Finances are the main cause of splits in the family. However, did you know you can avoid that by making budgeting a couple’s thing? It is possible. Having been brought up by two accountants – both my father and mother were accountants, I learned the art of accounting for everything from a young age and believe me, I am a stickler to my budget. However, when I started earning, I would always find it a problem to create a good budget and stick to it but eventually, I did. I have also provided advice to many of my friends about budgeting and for many of them, it has worked.
So how do you need to budget when it is your first time? Here is what I advised my friend Trizza:
Approach the budgeting exercise as a couple. This is because it is about the two of you and anyway, you will both be funding the budget. It can be hard to get used to the idea of budgeting as a couple especially when you have not been long into the marriage but you had better get used to the idea. Practice makes perfect.
Know all of your needs for your home. This is where everything starts. Pen meets paper and you have to decide what you need, when you need it, what is important and what is urgent. Mortgages, car loans, school fees, food, debt payment and utility payment should take the first priority. However, after writing everything down, revisit it and you will see that with keen consideration, you can slash some of the costs saving yourself some good money in the process.
Bring each other up to speed – It’s a marriage! By this, we mean that you all have to be on the same page. Before you got married, you were two totally different people with very different goals. Maybe one of you wants to save more money every month so that in future they can quit employment and go into business. One of you does not plan to quit employment and has no qualms about spending comfortably. Such things cause rifts when planning. What you need to do is make sure you are all on the same perspective. Decide on how you will be spending and saving, even before you get to budgeting.
Needs should always come first. For example, rent, mortgage, car loan, groceries, utilities and transport are needs. However, you could also have some wants like eating out. Needs always come first, these are things that you can do without. Wants are mostly luxuries that you can well do without if family finances do not allow.
Think carefully about debt. If you have married recently and one of you is in serious or big debt, then you have to think about this debt carefully. As long as one of you is in big debt, both of you will be captives, ensnared in this debt. Thus, you need to come up with a strategy that will help you get out of debt. Thankfully, it is really not too hard if you focus on it. Include debt payment in your long-term financial plans.