Editor’s Note: The theme this month is Money.
Now that you know how to make a budget, you can get down to the nitty gritty of where to spend and where to save. And if you have a partner, the decisions can get complicated.
- Your wife wants to keep her $150 hair appointments every month, even though you are over your head in credit card debt
- Your husband plays golf every week to the tune of $100, not to mention all the golfing accessories he likes to buy
- You both love to eat out and have hectic jobs and can’t imagine cooking at home every night
You may be surprised to find out where you are spending money, and creating a budget can sometimes start arguments over where the money has been spent in the past.
“I can’t believe you have been spending that much money on your fingernails!”
“Well, I’m the one who does all the dishes around here, so I deserve a little pampering!”
You get the idea.
The important thing in the budgeting process is to look forward. Your past is passed, and there is nothing you can do about it.
Consider the goal you both have in mind and go from there. When you have a dollar amount in mind and each party makes equal sacrifices to get to that goal, you go back to being a team again. And isn’t that why you chose your mate in the first place?
How to agree on a budget:
- Have a mutual goal – adjust it if necessary to make sure you are on the same page
- Give yourself some “mad money.” Everyone needs a little cash they don’t have to account for to anyone else. Your mad money may be $10/week or $100/week. Doesn’t matter, just make sure you have some and don’t get mad when your mate spends his on things you consider wasteful.
- Agree on a regular review to make modifications to your budget. In the beginning, you will want to do this every month.
- Build in some variety. You won’t feel deprived about less eating out if you are sharing a romantic picnic on your livingroom floor. Be creative.
- Think about do-it-yourself options. I’ve received more compliments on my hair since I started coloring it myself than in all the years I had it done at the salon. And I save $800 a year.
Shared Sacrifice Means Shared Victory
For us, the goal is a mutual one, but it doesn’t always turn out that way (see the charred remains of marriage #1 for lessons on how to work separately on opposing goals). You have to be able to compromise with your mate on both the goal and the way to get there so neither one feels bullied into doing something.
When you reach your goal, you will be so glad to have worked through your difficulties with your partner and celebrate your success. Money problems really can bring you closer together if you work it out as a team.
Betsy Talbot writes about carving the lifestyle you want out of life you already have. When she’s not writing, she’s paring down, saving up, and getting ready for a year of travel with her husband.