by Tiffany Davis
I’ve been married for 4 1/2 years now and money was something that took us a long time to figure out. We have tried every budgeting technique under the sun and I can tell you what finally worked for us. I would love to help you fight less with your spouse or partner and really start making some financial progress towards your goals. Here are my tips on how to manage your money stress in your marriage and how finally to agree on a budget:
Have a financial date night. I know it’s not the most exciting thing ever but go out to dinner to some place quiet or sit in your kitchen with snacks and just talk for an hour. Maybe even have something fun after the date to look forward to (because just the sound of a finance talk can lead to a lot of eye rolling, at least with husband). Commit to just an hour, set a timer and then do something relaxing. Pick a date and schedule it on your calendar. In general, doing this every month is a great way to come back and evaluate and recommit to your financial goals as a couple, make sure you are on track, and hold each other accountable. But let’s start with just this one for now.
At your date night, I want you to review What is Your Relationship to Money. Print it off or pull it up on your phone and take turns answering the questions with each other. It can be very insightful to why you spend money the way you do and hopefully make you more understanding of each other’s needs. Then each person should fill out your own Values page and discuss what’s important to you. You might be on totally different pages on certain things but it can help you see what’s important to you. Use this to help you compromise and hopefully you won’t fight so much when it comes to the budget.
Ideally, these exercises have taught you enough to be able make some common goals. I recommend you print off the Financial Goals Worksheet and fill it out so you can refer to it regularly. Keep it in your Financial Information Binder with your budget and other financial papers. The whole point of a budget is to be able to afford the things you really want. Make a few short, midterm and long term goals that you can start putting on your budget. It doesn’t have to be something like take a vacation. It could even just be “Pay off ____ debt in ___ months”. Then put your goals as line items in your budget. Do you want to go to Hawaii? (I do!). But a dream is just a wish without a plan. If Hawaii will cost $2,000, I need to save $166 per month for the next year to get there.
Now we have to make a budget. Paper worked for us for a long time before stuff got complicated.If excel is not your thing, here is a paper budget that works great and there’s even an irregular expenses worksheet to help you plan for things like expenses like car registration, gifts, dr visits, trips, etc. What has worked best for me is this Excel Budget (Here is an example of the excel budget). Use the tabs at the bottom to help you make a budget (aka a plan) and the actuals tabs to help you evaluate at the end of the month. More questions? Just send us an email at email@example.com. When creating that budget, use this budget guideline to help you plan your spending. Another AMAZING budgeting trick we’ve used is to have multiple savings accounts that your bank/credit union can name for you to save for specific things. It’s a great way to separate out your money. This can be very useful to help you track your spending too, especially if you fall into the credit card trap. Don’t forget those monthly date nights to revue the goals and your actual spending.
If paying of debt is a goal for you, check out powerpay.org. It’s free to register and only takes a second, then it will save your information if you want to login in again and adjust it. The Powerpay tab is like the debt snowball. Here is more information on the debt snowball and It’s pretty cool. So I would encourage you to sign up for an account and put all of your debts, interest rates and payments in, then add a monthly extra payment and see how much sooner you can pay off that debt and how much interest you can save.
So this is my best advice for you. Make your goals, set your budget, and review your progress regularly. For more tips on budgeting and money management, go to our website for more resources and to make an appointment.
And just for fun, here is a photo of my husband and I fighting about money (just kidding about the fighting part though because we understand each others values and we compromise).