So, you’re all set to make Big Changes to your financial picture, combat debt and live the Tightwad Lifestyle. You eagerly gather your loved ones for an Emergency Family Meeting to tell them the great news. You are met with blank stares, groans and rolling of eyes.
Why aren’t they excited too? Don’t they see how important change is to the future happiness and prosperity of the family? Why aren’t they being more supportive?
One of the hardest parts of making change is meeting resistance from the very people whose buy-in you most need. With some goals, you can accomplish most or all of your objectives on your own. For instance, with dieting, you are responsible for what you put in your mouth. Even if people around you offer tempting bites, you can politely refuse.
Making the change to a more frugal lifestyle involves all areas of living: what you eat, how you use (and reuse) your resources, and the way you go about your daily activities. Even single changes to your budget, such as reducing spending on groceries or electric, involve those living under your roof.
Why Don’t They Get It?
It can feel very frustrating — and even discourage you from trying — when you feel like you are making an effort to cut back on spending, while your family continues to act like money grows on trees. Your simple requests to turn off lights when they leave a room go unheeded. You make a meal from scratch only to find out they have ordered takeout on the way home.
It is tempting at this point to be angry, feel like no one is listening, or worse: give up. Instead, try to see where they are coming from (since they aren’t seeing where you are):
- Remember that you didn’t get to this point of needing to change without being blind to it too.
- The big beautiful picture is in your head, not theirs. They can’t see it the same way.
- Their fun and lifestyle is potentially at risk of being sacrificed.
- They may feel you are accusing them of being wasteful and are being defensive.
Adopt Small Changes
Making a lifestyle change — and sticking with it — is extremely challenging. That is why most diets fail. Trying to change everything overnight is not possible, and desperate measures only hinder long term success. Your best bet is to change in little ways, or one area, at a time. If you are struggling with resistance from family members, start with an area where you don’t need their cooperation.
You’re the one motivated to change, so you need to set the example and make changes yourself first. Be a model of positive thinking. If you go around bemoaning the fact that you are doing all the sacrificing, you are hardly going to attract joiners.
Make a couple meals from scratch a week instead of grabbing takeout. Do your errands in batches rather than running out every time you think of something. Try using smaller amounts of products to see how much you really need to use for it to be effective.
Let your attitude (and results) be contagious!
When I met my husband, he never used any of the free store rewards cards. He was perfectly willing to pay double the price for an item, simply because he didn’t want to be bothered with signing up for and remembering to use the card. Seeing how I was able to save so much with them, and how easy it was for him to use it (after I signed up and handed him a tag for his keychain), he has been on board.
We come from very different financial backgrounds and attitudes when it comes to spending. I research for hours before any purchase, while he would just walk into the nearest store and pay full price to have it immediately. I would wait until I got home rather than stopping to get a beverage if I was doing errands. He stopped on the way home from a workout and bought a drink (he was only 5 minutes away).
Today, I buy his drinks in bulk and he tries to remember to take them along with him. He is thinking and looking up prices before making larger purchases. He understands the need for an Emergency Account and good credit, and sees where not having these has hurt him in the past. Here’s what has helped for our family:
- Share Your Vision. They won’t see the picture in your head of where you want to be unless you express it clearly. Use pictures, charts, vision boards — anything that helps convey the goal you have in mind.
- You Go First. Start with making changes that you can do on your own. Talk about the little successes you are having with finding a good deal, getting a bill lowered, and saving up for something you needed.
- Be competitive. When done in a positive spirit, competition can be a great motivator. Make family spending challenges, have a saving competition, and offer incentives for finding ways to cut costs.
For lasting change, you need positive attitudes. Having your family resent the changes, or feel deprived, is only going to result in setbacks and sneaking spending. Compliments, encouragement and celebrating milestones will get your family much closer to attaining your goals.