Throughout the past two and a half years of marriage, I’ve primarily managed the money in our household. Time and time again, I would try and get my husband involved but it just led to bouts of despair, heavy sighs and finally one of us walking away in frustration. It led me to wonder: How do you create a budget with your spouse and stay married?
For the past three to four months, we’ve actually been budgeting together, and it’s been working! We changed the way we handle the budget and this is what’s worked for us.
Start with a Clean Slate
We began a new approach to the way we budget. We swiped clean what we had been doing, since what we had been doing obviously wasn’t working. And we started fresh. We created a budget from scratch that suited both our needs and both our wants. Starting over meant we both got to have input into how our money is spent.
There were many times during our budgeting process that we would start to feel our temperatures rise and our cheeks flush. It was important to keep our emotions in check. It helped to plan our budget with a glass of wine to calm the nerves. And it also required a lot of understanding. A long-standing sore subject in our marriage is the amount of money he spends on food. I pack my lunch every day, whereas he is forced to pay for lunch and dinner every day per firehouse rules. It’s not his fault it’s a requirement. But it puts a big dent on our budget.
Allow Fun Money
We both came to the agreement of Fun or Free Money–money that can be spent any way we please and the other partner can’t say anything about it. If I want to go to happy hour with friends, I use my fun money. If Eric wants to spend his money on fast food even though we have perfectly good organic food at home, he’s free to do so and I can’t say anything about it–not one little thing. Obviously I’m not bitter about his choices, right? Of course.
We each have our own duties now when it comes to the budget. I budget the day to day in a notebook, and every week or two, we get together and my husband manages the monthly and yearly budget in our Excel Spreadsheet, making sure we’re on track. Having him in charge of the spreadsheet means he feels included in the process, rather than before when I would simply spew the numbers at him.
Remember your goals
We always like to set financial goals for ourselves. It helps us stay on track in those moments where we’re fed up of being frugal and really just want to splurge. Because of sacrifices we’ve made, we’ve been able to stick to a good portion of our financial goals, such as paying off credit card debt, contributing to our 401Ks, and paying off student loans.
Money is often cited as one of the number reasons for divorce. Don’t let finances ruin your relationship. Remember that you were both put on the same team to win. It’s not a contest or a his vs. hers. As they say, keep calm and carry on.