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Real Life On A Budget

How My Husband and I Create Our Monthly Budget

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 daughter Amelia is 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!

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  • Maere Floyd Gage

    Hello! My husband and I are trying to simplify our biweekly budget without missing anything or having too much left over. We are putting half of the bill and gas money in checking every payday. Is this productive?

    • J

      Maere,

      My wife and I have been doing this a while and we REALLY struggled to find a “system” that works. Years later, we have 1 account that our direct deposits go into, we immediately move the total amount for our monthly bills into another account (our “household bills” account), and we move our gas, and allotted spending into another “daily spending” account. We then have our emergency fund account, AND our fully funded “yearly expense” account that’s used for our car registrations, car and home owners insurance, regular yearly vet expenses, etc. It may sound like a lot of accounts, but we don’t regularly use more than 2. The others just sit there until we need them. Good luck and I hope this helps. Find what works for you. Remember its okay to “fail” as long as you’re “failing forward”. 👍

      • Maere Floyd Gage

        Thank you for sharing your system. We will try it!

      • diane

        this was helpful. Thank you

      • Chris

        Love this. I have 10 checking acounts. One for vacation,bills, emergency, yearly expenses like dental and vet and tax etc. this system really works and im never robbing peter to pay paul. I know exactly where i stand on each category of my life.

    • Chellby Douglas

      Because my money is so tight, I am using a prepaid debit card on some things. King Supers has a rewards card that works for me since I also shop there. I use my checking for house only and pay on utilities at King Supers. Just an idea.

  • Karen Baines Hobson

    I do use the basic Every Dollar app because I can see where the money is going at a glance and where we could possibly cut back; however, my husband is several years older than me (15) and old school (read: NOT tech savvy-has flip phone), so he cannot have the app on his phone nor would he use it. He relies on me to take care of our budget. I have attempted to get him to sit down with me and at least let me show him where our money goes – not interested!! So, for 31 years now, he has trusted our system, which has been that he has a certain allotment of cash in his pocket for gas and what not and I use the clip system and categorize my spending for the month. He gets paid twice a month and I get paid just once a month…and we do have a joint account.

    • Dana R.

      Dave says in the first FPU class that both partners need to be on board and participating, no more “Ok, honey, whatever you say”. It’s a lot of pressure and stress on YOU to be the primary budgeter. We all want and need partners, not a grown man child or a little princess as a spouse. You’re not his mom. How can you dream together for your future and retirement if one doesn’t participate? Life’s long and hard, if you’re not actively engaged in handling your family’s money, you’re missing out on happiness, joy, and financial “peace” 🙂

      • Karen Baines Hobson

        It’s really not, “honey, whatever you say.” He knows our bills and where we need to ramp up or cut back, but he is 67 years old and already retired. He is not tech-savvy, doesn’t want to be and that’s how it is. He’s in agreement with me having the app and maintaining the budget. If we need to talk about anything, we do, but we do not have budget discussions once a month.

    • Chellby Douglas

      Sounds like he has his plate full and really is not comfortable with anything additional. Don’t expect him to sit down and go over an entire budget in one sitting. Discuss one thing at a time, to ease him into it. Ask for his opinion on one or two things occasionally. If it works and your on budget, keep doing what your doing. I have a sister who not a tech person. Drives me crazy at times. But it sounds like he is working with you and doing what he has to to stay on budget. Keep up communication, make sure you let him know what he is doing right. Mold him gently, he is trying.