Let’s face it. We are all busy! Some more than others and it can vary day to day. But being “busy” isn’t a good enough excuse to not talk about your household budget with your partner. After all, if we want to live our best lives, and have our happiest households, then we simply must have our finances in order.
As a couple, communication is one of the most important tools in your toolbox. This is certainly no different with regards to your budget.
After all, finances are one of the leading causes of relationship failure. Couples that argue about money weekly, have a 30% higher chance of divorce than other couples. That is a pretty good chunk of the married population!
Most studies don’t include couples that are cohabitating, but not married. While those cohabitating couples may not end in divorce, they can still end in a split. So I am confident that the percentage is actually higher than that, if we are discussing couples dissolving due to money arguments.
Just this statistic alone should remind us all how important it is to communicate effectively with our partners and be open to discussing finances. There doesn’t have to be shame surrounding financial discussions. In fact, I have found that the more regular our financial discussions, the stronger our bond and the better our overall situation is.
Weekly Budget Meeting
Therefore, for a lot of couples (us included) having a weekly budget meeting/discussion helps keep everything on track.
As fast paced as all of our lives have become, it is very easy to get off track and not even realize it. But if we schedule a weekly budget meeting to discuss everything that is going on with us financially, we have found that really helps keep us on track. We regularly discuss things, such as:
- Food and drink budget spent so far
- What food and drinks will need to be purchased in the next week or two, depending on what is on the calendar?
- Household budget spent so far
- Do we need to purchase any items for the household (this includes incidentals, like toilet paper and toothpaste)?
- Do the kids have any school related items that we need to budget for in the next two weeks?
- Is there anything out of the ordinary that needs to be taken care of with our cars (such as oil changes, tire rotations, property taxes, registrations, etc.)?
- Do we have any luxury plans scheduled for the upcoming week that we need to allot funds for?
- How much can we put into our Emergency Fund that week?
- Do we have any money to put into our Travel Fund that week?
- What are the current balances of our Emergency Fund and Travel Fund?
- Do we have enough in our checking accounts to cover the automatic bill withdrawals that will be coming out that week?
- What is the balance on our credit card?
- Is everything that has been put on the credit card accounted for in our budget spreadsheet?
This may seem like a lot of things to discuss every single week, but it really does go pretty fast once you get the hang of it. Making a weekly budget meeting part of your routine doesn’t have to take more than 15 – 30 minutes a week, ultimately. We like to have ours on a Sunday morning while we are having breakfast. Sometimes, we get crazy and even pair it with a Bloody Mary for extra fun!
Having a weekly budget meeting helps to keep us, and other couples, on track throughout the month. But, ultimately you want to have a bigger monthly review also.
Some items we discuss for our monthly review are a bit larger, as opposed to being broken down further, like our weekly meetings. During this review, we want to look at the bigger picture of how we did overall last month, and if there are some places we need to tweak for the upcoming month. These topics are things like:
- Did we come in under budget in all categories?
- If no, which ones were the problem children and were there random outliers as to why?
- If coming in over budget is a common theme in specific categories, what are our action plans to remedy this situation?
- What was our overall income and expenses?
- Graph the income and expense totals so that we have a visual of what our overall theme looks like.
- Were we in the Black or the Red for the month?
- If we were in the Red, then what happened and how do we correct this next month to get back on track?
- Are we on track with where we want our Emergency and Travel Funds to be?
- How much extra can we feasibly throw at paying off the car or the house next month?
- Are there any big purchases that will be coming up next month that we need to account for in the budget and adjust?
- Check our overall net worth on Personal Capital to see where we are at now versus last month.
Communication for the Win
We all want our relationships to not only survive but thrive. And the same can be said for our finances. Therefore, we have to ensure that we have open, clear and regular communication about our finances and our budget.
This means making sure we are on the same page with where we are at and where we want to go. It also means discussing these things, and all of the smaller minutiae that embody this, on a weekly basis. Next, add in a larger monthly budget review to go over the larger items. This contains the overall scope of what happened last month and the plan for the upcoming month.
If having to make the time to have these regular conversations seems difficult at first, just remember that habits generally take an average of 66 days to gel. So don’t be hard on yourself, or your spouse, if this is difficult at first. It will begin to feel natural and can greatly increase your bond with your spouse, as well as the health of your finances. Budget meetings can even end up being a lot of fun, with the addition of a Bloody Mary!
How often have you found it best to discuss the budget with your spouse for maximum effectiveness?