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Budgeting Tips for New Married Couples
Newly weds have had their first dip together in the area of budgeting when they planned for their wedding. Some consider frugal ideas in their wedding plans and expenses, but most do not consider spending much or extravagantly for their wedding as an issue. Well, the idea is you get to have your dream wedding only once, right?
But the reality of budgeting and money management as a couple starts on the first day (well maybe not the first day, give it a couple of days) that they are really together as husband and wife. They may have talked a little about it when they were still engaged but if not they've got to talk about it now.
New married couples must begin to talk about how they are going to handle their finances and form good money management habits as early as possible. If not, sooner or later money problems would start to surface and may strain the marriage relationship. Inability to talk about money issues in marriage is not healthy and may lead to poor living, debt, conflicts and even divorce.
I've been married for 12 years now and I'm still not an expert when it comes to budgeting. But my husband and I are smart enough not to fight over money or allow money issues to put pressure on our relationship. Secondly, we are smart enough not to get ourselves in any kind of debt. It's not rocket science. We just follow simple principles that help us make frugal living possible.
Let me share with you some of the budgeting tips as well as some frugal tips which I think couples, especially the newly married, should consider and talk about.
The Couple's Money Poll
As a couple, do you keep your money separate or do you pull them together?
1. Know how much you have together.
I know there are husbands and wives who keep their money separately after they have been married. They talk about budgeting this way - "You pay for this and I will pay for that." Well, that may work for them, but for us, we believe that when God put us together as one, that included our finances.
Just think about it. I am a stay at home mom, so I don't have any salary to speak of as my own. If we do not consider my husband's salary as "OUR" money, then I would be in such a sorry state. And so are other stay at home moms out there.
Putting together what the husband and the wife (if she's working) have allows transparency in the relationship which builds up trust. Whether it is the wife or the husband who would handle the money, it is up to them to talk about it, as long as they manage their money as "ONE."
This is how we look at OUR money resources as a couple, how about you?
2. Know how much you should spend.
The husband and wife have different views and ways on how they spend money. But now that they are together, they have to meet halfway so that they could keep their finances manageable. Couples need to talk about setting goals and budgets. Goals include how you want your finances to be in 5, 10 or 20 years. If you want to buy a house, put it on your goal and budget. If you want to have a retirement fund, put that on your goal and budget, too.
Know how much you should spend each month. The key is not to spend more than what you have so you have to set a budget. Determine the different categories of expenses you have like food, utility bills, car maintenance, doctor's appointment, entertainment, etc. and know how much money is supposed to be spent on those. If you give support to your parents, you definitely have to talk about it or it may become a cause of conflict later on. You may also include budgets for your emergency fund, your children's college fund or your retirement fund.
The goal in budgeting is to keep finances on the positive. So, it's not enough just to know how much you should spend. You should also keep track of your expenses. A simple budget worksheet can help you evaluate each month if you are on the budget. If you're not, then look for ways to make adjustments in your expenses.
Sample Monthly Budget Worksheet
Category of Expense
Money you have at the start
Money you spent
IN - OUT
Comment on needed adjustments
Car fuel /gas
Tuition / Education fund
Responsible Money Management
Who handles your money as a couple/family?
3. Know your responsibility.
Who should handle the money? In most cases, the wife is the one who handles the budgeting. But it doesn't mean that the husband can't do it, especially if the wife tends to overspend. Whoever is more capable of doing it should do it. The key is to know each one's responsibility and be transparent with this arrangement.
In my case, I usually handle the budgeting since I know the things we need to buy for our family but I always keep my husband informed about our expenses. I also keep a record of the expenses, as in the worksheet above, so that when he wants to know our financial standing, he can have a visual.
Whoever handles the money, it is the responsibility of both the husband and wife to make sure that their finances are in check. Both have to adjust to the way they spend money and how they can make ends meet. They should find a money management system that works for them, be it the envelope budgeting system (putting the money/budget for each category in a separate envelope), checking account system (managing and tracking all your expenses from the one checking account), use of couponing, or whatever.
A common question asked is should each partner know all the expense of his partner? Well, it's up to the couple if they want to set a budget limit, say $50, that they could spend without necessarily informing the other. Just be sure that trust is never broken.
5 More Budgeting Tips for New Married Couples
1. Communicate, communicate, communicate. You just don't know how much you can save if you learn to communicate.
2. Agree to disagree with love. You will not agree on many things, budgeting and spending included. But talk about it and settle things in consideration of your love for each other.
3. You don't have to buy everything you need ... at least at the moment. I know newly wed couples are just starting life together and may need a lot of things including that of a house. Choose only those which are must haves and put the others on your goals and budget.
4. It doesn't always have to be brand new. As with any other frugal spender, it saves a person a lot if they would consider buying from second hand stores, garage sales or in flea markets.
5. Learn to do it yourself. Need to decorate your house, do some repainting or some home repairs? It might be a good project you as a couple can do together. There are a lot of information online which can help you accomplish DIY projects quickly and economically