Establishing a budget sounds simple enough. Once you pay your bills and if you have a little extra money, you either splurge or save. However, when it comes down to producing a budget with your spouse, challenges arise. You have a set budget in mind while your spouse has another. The challenge lies in combining both budgets to work effectively.
When I married my husband, I had my own budget — spending more than I could afford. I was used to my own budget style. After realizing our budgets were heading in two different directions, my husband called for a meeting. I wasn’t pleased at first. But, after a few months, I adjusted well to our new budget. Of course, we encounter unexpected expenses along the way, but we manage to figure it out without hurting what we originally discussed.
Budgeting with your spouse does not mean one person is controlling the other person’s money. It does not mean you cannot indulge in personal items. It’s simply organizing your numbers and understanding what you can and cannot afford.
Here are a few tips on conducting a carefree budget meeting with your spouse:
Set a day for the budget meeting
. Sometimes setting a meeting after a long day of work is not wise. You both are tired and your minds are not focused on numbers. There are also chores to perform and homework with the kids. Perhaps set the meeting on a day off or for the weekend before you start your usual routine.
Discuss the budget
. At this time, bring forward all bills such as the household bills, credit card bills, expenses pertaining to the children and personal bills. Lay out all the details and come to a consensus of who will pay what and how much each person will contribute. When it comes to household bills and the children’s expenses, strive to equal it out. One person shouldn’t feel the entire burden.
Keep track of your budget
. If you choose not to invest in a professional software such as Quickbooks or Peachtree, try using Excel as a budget tracking device. Your budget excel sheet should read everything from your earnings to your expenditures to what remains for savings or spending. This will help you and your spouse understand where the monies are going and avoid being late with any bills or not having money at all. If you are a couple that works paycheck to paycheck, a monthly budget meeting is sensible.
Save or spend
. After the budget is established and you both agree on it, you can either spend or save your share of the monies remaining. If you decide to save what is left over, then that money can come in handy when unexpected expenses emerge.
There’s an uneasy feeling when you first create a budget with your spouse, especially if you are accustom to budgeting alone. However, once a budget with your spouse is created, agreed upon and maintained, it will feel natural. Budgeting only puts your finances in order and helps you avoid spending more than you can afford.
Mayra Colón is a freelance writer, former independent author and avid reader. She holds a MBA from the University of Phoenix and completed the Freelance Writing and Selling Online course from Rutgers University of Arts and Sciences.