Marriages are tricky things, and spending your whole life with one person takes serious work.
Ultimately, avoiding divorce or the annulment of a marriage is the ultimate goal, but how? Did you know that effective budgeting of your finances is one of the best ways to keep your marriage afloat? Making sure you have your budgeting in order so you have plenty of money available for any unforeseen circumstances you might find yourselves in is paramount. This way, you’re sure to avoid arguments and preserve your sacred vows.
In this article we’re going to give you the facts on how budgeting is one of the main reasons for a broken marriage. We’ll also give you some ways effective budgeting can save it, and share our tips on how to set up a budget with your spouse.
Does Bad Budgeting Contribute to a Broken Marriage?
If you search online for the causes of a broken marriage, bad finances and budgeting are always in the top ten. Not only that, most of the other causes could easily be attributed to arguments caused by bad budgeting.
In a study from the NCBI, 52 married individuals were surveyed, and the study found that financial problems made up 36.1 percent of broken marriages. Closely behind were lack of commitment, infidelity, too much arguing, and getting married too young. At least two of these other broken marriage signs, lack of commitment and too much arguing, could have easily been caused by financial problems instigated by bad budgeting.
In fact, some of the participants in the study said that the money problems they were having contributed to stress and tension in their relationship. Spouses who spend recklessly, and have differing opinions on short-term spending versus long-term investment, often have frequent arguments that can lead to a broken marriage.
5 Ways Budgeting Can Save Your Marriage
Now that we’ve made the link between finances and broken marriage it’s time to share all the ways budgeting can help you avoid this outcome.
Forces You to Collaborate
Sometimes, in a marriage, it can feel like you’re both working independently of each other. Between work, raising children and your own personal hobbies, you might find it hard to work collaboratively on a project.
Sitting down with your spouse and budgeting your life is a collaborative task you can work on together, and one that requires constant maintenance. This provides stability, and allows you to focus on one thing together that involves you both.
Reduces the Impact of Surprises
Life is pretty unpredictable, so it’s a good idea to have money squirrelled away if something happens. If you don’t have the money to cover the unexpected, it could put you into debt or severe financial strain, which will cause stress and could contribute to a broken marriage.
Preserves Date Night
Having money set aside also means you can do more fun things together. You could use that extra money to budget in a monthly date night, and spend some quality time together outside your hectic day to day lives. There’s nothing quite like wining and dining to pave over any cracks in your relationship.
Makes you and your Partner Accountable
Sometimes you see something you really want to buy, and you just go for it. It’s possible you might even feel guilty for spending the money and try to hide the purchase from your spouse.
Budgeting allows you to hold yourself, and your spouse, accountable for impulsive purchases and curb bad spending habits. It’s also a good exercise in trust, as it encourages you to be more open about embarrassing habits and quirks.
Defining Dreams and Setting Priorities
This is possibly the most exciting part about budgeting. You get the chance to sit down with your partner, discuss your dreams and aspirations, and set priorities for what you want to spend your excess cash on.
You can use budgeting as a way to support each other in your goals, pay for the things the other person wants to do, and plan events to go to together. It also allows you to have deep conversations about your future as a couple. Planning for the future is sure to help you avoid a broken marriage.
How to Budget to Avoid a Broken Marriage
So far, we’ve established that broken marriages are often caused by financial issues, and that budgeting is a good way to avoid some of the common pitfalls. Now it’s time to explain how you go about budgeting your finances with your spouse.
Start a Conversation
Before you sit down and start planning the details of your budget, spend a bit of time talking about your financial habits, goals and desires. It’s important to understand how each of you approach the idea of what your money should be used for.
If your spouse feels a bit funny about the whole budgeting thing, try to frame it as a positive experience. Try to emphasise that it isn’t adversarial, but more about working together as a team.
Schedule a Monthly Budget Meeting
This is an important part of the budgeting process. In order to keep on top of what you’re spending, you need to schedule a standing budget meeting with your spouse.
This is a chance to review your spending, add new unforeseen expenses to the budget, see whether it is working, and tweak it accordingly. Once a month, before you each get paid, is a good schedule as it allows you to review last month’s spending and plan for the next month.
Try not to make it too much like a business meeting, though. You can make it fun and relaxed, by cooking a nice dinner to discuss it over. Just make sure that, by the end of the meeting, you have a plan ready for next month. Then, you can avoid talking about your budget daily, and save it for your monthly meeting.
Establish Your Household Needs
Once you’ve worked out each other’s financial styles and outlook on spending, you can start the budgeting of your household finances. You should list all your expenses such as:
- Rent or mortgage payments
- Utility bills
- Food shopping
- Car expenses
- Debt payments
- Any other monthly expenses
The money you spend on these amenities isn’t set in stone. For example, you can decide to buy a less expensive car, cut back on the amount of shopping you buy, switch to a cheaper energy company, or any other downsizing you can think of.
Once you’ve done this, you can arrange the list in priority order, depending on what you think should come first. If you have debts, come up with a way to pay them off monthly in whatever way makes you both comfortable.
Make Long-Term Goals
Once you’ve got the basic amenities out of the way, it’s time to start budgeting your long-term goals. You should try and establish how soon you can buy a house, when you can afford to start a family, and when you can retire. You can also plan something more fun, like a dream trip you’ve always wanted to take together.
Without budgeting, it would take you a lot longer to save for the future. You’re likely to overspend if you don’t know how much you have or how much you’re spending on a monthly basis.
Discuss Individual Needs
Now it’s time to get into the fun stuff; the things you both really enjoy doing. Budgeting for these is really important, both to ensure one of you isn’t blindside, but also because maintaining separate hobbies is paramount to marriage survival. These extra activities might include:
- Gym memberships
- Shopping for clothes
- Magazine subscriptions
- Video games
- Craft supplies
- Going out on the weekends
- And anything else you enjoy doing
It’s important to be frugal, but not to deny each other the activities that make your lives bareable. Things you don’t use, like a gym membership or Netflix subscription, can be cut out, but try and save the important pursuits.
You don’t even have to establish what the money will be spent on if you don’t have a concrete hobby. Just set up a monthly allowance for each person to spend on what they enjoy. As long as you both try your best to stick to the budget you’ve put in place, there should be no need to argue.
Time to Get Budgeting
Hopefully, after reading this article, you’ll sit down with your spouse and have a chat about budgeting. We now know that finances are a big contributor to broken marriages, and budgeting is the best way to eliminate the chances of that happening.
It might seem like an annoying task at first – to have to go through your finances and regiment all your spending – but, in the long run, it will serve you well. There’s also something to be said for building structure in your life. You might end up having more fun within those boundaries than you would if you lived a chaotic life of frivolous spending and impulsive behaviour.
Ultimately, we wish you good luck on your budgeting journey, and we hope your marriage is healed through these responsible actions!