How To Work On A Family Budget That You And Your Spouse Can Both Agree On

Today, let’s talk about the Budget Committee Meeting, and how you and your spouse can use it to win in your family finances.

In the book, we’ve established that “a better way to reduce money fights and avoid divorce is to have monthly Budget Committee Meetings.”

This committee consists of both you and your spouse, and that means both of you get to make the financial decisions for your family together.

Right now, we’re in the last paragraph of Page 30 – Page 31, under the title ‘Nerds, Free Spirits, and Budget Committee Meetings’, in Chapter 2 of Dave Ramsey’s Complete Guide to Money.

And here’s my lesson for the day:

Handling your family finances with your spouse is not just a joint venture – it’s a teamwork effort. You both will win or lose as a team.

So, what do you do in your Budget Committee Meeting?

According to Dave…

… first, you have your meetings once a month – which coincides with the time you’ll do your monthly budget…

… second, aim to write out the budget before the month starts. That way, you’ll have enough room to work on the budget before the expenses for the incoming month start piling up.

Also, because you and your spouse are likely to be opposites as a Nerd and Free Spirit, there are a few different rules for your Budget Committee Meetings, that apply to you whether you’re a Nerd or Free Spirit.

If you’re a Nerd:

  • You’ll likely be more excited to write up the budget. So write the budget before the meeting. But please remember, this is not just your budget. Resist the temptation to want to lord over your opinions on your spouse. “Bring your budget to the meeting, say your piece, and then shut up”, that way, you can listen genuinely to what your spouse have to say
  • Get to the point and be concise. This is because your Free Spirit spouse might not have be able to get your main point if you keep dabbling around budget and non-budget related issues. “Make every minute count”

If you’re a Free Spirit:

  • You can’t take the meeting for granted, you need to attend. Remember, you might come across as uninterested or nonchalant, if you decide to not show up, and the your spouse thinks you don’t appreciate their efforts in coming up with the budget. Show your spouse that you care by showing up
  • You can’t be silent in the meeting. My instinct tells me there’s a balance you need to strike here. On the one hand, you can’t keep your mouth shut and say “everything is fine”; on the other hand, you can’t say whatever comes to your mind – be gentle, loving, and don’t try to disparage, cast doubt or discouragement in the mind of your spouse. I sometimes struggle with this – I like to get to the point of an issue, but your spouse might get the wrong meaning, if you don’t precisely communicate what you have in mind. I need to remember more that my wife can’t read my mind – and if she gets the wrong message, it’s my fault, and that I need to find a better way to get my point across
  • Don’t be carefree – you can’t say “that’s all good, babe”. You need to adjust something, you might talk about adding more to your giving allowance. For example, if you have reservations about how much you pay in tithes – bring it up; do you tithe over your gross income or your net income? Share your reservations with your spouse, and let them know you see this as a family effort

For your budget committee meeting to work, it has to be more than just a collective arrangement your committee meeting has to represent the best form of a two-merged-into-one partnership – let your spouse know you think about it this way, too.

As a Free Spirit myself, I know I can do better for our budget meetings: For example, I had told my wife that “the budget looks good and it’s fine”, but then in the course of the month, not like how much we’re spending on wines or some other item… even though it was stated in the budget!

And then I start getting displeased or unhappy with how we’re spending. This is not good, and I should do a better job here.

So, if you’re a Free Spirit, please understand, you’ll need to speak up as both of you prepare and adjust the budget.

Otherwise, you start getting bitterness and resentment against your spouse, for spending in a certain way… and worse if you decide not to speak up about your reservations, because then things might boil over when you least expect it.

All of these won’t just happen by chance or wishing. We have to put in the work.

Remember:

Handling your family finances with your spouse is not just a joint venture – it’s a teamwork effort. You both will win or lose as a team.

That’s all for today, my friend. We’ll continue in the second section of Page 32 of the book tomorrow.

-DD

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