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Married Life

Everything You Need to Know About Budgeting as a Couple

As I told you earlier in the year, I kinda suck at saving. I’m learning how this year, and it’s going okay. Den is exceptionally good at saving. Needless to say, the discrepancy causes a few, ahem, disagreements between the two of us. With the purchase of our first house looming ahead of us, it’s more important than ever now that we’re being smart with our money (read: That I stop buying shoes).

And moreover, money is still one of the biggest causes of arguments between couples, especially during tough recession times. If that sounds familiar, you’re going to love this multi-part series. We’ve asked guest poster Timothy Ng from Credit Card Finder to enlighten us all on how to deal with money issues as a couple.

Money can be a contentious issue in any family, and especially when you merge two people’s finances to become a couple.

While money is still one of the most common topics of arguments between couples, your relationship doesn’t have to be one of them because you can easily set up a budget and manage your finances as a couple, with just a few ground rules laid out in a short money meeting.

Before the Money Meeting

How to Budget as a Couple

Before you and your partner come together to have the money talk take some time to understand yourself and your relationship first.

In relationships with money conflict there is generally a spender and a saver; the spender doesn’t budget and doesn’t see the point, succumbing to impulse purchases and ignoring the need for a savings plan, while the saver is the one who has budgets and spreadsheets, keeps receipts and balances checking accounts to avoid late fees and make sure all bills are paid on time.

In each relationship the spender and the saver will be at a different point on the spectrum, but before you can have a successful money meeting with your partner you need to identify which one you are, and understand how your partner – as the opposite – will behave and respond to money matters.

At the money meeting the spender should come with the right attitude and understand how to:

Be encouraging. No matter how much you fight or disagree with your partner about money, remember that you love them and even if you don’t see the point of a dozen different spreadsheets for one household budget, show your appreciation for the efforts and encourage their hard work.
Be engaged. The meeting will run for just a short time, so make the effort to be engaged in the meeting and the discussion because it is just a small commitment of time to your future. This means thinking about your financial situation as a couple and forming decisions so you can offer meaningful input to the meeting.
Be positive. The meeting is not about you being told off for your behaviour so don’t go in with a bad attitude. Instead be positive about the changes that can be made and the achievements you can make together.
Be involved in the decisions. Be prepared for your saver to suggest changes to your spending behaviours and understand that they are doing so out of love. Instead of becoming defensive, be involved in the decisions and look for other ways you can change, or ways you can both save.

To ensure a successful money meeting, the saver should:

Do the budgets beforehand. As the saver of the relationship you love budgets, organisation and order and could spend hours adding, adjusting and recalculating your spreadsheets. However, do this in your own time as your partner is not as excited about it as you are, and you want to make the most of the meeting.
Be open to suggestions. As much as you think the budget is perfect, there are two people in the relationship so make sure to ask your partner for their input; if they are more involved then they are more likely to stick to the plans. Plus, if you make a suggestion for a saving and your partner doesn’t agree, forcing them into it isn’t going to be effective – instead let them suggest another way.
Be positive. It is important to be positive and encouraging during your budget meeting so make sure your partner feels their suggestions are valued and included in the process.

To be continued….

Go on, ‘fess up. Are you the spender or the saver? Do you argue about money with your partner or have you got a system worked out? Joint accounts, or strictly separate?

Timothy Ng is a personal finance writer who has a real passion for encouraging people to compare credit cards to ensure they get the best deal. Check out his comprehensive guide to best credit cards where he provides an in-depth overview and analysis, to help you find a better deal.

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Author |

Writer, dating columnist, wife, coffee addict, foodie, fashionista... Melburnian through and through. Muser, dancer, blogger, tweeter. Likes to get her head on telly now and again. Sleeper, dreamer, a sucker for romance. And of course... a cheap date.


5 comments for “Everything You Need to Know About Budgeting as a Couple”

  1. Posted by Everything You Need to Know About Budgeting As a Couple | $30 date night | Date Ideas, Marriage & Romance Blog | August 17, 2010, 4:31 pm

    [...] you’ve done your prep from Part One and you’re ready for your first Couples Money Meeting. Here’s how to tackle it. Part 2 [...]

  2. Posted by Everything You Need to Know About Budgeting as a Couple – Part 3 | $30 date night | Date Ideas, Marriage & Romance Blog | August 19, 2010, 3:27 pm

    [...] you’ve successfully held a couples money and budgeting meeting together, as outlined in Part 1 and Part 2 of this series. Now what? Guest Poster Timothy Ng fills us in on how to ensure smooth [...]

  3. Posted by Who Lies About Money? | $30 date night | Date Ideas, Marriage & Romance Blog | February 25, 2011, 6:41 pm

    [...] it may be time to take a look at your saving and spending habits. A great place to start is our Everything You Need to Know About Budgeting as a Couple [...]

  4. Posted by Moving In: Your How-to Guide | September 20, 2011, 11:28 am

    [...] You may want to join your finances, or keep them separate and contribute to a shared pool. Either way, you need to work it out ahead of time to save the arguments—money is the biggest factor in most relationship arguments. For some handy tips on how to budget as a couple, take a look at this three-part series. [...]

  5. Posted by MoneyAU | June 11, 2012, 10:24 pm

    A good orientation article for couples. Another suggestion is to get a rewards credit card and that was the Spender can spend and the Saver gets the gifts!

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