4 Budgeting Tips For Couples

huntsville marriage counseling for couples having issues with their finances

In this blog I am hoping to break down a few tip that will help you in your marriage especially pertaining to how you and your spouse choose to work a budget.   I can’t say that things have always been hunky Dory financially in my marriage.  This is how I learned how ineffective it is to bully your spouse into a budget. It wasn’t a conscious move, but I started out kind of bullying my wife into a budget.  It was not overt bullying, but I would say that anytime your spouse does not feel that they can freely express themselves, it may be because their partner is bullying, or lets just say, not being very open to new perspectives outside of their own.  That’s kind of how I started off my marriage.  It wasn’t intentional.  I was trying to do my best, but sometimes its important to listen and look to learn and be interested in your spouse opinions.

Don’t get me wrong, my wife and I experienced significant success as result of the decisions I suggested,  but it wasn’t without repercussions down the road because I had her so tight that after about seven to 10 years of putting up with it, she finally got fatigued.  So how did I find out about the financial misappropriations?  As the ole saying goes, “Well, what happened was,” things just started to come up missing financially. I didn’t initially recognize this but she finally told me.

We had to have a come to Jesus with Jesus and ourselves to find out what was the best way that we needed to run our budget, while giving everyone a fair opinion and a choice. I started to recognize that just because I may have chosen the best way to seize our goals long-term, the short term problem we were experiencing in our marriage could have had bad implications if we didn’t change some things fast.

Talking with each other became very important. We did the Dave Ramsey and we were able to have some pretty good successes with that. But the thing is that we had to talk about what my wife needed for spending.  I was scared to death of that conversation, but my plan was not working at the time.  If you are married and living together, you have to have a budget. You need to have something, maybe a spreadsheet that kind of spells out what your expenses are versus the money you have coming in.  This data needs to be broken down.   But it’s really important to make sure that you have a plan to pay your debts.

Make sure that you’re not just swiping and loading up credit card debt. Studies say that about 40% of consumers who have credit cards are maxed out. So many of us are maxing out cards. But what I really want to stress to married couples is to make sure that you pay your debts, but also make sure that you and your spouse collectively come up with a plan for your budget.

What I haven’t stressed so far is the importance of having a budget. You have to create a budget and then consider where your funds are going to be kept. It’s important to have a system in place concerning how you are going to pay your bills, spend, and how you are going to save.

I talk to so many couples that are not unified when it comes to paying bills.  All of their spending and expenses are separate.  Many times they have no idea of the total income that is being brought into the home.  They many times have no joint accounts, and they pay their bills separately as if they are in a partnership.  This is often problematic because in marriage we are supposed to function as one.  When couples manage finances separate from one another, there are risks that emerge concerning who will pay what if emergency situations occur.  Conflict can arise if one partner gets behind on their personal bills but needs support from the other.  It is most often best when the couple can support one another as a unit with finances, as opposed to making attempts to support one another from separate parts.

Steve Harvey offers great advice on how married people should manage their bank accounts.  He suggests something that my wife and I have been doing mostly all of our marriage. Harvey suggests that all married couples should have a joint bank account designated for household expenses and bills.  He also recommends having a joint savings account, where the money where the remainder of the money is rolled into after all of the couple’s bills have been paid.  Lastly, he suggests having two personal accounts.  Having personal accounts allows each spouse to maintain a level of autonomy in the distribution of money they receive.  Because all of the bills have been paid, the spouse should have the freedom to spend their allocation as they choose without lecturing or oversight on their spending choices.  When a couple has this type of arrangement, it does not matter how little or much each spouse brings home because everything goes into the pot.

Earlier in our marriage, I was making the most money.  Later my wife began to creep up on me when she became a director of nursing of a skilled nursing facility. Soon her salary surpassed mine.  The psychology for some men behind their wives exceeding their income is a blog worth writing…that one up next Lol.  Interestingly enough, I have found that ego can play out with both partners, regardless of gender, especially when the couple attempts to determine who has the most say concerning the finances.  This is most problematic when this topic has not already been discussed either prior to marriage or at the start of the marriage.  Fortunately, we had our discussions concerning roles and finances and were able to alleviate potential blunders.  We haven’t had much trouble with that throughout our marriage due to the fact that we agreed that the amount of money that each spouse brought into the home did not factor.  We adopted the view that any money that came into the home is “our money.” If one spouse brings in more than the other, kudos, it’s more for the pot.  This includes bonuses, commissions and all.

It’s really important I think to have a budget set up where everything is pulled together. This helps a couple to avoid competition in in marriage concerning who’s making the most. I wrote this blog and made this video called “99 Problems and A Friend Aint One.”  I talked about how as a couple, my wife and I have problems, but conflicts about one of us having friends of the opposite sex is not a problem that we have encountered due to certain boundaries we have established.  I mention this because our goal should be to avoid unnecessary problems, and there are practical ways of doing this.  Money fights can be avoided, and hopefully, some of the tips I have shared will increase the likelihood that conflict about money doesn’t show up in your relationship.

