Creating a budget is a critical step toward your financial goals, but it’s especially relevant for couples who are having trouble managing their money. Budgeting as a couple involves a variety of challenges that single people don’t have to worry about.
This article will cover some of the most effective ways to manage their budgets and keep track of their money each month. Keep in mind that consistent, gradual changes are more likely to succeed over time than immediate transformations—don’t expect to completely change your money mindset overnight.
→ Related reading: How to Create a Budget That Works
1. Develop Common Goals
Most financial experts recommend working toward long-term financial goals, and couples need to come up with a set of shared goals that keeps them both motivated to stick to their budget. Your goals could be anything from early retirement to buying your own home or starting a family together.
Without common goals, it’s difficult to stay committed to your spending targets and hold each other accountable for saving more money. It’s also impossible to determine whether you’re succeeding if you don’t have a measurable goal.
Let’s say you want to take a trip twelve months from now that will cost $3,000. You’ll reach this goal in one year’s time if you save $250 per month. With a clear goal of $250, it’s easy to identify how much you need to cut back spending and identify your successes and failures. This is a great starting point for your new budget and helps you feel like you’re making progress toward a larger goal every time you save money. To reach your goal you could get rid of cable, switch to a cheaper wireless provider, reduce grocery expenses, eat fewer meals at restaurants, or take advantage of stay-at-home date ideas rather than going out for an expensive evening.
2. Compromise Individual Needs
Once you’ve identified common goals, it’s time to start looking for ways to adjust your individual spending and saving habits. Both sides need to be willing to compromise some of their desires in order to reach their mutual targets.
Couples often disagree about which things they can do without, so it’s critical to respect your partner’s needs and understand that they want to spend money on certain things that you don’t think are important. If you pool your earnings together, consider giving each person an allowance so that they can spend money as they see fit without having to explain purchases to the other side.
On the other hand, keeping your money separate doesn’t mean you shouldn’t discuss your finances openly. It’s crucial for each side of a relationship to hold the other accountable and help them adjust their habits to improve the couple’s financial future. Make sure to keep these conversations positive and supportive rather than letting them devolve into a fight about money.
3. Reevaluate Your Progress
Starting a new budget can be exciting, but things sometimes get more difficult after this initial feeling wears off. It’s tough to stay consistently motivated every month, and it’s easy to fall back into your old spending habits if you lose sight of your goals.
With that in mind, it’s critical to consistently meet with your partner in order to review your recent statements and talk about upcoming financial obligations. These meetings put you on the same page and prevent small issues from going unaddressed and becoming major problems.
While you might need to talk more frequently over the first few weeks, you should be able to meet just once per week to discuss any recent changes. The most important thing is to find an approach that you’re both comfortable with and that aligns with your common financial goals.
4. Track Expenses Together
There’s nothing wrong with monitoring your spending separately and then talking about your progress during budget meetings, but some couples find it easier to track their spending in one app so that they’re always aware of the latest changes. You can connect your bank accounts to a shared account using most budgeting services.