How to budget when your partner doesn’t want to.
By Jenny Hoff
Managing your own money can sometimes feel daunting. When you bring a significant other into the picture and mix your finances, the loss of budgetary control can be absolutely overwhelming, even if you are a high-wage earner. Financial discussions can be tricky. They can bring up a lot of emotions, dredge up childhood issues and even make you question each other’s core values. But it’s crucial to build a budget together, especially if you feel the spending is getting out of control.
The sooner you can develop healthy communication and mutual respect around money, the better chance your relationship has of surviving (financial issues are one of the main causes of divorce). Here are some practical steps to help you both find common ground and manage your money as a team.
Start by having an honest, nonconfrontational conversation with your partner. Explain your concerns and why budgeting is essential for both of you. Share your financial goals and the future you envision together. Encourage your partner to express their financial aspirations as well.
Set Mutual Goals
Start with your shared financial goals and what you both want for the future. This could include saving for a house, planning for a family or going on a dream vacation. Having these shared objectives can motivate both of you to work together toward a common goal.
Even if you’re an ace budgeter, creating a budget together is essential for both people to feel responsibility for the plan. Doing a deep dive quarterly is a good way to check and make sure you are staying on track. This is where you can eliminate expenses that are unnecessarily draining your account. There are templates online for creating budgets and tracking your expenses.
Many couples swear by keeping their finances entirely separate. Consider maintaining separate accounts for personal expenses while having a joint account for shared expenses. This can give both of you financial independence and control while ensuring essential bills are paid. If only one person in the relationship is earning money, then setting a strict budget for personal expenses might be necessary, perhaps through a prepaid debit card where it is impossible to overspend.
Make saving a habit by setting up automatic transfers to a savings account or investment fund. Automating this process takes the burden off both of you to save consistently and can help you reach your financial goals faster.
Agree on Spending Limits
Set reasonable spending limits for discretionary expenses. It’s essential that both you and your partner agree on these limits to avoid resentment. These limits can be adjusted as your financial situation improves. Make an agreement that you will not put more on your credit card than you can pay off that month. Accumulating interest is one of the fastest ways to go broke.
Build an emergency fund together. Knowing that you have a safety net can provide peace of mind for both of you and reduce the impulse to overspend.
Seek Professional Help
If your partner’s spending habits are causing severe financial strain, consider seeking the assistance of a financial advisor or therapist. They can provide guidance and mediate discussions about your financial concerns. There are some skills we simply need to learn, and it’s infinitely better to get that help before the financial situation becomes impossible to fix.
Patience and Compromise
Remember that changing spending habits can take time. Be patient with your partner and be open to compromise. It’s not about restricting their spending entirely, but finding a balance that works for both of you.
Make saving fun, and take time to celebrate a milestone like paying off a debt or saving a certain amount over a few months. Recognizing achievements will help keep everyone motivated to stay on track.