Sticking to a budget is not an easy task because even the best savers sometimes struggle to stay on track. The good thing there is that making mistakes is part of the process. And when you start to get accustomed to that, you will have a better understanding of your relationship with money.
Now budgeting as a couple can be a difficult task. You have to move from the mindset of caring only for your financial needs to caring for the financial needs of your partner. Down the road, couples find themselves stressed out because of finances.
The truth is, budgeting can come with a lot of stress and hard decisions, but it doesn’t limit your freedom. Budgeting is all about being intentional with where your money goes – giving you a clear picture of where and how your money is ending up each month.
Budgeting helps couples achieve their goals – saving for retirement, saving for tuition fees, or just trying to keep the monthly allowance from getting out of hand. For long-term success – for couples to achieve these, a strong commitment is required from them. Being realistic and reasonable will help in the budgeting process.
For a couple to budget, they have to have an understanding of what a budget is all about –Budget is the calculation of how one makes and spends money over some time. It is a plan based on income and expenses.
Budgeting allows you to determine in advance if you will have enough money to do things you need to do or would like to do. To achieve that, couples have to balance their expenses with their income, because if they don’t balance their expenses and spend more than they make, they will have a problem.
There is no extraordinary way for couples to stick to their budget, here are 13 tips that can inspire couples to stick to their budget:
1. START WITH THE BASICS:
Before planning your budget with your partner, take time to study and talk about your financial habits, intentions, aspirations, goals, and desires. Have an understanding of how you both approach money, that way, the basis for moving forward will be achievable.
As a couple, you need to get on the same page with each other, as well as the money. Set the goals together and always think about the future – what the future will be like.
Couples should be sure to know that the basics also include saving, then the four walls: food, utilities, shelter, and transportation. These are the necessities and once they are taken care of, you can fill in the rest of the categories in your budget.
2. ADDRESS INDIVIDUAL NEEDS:
Once you have figured out the basics, start talking about individual needs and wants. First of all, couples should understand that their needs and wants may be distinct from one another and be ready to compromise.
This individual needs and wants can range from club membership, hairdos, clothing cost (fashion sense), professional memberships, etc. Individually, a couple may want to set up an allowance to spend on his/her wants and need without being held answerable to the other partner.
You may be moved in a certain way to give your partner a hard time because he/she will not cut back on the amount they spend on electrical gadgets or clothes, while you continue to spend what your partner might feel is an exorbitant amount on your video games or your hair.
There should be no reason to argue or fight about how money is being spent if couples have an understanding and stick to the budget mapped out.
3. SET UP BUDGET MEETINGS TO TRACK YOUR SPENDING:
Before that, do the budgeting together. Sit down once in a while and have a family budgeting time, you budget together, you track the budgeting together.
For effective results, a weekly budget meeting will work. During this meeting, you should discuss the progress of your shared and individual goals. Remember to have an open mind and remain calm when discussing finances. If one spouse faults, find a solution and move forward.
You may need to go over the budgeting daily in the beginning, but as time goes on, you can do it once a week or once a month. To help with budgeting, couples can use apps designed for budgeting tracking.
4. BEAR IN MIND THAT EVERY MONTH IS DIFFERENT:
Each month comes with its expenses, what you budget for month A might be different for month B. Budgeting for specific expenses in a month tends to change in the following months.
Some months you will have to budget for back-to-school supplies or a routine monthly allowance. Some months you will find yourself budgeting for an insurance expense or saving for a vacation, hospital bills, and emergency funds.
Whatever the situation might be, be sure to prepare for those expenses in the budget. None should take you unaware and make sure to adjust your budget each month as thing changes.
5. MAKE MORE MONEY:
Nothing feels good in budgeting than the constant increment in income and saving account. Couples should scout for opportunities to make more money.
It can be from the current job or a part-time job. This is because the couple could reach their financial goals by increasing their income.
Checkout: 18 High-paying side-hustles for women
And also check out: 12 Side Hustles you can do while working full-time
6. CUT MONTHLY BILLS:
Cut down on monthly bills that are not that so relevant – like a monthly spa treatment, monthly vacation, subscriptions, and telecom services.
Cutting down on your monthly bills can make out space in your budget and motivate you to stick to it. You can refinance high-rate debt, insurance and so much more using the cash generated from the cut-down bills.
7. CREATE A LONG-TERM GOALS:
It is very important to set goals to work on as a couple. These long-term goals should be included in your financial plan. The plan should serve as a guide, helping you determine how soon you can buy a house, land, life insurance, and also start a family.
