One of the most important things you can do for your relationship is to plan and budget with your partner. Being on the same page as your future spouse when it comes to your finances is key to building a foundation of trust around money and helps to ensure a strong financial future. One of the best ways to get honest and clear about priorities and money is with your wedding plans – so start having those money discussions right away!
When you're entering into a marriage with someone, money can be a big source of stress and worry, that's why budgeting with your partner is so important for your wedding and your life!
Married or not, it’s wise to budget with your partner or spouse. Fewer surprises mean fewer fights…and more money at the end of the month for the different indulgences you each value.
In a world where we broadcast our major life events on Facebook, real, genuine face-to-face communication is increasingly hard to come by.And when most of our communication takes place via text, it’s not easy to understand a person’s feelings about a subject or even get your point across.
Money is one of those topics that just isn’t suited for Facebook or for texting.
Sure, you can ask your other half to pick up a bottle of wine on their way home, but if you’re always short on cash, living paycheck to paycheck, or you just want to have a better handle on your finances, it’s time to start talking about the price of the wine (and everything else) by sitting down and budgeting.
Now, your other half might grumble at the idea of making a budget together. After all, what’s the fun in that? Well, I’m here to argue that budgeting with your partner can actually be a great relationship-building activity.
Want to try planning a budget with your partner? Here’s how to convince your honey to join:
Make it a date
I know that having a nice romantic dinner and a movie might seem like a better date than sitting down and crunching numbers; however, you would be surprised at how accomplished you feel after a budgeting date.
You know that small voice in your head that thinks you should track your spending better, or get out of debt, or maybe start saving for retirement? Well, now you can conquer those doubts head-on with a budgeting date with your other half. Together, you can answer these questions and decide how to allocate your money.
What’s important is changing your mindset on what “budgeting” really is: For better or for worse, finances define almost ever part of our lives. If you plan your finances together, you’re helping to build a life together. Just like cooking and cleaning, budgeting can either be a chore or a shared challenge that brings you closer to your partner. Make it the latter, and you’ll strengthen your relationship and your finances. What better activity for a date with your other half?
Once you’ve finished your finance date, you’ll have a clear plan that you can work on together. Best of all, you have someone built into your life who can help you reach your goals on a daily basis.
Attract, not attack
When you finally sit down and get into the nitty-gritty of budgeting, it can be very easy to point fingers. It’s common to have a spender and a saver in a relationship. After all, opposites attract. However, this doesn’t have to be your downfall.
Instead, use it as a learning opportunity. I’m far more frugal than my husband: he encourages me to live a little, while I remind him that his bow tie collection is already quite full, thank you very much. We balance each other out, and we try to use that to our advantage when budgeting together.
Budgeting meetings should be about communication and mutual love, not attacking. If you finally convince your other half to sit down and budget with you, they likely won’t repeat the experience if they have to answer questions about every purchase and financial decision they made.
Don’t forget that personal spending habits can be a sensitive subject, especially if it feels like the things we love are being threatened. Reassure your partner that you’re in this together, and that no one is being punished. Keep thinking of it like climbing a mountain: It won’t always be easy, and some parts will be steeper than others. But if you help each other out, you’ll get to the top together and you’ll feel closer and more accomplished than before.
Build in rewards
Although there are some people who can go long periods of time without any sort of budget break or reward, most of us need positive reinforcement to help us get through challenges.
I personally love getting my nails done. There’s just something about typing on the computer for 30+ hours a week that makes me want to have shiny, pretty nails. These, of course, come at a cost, and I have to budget properly in other areas in order to reward myself.
Cut back where you can, but not so much that it’s not sustainable. If you cut out everything you both love, you’ll never stick to the budget at all. The goal is to save for your life together, so make sure to focus on your hopes for the future while still enjoying life in the present. Remember, sometimes when you cut back on the things you love, you enjoy them even more when you get to indulge.
Enjoy shared goals
When you budget together, think of it as sharing a mutual project rather than enduring a shared prison sentence. Budgeting can definitely be challenging. I know because I’ve gone through periods where I’ve budgeted perfectly for months only to fall off the wagon and not budget at all for a period of time.
What I’ve learned, though, is that when it comes to finances, someone to keep you accountable is one way to guarantee success. Plus, if you have shared finances, working together on a budget can help eliminate some of those money arguments that pop up and make life together more challenging and downright unpleasant.
Promising to work together as a team (and not opposing counsel) will certainly help you to encourage your other half to budget with you. Keep it fun and remember that you’re doing this to realize shared goals, not to punish or criticize. If you can do all this, you can change budgeting from a chore to an activity that strengthens your relationship at the same time as it strengthens your finances. Once you do, you’ll actually be surprised at how much you enjoy sitting down and working on it together.
Do you budget with your other half regularly?
This piece first appeared on Money Under 30.