Want to Improve Your Marriage? Build a Budget!

Money and Career

What comes to mind when you see and say that word?
If you are like a lot of folks, it may sound like another word for constraint or a loss of independence.  Maybe it brings on a sense of dread or an instant yawn.  It may feel more like a four-letter exclamation than an innocent six-letter noun.
I am here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be this way.  In fact, budgeting can be an enjoyable experience that results in a valuable tool for your family.  And building a budget can enhance your marriage in a real way.
Am I delusional?  Please read on and decide for yourself.

Build Communication

If you are married, both spouses should have input in the budgeting process.   This is really a critical component of any budget that is actually going to work, which means that it is respected and followed by the entire family.
After all, why would you follow a plan that you may not agree with or that you feel has been forced upon you?  This is why communication is key to the budgeting process.  You and your spouse need to sit down together and discuss your financial goals and decide in advance how you want to use your money.
This doesn’t mean that you have to combine all areas of your financial life or change the way you spend money.  While there may be value in doing so, you can build your budget to accommodate joint or separate bank accounts, cash or credit card spending, and frugal or extravagant spending habits.
After all, this is your budget designed for your particular family’s situation.  You are in control…together.
It’s also totally fine if the “nerdier” spouse wants to create the draft budget and then get input from the other.  But there must be input and “buy-in” from both husband and wife that the final budget is a spending plan that they agree to stick to.
Again, this could be a plan to spend beyond your means and rack up crazy amounts of debt.  I hope it’s not, and most couples don’t plan to go deeply in debt, but the point is that you will communicate about your goals and decide together how to use your family’s financial resources.
That is the real beauty of building a budget for your own family and your own situation.

Build Trust

After you’ve sat down together and figured out your spending plan for the coming month, it’s time to put your money where your mouth was and spend as you have both agreed.  When a budget is in place, you can feel good about spending as you have planned.  However, you’ll have accountability to deal with when you are tempted to go astray.
Think back to the last time you spent a lot of money on something impulsively without talking to your spouse first. Was it part of your overall financial plan?  Did you have a bit of buyer’s remorse afterward?  How did your spouse react when they found out about your big purchase?
You and your spouse create the budget and you control what it says.  However, once you agree to it and you commit to each other that you’ll stick with the spending plan, you have an ongoing promise to your spouse to uphold.
That doesn’t mean that you can’t buy something that’s not part of the budget.  However, it does mean that you need to give your husband or wife a call to make sure they agree there’s good reason to change your mutual financial plan to accommodate it.  And the two of you can decide on the limit where the other needs to be consulted when a “spending audible” gets called.
Simply put, it means that you must trust your spouse to be financially responsible, and you must hold up your end of the agreement to them as well.
Communication builds a budget and trust makes it work.

Build Your Budget (It’s Not As Hard As You Think)

Hopefully, you can see how budgeting can enhance not only your financial situation but your marriage overall.  However, you may still be concerned that building a budget is too difficult or time consuming.
If you have avoided a budget because you feel like it is too limiting or too complicated, I urge you to give it a shot.  A budget could literally be as simple as putting pencil to notepad and setting a few broad income and spending categories as your guiding document.  For the nerdier among us, some sweet Excel spreadsheets may be just the thing.
However, the great news is there are many awesome budgeting software options available that make the process of creating and maintaining a family budget really easy.  I would encourage you to check out the available options and find one that’s the best fit for you and your preferences.

So, Am I Crazy?

I hope you can see the value of building a budget for your household.  It’s not only the end result that’s beneficial, but the process of creating the budget and sticking with it can be a major asset for your relationship in and of itself.
I think we can all agree that communication and trust are vital to a successful marriage.  And we all seek the peace that accompanies financial success and cohesiveness with our spouse on the topic of money.
The budget is the tool that helps us achieve all of this.  See, it’s not such a dreaded, confining and painful thing after all.
It’s just here to help.
I am anxious to hear your thoughts on this issue:

  • Do you utilize a budget in your marriage?
  • Do you agree that creating and following a spending plan can have such important benefits to your relationship?
  • Or do you think I am exaggerating the positive impacts of budgeting?
Photo courtesy borman818