When you are young, learning how to make a budget work for you can take some time. When the time comes to get married, trying to mesh your budgeting style with another person’s style can be daunting. Plus, as a couple, you have to think about budget categories that you might not normally have as a single person. It’s definitely a time of learning. If you are in this situation currently, or you see yourself being there in the near future, here are some tips you should know about budgeting as a young couple.
Plan for Life Events
Even if buying a house, having kids, or finishing your Master’s Degree isn’t on the calendar for the immediate future, if there are big life events that you eventually want to get around to, you need to start planning for them now. Most life changes are not cheap, and the more you save, the better prepared you can be when you are ready to embark on those journeys. Put a budget category for specific future life events, and put a little money back each month for them. Even if you don’t save a ton, you will be far ahead of where you started.
A lot of arguments in marriage stem from financial issues. To help stay on the same page and reduce these arguments, don’t assign the finances to one partner or the other–do it together! When you are both on board with your financial plan, it is easier to stick to that plan. You can’t feign ignorance when you go off budget if you have monthly budget meetings. Plan out each budget category so that it fits both of your needs, stick with it, and don’t be afraid to change things if you outgrow certain categories or methods.
Make Room for Fun
When most people think of budgeting, they think of strict rules and no fun. That simply isn’t true. Sure, budgeting does come with some guidelines and rules, but you can build the fun right into those parameters.
First, have a “fun money” category. Agree upon a set amount of money for each person to just do whatever they want. Coffee, movies, books, shopping–whatever they want to spend that money on gets a free pass. When you have a little fun money, it makes it easier to stick to your budget as a whole because you feel as if you can still be whimsical and slightly impulsive. Just stick within the fun money budget, and you can spend that money guilt-free.
Secondly, make budget items for vacations or special events. Having a special concert, vacation or weekend activity on the calendar will give you something to look forward to while you are sticking so close to your budget in every other area.
Don’t Stress–Keep Going
Learn how to move on if you mess up. There will be days, weeks, or months where your budget and spending does not go as planned. That’s ok. Learn from your mistakes, adjust your budget, and try again. As time goes on, you will get better at budgeting and mistakes will happen less often.
Budgeting can be harder when you are doing it with another person, but if you include each other in the process, make a reasonable plan you both can stick to, and leave some room for fun, you will be winning with your finances in no time!