Do you argue about money? Save your marriage with this easy tip
Being on a budget is very like being on a diet. You know you shouldn’t have that chocolate bar because it won’t help the diet but the devil on your shoulder tells you that you deserve it.
Because you give in to that one chocolate bar you blow the diet out of the water by buying the crisps and the biscuits to accompany it.
Being on a strict budget feels exactly the same and it is so difficult to stay the course. Month after month your budget tells you you can’t have that nice shiny widget and because you know you can’t have it you want it so much more.
Because its shiny, because you deserve it, because because…
Then you add in to the mix the fact you are in a partnership/marriage. Being in a partnership can make your budgeting so much stronger but it can also make you struggle.
When you marry/partner up you make a commitment to be with your other half through thick and thin. Being part of a partnership can be wonderful but it can also be hard work.
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Maybe one of you does all the grocery shopping so gets to spend money every week? Maybe the other one has little reason to spend money according to your budget?
When you are used to being able to spend money (even if you were going into debt to do so) it’s a habit that is difficult to break.
You start to look for reasons to justify spending money. We’ve run out of X, I’ll pop to the shop to buy it. Unfortunately you are then in a shop surrounded by things that talk you into buying them as well.
Even if you are strong I bet you end up with a couple of extra things in your basket.
When Mr2p and I joined our finances we had some big bills to pay. Full time nursery and a mortgage which we stretched ourselves to the limit to get didn’t leave much leeway.
Our mortgage company shafted us by insisting we take out house & contents insurance with them (this is no longer allowed) and put it up by 60% before we had even paid our first months installment of a 5 year fix.
Livid doesn’t cut it in explaining how I felt. I vowed never to take a mortgage or any product with that building society again.
Related reading: What we gladly gave up to be mortgage free
Our bills left us no room for manoeuvre but somehow we couldn’t stick to the budget. What was worse was Mr2p was paid every fortnight (unusual in the UK) and I was paid monthly.
Most of our bills were monthly and had to be carefully spaced out across the month. We couldn’t afford to pay them all at the beginning of the month.
This meant whenever we looked at our account we couldn’t trust the remaining balance as more bills and wages could be due.
When your finances are stretched the pressure can really pile on you both. You have debt bearing down on you and you are scrimping every penny to make your repayments.
Related reading: 21 tips to help you become debt free
You have a budget you both agreed to but sticking to it gets harder as the months go on.
Then you find out your other half has bought something that wasn’t in the budget. It may have cost £20 or £200. Or you may have seen something you just HAD to have. Either way your budget is now blown.
Related reading: 5 steps to get your budget back on track
This seemed to happen almost every month in the Tuppenny household. More so as we moved forward with our early retirement plans. Because we are on a low income (no 6 figure salaries here) every penny made a difference to our plans.
In fairness to Mr2p it wasn’t always him buying something it just felt like that to me at times! I am usually in control of the budget and tracked our spending so always knew when he had bought something that wasn’t in the budget.
Blowing the budget
Having one of you blow the agreed budget for any reason can build up resentment. Does any of the following sound familiar:
- I needed it for work
- It will work out cheaper in the long run
- It was a bargain
- The children needed it
- The children wanted it and I didn’t feel able to say no
- I saved money by buying it
Yep, all of those excuses above have been heard in the Tuppenny household. We were both guilty of failing to keep a solid grip of our spending.
You know it’s really hard to be consistently good in your spending habits, I salute those who can lock down their spending and never give in to temptation.
Here in the Tuppenny household we know our strengths and our weaknesses and locking down the expenses is a weakness sometimes.
I realised that with the best will in the world budgeting every penny without being realistic about our ability to stick to this was not going to work. You have to work with what you’ve got so something had to give.
Related reading: 30 budgeting mistakes and their solutions
Save your marriage with a financial conversation
Mr2p and I had a finance conference one evening over the dinner table. This is not a common occurrence as Mr2p detests talking finances and prefers to leave it all with me.
I am exactly the same with DIY – that’s his job, he’s good at it, knows what needs to be done and can do so without my involvement. Mr2p sees our finances in a similar light.
This might not be ideal but it works most of the time for us.
Knowing Mr2p’s fondness for finance talk (not) I knew I had to plan out what I was going to say, provide evidence of what is happening (bank statements and tracking spreadsheet) and keep it short and sweet.
I also knew that I need to ensure that I did not come across as blaming him more than myself.
It’s very easy when you are in control of something to end up thinking everything you do regarding that topic is always correct and it’s the others around you that are wrong.
I can’t blame Mr2p for my chocolate habit!
Sitting down to have a conversation about your finances when they are not going well can be difficult. You can both feel defensive of your spending and these conversations can easily end up in a blazing row!
Not what you want when you are trying to work together as a team.
A monthly allowance
Mr2p and I hit on the idea of each of us having an allowance or pocket money which we were free to spend on whatever we wanted every month.
Your allowance is guilt free spending. If you want that shiny widget you can have it. You might have to save up for it if your monthly allowance doesn’t stretch to buying it straight away.
Having an allowance gives you choices and gives you back the feeling that if you deserve something you can have it.
When your budget is tight and you are paying a large mortgage and childcare costs an allowance is unlikely to be very large. But the psychological benefits of having that allowance are huge.
Your allowance can increase or decrease depending on what your budget allows. You may have to agree what gets cuts from the budget in order to find the money to pay the allowance element but that’s ok.
Our allowances have been spent on all manner of random things including:
- Expensive clothing
- Sky sports
- Girls night out
- Take away pizza
Having an allowance has made a huge difference to how we talk about money and our future plans. The personal element and perceived blame is no longer present in our discussions.
When we look at how we are spending our money we ignore what our allowances are spent on and concentrate on the rest.
Related reading: Easy ways to save money – 15 tips to save $14,000 a year!
Reviewing your budget and allowances
When your income changes you will want to review all of your budget including personal allowances. If one of you gets a raise or more hours at work you may decide to increase your allowances.
If your income gets cut you can reduce them.
We have never earned big money so our allowance has never run into hundreds of pounds. It has varied between £50 and £100 each per month.
As our income has increased so has the available money but we have chosen not to increase our allowances in line with our income. This enables us to increase our savings instead.
If your find you are spending money that isn’t in the budget then sit down and review what is happening. Start with identifying your own spending habits so you can relate to your partners.
Identifying what your weak points are will help you tweak your budget and make it stronger for the future.
Give yourselves an allowance, whatever the budget allows and feels right for you. Don’t question your partners spending when it comes to their allowance.
Enjoy your allowance and allow yourself the guilt free spending of it!
Have you thought about an allowance to help save your marriage? How do you organise personal spending?