from the question of who. Who will be there? Who says that?
Provide testimonials from experts to motivate the extrovert to make a decision.
Characteristics: Direct, to the point, makes eye contact, big-picture oriented, things are black or white, likes control
Recommendation: Dominant personalities make decisions when the question of what is answered. What is the bottom line? What do you prefer, choice A or B?
Provide choices or alternatives to this personality in order to motivate to make a decision.
Characteristics: Seeks harmony and fairness, needs time to adjust to change, prefers stable and predictable environments
Recommendation: Patient personalities make decisions based on stable and predictable outcomes, and needs an answer for why.
Give beneficial information and allow for some time for a decision is made.
Characteristics: Operates within defined rules and procedures, places a high standard on accuracy and quality
Recommendation: Conformist personalities have strong opinions on right and wrong, and hence certain rules must be followed. They respond to the question of how.
Provide technical support and information data in order to motivate to make a decision.
Observe the characteristics of your decision maker, and practice implementing the corresponding recommendation. This training will help prepare you for when the actual, serious discussion about money arises.
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