Alright alright . . . we’ll start a budget.

By Celeste

What a great series we’ve had on marriage and finance!  I just wanted to wrap things up by giving my two cents (pun intended) and also a public commitment to doing better about our own finances.

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When I first thought of this series (well actually a reader requested we hit on this topic and he was right to do so) I wanted to hit on all different topics relating to marriage and finance.  I wanted to talk about what to do if you’re a spender and your spouse is a saver or vice versa, how to strengthen your marriage without spending money and how to make financial decisions both you and your spouse would be happy with.

Those were my initial ideas.  When the posts started coming back to me, I was thinking, “Hmm, I thought these posts would all be different, but they all talk about budgeting.”  And then it hit me that DUH!  Budgeting IS what you should do if one spouse is a saver and the other a spender.  It’s the answer to how to strengthen your marriage without spending money and how to make financial decisions together with your spouse.  It’s kind of the key ingredient to not fighting with your spouse over money.

And I was so hoping there’d be another way 😉

I found it rather awkward to ask someone to write the post “When One Spouse is a Saver and the Other is a Spender” (‘hey you seem to spend a lot of money and your spouse doesn’t right?’ or ‘hey your spouse seems to be spending a lot of money and you don’t, right?’  either way . . . awwwkward) So I was going to write it myself because, I am more of a spender and Rich is more of a saver.  For the visual learners:

My spending habits.
Rich’s spending habits.
But then I realized, I don’t really have any advice for people on this topic.  “But Celeste,” you’re thinking, “That has never stopped you from dishing out advice before!”  It’s true, I know.  But money stuffs is not my forte, so I’ll offer a resolution instead of advice:  We’re going to start and stick to a budget.  For a year.

Rich and I, if our budget history were to be depicted in a graph- it would look more like a heart rate monitor with sporadic peaks and troughs than a linear progression through the years.  Last week as I’ve analyzed why this is, I’ve come up with two reasons.

The first comes from Eean’s post when he said (over and over) that a budget’s success or failure is completely dependent on your dedication to tracking your spending.  Huh.  Total light bulb moment for me.  I keep wanting to be more consistent with budgeting so I keep signing up for these free online programs thinking they will be the answer.  But, to be honest, those weekly emails from Mint.com or my bank or whatever else I sign up for don’t tend to influence my spending behavior much.  Time to start tracking my spending myself!

The second reason I came up with is that I’ve never scheduled a regular time to do the budget into my (or our) schedules.  I keep thinking I will do it, but if I don’t plan on when, it gets bumped down to the bottom of my to-do list.  And the bottom of my to-do list tends to be a sad, lonely and neglected place.

So.  New plan!  Rich and I have decided to track our spending diligently for the next three months (as per Eean’s suggestion).  To do this we will keep all our receipts and while we’re watching a show on Thursday nights- we’ll collect all the receipts and write them into our budget categories.  Then, after three months, we’ll calculate a more exact budget and still write down all our expenses on Thursday nights.

It’s gonna work guys.  I’m committing to the internet to stick to a budget for a whole year.  I’ll report back hopefully with a post called, “How We Stopped Fighting About Purchases and Solved All Our Problems and Became Filthy Rich.”  In case you don’t recognize us at that time, we’ll look something like this:

Budgeting – who’s with us?!!?

4 thoughts on “Alright alright . . . we’ll start a budget.

  1. Setting a repeating calendar alarm for Thursday nights now: “Text Rich and Celeste and bug them until they have tracked the week’s spending.”

  2. I’m excited to hear how this goes!! Four years into our marriage, we have found a way to make our saver vs. spender habits work together for good as a team! 🙂 He helps me think before I spend and wait for better deals and I help him spend money on a little fun sometimes instead of saving it all.

  3. If you’re willing to spend money on budgeting software, I *highly* recommend YNAB. (You Need A Budget) Seriously. Have Rich message me and I will rant and rave about it for days on end. And why you need it.

  4. Celeste, I enjoy your articles and your fun / authentic writing style! Your goal is a good one! I often referenced research that suggests that 80% of couples don’t budget. However, earlier today I was reading some information suggesting that 95% of people don’t track their money. This may be a larger issue than I had realized. Your goal is great (and hopefully inspires others as well). Keep up the good work! This is a great site!

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