Managing your finances and budgeting your income is hard enough to do on your own. But throw a significant other into the picture and it can become a whole lot more difficult.
Though the extra income (if both of you are working) and the support is no doubt beneficial, married couples often have a difficult time making budget decisions, especially when each person feels differently about its specifics.
In fact, one of the most common financial questions for married couples is “how do I get my husband/wife to spend less money?” If you have ever been in a long-term relationship before, then you know full well that money is one of the most common issues partners fight about. And when one wants to spend more than the other, the fights can quickly become much more intense.
Fortunately, there are several things that you can do to understand where the other is coming from, work through arguments, and get a solid budget plan – one that you both agree upon – up and running.
The practical advice and tips below are for married couples looking to create a stronger family budget and ultimately save more money.
Understand Where Differences Come From
It can be all too easy to jump to conclusions, especially when it comes to money.
But it is important to remember that differences in money management are often more deeply rooted than they might first seem. Everyone is raised differently and taught differently about money. This in itself can cause a lot of issues between married couples if not thoroughly understood and properly explored.
For example, a wife who was raised in a low income environment is likely much more frugal while shopping for groceries than a husband who was raised middle class. Even if they are on solid financial footing, the wife might continue to be extremely budget conscious. This could upset the husband who can’t understand why she is being so budget conscious when it is obvious they have more than enough money to get the foods they want to eat without worry.
When an issue like this isn’t discussed, it can often lead to confusion. If, for instance, the husband also grew up in a low income family where a meal without meat meant times were bad, eating a meal without meat in the present day might concern him. He might think that money is tight and that his wife is grocery shopping on the cheap because of this.
Naturally, the best way to prevent these kind of problems from happening is by being open and honest about your money. Obviously, this is the key to understanding differences, both money related and otherwise.
Here are a few other tips, after you have taken the talking and listening bit to heart, that can help you budget when you’re married.
1. Work on Finances Together
One of the best budgeting tips for married couples is to work on finances and bills together.
This will allow both of you to have a solid idea of what is going on moneywise. It is also a part of a healthy relationship. Furthermore, if something happens to one of you such as death, divorce, or serious illness, there won’t be the added struggle and worry of figuring out how to handle the bills. You’ll both know how to.
Even if one of you takes on the responsibility of paying the bills or balancing the checkbook, both of you should look over everything each month together.
2. Take Time on Finances
When working on your finances together, it is important to not just rush through the entire process.
Sure, paying the bills isn’t a very fun thing and this makes it somewhat easy to put off. Don’t do this. You’ll find that scheduling a time to sit down together to go over and pay the bills each month will make the process less difficult and much easier.
3. Ask Questions
Though this is important for all married couple to do, it is especially relevant to new couples.
Take some time and sit down to ask each other the questions below. They will help you better understand where your partner is coming from and why. Remember that it is essential never to laugh at or dismiss your spouse’s answers to these questions or ridicule them for what they/their parents believe. Simply put, there are no right or wrong answers here.
A few questions to get you going include:
What did your family teach you about money? Which of these things have stuck with you?
Was your family good at saving? Did they have a solid savings account?
Was either of your parents a spender? Did they make purchases and hide them from the other?
Was money not considered very important in a relationship? Or did it replace love and being there for the family?
Did either of your parents have a hard time keeping a job?
Were your parents worried that you couldn’t “keep up” with other families in the community?
Did your parents fight about money?
What are your money fears?
What sorts of things are important to you? Insurance, paying off debt, new car, big house, etc?
4. Set Your Financial Priorities and Goals Together
At this point, you are probably ready to set financial priorities and budgeting goals with your spouse.
There are a lot of ways to go about this and the specifics are up to the two of you. It is important to discuss both your short-term and especially long-term financial goals in depth. For example, when do you wish to retire? By a certain age? If you have debt, how are you going to get out of it? And how will you stay out of it?
By setting financial goals you can begin to build a strong budget plan. Agreeing on goals, writing them down, and reviewing them periodically will set you up for success.
5. Track How You Are Spending Money
The last of our budgeting tips for married couples that we will discuss today is to track how you are spending money.
Doing this is especially important after you have created a budget plan by reviewing your expenses and seeing where money needs to be spent and where it doesn’t. Tracking your spending will allow you to pinpoint and cut out unnecessary expenses so that you can save more money or otherwise work towards your financial goals.
This is, in essence, what a budget is. Tracking spending is a way to make sure that you stick to your budget and not to point fingers at your spouse. Knowing where your money is going is the key to successfully tailoring your financial goals.