The idea of budgeting for couples sounds terrifying to most of us. The idea of being able to talk about money and not fight can be sound almost as whimsical as a Disney fairy tale.
At least that is what we thought for the first 25 years or our marriage. Then we found the key to creating a successful home budget that does not include fighting!
If you and your spouse are anything like Rob and me, we will do anything to prevent a fight. This includes completely avoiding all subjects that bring stress to our relationship.
In fact, we avoided talking about money for years.
The side effect of not talking about money was not talking about our future and our dreams. In desperation, we started to apply the following approach to our money talks.
We learned how to talk about money and not fight. (For the most part 😉 )
After being married for 26 years, Rob and I are proof that you can teach old dogs new tricks!
Not only did we learn how to talk about money, we learned how to work together to master our personal budget. By improving our communication we were able to pay off $50,000 worth of debt in six months and start building our wealth.
Budgeting for Couples – Marriage and Money
Since money is how we support our lives and it is connected to all the things we do, it is easy to see how talking about money can be stressful.
MagnifyMoney, a Lending Tree company performed a poll in 2017 of 500 divorced individuals in their Divorce and Debt Survey. Overall, 21% stated that money was the root of their divorce. As the income level went up, the percentage went up as well. For those earning $100,000 or more, 33% indicated money was the reason for their divorce.
When it comes to the struggles of talking about money, know that you are not alone.
Mastering the money talk tricky. The thing is, if you do not talk about money, you will not be able to turn your dreams into realities.
For Rob and I, we had that awe ha moment that we could master this conversation when we heard Dave Ramsey say “Personal finance is 80% behavior and only 20% head knowledge.”
It was that moment that we realized that if we wanted more from our future, we were going to have to change how we looked at the money. We were going to have to accept that money is not the problem and accept that if we managed our money, our world would be full of possibilities rather than problems.
Budgeting for Couples: 4 Steps to Help You Talk About Money and Not Fight
If you are ready to get your finances in order and improve your relationship, then these four steps are sure to help you. For Rob and I, our success started when we started thinking of each other when it came to our personal finances.
Once we started thinking about each other, we started seeing how bright our future could actually be. This is a critical step in creating a budget. If you do not come to terms with why you need a budget, it will end up being a point of contention and resentment.
Budgeting for couples is a complete failure if one of you is viewing the budget as a means to control your spouses spending. To be successful at budgeting, you and your spouse need to see the freedom that budgeting will provide you.
A budget is a way that you and your partner can start funding your dreams. Without a budget, mindless spending takes place. A budget provides you with a purpose!
Step #1 – Don’t Be Afraid to Take the First Step
The first thing you have to realize is that one of you is going to have to take the first step. If you can get in the right mindset this can be you!
Realize that success will require both of you to come together. Remember that you are not perfect! The past failures in your finances must be just that: the past.
If you are to build a stronger relationship that can withstand talking about money, you must realize the role that you play in your relationship when it comes to money.
You are going to have to get over yourself and accept your responsibility so that you can approach the person that you love the most with reverence. Think of all those things that make your relationship strong.
Step #2 – Dream
Now, take a pen and paper and start writing down where you want to be financially and why. Break your list down into the next six months, one year from now, five years from now, and so on.
Allow your self to dream! Is it owning your car outright? Paying off your credit card debt? Having a certain dollar amount in your savings account?
Now is your time to dream.
Make sure that your list includes these key elements…
- Identify your want
- Be specific with your why
- Know when you want to accomplish the dream by
- Pencil out ideas on how you will get there
Guess what, you just made a dream a goal!
Step #3 – Identify How Your Dreams Align With Your Partners
Now that you have lined out all of your dreams and in the process created goals, think about how your goals align with the dreams of your partner.
This may prove to be a bit challenging at first if you have been avoiding talking about money, but you’ll get the hang of it.
Maybe your spouse hates their job yet they stay at that job because it pays the bills. Or maybe it is all of the crazy long workdays that are being put in every week just to keep the household afloat.
The crazy thing is that in all of the money talk avoidance, talks about dreams of the future shine through. The problem is that they do not have an action plan.
Without an action plan, a specific goal, those dreams stay that – dreams!
The reason that you do not have an action plan for your dreams is that you have no clue on how you two can afford to make those dreams a reality.
Think about what you can do to help your partner’s dreams come true and write them down. Follow the same approach you used to keep track of your dreams.
- Identify your spouse wants
- Be specific with why you think they want it
- Identify when they would like to see this dream come true
- Pencil out ideas on what you can do to help their dreams become realities
It is by thinking of your spouse that will help you to get into the right mindset to talk about money.
Step #4 – Oh, the Places You’ll Go
Yes, I just quoted Dr. Seuss in an article about money and marriage.
The thing that you need to start doing, as of right this moment, is start seeing all of the possibilities around you. If you can see the possibilities, you will be able to inspire your partner to dream again too.
This is that moment that all the things that make your relationship work come together in harmony to show you that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
This is the moment that the real work comes into play. It is the moment that you and your partner discuss setting up a budget.
Your budget is your action plan!
By setting up a budget you will identify:
- Your true income
- Your actual expenses
- Areas of wasted money
Once you start to dig in an learn about what your current spending habits with money are, you can start to make small changes that will turn your goals into realities!
Whether it is paying off debt, building your emergency fund, or saving for your future, your budget is that tool that can make that happen.
Creating your first budget together
To help you get started, we have put together a great kit to help you get started. Our free Budget Binder and Goal Planner will help you and your partner set up your first home budget with our goal-oriented worksheets.
It is a fill in the blank system that allows you to start the conversation, print as many worksheets as you need, and develop a budget that you can stick to.