When it comes to new and even seasoned relationships there needs to be open and honest communication. This is especially true when it comes to money and yet it’s not always easy. Consider the following tips to get (and stay) on the same page with your significant other.
Start out by creating a budget. By doing so, you'll have the opportunity to talk with your significant other about how much you make, monthly and annual bills, and how much debt you've accrued. When you create a budget you'll know exactly how much money you do (or don't have) and will be able to make decisions together about what to prioritize.
Creating a budget doesn't have to be complicated. With a notepad in hand, break it down by expense: electric, water, gas, credit cards, student loans, auto loans, personal spending, rent, insurance, pets (if you have them), an average for groceries, and an average for dining out. Total it up and you'll both know exactly how much income you need to cover your expenses.
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One of the biggest frustrations that surfaces regarding money are those pesky expenses that aren’t accounted for in the budget. One simple way to avoid that frustration is to go back through the last three months of bank statements. Look for those “free” trials that are no longer free and determine if you need the service. Do the same thing with those subscription services you are no longer using. Who knows? You might just have enough left to buy your spouse the Apple Watch he’s been dreaming about!
It’s great to have a priority with your budget, but you’ll only be successful if you and your spouse are in agreement. If you do have additional money after your monthly expenses, you can talk about what you would like it to go towards. You might consider paying off debt or putting money into savings for a vacation. The possibilities are endless but ultimately you and your significant other need to decide what matters most.
It’s easy to be on the same page when you have no money - expenses are prioritized and it’s more likely that you both just want to make it to the end of the month with money in the bank account. But what happens around holidays, birthdays or when one spouse wants to make a large purchase? Make plans ahead of time and talk openly about large or special purchases.
In our family, we set a dollar amount. Anything over that amount has to be discussed before we make the purchase. Set your limit so neither one overspends. You might also choose to have separate spending accounts or pull money in cash. Just don’t forget to include that as a line item in the budget. There’s nothing worse than swiping that card and running out of money before the end of the month.
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Finances are a touchy subject when it comes to a new relationship but it can always be worked out and become second nature. Make sure to speak openly and freely about your strengths and weaknesses as individuals. Then work together to make the best out of what you have. The truth of the matter is that everything is doable if you are willing to put forth the effort needed.
Take time to encourage one another throughout the process. It may sound simple but we often forget to cheer each other on. Make small checkpoints or goals along the way to say, “Hey look! We made it to our first, second, or third checkpoint! This debt is almost paid off! We can take that vacation!”
Related post: How to Talk to Your Spouse About Money Problems
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