My wife and I have a special date night planned every month. We look forward to it every month. We talk about it beforehand, and think fondly of it afterward.
Our monthly special date night is… BUDGET NIGHT!
Don’t be so surprised, budget night is AWESOME! We sincerely enjoy the time together. Why?
Because budget night didn’t use to happen.
We winged it most of the time, and fought about what each other spent. We questioned what happened to our money every month. We weren’t on the same page, and our bank account showed it.
Then one night, we talked about our dreams. We talked about what kind of house we wanted, when we wanted kids, what we wanted to be doing, and how we were going to do it.
And we decided to open the books. Debt, income, expenses. The whole thing. And together, we made a plan to pursue our dreams together. And the first step in the plan was to sit down together, every month, and build next month’s budget.
If you’re feeling trapped by your finances and money fights are a regular thing with your spouse, then hopefully these tips can give you some encouragement.
1. To be on the same page… You have to have a page.
Kindergarten has a learning log, the Buckeyes have a playbook, and your company has an employee manual. Regardless of the goal, people who need to work together have a system in place BEFOREHAND to handle the things life throws at them later. Your kindergarten teacher tracked your homework, the Buckeyes know what play to run when they’re down by 7 with 2 minutes left, and your company plans a 30-minute lunch so work gets done. The point is, get a page so you both can be on it. Have a plan to handle stuff, and that works with more than money.
2. To be on the same page… Learn to give.
You and your spouse are different. THAT’S A GOOD THING. Their strengths cover your weaknesses, and vice versa. That works with money too. I’m the spender between my wife and I, and she is 1000% a saver. When we budget together, we have to sacrifice our preference to give happiness to each other. My wife makes sure the money is named to wise things each month, I make sure we enjoy using the money. For example, she sets the limit on eating out each month. I make sure we spend it on as many of our favorite coffee shops, cafes and restaurants as we can. I spend money on things we enjoy, she allocates our money so we save some, give some, and enjoy some. Learn to give to each other by defining what you really want to do with the money that month, and finding creative ways to meet your spouse’s goals.
3. To be on the same page… Get some head knowledge.
You may have heard of Dave Ramsey when it comes to money. What you might not know is he is a big proponent of an important money rule: Personal Financial success is 20% head knowledge and 80% behavior. That’s why my first two points aren’t money specific, they’re behavior-specific. Being good with money together means setting good habits together, like planning and giving.
But having some head knowledge helps you set good behaviors faster. As you and your spouse budget together, check out these resources to get better at using your money wisely:
1. Mint & EveryDollar: These are two FREE (how’s that for helping your budget!?) digital budgeting tools that make setting your monthly goals easier. They also have helpful articles and videos for creating a budget.
2. Clark Howard and Dave Ramsey: These two guys are good experts on using money well. Clark Howard can help you find good deals, cut costs, and avoid getting ripped off. Dave Ramsey has written numerous books on how to win with money, and created Financial Peace University to help you do the same. My wife and I have found their resources extremely helpful as we get better at being on the same page financially.
More than anything, just know that by working together, you two can do a LOT. You can change your finances, you can give a whole lot more, and you can deepen your relationship. Start by coming to the table together, commit to making and keeping a plan each month for your money, and give to each other in the process.