A few months ago my wife and I were out having dinner with another couple at a nice Cuban place near our house in DC. Since we are known bloggers, the topic of money came up. The wife began to say that her husband had this new “scheme.” The husband’s response was that this “scheme” is what other people call a budget, and that it wasn’t some revolutionary concept.
This exchange got us thinking about the importance of budgeting within the context of your committed relationship. Our point is, within your relationship please consider looking at your budget as friend instead of foe. The process of creating and maintaining a budget should not be an exercise in making your life difficult. Instead a budget should be used as a guideline for spending and allow you to allocate money where your priorities are. Budgeting as an individual forces us to address our own relationship with our money, but doing so with a partner takes things to a deeper level, it allows you to set and realize your joint priorities.
There are some points to keep in mind. First, it is essential that both partners are in agreement on the budgeting terms that are established within a couple. It can be easy to have a budget discussion devolve into disagreement – its happened to us. But, you’ll get more out of it you are able to negotiate to budget based on shared priorities.
Second, a common question for couples just starting out is how to determine if they are within the norms of what is considered a healthy budget. According to both our experience, and cross checking this with a number of sources, the guidelines below are generally what you want to be targeting. Every couple has different needs, so adjust accordingly.
Housing and utilities, 25-30%
Saving and Investing, 10-15%
Childcare and education, 1-8%
Gifts and charity: Up to you!