Budgeting can be a difficult subject for couples, particularly for those who had very different upbringings or don’t treat money the same. In fact, there are situations where one partner is super frugal while the other is more free-spirited and spends freely. As such, you might be wondering how to create a budget you can both agree on.
Regardless of your views on money and how it should be managed, one thing’s for sure: it’s better to be in agreement with regards to budgeting to avoid conflict. And, to help you out, here’s a step-by-step guide to creating and sticking to a budget you and your partner can agree on.
Step 1: Set aside time to create your budget.
Budgeting on the fly won’t work if you’re serious about creating a realistic and effective spending plan for the household. You’ll need to set aside a time, even if it’s an hour or so, to get on the same page and create a budget together. Pick a time when both of you will be relatively relaxed and not easily distracted.
And, if you really want to set the tone for a relaxing mood, have a bottle of your favorite wine and a few tasty treats on hand. That usually helps to keep the mood light and friendly.
Step 2: Start with a candid discussion about money values.
If there’s any discord between the two of you about budgeting, chances are you don’t share the same money values. Maybe one partner inherited a poverty mindset from their childhood and the other spends too much because they believe there will always be an abundance of money.
If you’re on a completely different page from your partner, it’ll be a challenge to budget together. However, you can always work towards finding a middle ground that is ideal for both parties.
Step 3: Set financial goals for the household.
Budgeting solely for the sake of paying bills and getting by each month is draining. However, if you set financial goals, your efforts won’t be in vain, and you’ll have something to look forward to. It’s not enough to put household goals on the table. You should also include some of you and your partner’s personal goals.
Step 4: Jot down expenses.
Before you begin compiling a list, take a look at your expenses for the past month. Are they far more or less than you expected? This is an integral part of the budgeting process.
Once you have concrete numbers, classify expenses by needs, followed by wants. This makes it easy to adjust if you have more bills than available cash.
Also, be sure to include your monthly saving targets and any other financial goals in this list. Otherwise, they won’t be a priority, and there’s a chance you won’t check the goals off your list anytime soon.
Step 5: Factor in income.
Any income that will be used to cover expenses listed in the household budget should be accounted for. This includes earnings from your employer, self-employment income, and side hustle income. But be sure to use the amount that’s guaranteed when creating the household budget.
To illustrate, if your earnings from work fluctuate due to commissions or bonuses, use the minimum amount to compare your expenses. And the excess amount can be put away in a savings account for emergencies or to smooth out earnings in slower months.
Step 6: Make the necessary adjustments.
Do you have more expenses than income in the household budget? Make adjustments to your expenses that are wants to make your budget work. You might be surprised at how many expenses you cut once you realize how But, if you’re in the red by a hefty amount, both partners should be willing to relinquish certain luxuries until more income starts to come in.
What if there’s money left over? That shouldn’t be a free pass for either party to spend away. Instead, work together to come up with a plan of action for disposable income. Perhaps you want to take a much-needed vacation, and the funds should be socked away for that? Or maybe you could use the extra cash to meet a financial goal a bit faster?
It’s up to you two, but what’s most important is that you’re both on the same page.
Bonus Tip: Make the new journey exciting!
Budgeting with your partner can be challenging at times, so why not plan for small (or big) rewards for when you reach huge milestones? That way, you’ll both be excited to embark on this new budgeting journey. And when the going gets tough, you’ll be less inclined to quit as you’ll have an end goal in mind.
The Bottom Line
The idea is to create a budget with your partner that is flexible. It should also consider both of your needs and wants. So, do whatever it takes to make it work. If that’s creating a small allowance that each person can spend freely, go for it. What matters most is that both partners are on one accord, and one isn’t doing what they please while the other is working their butt off to stay on track.
Lastly, don’t forget to have monthly or biweekly meetings to maintain your budget. It’ll take some getting used to in the beginning. But as the days, weeks, and months pass, you’ll become acclimated, and budgeting with your partner will be a breeze.