Do you hate budgeting? Does fighting commence with your partner every time you try to budget? Studies show that money is one of the main things couples argue about(1). But, with a few easy tips, money can become one of the things that brings you closer together!
1. Understand that people spend money on the things that matter most to them. If your partner is spending too much money on fast food, before you attack their lack of judgement or their skewed priorities, try to understand that food might be really important to them. You might like to spend your money on books or clothes or whatever, but they like to spend money on food. Everyone likes to spend money on the things that are most important to them. And if you can get on a budget, then perhaps you can divvy out a little money for BOTH of you to spend on what you want most.
Understanding this fact is one key to resolving your money fights. Because if you start attacking whatever your partner is spending money on, you are attacking them and what they deem to be important. So be kind when talking about money. Try to understand that your partner has different desires than you. And take a look at the upcoming articles about listening and sharing concerns if you are having trouble coming to a consensus in your budget.
2. Understand that you might be coming from different paradigms or mindsets. A paradigm is how a person views the world. Your partner’s paradigm or mindset about money has been developing for years before you met them. So don’t expect to change their paradigm overnight! But do think about discussing these questions with your partner: Do you have scarcity mindset or abundance mindset about money? How did your parents think about money while you were growing up? What kind of emotions are connected to money in your mind? Answering these questions can reveal a lot about WHY a person acts the way they do.
3. Make a monthly budget together. Sometimes you can prevent fights simply by keeping a monthly budget. Start your budget by just keeping track of your expenses. This will give you knowledge on how much you are spending in each category. Perhaps you wish that your spouse would spend less on electronics or hobbies or clothes. Keeping a budget may fight your battles for you. As you keep track of your expenses for a few months, your spouse might see how much they are spending in a certain area and decide on their own to change their ways.
Furthermore, you might see places where you can trim your spending as well. We humans are pro at noticing where others can improve but can be completely and utterly blind to where we need to improve (see Leadership and Self-Deception). Your key to success is in following a budget together. When you start achieving goals together, then your money will be bringing you closer together as a couple instead of further away.
How do you make sure both partners are on board with a budget?
- Remember that you can’t control your spouse. So don’t try to! Make suggestions – not demands.
- Pick a budgeting format that you both like
- Pick some goals that make you both feel motivated (Like we want to save up for these items!)
But what if we fight over budgeting?
- Make a list of everything you have to pay for.
- Then number them according to priority.
- You will probably both agree with the top 50%
- For the rest of the stuff, practice the listening and talking and conflict resolution skills that I have taught in other articles.
A budget once established should probably only take 15-30 minutes a week. That is hardly any time. So no one can really say that they don’t have time to budget. If you don’t have a good easy way to budget, check out everydollar.com, mint.com, or this spreadsheet that my husband made.
Ian Allen’s spreadsheet budget
This budget is perfect for those who swipe cards on most of their purchases. With this budget, you simply copy and paste your downloaded transactions from your bank account, categorize the purchases, and then the template adds them up for you. Easy! It makes your budget session last about 15 minutes each week.
Here is the budget template:
Here is a video explaining how you use the budget template:
As Ian describes in the video, you make a copy of the template and save the copy in your google drive. That way, only you have access to the file. Ian offers this template in google sheets – which is free for everybody.
Why should you love to budget?
For me, I love to budget because it gives me two great things: MORE freedom and MUCH MORE enjoyment of my money.
If you budget every month and review it every week, you have power. You know exactly how much money your family needs to live on every month, so you have more freedom. You can do crazy things if you want to. One spouse can decide to switch jobs to something more enjoyable because they know they have an emergency fund of 6 months savings in which to live on while they switch. If you know exactly what your family spends each month, then you can go on vacations with a clear conscience – knowing you have saved up for it. You can spend money WITHOUT feeling guilty and WITHOUT having to make excuses to your spouse if you both decided on it beforehand.
If your budget has a little wiggle room, you can even have a little category for “Husband Personal” and “Wife Personal”. The agreed-on sum of money in these categories is for the husband or wife to spend on whatever they want, without having to defend themselves on the wisdom of their purchases.
In sum, budgeting gets you to where you want to be. It helps you reach goals. So start budgeting and start to build wealth!
(1) Hill, E. J., Allsop, D. B., LeBaron, A. B., & Bean, R. A. (2017). How do money, sex, and stress influence marital instability?. Journal Of Financial Therapy, 8(1), doi:10.4148/1944-9771.