Even if you’re not yet married, money matters can definitely ruin a relationship. Managing your own money gives you a headache, what more if you already have to incorporate your partner’s finances?
It is difficult especially if your income is not enough to cover all your obligations, but why not look at it at a different mindset? Budgeting as a couple could be fun! This brings you and your partner closer and ensures you’re working on the same goal. Would you not be proud if you have successfully overcome the budgeting challenge together? It means you have become more matured and your relationship just got stronger.
Here are some tips to create a budget for a couple that works.
Know your income
How much is your monthly salary? Do you have savings or investments? Discuss all your assets and resources with one another so as to manage expectations.
Talking about expenses first may lead to stress, so better start with something positive like providing all your sources of income. This may somehow give you an assurance that you have money to use and will not be too overwhelmed.
Know your household expenses
Now, time to face reality.
What did you spend last month? List down and be specific with the amount. Do you have existing loans? Analyze where most of your money went. From there, start budgeting.
Start with fixed expenses. This includes rent, mortgage, insurances, debt payments, among others. Fixed means the amount is the same month in and out so allocate this in the budget first.
Then, go to variable expenses. This includes utilities, food, toiletries, other supplies, etc. These are something that you can adjust. You can save money by cutting back on groceries or limiting dining outside. But of course, wise budgeting means you really don’t have to end up depriving yourself.
Know your personal or individual expenses
Before you decide to be a couple, you have your own life too. Recognize each need and wants.
Do you have a gym membership? Do you have a hobby? Is he fond of car accessories or video games? How often does she go to a salon?
These are something to consider too. Talk about each other ‘s lifestyle. Listen and understand what each other consider as important.
It would be best if you set up a personal allowance in your budget. As long as each other is sticking to the set amount, it would not be a big deal. Just a reminder, if finances get tough, make sure you both agree to let this go for the meantime.
Discuss short and long-term goals
What do you want to achieve together as a couple?
You and your partner may want to go out of the country next year?
Five years from now you may want to get a new car or a new house or you may want to establish a business of your own?
When do you plan to retire?
Your budget should not be all about the present but for the future as well. When you budget, make sure that you have set aside something for your savings. Knowing your goals keeps you motivated to stick with your budget and save more. Set financial goals that both of you will strive for.
Develop your strategies
How will you share responsibility? Are you going to contribute equally or proportionally? Who will hold the money and pay the bills? How will you allocate your income? How will you save? Define and be specific with each other’s roles.
Write down all your income and expenses or you may use different programs or applications available over the internet.
What if someone messed up with the budget? Agree that you will always be honest with each other. Lying poses a much bigger problem so assure each other both of you are open to explanations if this kind of situation happens.
Track and re-evaluate your budget
Budgeting is a process of trial and error. You always have to review your budget. Take time to look at your actual spending amounts and admit if there is a needed change. Set up a meeting as often as possible and make it look like a date to just lighten up things. Discuss what went right and what went wrong. Start planning again until you find what works best for both of you.
Your relationship is more important than anything else.
Work as a team and avoid fighting over money matters. It’s not worth it.
You can always overcome financial problems with proper communication, being good stewards, and by developing a positive financial attitude.
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