There are many things that can make a marriage go off the rails, but the one thing that will almost always tip it over is money. How to, when to, what to and where to spend it and whether or not to budget it.
Many individuals find budgeting difficult but budgeting as a couple can be a minefield especially when one of you does not like budgeting. Unfortunately having the budget discussion is a must, when managing finances.
To convince the reluctant partner
There is nothing worse in a relationship than having one person spend money frivolously while the other one is always cautious and practical. Talk about it and let them know that you would appreciate their participation and even if you cannot make them do something they do not want to do, it is important to you. And important for your relationship in the long run if you budget together.
Let the person that is loath to budget know that they need to plan. Yes, they hate following a budget because it is not their style, it is too involving or makes them sad or feel they are not managing money or do not earn enough. However, it needs to be done. Keep bringing it up until they get the message. It does not matter if your spouse thinks you are nagging him or her about money all the time but, you must have the conversation. For the simple reason that they need to budget with you otherwise you are going to get frustrated and resentful.
Determine together what the household needs are and what categories should be included in this communal budget and these need to be met before either of you budget in your luxury items. The most obvious being rent, utility bills, groceries, car expenses and any debt repayments.
A communal budget will help you to work together to achieve your goals. And as you work at it, preparing a budget will get easier.
Tackle Things Head On
Sometimes you may think you have a reluctant spouse who does not want to plan, but actually all that may be happening is that they do not feel involved. They feel hijacked. Reassure them that is not the case, by saying it is not the case. And you can begin the conversation by talking about must be included individual needs and wants. Like, gym memberships, haircuts, clothing and other items you may spend different amounts on.
Start with a budget goal for the week to start. At the end of the week sit down and go over your actual bills. And as you go over the bills, ask each other which ones could be lowered or eliminated. Other than going over bills, you can also discuss where you are in working towards your goals. Additionally you can talk about any planned expenses you may have and can adjust your budget as needed.
At the beginning, you may need to have these meetings every week but eventually you can do it just once a month.
Sell Them the Future
And you can only do this if you know their ‘want list’. The long list of things that are out of reach right now and they have been talking about ever since you have known them. They have so many times mentioned wanting to have. Like getting out of debt, having their own business, owning a luxury car or two, buying land and building their dream house. Or travelling around the country or the continent of Africa.
Convince them that they will achieve each item on their wish list if they join you in giving the money direction every month. And the way to do this is steer it away from just being about bill paying and spending and to being a tool for realizing goals and dreams.
A communal budget also helps you to start setting goals together. And as you work together to achieve these goals you will find that the direction and purpose helps to strengthen your marriage.
Combine finances. If your spouse refuses to combine finances, you need to set up a household budget that handles only the household expenses. (Do address as soon as possible, the underlying issues behind choosing not to combine finances).
Be specific with goals. Adding a timeline and amounts, because this will help you stay on track.
Try to come to major decisions together. This includes buying big ticket items, and deciding how to deal with financial pressures from extended family.
Recognize that your needs and wants are different from each other. You may want to set up an allowance for each of you to spend on your wants without being accountable to the other person.
Add an incentive for the both of you at the end of a successful budget month. Like the winner adding a want to the next budget instead of a need.
Make sure you work on building your relationship even if on a budget. You are allowed to add to the budget the category, date nights.
Just married? Take the time now to introduce good financial habits in your marriage.