My husband and I have been married for 11 years now. We didn’t have money issues when we started because of these reasons which I believe, have really helped us to have a good start:
- A year before our wedding, we both started saving for the Big Day.
- We’re transparent about our income and honest about our financial status.
- Thankful that none of us were breadwinners, we could focus on saving.
- None of us had a significant amount of debt.
But managing money became a challenge for us as soon as the kids arrived. Reason? We didn’t save enough, we thought we had enough. As it turned out, we were bombarded with pregnancy problems which made us realize that having babies are way more expensive than we imagined.
Over the years, even after facing many challenges, hubby and I rarely fight about money and here’s how we manage to do our budgeting:
- We use a spreadsheet to track income and expenses.
We record our income and expenses regularly. We used notebooks before but in our 6th year, I created this online spreadsheet where hubby can see and update as well. And in this sheet, we have a breakdown of all our expenses and the savings to make. There are many rules one can apply when it comes to making a budget like the Zero-based budgeting method or the 50/30/20 budget rule, where 50% goes for needs, 30% for wants and 20% for savings or paying off debt. If you need a more detailed breakdown, you can also use the family budget planner from https://calculator.me/.
2. We combine our income.
I grew up in a household wherein my parents didn’t combine their income. It was probably the best for them but based on what I witnessed, it just wasn’t for me. Marriage is a partnership, I don’t think I can make it work if I still have to analyze what to share and what’s for me alone. Thankfully, my husband agreed with it, he also doesn’t like complicated stuff.
One reminder if you choose this strategy though, you need to know and be understanding of your partner’s spending habits, you need to be on the same page (which is what marriage should be).
3. Talk and agree on money goals.
Many marriages fail or are on the rocks because they don’t talk much about their goals. If you’re not the type who schedules date nights outside to talk about this stuff then at least open up about it when the kids are asleep. Do you need to start paying for another insurance? Is it already time to invest? What are the ways you need to do to increase income? My husband and I talked about these and it’s very important to be open-minded.
4. Set spending limits and monitor credit cards.
Credit cards have helped us over the years, even during our first international travel to Hongkong. The debt was around 6 digits so it took us months to pay everything. You can use a credit card calculator to help you plan your payment strategies because that’s what we did and we followed the schedule.
But from 2022, we no longer use our credit cards unless it’s really necessary. How? We increased our income (find other ways to earn) and we study our budget first before deciding if we have the extra money to splurge or go out during the weekend. We also don’t spend much on shopping for clothes, shoes, etc. these days but I say we prefer spending more on food, groceries and experiences. Know what your family needs, and don’t use your credit cards to buy things you can’t pay asap.
Although managing finances as a couple might be difficult, it need not be painful. Regardless of whether you join your income or not, there should be a budget that you agreed on. I believe it’s one of the necessities to pursue your dreams as a couple, so good luck!