Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Expert Tips on Budgeting for Two

Finances are one of the primary causes of strife between couples. Different approaches to budgets, conflicting goals and spending habits can make balancing the books more like a Mexican standoff than a joint task.
Partners need to understand they may approach finances and budgeting very differently. This isn’t a bad thing; a budget built on compromise and mutual understanding often has strengths your original budgeting habits lacked.

Start by Talking
Neither one of you can claim to be a mind reader (well, I suppose you can make the claim, but the fact is you aren’t one). You won’t understand each other’s financial attitudes unless you talk about them.
Pick a quiet time to chat finances. Go out for dinner or head to the local coffee shop. Share how you feel about the state of your finances: one person may think everything’s fine while the other’s worrying.
It helps to understand each other’s goals for savings. One option is to make a list of five goals each and compare them. Anything on both lists is a priority, while the remaining goals give you insight into each other’s financial habits.

Understand Financial Burdens
Chances are you entered the relationship with different—possibly very different—states of financial health. Consider how you both affect the financial situation. Are there preexisting financial issues one person should assume full responsibility for? Are there debts you need to eliminate by pooling resources? Perhaps most importantly, are you comfortable sharing resources?

Start Big, Work Down to Small
Some budget items are more important than others. Start with the regular payments. If you both have health care coverage at work, which provides the best deal for the lowest cost? You may need to look through healthcare marketing documents carefully to reach these conclusions.
What big-ticket items are you saving for, and do they have any additional expenses you haven’t thought of? Buying a home, for instance, means considering maintenance costs, furniture and home insurance in addition to the down payment.

Individual Goals
Because you’re a couple, mutually beneficial savings and purchases come first on the budget. This doesn’t, however, mean you have to neglect your personal goals. Set a monetary limit as a guideline, and have each of you decide on an individual financial goal.
You may want to save up for a new camera, while she wants aftermarket products for her car. As long as you both agree necessities come first, respect each other’s personal goals (even if you don’t agree with them. I mean, an SLR camera? When I need that new subwoofer? Please . . .).

Separate or Joint Accounts
You need to decide if you’ll have separate or joint bank accounts, or perhaps a combination of the two. This is a decision only you and your partner can make. There’s no right or wrong here, with one caveat. If you’re dead set on joint accounts and your partner wants to keep finances separate, forcing the issue will do no good. Try to remember separate accounts are not a reflection on your strength as a couple; they’re simply one of many possible ways to handle your finances.

Carly is a freelance writer who loves animals, spending time outdoors, and traveling. She loves how blogging allows her to share her writing with a large audience on the internet.

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