Whether you’re just getting serious in your relationship or never truly sat down to have “the talk” years ago, money is a part of every couple’s dynamic.
Rather than dancing around the issue any longer, follow these three simple budgeting steps to improve your finances — and your relationship.
Define a Shared Vision as a Couple
Making a budget together boils down to two distinct categories: your future goals and your current finances. You’ll never be motivated to stick to your budget if you don’t have a joint vision.
That doesn’t mean you have to agree on everything you want to save for. Instead, use this conversation as a starting point to learn about each other’s professional and family goals.
You may even be surprised to learn about lifelong dreams you didn’t know your partner had. Assign each goal a timeline to figure out if you should be saving up for it now (like a down payment on a house) or if it’s a longer term goal (like going to grad school after working a few years).
To avoid fighting, encourage a safe zone by just brainstorming ideas then taking turns with prioritizing.
Create a Budget Together
With your goals in mind, you can now work together on making a budget. It may seem hard, but it’s important to be open and honest with each other.
Start off by talking about your monthly income from all your sources, whether it’s a full-time job, part-time job or side gigs. When creating a budget, use your after-tax numbers so you know the exact amount of money you both have to work with.
Next, figure out your shared expenses. It’s up to you both how you want to manage the actual funds, whether you take turns paying bills, split them half and half, or pool all of your money in a joint account.
Also try to agree on how much you should each spend on discretionary categories each month, like entertainment and hobbies.
Finally, remember to talk about debt. Talk about your credit card balances and if you have any accounts in collections.
Use a Budgeting App for Couples
Tracking your spending on your own is hard enough. It gets even tougher when two people try to manage the same account.
An easy way to stay connected and motivated to stick to your budget is using an app designed specifically for couples. Like regular budgeting apps, these also can categorize your spending.
But many also let you tag categories for each person using the app, along with sharing messages about various transactions.
Depending on how many details you want to share with each other, explore apps that have the appropriate privacy settings for your relationship. They’re not meant to hide anything, but instead serve as an excellent starting point for regular check-ins and conversations.