Another thing, 99 problems, but basically the finance is not one. As far as us having money fights, we used to have money fights all the time. But having these things that I’ve just mentioned to you all has helped to alleviate that. Now we have our problems. We have our disagreements and verbal fights. It happens a lot, it happens often. You know what I’m saying? We resolve it. But I mean, I’m just being real with y’all. We have it. But it’s just not about certain things. So if you can, you want to be able to choose what kind of issues that you going to have if you can have certain control over it. Because when it comes to cheating and things like that, and coming to money and finances, coming to spirituality, you just don’t want to have those problems if you can help it.

So what I am suggesting, this is a big one and I don’t even have enough time to go into it. This is the thing y’all. We are big givers. We are huge givers. So we return (to God) and give a substantial amount of our money away.  We continued to do this during our transition after I lost my job, and we were living on my primarily one income. At the time we were trying to build this business and just didn’t know how things were going to turn out. We didn’t know how we were going to be able to pay for insurance and other bills, plus we knew we had been inspired that my wife would soon quit her job, come home and mother our child that she was pregnant with. We never stopped our giving. We tithe, but this is the thing, we don’t just give everything to the church. We give a significant amount of tithe and offerings that we give to the church, but then we want money left to give at our discretion as well. So this is what we do. There is an allocation for us to be able to give to things that don’t have anything to do with helping us, and basically we don’t benefit from any of it. We’re just helping other people.

We have a budget set for giving. But there is something that I noticed in our church.  I noticed that there was a lot of givers who gave 10 plus 10s, which means 10 percent tithe, and 10 percent offering.  These are not pastors or individuals paid by the church.  If you watch them, their lifestyles and the things that’s happening in their lives, you can see that God is financially blessing them. Not just financially blessing them, but you could see that they seemed to have a different kind of marriage. They seem to be married longer and stay married. There is definitely something to this. I can’t tell you the amount of times that we have increased our giving and experienced a significant financial reward.  Its just crazy!!,

One time we increased our giving about 1 percent. Weeks later,  my wife got a $10,000 increase. Another time we increased our giving, this time because we had been blessed with a promotion. We said,  “let’s give more.” Soon after that she was promoted to director of nursing. I mean, with a major increase in her salary .  I could give you multiple stories, but let me share this. Throughout our 16+ years of marriage, we have never had any issues throughout our whole marriage where we couldn’t pay our bills or were afraid that we wouldn’t be able to pay them. We’ve always had more than what we needed.

Make Sure You Give God What Is His First

So this is a huge, huge thing, make sure that you give God what’s his first. Then give more. You don’t have to set a cap on giving. If I don’t want him to cap me in his giving, why would I set a cap on giving? Test him and the Bible says, you’ve been cursed with the curse because we are not returning what is his. For those of you who are not into the church, you can still give to someone. You Give and you will receive.

Review and Revisit Your Money Plans

There is one last point that I would like to make.  You and your spouse should consider a review of your plans for money in your relationship because, throughout the relationship, these things change.  It is not uncommon for a spouse to have a  shift from being in love with diamonds and cars, to being in love with giving to charity and missionary work. But that doesn’t mean that because one spouse has a shift, that the other spouse will shifted as well.

So lets use an example of the a couple who over the span of their relationship spent alot of time eating.  Consuming food in unhealthy ways was the norm, so much of a norm that it caused major problems with obesity for the couple.  But wait, all of a sudden out of the blue, one spouse decides “hey, I want to be healthy.” I don’t want to have all these medical conditions. I want to be vegan! Then all of a sudden they just start changing, which is good for them.  The problem is is that they’re expecting that you change too!

Well, you know what? Even though the diet consideration was a great idea, expecting that the spouse would automatically have the same vigor and want to change as well, was not the best idea. We have got to consider that just because one spouse gets a bright idea to change for good, it doesn’t mean the other spouse just catches right on. It doesn’t mean that they need to be demonized just because they haven’t caught on to change. We have to work with each other where we are and understand that we all have different plans for our lives and relationships.

This is how it sizes out with money as well. We must respect the fact that as couples, we may not always start out on the same page when it comes to making changes to our budgets and financial planning in general.   We have to be supportive of our spouses even when they don’t seem to make the best decisions financially.  I always say, “no spouse left behind,” which needs to be our motto.  In other words, if you are wounded, confused, or if we are not seeing eye to eye, as a spouse I need to support and many times be available to rescue you even if you are dead wrong.

If you don’t feel like your spouse is moving fast enough, still validate them. Don’t make them feel bad about their decisions.  Be kind and pray that they move forward with you. So let’s review our steps.  We want to make sure that we have an organized way of paying our debts. Number two we want to make sure that we have a budget plan. Number three, we want to give like there’s no tomorrow. And number four, we want to review your plans for money in your marriages and relationships. I hope that this is helpful. I’m going to hopefully be coming out with some more content to help couples not just survive but thrive in relationships.

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1955 Rideout Dr. Ste 400
Huntsville, AL 35806

choya_w@aspirecounselingal.com
(256) 212-0567


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