Sometimes it feels like it would be easier not to talk about money with your partner than it is to actually do it.
We’ve all been there before when we have seen huge blow-ups between couples over money. No one wants to be in such a position, its uncomfortable and it can cause a lot of tension in a relationship.
No matter how uncomfortable it might seem to you budgeting for couples is an important and a conversation that you should be having with your partner.
The sooner you get used to doing it the easier it will get with time. It’s important that you are on the same page as your partner financially.
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7 Steps to help you get budgeting for couples
1. Find some time to talk
Finding time to talk is going to be the key to unlocking your financial peace of mind as a couple. You might take it for granted that your partner feels and thinks all the same things that you do but this isn’t necessarily the case.
You might think that you should have separate bank accounts but your partner may take it for granted that they will be joint.
Many years ago it was a given that once you got married you would take your partners surname and that you would start with a fresh new bank account. Well, times have changed a lot since that time and today many people don’t even want to have the same bank account as their partner or surname for that matter!
As you can see its really important to discuss these things early on in your relationship in order to avoid any unnecessary awkwardness.
Pick a time that is comfortable for you both and make sure you are both in a relaxed frame of mind.
Never try to do it when one of you is pushed for time or you are already arguing about other things not even to do with money.
If you want your finances to work then it’s important for you both to sit down and talk about budgeting as a couple.
2. Take note of both your incomes
Be as open as you can about your individual incomes. Never look at it badly if one of you makes more than the other person. The purpose of taking the time out to budget as a couple is so that any money that does come your way can be seen to belong to both of you rather than one person over the other.
Don’t forget to include income that is not so obvious too. This would include things such as:
Yearly bonuses at work
Dividends from investments
Side hustle money
It all adds up as income.
3. Make a note of your expenses
It might feel a bit tedious trying to get all your expenses down on to paper but once you have done it, you will feel so much better for having taken the time out to do it.
Having a working budget allows you both to see where your money is going each month and even where it needs to go. It will also help you to identify areas where you are overspending and need to make cutbacks.
Agree on each category, how much money you need to put aside and if there are things that you think should be added.
Some couples may not want to think about retirement yet but its a really good idea to do so so that you are always financially prepared for all eventualities.
Include anything that you think should be included in your expenses.
These items don’t even necessarily have to be on the agenda now but its a good idea to take note of these things because at some point you will want them to be a part of your budget. Agree on a date when these things will come into play.
You might find that if you have debt you may want to clear those off first before you start putting money aside for holidays and such (that would be extremely smart)
If you don’t have a budget in place yet you can get access to my free budget template right here.
4. Agree on any investments
Making investments can be a great way to boost your income. You can agree on the amount of risk that you are willing to take together and start looking into different investment opportunities.
You can look at:
A small start-up business
Stocks and shares
5. Track your expenses
Keeping track of your expenses is just as important as putting a budget together in the first place.
Income and expenses can change from month to month so you’ll want to make sure that everything is working as it should.
It’s a good idea to do this before the month starts so that you can be prepared before your new month starts.
You may have had to dip into your emergency fund last month to cover some unexpected expenses. This month you would have to top up your emergency fund again so you need to put money aside for this.
This will cause your budget to change.
This is just one example but life happens and many things can change from month to month so always be on top of your budget.
6. Have regular reviews
I can’t stress how important it is to regularly review your budget together. Set a time in advance that you can both be aware of so you can be prepared to come to the table with new ideas and what you think is working and perhaps not working so well for the both of you.
When it comes to budgeting for couples don’t be surprised if one of you is more intense with budgeting than the other.
In our home, I am more of the budgeter. My husband listens and makes suggestions but ultimately it is down to me to make sure that everything works as it should. It’s just not his strength and that’s ok. It’s always best to play to your strengths and admit areas that are not.
That’s called being smart.
7. Have money that’s just for you
One important tip that I can give you when it comes to budgeting for couples is that you should make sure that both you and your partner have a category of money in your budget that belongs solely to you.
By doing this you create the freedom to spend money on things without having to always clear small purchases with your partner.
Doing this will also stop unexpected expenses popping up and ruining your budget.
You can spend this money on anything that you like but you must make it last for the duration of the month in order for your budget to work.
Personally I like to break my personal money down into weeks. I can just work better that way. That may or may not work for you too.
How can I make a budget when I’m broke?
Believe it or not, the best time to make a budget is when you are broke.
You need to be able to clearly see all of your expenses and income. If you have debts you may need to contact your creditors to make better arrangements.
You can follow this 9 step plan to help you get out of debt when you are broke.
Final thoughts on budgeting for couples
One thing that I have found in my 16 years of being married is that the more you talk about money as a couple the easier and more comfortable that it gets.
The sooner you start to do this the more healthy your relationship can be.
Arguments over money are one of the top causes of divorce in the UK. Don’t become another statistic in this area.