Know How to Negotiate with Your Mate

know how to negotiate with your partner

If you’re in debt, it’s time to get into the negotiating mood.

“No problem,” you say, “I’m ready to do whatever I have to.”

But what if the person you’re negotiating with isn’t a creditor?

What if it’s your mate?

You’ve woken up to the idea that debt repayment is Job #1 for 2020, but your mate, meh, not so sure buddy’s all the way on board. There are going to have to be compromises.

The idea behind compromise is that both people in a relationship compromise evenly so that over time outcomes are a 50/50 wash.

Not in my experience. So often one partner is much better at convincing the other to compromise. Or one partner turns into a doormat for the sake of peace, while the other compromises only on very small things. Then the Keeping Score starts.

The problem with keeping score is that it breeds hostility. Sometimes it takes a long time before the other person gets theirs. The score builds and builds on one side of the scoreboard, making the person who is doing all the compromising feel like a fool. Eventually, if you’re in a real partnership, it comes out in the wash. But what about all those feelings of resentment and being-taken-advantage-of in the meantime? And if it doesn’t come out in the wash because your mate really isn’t in this with you, you’ve been a sucker!

Consider the word “negotiate.” I like the idea of negotiation. Here’s how it works.

“Honey, I really think we need to take a vacation with the kids this winter.”

“That would be great. But you know we still owe $2,400 on our credit card. And we said we wanted to be debt free by the end of next year.”

“Yeah, but the kids have been dying to go to Disney World. C’mon, you have to make the memories with great experiences.”


“How important to you is this vacation, on a scale of 1-10?”

“It’s a 9.”

“Well, it’s a 9.5 for me NOT to go further into debt. So, I get this one.”

Okay. But what if the other guy makes all their scores 10s all the time?

That’s where my brand of negotiation is so great: For every two in a row one guy gets, the other guy gets an auto-default to what they want. If you play the 10 card two times in a row to get your way, you’d better be prepared for what comes next, because it’s my way all the way baby!

For most couples this kind of negotiation works because, on a case-by-case basis, you’re determining just how important it is to each person. If something is a 5 to me and a 7 to you, clearly you get what you want. If it’s a 9 to me and a 3 to you, I get my way. If it’s a close call, which it can sometimes be, then you’ll have to negotiate on a finer point.

“Not going on vacay is a 9 for me, baby. Sorry.”

“Going is a 9 for me, so what now?”

“What are you prepared to do to have this vacay?”

“I’m going to pick up an extra shift every week to make the money.”

“Okay, I’m prepared to give this to you if we can come up with 75% of the money before we book the vacation.”
“Seventy-five percent? How about 50.”

“How about 75 and we call it 50! Hey, man, the fact that you’re getting me to agree to ANY debt is a frickin’ miracle.”

“Alright, I guess I’m working an extra shift every week from now until February.”

“I’m in it with you, so I’ll give 75% of my bonus to you at the end of the year.”

Try it. See if you can make it work for you. It doesn’t matter how small the negotiation is, remember the two-in-a-row rule. It’s bad for the relationship dynamic for one person to get his or her own way all the time, no matter how right (s)he may be. 

Category: Debt Management | Tagged in:

Jan 10, 2020


About Gail Vaz-Oxlade

Gail Vaz-Oxlade is the Gemini-award winning host of Til Debt Do U$ Part, Prince$ and Money Moron. She hosts The Monday Night Late Shift on NewsTalk1010 where she talks about life, the universe & everything. Gail blogs daily at and contributes to Gail is determined to eliminate financial illiteracy in Canada, and encourages people to join to raise their Money IQ. Her books include: Debt-Free Forever, Easy Money, Never Too Late, Money-Smart Kids, It’s Your Money, Money Rules and Saving for School. You can also follow her on twitter @GailVazOxlade.

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