Budget meetings are tough.
Some people SWEAR by them.
I learned that they do NOT work for us.
I prepared for MONTHS for our first budget meeting with Joe. I made excel files, printed worksheets, and put everything in a binder. I told Joe about the meeting for weeks and I was so excited to finally create a budget together and go over our finances.
When it was time for our meeting. I brought my computer and binder to the kitchen and went through all my worksheets, spreadsheets, and charts. It lasted about 30 minutes and we have never had a budget meeting since.
Next month (December 2019) will be one year since our first and only budget meeting.
We spent 20 minutes going through our bills and accounts to determine our total amount of debt and what we owe each month. I spent the other 10 minutes rambling about my budget binder. Joe is very supportive of our money goals and is on board, but he doesn’t really care about our day to day budget. He is not into budget meetings.
At first, I was really upset. I planned for months. Everyone has monthly budget meetings and they seem to work so well. I learned that budget meetings just do not work for us. After almost a year of budgeting together, I have found a few things that help keep us on track.
Joe is 100% okay with me creating our monthly budget. To be honest, our monthly budget does not change much. We might add a few line items but for the most part, it is pretty straight forward. I can ask Joe a few questions throughout the month and be able to complete our budget for the following month.
I manage our finances with input and support from Joe. This is what works for us.
If you have a spouse who really isn’t into budget meetings, try these tips:
1. Keep Your Budget Accessible
Although Joe does not ever check it, our budget is kept on Google Drive. This way he can access it any time if he wanted. I want him to know he is always included and we are a team even if he never checks it. Do you need help creating a budget? Apply for my signature program, Flourish FinanciALLI.
2. Have Conversations Throughout the Month
Since we do not have monthly budget meetings. I try to ask Joe at least once a week if he knows of any expenses coming up in the next 1-2 months so I can add them to our budget. I try to keep the dialogue open so that we can talk about upcoming expenses or things we might need so I do not hear about them the day before they are needed (which has happened before). TIP: try utilizing a calendar app or notes app and enter in any expenses you know are coming in the next 1-2 months so you can both see it and you can make sure they are added to the budget.
3. Set Big Goals Together & Discuss Your Why
I want to make sure our money goals are helping us reach our couple goals and individual goals. Joe and I always talk about our big goals: house, kids, businesses. I want to make sure I support him and his goals and that he understands my individual goals as well. Understanding why your partner wants to reach a goal or why he/she wants to accomplish something will help him/her stay on track with your budget. Make sure your budget reflects your big goals. If your big goal is to pay off debt in the next two years, make sure your budget reflects making extra debt payments and cutting unnecessary expenses. If your big goal is to save for a down payment in a year, make sure there is a down payment line item so you are saving each month.
4. Discuss the One Budget Line Item You Won’t Give Up
I make sure our budget always includes the one item he doesn’t want to give up (even if I do not understand why he wants it). This keeps him on board and keeps us on track to reach our money goals. Usually, the line item is either something hunting related or sports gambling. Although we could do without the extra $20-$40/month expense, I would rather spend the money to keep him motivated to stay on track and reach our goals. For me, the one budget line item I won’t give up is our Gamecock football and basketball season tickets. Joe has never asked me to give those up and that cost is way more than his monthly requests.
Questions to Ask Your Spouse:
It is important to not only talk about your monthly expenses but understand each other’s money past, triggers, goals, etc. If you do not have a monthly budget meeting, make sure you are still talking to your spouse about money at least a few times a month so you are on the same page.
Below are a few questions I try to ask Joe when we are in the car, eating dinner, or on a date night. I do my best to bring them up in conversation, so it is less of an interview, but they have been really helpful for me to understand how he views money. We have very different money pasts, but we are working together to reach our money goals (which is not always easy). Since legally the debt is all his, I want to make sure he never feels that he is alone and that I reassure him we are in this together.
- What motivates you?
- Would you rather spend money on food or material things?
- What budget line item is most important to you?
- What are you most passionate about?
- If we had to cut one thing from our budget, what would you be most comfortable getting rid of?
- What scares you about money?
- What dreams do you have (1 year, 5 years, 10 years, 20 years)?
- Do you have any questions about our financial goals or anything you do not agree with?
- Are you happy with our financial situation? If not, what changes do you think we should make?
Do you and your spouse have monthly budget meetings? What works for you? Let me know in the comments!