Couples argue about the budget for one reason and one reason only: the budget doesn’t work. Shocking, isn’t it? You already know your budget doesn’t work. What you don’t know is why.
Challenge: Why your budget doesn’t work
Most couples leave little to no wiggle room in the budget for unexpected expenses. Can you think of a single week of your life where everything went as planned? No. So why would you create a budget that is unable to accommodate real life?
Couples mistake the budget for financial communication. Creating a budget is not the same thing as talking about your finances. The budget is useless if you never talk about it.
Fear and guilt get in the way of talking about the budget. You have to talk about your budget, but too many couples end up arguing instead of talking. That leads to a complete breakdown not only in the budget but in your financial relationship.
Solution: Making a budget work for you
Treat your budget like a road map, not a rule book. A budget is a tool, a plan for getting you someplace. Having a budget isn’t the goal. Sticking to the budget isn’t even the goal. Using the budget to help you achieve financial freedom and have the financial future you’ve dreamed of is the goal. So make sure your budget can flex with your life. Make sure it—and you–won’t fall apart with one car repair or broken washing machine.
Create the budget together, talk about the budget together. The key word in that sentence? Together. Both partners have to have buy-in on the budget or it simply won’t work. And buy-in only comes through honest conversations about plans, dreams, values, and behaviors. When it comes to making a budget work, there can’t be a “money person.” You have to determine financial goals together, create a budget together, review your income and spending together, and make adjustments together.
Grace takes the stress out of budgets. Every budget gets broken now and then. So expect it. Prepare for it. And when it happens, move on. Scolding and accusations won’t repair your budget but they will definitely damage your relationship. So extend some grace and understanding to each other.
Discussion: What do we want our lives to look like six months from now? How should we arrange our finances to help us get there?