Before I got married, I had budgeting down to a science. My budgeting system was simple, and I did it mainly on paper. I did use Quicken for a few months right before I got married. I did not have a lot of money or a lot of expenses and so it was easy to stick to the categories and follow through. Once I got married everything changed. Budgeting became more complicated. My husband and I thought differently about money, and we started taking on more expenses that we had not had before we got married.
Money fights can turn really ugly quickly. Often one spouse cares more about the budget and planning for finances than the other. Additionally one spouse generally carries the majority of the burden when it comes to budgeting. Working this way can cause resentment to build up in your marriage. The person who does the budget will be resentful that they are carrying the weight of the financial knowledge by themselves, while the person not doing the budget will become resentful of the spending limits set by the budgeting spouse.
It is so important to get a system that works well for you as a couple. You both need to be involved in the budgeting process, and aware of where your spending limits are. The best way to do this is through budget meetings. You work out a budget together and then set up meetings where you review your progress on the budget each night. If you have mobile software, you can even do this through email. The key is that both partners need to be aware each day of what has been spent in each category.
When you first start the process, your budget meetings will be longer, but as you continue they can be less than five minutes a night. Additionally, you may find that a lot more discussion will happen as you start out, but as you both begin to understand the budget, and agree to it, that the discussions will not be as long. A budget is fluid, meaning you can change the amounts in the categories and the amounts from month to month. Most of your discussion s will be about making the small category changes to cover unexpected expenses.
If you have a spouse that does not want to budget, you need to communicate the importance of working together on the budget. You may need to change your approach to the budgeting conversations. If you come with everything already planned out, your spouse may feel you are dictating everything to him. Some spouses may want you to come up with the majority of the budget and sign off on it. But they do need to follow the spending limits that you have both agreed on. Sometimes you will need to seek outside help to get going on a budget. A budgeting class is a great way to do this. You have a third party that will review your budget, and the class should help you have the discussions you need to in order to master your budget. You can also discuss tricky situations like deal with financial pressure from extended family members.
Money fights can damage your relationship. It is one area where you need to work together from the beginning. If you start out working together, it is easier to continue to do that. It can help reduce the number of fights you have about money, which will benefit your marriage. The challenge this weekend is to sit down and review your budget with your spouse. You should also schedule at least a weekly budget meeting with your spouse. At the meeting you need to agree or sign off on the budget, and then look at the spending in each category to see what you have left. The first meeting will be the longest, since you are coming up with the budget. After that the meetings should be much shorter.