To budget as a couple can be a difficult process. It's not an easy thing to move from caring only for your own financial needs to balancing the needs and wants of your partner.
Reaching an agreement may take some work, but not taking the time to talk about money can lead to stressful situations regarding finances down the road. Budgeting as a couple is the key to long-term success. Here are some ways to help you get off to a good start.
Talking about your financial habits, goals, and desires is the best way to start the process of planning a budget together. Understanding and respecting that different styles aren't "good' or "bad” is the fist step in the right direction.This stage is really about getting to know the other person.
Establish your Household Needs
Once you know each other's financial styles, it's time to figure out the household needs. These can include expenses such as car payments, debt payments, rent or mortgage payments, utility bills, and groceries.
When you first start budgeting together, you might need to adjust expectations so that you are both on the same page. These obligations may be discussed and chosen, but they need to be met before you spend money on your luxury or extra items. As a couple, your needs should be a priority over your wants and you must be clear about what should come first. Also, if one (or both) of you has a debt, you need to figure out how to handle it.
Choosing Long-Term Goals
It's important to set goals to work on as a couple as a part of your financial plan. This plan can help you define when you can buy a house or when to start a family. It can also help you plan for retirement or a dream trip. Working towards determied goals each month, can help to strike a budget as a couple and not overspend.
Taking into account Individual Needs
Once you have established your household needs, start talking about your needs and wants as an individual. These can include things like haircuts, clothing, or singing lessons.
At this point it is important to understand your needs and wants are surely different and respect this. You may want to set up an allowance to spend on your wants without having to explain to the other person. You should each have money to spend on things that you like and are important to you.
Should You Join Your Finances?
An important question to adress as a couple when discussing budgeting, is whether to combine finances. This is a personal choice and it can be approached in three ways.
Almost everything you both earn goes into a big pot to share expenses. The couple might have small accounts for their personal spending, but, almost all is shared.
Here, each person has their individual account. Expenses are divided and assigned to each partner. Bills might be divvied up based on a 50/50 approach, or they might be divided according to each person's income.
Some couples find a hybrid approach makes more sense. There may be a joint account for household expenses and other shared goals to which each partner contributes, but the rest of their accounts are separate. Again, the amount each one provides may change according to income.
The important thing is that both of you feel the approach is equitable and that you're both adequately protected in the event of a breakup.
Plan Meetings to Trace Your Spending
A weekly budget meeting usually is enough to track your spending and that is the moment to discuss how near you are of shared and individual goals.
When you start, you may need to go over this daily, but eventually, you can do it weekly, or even on a monthly basis. It can help if you use good financial software that you can sync on your phones. There are many apps available that are designed for couples to coordinate their finances.
Always remember it is necessary to remain calm when discussing finances and if one spouse makes a mistake, find a solution and move on.
Linving together is sometimes hard, so budgeting as a couple shoul be discussed and agreed on from the beginning. Understanding and respecting each other’s needs and wants is important to avoid stress in your partnership and accomplish long-term goals together.