Marriage is a wonderful journey, but those financial woes could lead to marital strife. One of the less-discussed problems of being married is creating a budget that fits the needs of both partners.
Two people may have very different ideas about handling money, leading to conflict unless they find a way to meet in the middle. Here are some tips on creating a budget with your spouse that will lead to financial success.
How to a Create Budget With Your Spouse for Financial Success
What do you hope to achieve with your budget? Maybe you want to save for a down payment for a house or pay off your credit card debt. Whatever your goals may be, make sure they are specific and achievable.
Categorize your financial goals into short-, medium-, and long-range. You and your spouse may have different goals, so make sure you talk about them and come to a consensus.
Short-range goals may include saving for a vacation or buying a new car. On the other hand, medium-range goals might include paying off your mortgage or student loans. Long-range goals could be retiring early or funding your child’s college education.
Use S.M.A.R.T. goals to achieve your financial objectives. The acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound:
Specific. The goal clearly defines what is expected or desired with no room for misinterpretation or ambiguity.
Measurable. You can determine when the goal has been achieved by defining how it will be measured.
Attainable. The goal must be realistic and attainable within a reasonable amount of time; you should also have the necessary resources to implement the budget successfully.
Relevant. Your budget must matter to you (and your spouse) for it to work; if something becomes irrelevant during implementation, you must revisit the budget.
Time-bound. The goal must have a deadline or target date; without this, it’s unlikely you’ll ever achieve it unless there is an external driving force.
Don’t forget to reward yourselves when you achieve milestones along the way!
Talk About Combining Your Finances
One thing to keep in mind while merging your finances is that it’s essential to be open and honest with each other about your spending habits. If one of you is a saver and the other is a spender, you’ll need to work together to find a balance that works for both of you.
By communicating openly and working together towards shared financial goals, you can make budgeting a breeze. Doing this helps ensure that your finances are in good shape for the future.
Once you’re feeling more confident about making a budget, talk with your spouse and discuss what’s working well for both of you and what might need improvement. If one person has an unexpected expense or loss in income, it will affect both spouses’ budgets.
That’s why both must contribute equally toward shared expenses when possible so that neither feels like they are carrying all of the financial weight on their shoulders.
Determine the Household Expenses
Working together to come up with a realistic estimate and budget with your spouse for how much you will need to spend each month can help you stay on track with your finances and avoid overspending. Household expenses typically include rent/mortgage payments, utilities, and home maintenance items.
Also, it includes food costs and other necessary spending categories. Your household might have several different types of bills that need to be paid each month, including phone bills, Internet service provider fees (I.S.P.), or newspaper delivery charges, among many others. So make sure those are included in your list too!
If any irregular expenses need to be accounted for, make sure to add them to your budget as well. It could include yearly insurance premiums, property taxes, or car repairs/maintenance costs.
List All Potential Discretionary Spending
Discretionary spending includes all the money you have available to spend on things that are non-essential, such as entertainment, vacations, and dining out. You must be honest about how much you can afford in this category each month and then work together to develop a plan that will fit into your overall budget.
There are two types of discretionary spending: planned expenses (e.g., vacations) and unplanned ones (e.g., restaurants). The first type is generally more straightforward since there’s usually some sort of budget already set aside for them. But don’t forget about unexpected costs like medical bills & car repairs either!
Unplanned expenses tend not to follow any particular pattern. It’s essential to have a good mix of both planned and unplanned expenses in your discretionary spending category so that you’re always prepared for whatever life throws your way.
If you want to get an idea of how much money you can spend on your unplanned expenses, think about the most common types that occur—for example, new clothes for work, date night, car repairs, and more. Once you have this list down, it’s time to take out a portion from each of your paychecks to put into a savings account specifically for these types of costs.
This way, when that inevitable unplanned expense pops up, you’re not left scrambling to find the money. You’ve already set it aside and can easily cover the cost without any stress or worry.
You and your spouse should talk about what you want to spend money on in the future so that you can plan for it. For example, if one of you wants to travel more often than the other, make sure both partners have enough income from their jobs or investments to cover those trips without going into debt.
But don’t go too crazy with either one. You still want to be able to save money each month!
Doing this will help you stay on track and ensure that you are both aware of where your money is going. Tracking your expenses is simple and can be done with a few clicks of a mouse or taps on your phone.
Many different apps and websites can help you do this, so find one that works best for you. These tools make it easy to keep tabs on what you’re spending, and they offer helpful graphs and charts that show how well you’re doing in terms of sticking to your budget.
Try using an Excel spreadsheet or Google Sheets document to ensure that you don’t miss anything while keeping up with all these numbers. So as long as there is an internet connection available, everything will be saved automatically without worrying about saving manually every single time something changes (which could happen very often).
If you prefer not to use any of these tools, you can always keep track of expenses the old-fashioned way: with pen and paper! While this might take a bit more time and effort on your part, it’s still doable.
It should also have different tabs for each month if possible so that when looking back at previous months, it’ll be easier than having them all in one document. By tracking your expenses, you can make sure that your budget stays on track and that you can reach your financial goals.
Schedule a Weekly Budget Meeting
A weekly budget meeting is a great way to keep track of your spending and make sure you’re both on the same page when it comes to your finances. It will be helpful to sit down each week and go over your budget and where you’ve both been spending.
It can help you stay on track and avoid any surprises down the road. Don’t be afraid to talk about money issues. It’s crucial that both people involved feel like their opinions count equally, so try making sure everyone gets heard before decisions are made.
Try to stay positive and constructive while talking about money. No one wants to be scolded or blamed for every penny that’s gone out the door. If you keep a positive attitude, you’re more likely to stick to your budget in the long run.
If you’re struggling to come up with a time that works for both of you, try setting a recurring reminder on your calendar to help you stay accountable. Make sure you’re both taking notes so that nothing slips through the cracks. It’s easy to forget what was discussed if no one wrote it down, and then next thing you know, there’s a big problem brewing just waiting for someone new to discover it!
Try to talk about other things going on in your life during the meeting. Doing so can help you feel more connected to each other and show that you’re not just talking about numbers when it comes to your relationship.
By working together to create a budget that reflects each person’s unique financial goals and priorities, you can avoid many of the common pitfalls couples face when it comes to money. And the sooner you get started, the better it would be.
Even if it feels awkward at first, remember that talking openly about your finances is a great way to show each other how much you care, and it can help you make the most of your money as a team.