Prioritising spending can be challenging especially if you have not been taught to budget. When a couple has to prioritise spending a war can arise while trying to identify what is really important and what isn’t. If you are living on a meagre budget then agreeing on priorities is even more important and conflict can create a huge amount of pressure.
Many arguments about finances arise because the is disagreement about who is holding the purse strings, in other words, who is in control of the finances or expenditure within your home. If one of you is ‘in charge’ it is very likely that discontent and disagreements with regards to spending will arise because each has their own set of priorities and inevitably one will feel that their desires are not being taken into consideration. It’s important to recognise that you are both in this together and that you both have responsibility for spending wisely and moving towards your saving goals. Although this goes against today’s independent culture it actually makes a lot of sense when you realise that your financial decisions impact your relationship.
[bctt tweet=”You’re in it together! Both should hold the purse strings. Both should take responsibility for spending, both should take responsibility for saving. This is not a competition, you both win when you work together!”]
Make a habit of deciding your expenditure together. Before you decide on peripheral spending you need to make sure that all of your necessary bills are paid in order of importance. You need to keep the roof over your head, eat and pay the utility bills. The last thing you need is to feel that any of those essentials are at risk.
- Keep track of all of your monthly expenses. We use a spreadsheet where we record every item that regularly needs to be paid.
- Prioritise each item on the list in the order in which it needs to be paid. We believe in tithing and that our number one priority is to God. He has proved time after time that if we put Him first he enables us to make the rest of the money stretch.
- Once all the obligations have been met then you can look at what money remains in reserve. Don’t assume that all of this is disposable income. It is important to create an emergency fund to help pay a bill if your car breaks down, the washing machine breaks or something else unexpected occurs. Train yourselves to live within your income, it will take a lot of pressure off your shoulders!
- Avoid impulse spending. You may need to work hard to break this bad habit! If you want something put it on a list and put in a time buffer so you don’t fall prey to clever advertising or snap decisions. If you ‘want’ something you haven’t previously agreed upon then contact your spouse and talk it through.
- In the case of a shortfall, you will have to take radical action. It may mean downsizing your home, selling a car or taking a second job. Doing something this radical may not be necessary if you eat out less often, cut down on treats and start buying generic products.
- Whatever you chose to do make sure you are in agreement.
What to do with the surplus.
Spending the surplus can cause as many disagreements as organising your budget. If you still have a “your wage and my wage” mentality then, even more, friction can arise when you have a surplus and your spouse has none.
- Pool your income (you are in this together).
- Decide what a “need” is and what a “want” is. Hint “needs” come first.
- Set a budget for “treats”. If you do this you won’t risk entering the world of retaliation spending. You both know how much is available for you to spend.
- Decide the priorities. If you have different priorities then save to make sure both needs are catered for.
- Don’t belittle each other’s choices. It’s likely that you won’t understand your spouse’s desires whether it’s for a new power drill or something to wear. The main thing is not to stray off the agreed budget and that you are fair.
- Give. We have received great benefit and joy by being able to help meet the needs of others. Are there people in your community who are struggling and could use your financial help?
Many couples struggle to get on the same page in marriage. Whether you are newlyweds or have been married for years Bringing Worlds Together will help you blend together. Expect to learn more about your spouse, gain insight and be challenged.
Are you ready to move closer rather than drift apart?
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No-one enters marriage expectation free. Adjusting Expectations helps identify how expectations were formed and whether or not they were realistic. Most expectations need some adjustment; they are often too high but can also be set too low. The good news is expectations can be reset!
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