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I have found, as well as many of you are probably experiencing yourselves, that handling your money on a day to day basis can be extremely stressful, not to mention irritating. When my husband and I were forced to combine finances upon getting married, we easily learned a lot of about each others spending habits. Throughout the years, we have managed to follow theses 5 simple rules to make managing our more productive, and less stressful!
- Communication: Does this tip go without saying? Well, too bad! It’s so crucial that it’s worth saying over and over again! Communicate! Communicate! Communicate! Take 20 minutes each month to sit down and look over the budget together. It’s typical for one spouse to do the majority of the day-to-day bill paying, but it’s not okay for that person to make the majority of the decisions. A quick recap is all it takes to keep the other person in the loop. Schedule this meeting on the calendar just like the kids’ sporting games, choir concerts, or other functions.
- Make it fun! Share equally in your small successes and pitfalls. If you are the one to manage most of the day-to-day finances but only involve your spouse when something goes wrong or when there’s a shortage, you’re setting an unfair expectation on both yourself and your spouse. Have extra money? Get a small bonus? Come in under budget in a category? Celebrate these small successes together! Also, when you hold your monthly “budget talk”, turn on some music, open a bottle of wine, and simply make it fun! It doesn’t have to be a gruesome experience!
- Set goals and fund them: For better or worse, everything costs money. It’s important you and your spouse take time to dream together. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years? What have you always wanted to do? Then crunch the numbers. If possible, start putting money aside for your goals right away. Even if it’s nowhere near as much as you need to make your goal happen. Starting to fund your goal catapults you in the right direction!
- Not all money is created equal: Try not to adopt a “tit for tat” approach to your spending. Write down what makes each of you happy and try to put your money behind those things. What do you value? What are your priorities in life? Your goal may not cost as much as your spouse’s. That’s okay! The actual dollar amount is not what’s important; the point is to add value and fulfillment to each of your lives. Also, if your spouse slips up and overspends by $20, don’t run out and spend $20 on whatever you want just because he or she did. Money is not a weapon; it’s a tool.
- Don’t track every dollar: This may be the opposite of what you’ve been told, but I had to meet my husband halfway on this. Asking him for a receipt every time he spent $1 was frustrating for him because he works hard for his money too! Every week we each get a small amount of money in cash. We call it our spending money, but it’s also called “allowance” or “miscellaneous”. The trick here is that it’s his money to do what he wants and it’s your money to do what you want. There are no judgements allowed! This small amount of cash can help your spouse feel less micro-managed and it makes your job easier too- now you don’t have to balance the checkbook every time he buys a $1.25 soda from the gas station!
I hope that these 5 tips will help you and your spouse make managing your money less stressful and more productive. Please remember that while communication is key, compromise is essential. Remember, placing yourselves on a budget is not a negative thing, it simpley takes the stress of out money. Thank you for taking the time to read my article, and I hope that it finds itself as useful to you as it is to us.
About The Author
Kelsa Dickey is the Founder of Fiscal Fitness Phoenix based in Phoenix, AZ. Her passion for helping people with their daily finances began when, as a middle schooler, she witnessed her mother filing bankruptcy. Kelsa went on to earn a Bachelor’s in Finance and Masters of Business Administration (MBA). She has spent more than ten years helping others tackle their money serving clients in the Financial Planning and Accounting fields before opening her own business. In her spare time Kelsa enjoys hiking, reading, watching movies and spending time with her husband and their two dogs.