Creating and sticking to a budget is one of the first steps in gaining control of your finances. But how do you set a budget when you and your spouse aren’t on the same page? It’s said that opposites attract, and that can certainly be true where money is concerned. I’m the frugal one and my husband’s the spender.
If you and your spouse struggle to create a budget that works, here are some tips to help you work together to make a family budget that works for you both.
Look at your finances and bills together
Before you dive into creating a good budget, you need to know where you stand financially. How much is your household income every month? What are your fixed expenses? How much debt do you have?
Usually one person in the marriage is better at handling money and the bills, and the other spouse isn’t much involved. Regardless, the couple should sit together and go through the bills and finances together so they both fully understand their financial state. This is very beneficial. When both can see what money is coming in and where it is going out, It eliminates potential issues because no one feels like one spouse has more control over the money.
Before you can set a budget together, you both need to know the state of your finances. Seeing the ratio of debt to income can be just what you need to get on the same page with your financial goals.
Define your values by looking to the bible
Look to the Bible when creating the budget. How do your finances compare to what the Bible says? The Bible says a lot about finances, work, giving, and more. Proverbs is a good place to start. Read the verses and discuss them with your spouse. Truly to evaluate if you are living by Biblical financial principles. Note what you’re doing well and what you need to improve.
Pray together about your finances
In my marriage, I have found that seeking the Lord in prayer has brought my husband and I closer together. We used to have constant money fights. Here are some of the things we prayed that have helped us:
- The desire to glorify God with our money
- Like-mindedness as we work together
- Wisdom in creating the budget
- Enthusiasm to stick to the budget
- Patience and understanding when we disagree
Discuss your financial goals
Now that you understand where you stand financially, you know what the Bible says about money, and have prayed about your financial situation, it’s time to discuss your financial goals.
What things are important to you? New home, nice car, giving, paying off debt?
Do you want to get out of debt? Where do you want to be financially in five or ten years? When do you want to retire? What does retirement look like and how much you will need to retire? How important is fun money? If vacations are important, how often will you take them?
Discuss your financial priorities together. Sometimes it helps when both spouses make a list of their top ten priorities and then compare lists. When discussing priorities, be sure to really try to understand where your spouse is coming from. Don’t just try to make them understand your point. This will help reduce friction in the marriage.
No matter what they say, don’t laugh, dismiss, or make fun of your spouse’s goals. These goals are important to them. Remember, this discussion is to help you learn, understand and get an idea of how you can work together to meet your financial goals.
Philippians 2:2-4 (NIV) says, “…make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility, value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”
I do my best to follow those words when discussing anything important with my husband. Even if he sees things differently than I do, I know he is also determined to do what is best for our family.
Create the Household Budget
Once you and your spouse understand each other’s financial goals in life, it’s time to get down to creating the monthly budget. First, budget your fixed expenses and basic essential living items like food, housing, and medical care.
Once you have the basics taken care of, discuss and come to an agreement on other budget categories like fun money, dining out, and vacations. This process will probably require some discussion and compromise before you come up with a budget you both can live with. You want to create a budget you both can keep.
Remember that a budget is not set in stone. If you both see that your initial budget isn’t working, you can make the necessary monthly adjustments as you go. This is how you and your spouse can manage to create a budget that works for you both. Learn to relax and understand that when creating the budget, you’re actually learning to work with your spouse.
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