I tell people all the time: Sitting down with your spouse and making a monthly budget is one of the most important things you can do in your relationship.
Without that talk, you don’t have a plan for the upcoming month—and that’s when your spending can get out of control. Your bank account takes a hit and, more than likely, your relationship gets a little strained over arguments about money.
Our relationship isn’t perfect (what marriage is?), but Winston and I have figured out a solid routine for creating our monthly budget. Here’s what we do to get the most out of our budget meeting.
- First, we make sure our kids are asleep. If you’re a parent, you know it can be hard to have a grown-up conversation with the kids running around. For us, having a little peace and quiet when we break out the budget is always helpful!
- Next, we take a close look at our calendars for the upcoming month. If there’s anything out of the ordinary, we talk through how it might affect our budget. Some examples might include a trip, wedding gifts or birthdays.
- While we’re chatting about the month ahead, we both have the EveryDollar app pulled up on our phones so we can easily see our budget and make changes as we go. Then throughout the month, we use the app to track our spending. Who needs spreadsheets?
- Finally, we look back at our budget from the last month or two and review our expenses. (With EveryDollar, this is really easy.) We look for any recent trends in our spending and adjust for the next month as needed. For example, last fall we budgeted for a lot of gas money because we were traveling to watch University of Tennessee football games. Once the season was over, we realized we didn’t use half of that budgeted money. We were able to adjust and have more money to spend—I mean save!
So those are four easy ways you can make your budgeting process even smoother. Everyone’s a little different, but give these a try and I bet they’ll work for you!