I don’t know about you, but we are always trying to do better with our finances. One of the best ways we’ve found to do this is by creating a budget together. And having a weekly budget meeting where we discuss every aspect of our budget helps keep us on track and speaking the same financial language. Just these few things have really helped us in our financial journey towards getting out of debt and, hopefully, retiring early.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that we always see eye to eye on everything in our budget. Therefore, here are 4 ways to create a budget without a fight.
#1. DETERMINing YOUR WHY
Determining the main underlying reason why you both want to create a budget is extremely important. While you and your spouse may not be on the same page regarding every aspect of finances, discussing your main reason WHY can really help get you more in sync. Ultimately, if you don’t have a strong reason to create a budget in the first place, then there really isn’t any point in doing so. And it may just cause undue stress on your relationship instead.
When it comes to most common reasons why couples choose to begin a budget, here they are:
- Debt pay off
- Build an emergency fund
- Save to retire early
- Fund travel
- Home improvements
- Purchase a house
- Grow a family
While you and your spouse’s WHY may not fit into these categories, it really doesn’t matter what it is. As long as you both have on and discuss it in depth. You and your partner’s WHY will become your driving force to not only create a budget, but stick to it.
#2. CREATe THE VISION
Once you have determined both of your WHY‘s, then it’s time to discuss the best action plan to get to each of your goals. This can be both together, as a couple, and also separately. After all, you can’t do everything together all the time!
At this point, some great questions to pose are:
- What is the ideal timeline for both of your goals to be reached?
- How much do you both ideally want to save each month?
- How much can you actually save a month with your current income?
- Where are areas that you feel you both can cut back on?
- What areas does your partner think you can both cut back on?
These questions are great jumping off points to create your budget because they are setting the foundation for all future budgetary discussions and goals.
#3. BUDGET CATEGORIES
The next step in this process is setting up the budget categories. Categories really help you see, on a monthly basis, what you are ACTUALLY spending on things, as opposed to what you THINK you are spending. Most of the time, what we think we are spending on things ends up being completely different than what we are actually spending. Therefore, this is a very important piece to any budget.
The categories I suggest to start with are:
- Recurring Expenses
These are the basic categories that we use, personally. However, if you want to break them down further to really dig into what you are spending on every little thing, then I highly suggest that also.
#4. BUDGET COMPROMISE
Once the budget categories are set up, then it’s time to determine how much of your income goes into which category. This can actually be the most difficult part of the whole process because it’s the most in depth. And due to this, it can create the most friction among couples. So going into it with an open mind and patience is really key to making your household budget a success.
The first year you do this can be the most difficult because you don’t have as much past data to pull from. While part of it is a guessing game, most of the big categories can be fairly easy to determine. These categories usually include:
- Recurring Expenses
Once you have these categories figured out, you’ll need to take what’s left of your income and and divvy it up among the remaining categories. This can be much easier said than done though!
You and your partner should discuss how each of you thinks the remaining dollars should be appropriated. And this is where disagreements can come into play. So talk through each category calmly and in as much depth as possible to come to the best budgetary compromise on spending.
Create a BUDGET without a fight summary
My partner and I may not be on the same page with everything all the time (and who is, really?). However, we both respect each other’s point of view. We also both want to be financially independent by the time our youngest leaves the house, so we have a major goal.
Therefore, we talk weekly about our budget and change things accordingly when we feel like we are off track, if things change, or if one of us voices a concern. Sometimes, we decide that we want to pivot and reallocate our funds to one category more than another. This works well for us because we communicate well with each other. And we’re always careful to be respectful of each other’s opinions about where we would like to see the budget going.
Ultimately, good clear communication is the most important part when trying to create a budget without a fight.
What are some of the best ways you have found to create a budget without a fight with your partner?