What do couples argue about?
It seems that no matter how many times people are surveyed, money issues top the list of things couples argue about.
Everybody is different and each person has their own opinions. When a couple gets married, these opinions can get in the way and cause friction.
If you research why people get divorced, you will find that money is a frequent factor .
Let’s talk about ways couples can find solutions to their money issues by using easy budgeting tips, without the need for couples counseling.
Why Couples Need A Budget
When you are single and making decent money, it may seem like budgets are not required. However getting married and then suddenly thrown into an unfamiliar financial situation can cause a lot of stress.
This stress can escalate into arguments, uncontrolled spending, and lack of a plan for the future.
This is why couples need a budget. A budget is a road map to help people keep their spending and income in check.
Budgeting Tips For Couples
The first thing you need to do when establishing a budget is to understand your current financial situation.
This entails documenting what you earn and what you spend each month in individual categories.
Software is the best way to solve this problem. Whether you use Quicken, Mint, or a free program like Gnucash – just use something that you’re comfortable with. Even a spreadsheet can work if that’s they way you want to do it.
The next thing you need to understand is whether you are spending more than you make or if you are in good shape saving for the future.
This needs to be known so that you can start setting goals. Blindly moving forward without knowledge will surely lead to conflict in the marriage.
Communicate with your spouse
Communication is the key to most marital financial challenges.
Each person should explain their needs and goals first before you decide on any type of budget.
Your spouse might be a penny pincher who doesn’t want to spend very much money on things like going out to eat. However the other person make think that going out to eat is a high priority.
This is where conflict and disagreement can enter into the marriage and cause problems.
We want to head this off at the pass so that money is not the only thing that married couples talk about. There are better things the couple can be doing with their time besides arguing about the cost of a prime rib.
Living with someone – especially being married to them – is filled with compromise on a daily basis. The art of compromise is to find common ground between two parties where each person gets something that they want. No one will get it all but that’s okay.
When you find common ground it’s important that each party separate their desires into a couple of categories.
Put Your Foot Down Category
- Things you absolutely will not budge on. For example, the free spender saying no to going out to eat only once per month.
Can Take It Or Leave It Category
- Things that would be nice to have but that you could live without.
After each person has written down their high-level spending goals it’s time to come together and make a mutual decisions.
This isn’t that hard but it does take an open dialogue.
Analyze each thing in your budget and then find areas that you can both agree on.
Let’s take a look at some possibilities;
- Dining out
- Household heating and cooling
- Slush fund
These are just a few to get you started.
Example Compromise Strategy Session
Let’s go back to the dining out example where one person loves to go out to eat and other person doesn’t. Very likely this all comes down to money and nothing more.
The frugal person maybe thinking that this is a complete waste of money. On the other hand the free spender maybe thinking that you only live once so let’s do it right.
It really doesn’t matter what the reasons are, we just want to find a solution.
Here are some ways you could solve this problem.
Decide on reasonably priced restaurants that are acceptable to both parties. Next come to a mutual decision on how much you are going to spend on the entire meal.
Try not to wait to do this until you get to the restaurant. This should be done before you leave the house.
One last thing, don’t forget to include the tip in your calculations.
When you get to the restaurant you have the choice either to buy individual meals or to share one. There are many places out there that recognize the high cost of individual meals.
So what they do it’s provide packages such as two entrées two drinks and two desserts for one reasonable price. This takes the hassle out of sticking to a budget since the restaurant has done a lot of work for you.
Another way to solve the problem it to buy one meal and split it. It doesn’t always work because each person has individual preferences. But it’s certainly worth a shot.
The whole point of this is to think creatively about how you and your partner can work together as a team to achieve a common goal.
I used an example for dining out but the concept is applicable to almost any situation.
Category – Entertainment
Movies – Take it or leave it
Movies – Can’t live without it
Going out to movies causes stress for the husband.
Can you compromise?- YES
1. Rent movies on Itunes instead of going to the theater.
2. Choose a low cost monthly subscription that is 1/4 the price of just one movie night out.
All that is required here is to have a conversation about potential points of friction, then find ways to meet the needs of both parties.
This exercise should be repeated for all expenses and your income as well. Yes you do need to budget your income.
If you’re not making as much as you like to then see what you can do to get a raise or pick up a side gig.
An On Going Process
Going through the list, finding common ground, and then implementing the plan does not stop there.
You will need to stay in constant communication with your spouse and evaluate how things are going.
Things change all the time. You might change jobs, change income, or start a family. Whatever the reason is, you need to be flexible and adapt to the ever changing situation.
Money can be a source of problems in even the happiest of marriages.
Fortunately there are things you can do to lessen the impact money has on your marriage. The best budgeting tips for couples are those that find real world compromises that work for both parties.
When you communicate, evaluate, and then find common ground, your finances and your happiness will improve.