Creating a Budget as a Couple

April 14, 2022

Budgets as a couple can be complicated. When two people with different backgrounds and experiences combine their lives and finances, it’s normal for them to have different ideas about the best way to budget. One of the most effective things you can do as a couple to make sure money issues don’t take over your marriage is to create a budget together.

Identify Family Needs

The first step to creating a budget as a couple is to determine what your household expenses are. Things like rent or house payments, buying groceries, and paying for utilities involve both of you. Calculate what your current expenses are, and then talk with each other. See if there are areas you think could be adjusted. It’s important to work as a team on managing joint expenses like these, and to share resources to pay for things that are necessary to keep your household functioning. 

Identify Individual Needs

Once you’ve figured out the needs of the whole household, it’s time to take a look at the individual needs. It’s important to keep an open mind during this step, as every person is unique. The things that are important to your spouse, like a gym membership or monthly trips to the salon, may seem insignificant to you. The important thing is to be understanding of one another’s needs and wants. Depending on your situation, you may want to talk about these things together. Or you may decide to set aside a weekly or monthly allowance for each individual. With the understanding that they can spend that amount on whatever they want.

Set Goals

Any good budget should include financial goals. As a couple, decide what your long-term goals are. These might include having a specific amount of money in your savings account. Or buying a home, paying off debts, or setting aside a portion of your income for retirement. Goals can also include “fun stuff,” like going on a vacation, taking a cruise, or buying an RV. Talk about what you want your future together to look like, prioritize your goals, and make a plan to reach them. Having goals can help both of you stay motivated to stick to a budget, and strengthen your relationship as a couple as you work together toward something you both want. 

Set and Maintain Ground Rules

When discussing finances, it’s easy to get into ‘business mode’ and to stop treating your partner like a ‘relationship partner’. Talk ahead of time about what the ground rules should be. Consider things like: Use ‘I’ statements, maintain respectful communication, active listening and other techniques that overtly demonstrate mutual respect. 

Creating a budget as a couple can bring long-term benefits for your family. Working together to manage your resources wisely can help you to be financially secure now and to look forward to a bright financial future. Since finances are the number one thing couples argue about, practicing both fiscal and relationship responsibility can pay big dividends. 

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