Conversations about money are never easy especially when you have to sit and make cold, hard financial decisions with your partner. Whether you are married or in a serious relationship, it is crucial that you learn to build your relationship by understanding how important and useful a budget can be in your everyday life and in achieving long-term (future) plans. I know most people dislike having to discuss money matters but if you think your relationship is in a position where a budget needs to be implemented, then it is time to put your pride aside and get cracking.
Balance is the name of the game and it’s going to take sacrifices and honesty. All couples should sit and talk about where they are at financially. I realise people shy away from the topic because they do not want to burden their partner with their worries or money problems etcetera. However, if you want to build a life with someone, being straightforward about your finances will not only open doors but close doors that are not for you. The person you are spending your life with should be the biggest part of your support system.
Fancy dates cost money and so do trips, eating out casually and going to the movies. Now, multiply that by two. The person that is spending the majority of cash is sure to feel it the most. I know it is hard to see couples doing lavish things and you and your partner may be struggling to even accommodate a simple date night but breaking the bank and pretending you do not have a problem is going to make things worse.
If you are married or living together you need to determine your household needs such as mortgage, groceries, car payments, utility payments and debt payments. Your needs are to be prioritised above your wants, then you can begin to focus on luxury and pleasure. Every couple, no matter the situation, has to discuss individual needs. This is where things can get a tad tricky but keep in mind why you are budgeting in the first place. You want a future that is secure and less financially frustrating with your partner.
Creating a shared budget can ensure you are both working towards the same goals and will, without a doubt, bring you closer if it is done correctly. Set aside one day per week, to start budget discussions preferably when you both are rested and have at least 30 minutes free. When you are speaking, bear in mind that everyone was brought up differently and starting a budget may be a foreign concept to some. Look at ‘Budgeting for Couples’ videos online to get started and acquainted with all the terms and helpful tips that may suit your unique situation.
Easy ways to budget and still have an active social life depend on your mindset. You may not be able to go for dinner at your favourite spot or to see a movie every week, but, you can plan a romantic dinner at home and watch a movie after. That saves gas money, cinema fees, fast food/ restaurant fees and you still get to have quality time with your special person. If one person is more financially stable than the other, one partner can buy the groceries whilst the other cooks and washes dishes. Another fun option is enjoying more outdoor activities like going to the beach, going fishing or even hiking. We live on an island and I honestly think couples do not make the most of that blessing. Visitors come here to vacation and pay big bucks to experience our beautiful country, why can’t we enjoy it a little more and appreciate the beauty in front of us? Try a staycation instead of a vacation elsewhere this year.
Plan picnics, house gatherings and make an effort to invite friends for a game night. What about dancing? Have a night out but set limits before you leave the house. Be on the lookout for drink specials, food specials, discounts when shopping and places that have little to no cover charge. There is no shame in being smart financially. At the end of the day when you hit your target and achieve your goals, you can enjoy things without the worry of being in debt. What is more important, a fancy pair of shoes or saving towards a new home? A bottle of champagne or your children’s school fees? Be patient, your time will come and if it is super important that you or your partner take receive a lavish gift or get away every now and then, make it happen but ensure that you can truly afford it.
Small sacrifices help build a better future and your partner will appreciate you for being understanding instead of complaining and being unrealistic. When your budget is made, keep a monthly meeting to keep track of things. Make adjustments as you go along and most importantly, do not lose faith, this is just another page in your story.