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What You Need to Know About Budget Talks With Your Spouse

Jan 31, 2017 - Posted by: Kelly Fleiner

 

 My husband and I recently sat down to try and get the chaos out of our finances and get a handle on excess spending so that we can save for our future. Unfortunately, that is often easier said than done. I mean, how do you bring two people together with completely different spending habits and have a meaningful budget talk? After that, how do you go about managing that budget and keeping each other accountable?

Have The Conversation, Even If It Is Tough

The budget conversation is an important one to have, even if it has you wanting to dodge some tough issues.  Getting your finances in check can cause a lot of stress, both in terms of cutting yourself off from the things that you like as well as the stress of having to day-in-day-out, keep an eye on how the finances are going (for both of you). You might feel like your spouse is watching every little dime you're spending or vice versa. Give each other a little understanding and some wiggle room so that there is less pressure on both of you to be watching every transaction logged on your accounts.

You Have to Be Honest

Do not beat around the bush, do not hold things back, just do as much as you can to make sure that each of you know everything about each other's finances. You should also be nice to each other while discussing your finances.  Money causes all kinds of emotions, so keep a cool head.  It is easy to blame your significant other for overspending or spending money on things you do not think are necessary, so define “necessary” as a team.  This way you have a clear expectation going forward. Contrary to popular belief, overspending is not the only financial problem a family can face - they can also be under spending. Maybe you would get more long-term value out of purchases by spending a little more. It's important to evaluate purchases and make that decision together.

Is This a Problem Or Just a Gray Area?

Define the issues with your significant other so you are both clear on the expected outcome.  Do not hide your fears when you are trying to have budget talks; if you are worried about the finances you should tell your significant other. You cannot solve the problem by keeping it to yourself. If you create a budget together and are not completely clear on the expectations for each other, your significant other may continue the same spending habits. Being clear with your significant other is the only way to get your finances under control together.

Who Is The Decision Maker?

Do you make most of the financial decisions or does your significant other?  Make sure your concerns are not based on an unrealistic idea of who is in charge of what.  For example, my husband and I split all of our joint bills 50/50 and are individually responsible for our car payments. We do not expect the other to pick up our slack on a bill and we have a clear definition of the amount of money that is going into our joint account every month. I do find that we experience less stress by keeping our money separate. We do share a joint account, but it is only for the joint bills. We have some freedom with our money in our checking accounts which is our preference. It's important for each one of us to feel like an equal contributor regardless of income. What balance means for your own personal situation might be different, but it's important that both partners feel like they are contributing. 

Do Not Be Afraid to Share

You made a life together, therefore you are going to have to share it together. A budget created by the two of you will open the conversation to a happier more fulfilling financial life. Talk with your significant other about what their goals are, what your goals are, and what you would like to achieve together.  Your budget can help make those dreams a reality. 

Do Not Stop Trying

The one biggest roadblock that I see when couples try to fix their financial situation and create a budget is that they become complacent about it. Sure, they start out fine in the beginning. They share, they are honest, they are not afraid to have that tough conversation, and they treat one another as if they were adults (because they are!). As difficult as it may be to push through all of these challenges, it is easier to forget about them. You may find yourself once again engaging in dishonesty with your significant other about your finances and expenditures. You may find yourself impulse buying things that you do not need. Heck, you may even find yourself cutting corners more than you need to. And the worst result of making this effort is to give up and betray your significant other's trust.

If you truly want to make some financial headway a strong plan is necessary. So even if you are afraid that you will come off as harping or nagging or nitpicking at every little thing they do, just remember to be patient with your partner and work with on your financial goals.  each other

Are you feeling like you have a few good tips before talking budget with your partner? Good! We've got a budget worksheet that can help you set your financial goals together. Click the link below to download.  

Fix Your Finances Download Our Free Budget Worksheet

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