If you spend and save without a goal in mind, you will get familiar with overspending and justifies it regularly. But when you have goals that you are working on, sticking to a budget will be made a lot easier for you.
The long-term goals could be paying off debts – enumerate your debts from the biggest interest rate to the smallest and start paying them off one step at a time, saving for retirement – couples should, first of all, decide which tax-advantaged retirement accounts they should contribute to, buying of a house – a well mapped out plan will help you be ready to buy a home.
8. DETERMINE YOUR HOUSEHOLD NEEDS:
Determining your household need should come when you have had a feel for each other’s financial styles. The household needs include expenses like rent or mortgage payment, utility bills, groceries, car maintenance, and debt payments.
As a couple, you can decide to go for less expensive items like a car, house rent or mortgage, or even downsizing, cutting back on groceries. Couples should understand that needs comes first before want and work with that. The basic needs need to be met before you spend on luxury.
Couples may have to adjust to expectations so that both will be on the same page. There should be an understanding that one person may be the spender while the other person may be more of a saver. When they have come to understand these and be on the same page, budgeting will be made easy. And meeting up with the household needs will be a lot easier.
9. STACK YOUR SAVINGS:
Saving money on your purchase can help keep your budget on track without sacrificing your needs and wants.
If you are shopping online or in a store, scout for opportunities to save – you can save coupons, go for items that have discounts on them or you can take advantage of favorable cash-back chances.
10. CREATE A BUFFET IN YOUR BUDGET:
Set aside a small amount of money for unforeseen expenses throughout the month. Tag it as your miscellaneous category in your budget. This category is for rainy days.
That way, when something comes up unexpectedly. You can take care of it without touching the money that you have already budgeted for something else. With this buffer category in the budget, couples will find it easier to handle unforeseen expenses and life challenges.
You may not spend the budget in weeks or months, that does not mean you should stop setting aside the money. Keep budgeting for unexpected expenses, because one day the need may arise and you will be at ease because you already made provision for that.
You should also keep a track of expenses that occasionally end up in this category. In the long run, you may want to add them to a permanent spot in the budget.
11. CUT UP YOUR CREDIT CARD:
If couples want to stick to a budget and get out of debt, they need to stop using those credit cards for good. If they feel that they may be tempted to use it, they can decide to shred the cards or even make a craft project out of them. whichever way, make sure to get rid of them.
Having no credit card debt will mean no more minimum payments to add to the budget, no hassle with fees, or high-interest rates.
Credit cards make you spend like its nothing. It makes you see spending on frivolous things as its nothing. That’s why couples must stick to using their debit card or cash as well. The advantage of a debit card is that there is no middleman charging you 15% interest.
For easiness and comfort, couples are advised to use their debit card more often than their credit card. This way, budgeting, and saving will be made a lot easier.
12. LEARN TO SAY NO (OR NOT NOW):
Couples need to be able to say no to things they want but the budget does not approve. Your budget may not always say “no”, it can say ”not now”.
Respect whatever your budget says at that moment. That luxury you want can come later, it must not come immediately. Try to save for bigger and more relevant purchases and make sure to pay cash.
As an adult, couples should be able to have control over their wants. Sometimes they have to say no, that’s part of being a responsible adult. You can’t just rush headfirst and buy on impulse. Spending on an impulse will drain your bank account and future.
You do not have to worry about what everyone around you may appear to have. Some of them may be in deep shit debt, while some worked hard to get whatever they have. Whichever way, be prudent and understand that you are not those people.
Be in the league of those that work hard defending their budget – having the strong will to say “no” or “not now”. This is because being true to yourself, your budget and your financial goals are more valuable than anything you could ever buy.
13. CHECK YOUR SOCIAL CALENDER:
Your wedding anniversary is the same day every year, likewise your spouse’s birthday, the yearly mother’s and father’s day celebration, child’s birthday too, budget for it.
Do not see them as something that is not important and as such will not consume money. No, that’s a poor idea and it will sink your finances if you do not take them seriously and budget for them.
Sometimes we see them as emergencies and surprises, but what we call “surprise” are just poor planning. When making each month’s budget, check your social calendar for a realistic budget.
You don’t have to start from scratch when budgeting for these things. You can take a pick from the previous months and make a few adjustments to suit the month’s budget.
Sticking to a budget can be very hard for many reasons. It all boils down to setting proper expectations and having a mindset shift to focus on long-term goals over immediate wants. It is not a simple task to overcome, but doing it consistently can result in significant growth.
Be in charge of your budgeting, do not let it put you through undue pressure in your partnership. Couples should establish good money habits from the beginning to avoid unnecessary disagreement later in life if they are going to live together.
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