Photo by Giorgio Trovato on Unsplash.

3 Essential Tips For Staying on Budget As A Couple

Your Finances
September 14, 2020

It’s not uncommon for some couples to find themselves overbudget halfway through a month. What do you do when unexpected expenses pop up, or when you’ve spent too much on going out? Together, we can stay on budget and achieve financial peace.

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When I first got married, I was driving a 2005 Honda Accord. An awesome little car that I had been driving for years, but it wasn’t without its shortcomings. 

That Honda always got me where I needed to go, but that may have been the only upside to owning it. A fluttering noise behind the dash, wonky A/C, tires that kept popping on old California roads… my car had its fair share of problems. One time, a large tree branch even fell through the windshield after an overnight wind storm blew through our apartment complex. 

There are countless reasons that people go over budget. For starters, a very small percentage of adults even have a budget (if you don’t have a budget, you need one – plain and simple)! For many, just making ends meet can be difficult. Debt can be a thief of joy, causing money to be something that is sucked away before it can ever be enjoyed.

Though, if you have a steady paycheck that covers your expenses, your money troubles may come from poor discipline when it comes to spending or other of life’s incredibly intense curveballs. So, how do we manage our money in a way that works?

Photo by XPS on Unsplash.

Create Financial Boundaries

I’ve previously written about the incredible benefits of talking about money with your partner, but perhaps the most tangible benefit of having open and honest dialogue about your finances is the clarity that you both receive. When creating a budget together, you are sitting down and designing the type of lifestyle that you plan to live! A budget is an important tool, but financial boundaries are important to discuss, too. Here are some questions to consider:

What’s the largest purchase you can make before consulting your spouse?

How do you plan to adjust your spending if you go over budget?

If you are continually going over budget, who needs to make a bigger change?

Creating (and sticking to) your boundaries allows you to find a higher satisfaction in the money that you do have. By spending less and saving more, you’re ensuring that your future is taken care of.

Expect the Unexpected

Life is full of unexpected expenses. When my wife and I first got married and started combining our finances, one of the biggest questions we asked was, “how can we expect the unexpected?” Whether it’s car trouble, medical expenses, or home repairs, there are going to be expenses that come up out of the blue.

An emergency fund is hands-down the best way to plan for the unexpected. Setting aside a savings account of $1,000 that is accessed only in the case of an emergency can help offset those unexpected expenses significantly. 

One of the most beautiful aspects of a budget is that it is fluid; it can change quickly if a need arises! By earmarking a small amount of money specifically designated to replenish your rainy-day fund each month. If your emergency fund is full, you can redirect this money to savings, or cover other smaller expenses as you see fit!

Photo by Giorgio Trovato on Unsplash.

Try the Cash Out Method

One of the easiest ways to restrict yourself to just the things you’ve budgeted for is to live an all-cash lifestyle. Think about it: if you’re having trouble curbing impulse spending because credit cards make it too easy, lock ‘em in a drawer.

Instead of using plastic at the register, head to an ATM and only pull out the amount of cash that you’ve budgeted for that month. Every time you go out, buy groceries, or make another purchase, pay for it with cold hard cash. This removes the accessibility and ease of swiping your credit card and allows you to stay exactly within the confines of your budget with no chance of going over. 

Of course, this method will not work for everyone. Pulling out that much cash at a time can be an incredible hurdle! Instead, try experimenting with only using your debit card to pay for things and keeping a finite amount of money in your checking account each month. That way, you can easily track your spending digitally.

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