Hopefully you read Part A of this little blog series. In that post I talked about some statistics concerning finances and stress on individuals and on marriage. According to an article on CNBC.com one of the main sources of stress in a marriage is money. The second source are personal annoyances of each other. The article goes on to say that 1 in 5 people in a marriage have hidden a purchase of $500 or more from their spouse! This is the statistic that drove me up a wall! I mean, if my husband purchased something for $500 and didn’t tell me? Phew, I don’t even want to imagine that fight! One minor thing my husband and I do, is that we often do not purchase anything for ourselves or the other that is over $50 without first talking about it. We made that commitment to each other and it has been working so far! For some of you, maybe that little tip is all you really need to hear, so take it and go with it! But please keep reading!
Between my husband and I, I am the one that keeps track and handles the finances. Mostly, because I am super picky and anal about how to keep track of finances, so my husband just lets me do it :). But! I do keep my husband in the loop, as much as possible. If I am pulling up the budget and he’s around, I make sure that he is right there with me, so he knows exactly what’s going on. This is where so many couples struggle, and where fights usually occur. As I said before, money is one of the top reasons why couples argue. So, rather than holding in all those frustrations and waiting to blow up, why not just talk about expenses and money before the fight even occurs? Anyone who has gone to pre-marital counseling knows that basically, the number one rule is to COMMUNICATE! Communication is key, and it will save on so many fights and struggles down the road. Communication, even just about money, will also help to strengthen the bond between you and your significant other.
I am always trying to communicate with my husband about our monthly finances. I tell him what my paychecks are, and how we are looking for the month. I tell him the months we may need to tighten things a bit, and the months when we can splurge a little more (My paychecks vary from month to month, because I work multiple part-time jobs). Since we began keeping better track of our finances and communicating through the times when we have plenty and when we have little, we really do not argue over finances at all! I think back, about all the fights we’ve had, and none of them have been focused around money. Even when we lost our jobs, or have had to cut down our spending on some tight months, we never fought about money. Trust me, we do argue about quite a lot of other things, but finances isn’t one of them.
So first, if you are a couple, then talk to your significant other about who will primarily keep track of the finances and where. (If your single, then simply do these steps for yourself! It’s easier for you, because you don’t have to communicate with anyone!) I do not suggest both making changes and keeping track of the budget, because that could cause for a lot of error, double documenting, or missed documenting! So, I would suggest that one person be the primary recorder.
Another area that is important to consider is whether you or your spouse are savers or spenders. This definitely needs to be communicated, and if one or both of you are spenders, then a lot of communication and support needs to occur in order to stay within your budget! Both my husband and I can be spenders, so one thing that helped us, is we allotted ourselves our own little allowance each month. When we were both working full-time, we were able to allot ourselves $100 each, each month. That was a nice little way to get your shopping fix, without breaking your budget. However, since we have lost our jobs and my husband’s income is our primary income, we have not been able to allot ourselves an individual spending budget. We communicated the issue, and if either of us need or want anything specific, we just talk about! We try to make it work, or if it doesn’t then we move on and just try to keep the communication going. So, if you choose to allot a personal budget, just make sure it’s an amount that will work with your budget!
After you have determined those, you should next have a conversation with your significant other about your goals with keeping track of your budget. Is your goal to pay off debt, start a savings, grow your retirement, or all of the above? Whatever it is, make sure you both are on the same page (especially when it comes to paying off debt). Next, determine how you want to keep track of your finances. This is fully dependent on your individuality and your lifestyle. For my husband and I, we have created a Google Document. We can access it on our phones, our computer, and even when we travel. So for us, this is the most convenient way. My sister on the other hand, has recently gotten into bullet journaling. So, she prefers to keep a hand-written record, in her bullet journal or in a finance tracker or journal of some sort. Whatever you choose, is completely up to you! Just make sure it is something you can easily access, and will be sure to access consistently!
So there you go! My husband and I are not perfect, we fight and we make mistakes. We are with you in the struggle of trying to get out of debt. These posts just offer some insight into how we are trying to battle the debt struggle. Hopefully it gave you some tips and ideas as well! Please comment below some budgeting tips you may have and that work in your relationship. If you have any other questions, or even just want to talk, then please feel free to shoot me an email! Thank you for reading!