Here’s how couples can benefit from budgeting together
Like Arvind and Nisha, money can become a cause of stress between many couples. That’s why it is important to discuss money matters with your partner openly. Follow this advice to avoid these common budgeting mistakes and budget better with your partner.
- Not making time to discuss money
Talking about money with your partner can be an awkward and difficult conversation. But not talking about it can lead to confusion, frustration, and disagreements.
Solution: Discussing money only when there is a major purchase to be made may not be sustainable in the long run. Mutually decide a date and time every month to discuss finances, plan budgets, review your savings and investments, etc. Make it a fun activity; do it over coffee and snacks in a comfortable setting.
Pro tip: Instead of starting with heavier matters like debt and investments, strike up a conversation about financial goals. Always give each other a heads up, so you can give the matter a thought beforehand and have a more productive and honest conversation.
- Not being considerate about your partner’s money values
Your relationship with money has been built over the years, just like your relationship with family and friends. Your value system consists of everything, from whether you order regular or bottled water at a restaurant, to how early you buy an insurance policy, to how much you are comfortable spending on yourself. So, it’s only fair that you and your spouse don’t see eye to eye on everything.
Solution: Understanding your partner better can help you respect their choices. It also helps to lay down some ground rules about what kind of spending you consider as ‘discretionary’ and what you consider ‘essential’. This can make it easier to budget.
Pro tip: Be honest about your weaknesses and talk to your partner about how you can help each other overcome them.
- Not identifying common goals and respecting individual goals
In a family, there are goals that you, as a couple, would have in common – like early retirement, a good education for your children, or a new home in the next ten years. Along with these goals, each of you may also have individual goals that matter to you. For example, you may want a bike in the next three years, and your wife may be planning for a holiday in Bali with her friends. When you decide to share your lives, you must also respect and share the responsibility to fulfil all these goals.
Learn how to teach your kids to manage money here .
- One of you has more control over your family’s finances
In every relationship, there may be one who earns more than the other or is the sole earner. The problem starts when one assumes that higher salaries mean more control over the family’s finances. You will be less likely to value each other’s opinions if both of you are not getting equal control, leading to resentment and discord.
Solution: Whether you earn equal incomes or don’t, decide right in the beginning if you are going to split expenses equally or in a different ratio. Then, create a budget – starting with non-negotiable expenses like rent, shared EMIs, groceries, utility bills, insurance, etc. Once these expenses are budgeted for, come to an agreement about how much you are going to spend on non-essential expenses like entertainment, dining out, vacations, etc.
- Not allowing any ‘me money’
Some couples fight because they either find out that their partner has been hiding certain expenses from them, spending on individual expenses from a joint account or have to take permission from their partner before making any purchases.
Solution: Set aside parts of your family income as ‘me money’ for each of you. You should be allowed to spend this money on anything – travelling, new books, a pair of shoes, etc. without having to seek permission from anyone. This will keep both of you happy, motivated, and ensure that your wishes are respected.
Pro tip: If you feel like you are not able to resolve money-related issues with your partner, you should not hesitate to seek professional help from a financial advisor or couple counsellor.
Budgeting together enables free communication which can reduce conflict, stress, and sorrow. Ultimately, teamwork will help you achieve your dreams and be happier together. Watch this video - How to create a budget that suits you? .