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How to Stick To a Budget as a Couple: 21 Must-Have Tips

sticking to a budget as a couple

You and your partner are different in many ways. After all, that’s why you’re attracted to one another. But when it comes to budgeting, differences can cause unwanted friction. Learning how to stick to a budget together is imperative to making things work.

So how do you do it? Self-discipline is one thing, but sticking to a budget as a couple is a whole different story.

Here are 21 must-have tips for couples who want to budget successfully as a team.

  1. If married, combine your money, file taxes jointly, and add your spouse to your insurance policies. The more of a single unit you are on paper, the more discounts and exemptions you’ll get.
  2. Budget in a monthly amount for each partner to spend on “whatever”. This allows you to cash in on couples’ discounts without losing all individuality.
  3. Establish fixed costs for as many budget items as possible. For example, agree that you’ll pay $150 a month toward car insurance indefinitely. The more items that stay consistent, the less surprises you’ll need to discuss each month.
  4. Recognize early that individual needs will differ. For example, haircuts will always cost more in salons than they will at barber shops. Allow grace in areas where needs vary by person or gender.
  5. Go digital. Mobile apps like YNAB and Better Haves keep you both aware of transactions in real-time so no one is left in the dark about the other’s spending choices.
  6. Air it out. Keeping financial secrets will ruin trust in all areas of the relationship. If you have something to confess, get it out into the open as early as possible.
  7. Find inexpensive things to do for fun
  8. Consolidate and refinance your student loans. Need help? Call a nonprofit credit counselor.
  9. Sit down regularly to review your budget together. This includes acknowledging your most recent successes and mistakes.
  10. Talk before spending any extra money. Establish a monetary amount --- any amount at all --- that you’ll ask your partner about before spending. The purpose here is not to institute more rules, but to create mutual respect by running purchases by one another first.
  11. Remind each other of your financial goals regularly.
  12. Agree to disagree on smaller occasional purchases. Choose your battles wisely, and let go of the rest.
  13. Expect emergencies. Couples are often shocked when the car breaks down or the kitchen sink springs a leak. Instead, learn to anticipate trouble and be ready both mentally and financially.
  14. Keep date night a priority, but don’t use it as an excuse to blow the budget.
  15. Forgive occasional mistakes, and don’t bring up past financial slip-ups.
  16. Read one book a year together about investing – even if you’re not financially able to invest yet.
  17. Dream aloud often about retirement together.
  18. Celebrate milestones together. When you were single, a landmark was celebrated alone or with others who did not have a part in your achievements. Now that you’re part of a duo, commemorate the successes of a team effort together.
  19. Learn the difference between poor choices and shopping addiction, and get help for the latter.
  20. Look at debt as the common enemy. Even if your partner brought debt into the relationship, you should tackle it together as a team.
  21. Share this article with your partner.

Successful couples learn how to stick to a budget together so that neither partner feels alienated. What fun is there in achieving financial goals alone? Together, you can – and will – accomplish much more.

image source: Unsplash

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