Most people start figuring out their budget by calculating their income. That’s a great place to start if you are an accountant! If not, you might want to start with something else. Perhaps what you want out of life. Because all the money in the world is useless if you don’t spend it on the things that bring you joy!
When I sit down to create my family budget I start with our life goals, hobbies and joys. Even if you are lucky enough to have employment that brings you immense personal enjoyment, you probably have a hobby. Or belong to a gym. Or something.
You can start here with this worksheet.
You can be as crazy as you want to be when you start listing what you want from your life. Why not imagine every possibility? Life can be exciting so don’t stop yourself! The trick, really, is getting to the other side when you fill in what you need to get ____(fill in exciting life goal). You may need to flip the sheet over and start working on the back! Some goals are easy. If all you really want out of life is to have take-out every night then all you need to do to get it is to fit it in your budget. That’s pretty straightforward. But if I really want to be a bikini model what I need to get it will be more complicated.
Bikini model →gym fees→ add into budget
↘personal trainer→ add into budget
↘babysitter so I can work out→ add into budget
↘bikini→ add into budget
Now it’s your turn!
I had a nice chat with a friend this afternoon. We were discussing family budgeting. The big question is how do you get on the same page as your spouse when it comes to money? Well, you have to talk about it!
We remember to ask a number of things when we first meet someone and fall in love with them. We may ask “how much money do you make?” But we never ask “how do you plan to spend your money?” After a few years of marriage you may be wondering why you didn’t add it to the top of your question list! Now you are stuck with the difficult task of discussing money after you have already settled into a nice comfortable rhythm. It is going to be a hard conversation.
No matter how you approach the conversation remember that money is a difficult topic for many so don’t be accusatory or irritated. If you do become accusatory or irritated it might be a sign that you need to take a break from the conversation! Numbers speak for themselves. So try to do some research before having a money discussion with your spouse. Have a list of your income and all of your expenses before you start. Working out the problem of a balanced budget together might make the conversation move in the right direction. It can be frustrating and it may take several short conversations before you can both deal with the issues but it is always worth the time.
Identifying your needs and wants as separate things will be important to a productive money conversation with your spouse. It sounds like a great idea to ask your spouse to give up golf so that you can spend more money taking the kids to Disney. However, it may not be very fair. Is the Disney trip really for you or for the kids? If you already take a yoga class than maybe it would be fairer to let your husband spend an equal amount on golf. Deciding what is needed for a happy family and what you want for your happy family is important and requires honesty from both sides.
Remember that you will have better results with the budget working together than you would working against each other. So find your common goals and challenge each other to find ways to meet those goals. You can’t fix any money problems if you don’t talk about them first.
Don’t forget to check out the budget sheet posted on the Good Stuff page!
Was getting your budget under control one of your New Year’s resolutions? Every year it is one of mine. My budget isn’t out of control but I think I can do better. There are always ways to improve on what you are doing. Even if I were given 100 years I don’t think I would have mastered the budget. Things are always changing and so the budget must always change to adapt.
What changes have you made to your budget this year? We got rid of our family vacation this year and plan to have a “staycation” instead. We also added a life insurance policy.
I’m a stay at home mom and my husband and I have no extended family that would help us in the case of illness or death. With unemployment so high I am not confident that I would be able to find a job quickly. So, we added life insurance to our list of bills. I’m still not sure how I feel about spending the money on the insurance. But discussing the death of your spouse isn’t a fun conversation. It could be the idea more than the cost that causes me so much stress.
Do you have your spouse insured?