Budgeting And Your Relationship

by James on February 5, 2013 · 5 comments

budgetA 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%
Food, 10-15%
Vehicles, 10-15%
Insurance, 5%
Saving and Investing, 10-15%
Entertainment, 5%
Clothing, 5%
Medical, 5%
Childcare and education, 1-8%
Gifts and charity: Up to you!



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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Savvy Scot February 5, 2013 at 9:12 am

If you don’t have agreement… you aint got nothing! ;)

2 Ted Jenkin February 7, 2013 at 2:46 pm

Happiness is all about expectations met or unmet. Without having an honest spending plan conversation with your spouse, you are almost guaranteed to not meet expectations which will lead to unhappiness. Don’t think of it as a budgeting conversation, but rather a conversation that will make your marriage happier!

3 Jordan Rodriguez June 11, 2013 at 3:34 pm

Hah, I’ve had a similar sit down with a previous girlfriend about this. I don’t care what you say about chivalry, I shouldn’t have to pay for everything. That’s not the world we live in anymore, and with the economy, not only does one have to budget, when in a couple, expenses need to be shared. It’s understandable to treat someone now and then, but every meal can’t come out of the same pocket. Either way, I think budgeting is just as important if not more so when in a couple; there are certain expectations that need to be addressed and reformatted for the real world.

4 James June 11, 2013 at 8:27 pm

Hey Jordan,

While I can’t speak for my wife one of the things which I appreciate about my marriage is that my wife and I do a pretty good job of splitting things. This is key because it reduces friction around finances which could otherwise cause problems. The more upfront you are about finances within a couple, the easier it is to avoid that one person or the other feels taken advantage of in some way or another.

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