Let’s face it, sticking to a budget can be challenging enough by yourself. Forcing yourself to have the self discipline to not only come up with a spending plan, but following it despite the many temptations that come our way is tough. Having to do that when you have a spouse that has different ideas and habits as it relates to money can sometimes seem next to impossible.
We are here to tell you it’s not impossible! Sharing a bank account and a budget with your spouse is very doable, but it starts by getting on the same page. Here are some practical tips to help you do just that.
1) Know your spouse’s money personality
We live in a time where people are obsessed with knowing their personality type. Everyone wants to know their Enneagram type. Did you know you can actually get an Enneagram college degree? People want to know themselves, they want to know others -- particularly those who they are in a relationship with. It is helpful to know your spouses personality because it can improve communication, reduce frustration and help you navigate through conflicts more easily.
While you may be familiar with the Enneagram, did you know everybody has certain personality traits as it relates to their relationship with money as well? Some are more likely to use money to find security and are risk-averse, while others are more risk-takers and are more prone to make impulse purchases. It stands to reason, if knowing you and your spouse's enneagram type helps improve your relationship with them, then knowing you and your spouse's money personality type should help improve your ability to handle finances together.
Experts from Money Habitude have identified 6 money personality traits people tend to gravitate toward. Find them here!
Knowing how your spouse is likely to react when you make that impulse purchase can be key to maintaining a healthy marriage!
2) Use technology
Apps such as Mint, PocketGuard, Clarity, and EveryDollar Easy Budgeting are a few popular budgeting apps. If you create one login and share it with your spouse, make sure you both have the app on your phone, you can check it regularly to be sure you are sticking to your budget throughout the month.
3) If all else fails, use cash!
There’s something magical about having cash in an envelope. For most of us, it is much harder psychologically to spend cash than it is to swipe a card. One option is to keep money in the bank for all of your set bills, but to use the cash in an envelope system for your discretionary expenses such as entertainment and eating out.
4) Trust each other — but also communicate.
A point of contention with some couples we see is in both parties making too many purchases that might fall in the “other or misc” category. Maybe it is a gift for a birthday party coming up that they didn't set a a budget line item for, or maybe the faucet broke and they need a new part from the hardware store. Maybe the windshield wipers on the car are going bad. Or maybe they want to treat themselves to a spa day or an Amazon purchase.
The problem is not necessarily the discretionary spending. After all, we all need a spa day or a golf outing here or there. But what can be frustrating for couples is when those unplanned purchases lead to a setback in reaching their financial goals, without any communication about why the purchase was necessary in the first place.
What can often happen is spouse 1 sees a charge for Jacksonville Spa and Resort hit the bank account for $100. Spouse 1 then calls spouse 2 and, in an accusatory tone, asks why this was necessary. That can leave spouse 2 feeling defensive and a fight ensues. It could have been much easier had spouse 2 called spouse 1 and communicated ahead of time why it was necessary for a spa day. They talk it through, spouse 1 expects the charge on the bank account, and since there are no surprises, no fight ensues.
See how easy that is? Doesn't sound like real life? To implement this, consider the $50 rule.
If something is going to cost more than $50 (or any set dollar amount you agree to), you need to talk it over. Even if it is a simple “I need ___ for ___”. Just that communication allows for you to both be on the same page and understand the need together. Then, if needed, you can make arrangements in your bank account to transfer money or be sure your automated bills coming up are in good shape.
Let us know your tips for maintaining a budget with your spouse!