For me, budgeting is about stewardship. It's about being responsible with the resources we've been given and ultimately leveraging them to for eternal things.
Budgeting is also about protecting our marriage. There have been countless studies showing that one of the most common fights between couples are about money and frankly, we're not interested in being a part of that statistic. This doesn't mean that we always automatically agree, but it does mean that we're guided by the same set of values and core beliefs and we set our budget around that.
When the series went live, I had several people write to me that shared my opinions, many offering tips and ideas of their own, and others ask me "how do I get my spouse on board with this?" or, "My husband is a big spender and I'm not" And so I'd like to write a follow up to the budgeting series. Today I want to share some tips on talking to your spouse about finances. Because you have to talk about it.
1. Set goals together. How you spend your money reveals a lot about the things that you value. When you create a budget together, you're having a much bigger conversation than "how much money can we spend?" How you allocate funds speaks to what you think is important. Maybe that's giving, or retirement, or maintaining a vibrant social life. You'll naturally want to allocate more money towards the things you care the most about. And because of this, it's important to establish your financial goals together. Hubs and I keep our goals written out for the short term (within 3 months), medium term (6 months) and longer term (1+years). Our list has everything on it from "plant new grass in front yard" to "have $X put away for retirement". Setting these goals together helps both of us stay on track in the other areas of our budget. We have a clear vision for what we'd like our money to accomplish and we are better equipped to work together toward the same end.
2. Know and discuss your own spending habits. Oh, this one is important. Self awareness goes a long way. Men and women are different. Hubs and I have different preferences and habits and thank goodness for that. I'm way more likely, for example, to grab a frozen coffee (even though I know they are overpriced...) or a new pair of shoes because they're on a great deal, and just because. Hubs is more calculated. He likes to go months without spending very much, and then get a really awesome thing, like a weekend trip with the guys. Knowing this ahead of time is also helpful. Even though hubs doesn't see much value at all in my Starbucks, he never criticizes me for buying it. And when he spends his entire month's fun budget in a weekend, I'm not getting made about it. (Our budget includes lines for both of us to have discretionary "fun" money each month.) We both know our budget and are free to exercise our own discretion about how we spend it.
3. Don't keep secrets. And lastly, I think this one is THE. MOST. IMPORTANT. So important. Don't keep secrets. It's important that you both know where your money is going. From a practical standpoint, it's important that you both know how your finances are managed. But equally important, it's necessary that you be transparent about your money with one another to maintain trust with one another. I think it's totally fine to disagree sometimes. And frankly, I think it's very likely that you will disagree sometimes. But I don't think it's very wise to just decide to make important decisions without seeking input from your spouse. We're trying to protect our marriage from money fights, remember? And because money can often be such a touchy subject, if we lose trust in this area of our lives, that is very likely to trickle down into other areas of our marriage as well. What if your spouse just "doesn't get it?" "He just won't get on board." Be patient. Be transparent. You don't both have to be super excited to budget. And it's okay if one of you takes on the primary responsibility of maintaining the budget. But whatever you decide, you can't do it behind your spouse's back.
And that's all I have to say about that. What are your tips for talking about money with your spouse?