When you're married, budgeting becomes a lot more complicated because both spouses have to get on the same page. Otherwise, you set yourself up for a busted budget and money fights if either partner exceeds spending limits they feel forced into.
The good news is that there are ways you can persuade your significant other, even if they're reluctant to budget. Just try these five steps.
1. Schedule a time to set up your budget
It takes time to work through the numbers and come to a consensus on how you're going to allocate your income and what spending limits to set. And this is something you need to do together. You don't want to just spring a big money discussion on your partner out of the blue. Set up a time when you can both come prepared so you won't be rushed and you'll both be ready to calmly talk things through.
2. Determine what you're currently spending
Making a budget is hard without knowing where you're starting from -- especially when you have two different people doing the spending. You should both track your spending for around 30 days before you make your budget so you'll know where your money is going. Consider using the same money management app on your phones, which can make budgeting seamless.
Understanding your current outflows enables you to make a realistic plan for what you can cut, rather than just a wish list that neither of you can stick to.
3. Focus on setting shared goals
Often, budgeting doesn't sound like fun because it requires sacrifice. So it can be hard to get a reluctant partner on board with setting spending limits. But the reality is that budgeting enables you to accomplish exciting things, such as saving for early retirement or affording to buy a home. If you and your partner can get on the same page about your joint goals, you'll be able to figure out how much you need to save to accomplish them. These priorities can form the basis of your budget.
4. Compromise on spending cuts
Once you know how much money you'll need to save to accomplish objectives you both agree on, all that's left to do is to cut down your spending so you have enough income to hit your savings targets.
To make sure your budget works for both of you, you'll each need to give up some things. Neither partner should expect to continue spending while the other person makes all the sacrifices. Instead, you should both identify areas where you're each overspending and establish reasonable limits.
5. Leave each partner some money for fun
If budgets are too restrictive, they are too hard to live on. And if either partner feels they have no freedom to spend money on things they care about, then your budget will inevitably be broken. To make sure this doesn't happen, some fun money should be available for each person to spend -- no questions asked.
It's possible to make a budget you're both happy with
While setting shared spending limits is challenging, these tips can help you make the budgeting process a more positive one so you focus on how budgeting can improve your lives rather than limit them.
When you focus on budgeting to achieve shared goals and you leave each partner some leeway, you set yourself up for success.