Today’s post is a guest post from my friend Derek Olsen. You can check out the podcast I did with Derek discussing his book here and may purchase his book on Amazon. Below Derek has some great ways that budgeting will help your marriage.
Two months after my wife and I got married we did our first budget together. Two years later the fruits of doing a budget every month have been plenty, and amazing. It is mind-blowing to reflect on what doing a budget every month has done for our marriage. The results in a purely financial sense have been incredible(saving thousands and being able to start a business).
But I would like to talk with you about the non-financial benefits.
I thought that a budget was all about money and math. But it turns out that a budget is more about your values, decisions, priorities, wants, needs, and goals. Money is just reflection of your decisions.
Let us know what non-financial results, good or bad, you have experienced as a result of doing (or not doing) a budget. We would love to hear from you, feel free to leave a comment below. Here are 5 ways that budgeting our money together have helped my marriage.
- Communication: My wife and I have learned how to communicate better. Siting down together each month and having a focused and intentional conversation is a great exercise in communication. During our monthly “budgeting date” we have conversations about important issues that are serious, meaningful, and have deep-rooted effects on our relationship. These conversations require a deeper level of communication. The communication skills that are learned and practiced here are also used elsewhere. These skills transfer to other conversations that we have about different, more or less important issues.
- Conflict resolution: Have you ever disagreed on where to eat for dinner, what to do on the weekend, or who should do what chores around the house? (I am guessing probably so) Have you ever practiced conflict resolution? (I am guessing probably not) What a weird thing to practice. I don’t think anyone sets out to practice getting into a disagreement and then practices how to resolve it. We just wait until we find ourselves in a mess and then try to clean it up. If that is the only practice we ever get, we probably won’t ever get very good at it. Doing a budget together will bring conflicts, big and small, to the forefront. A budget is incomplete until those conflicts have been resolved. Doing a budget is a great way to practice conflict resolution.
- Growth: Couples grow together in both healthy and unhealthy ways. I think this is a result of the natural development of habits. If you find yourself in the habit of never talking about money because it never goes well, what kinds of issues are you growing? How long will it be until those issues have grown to a point that they can no longer be ignored? Then what? Financial issues are cited most often as a reason why couples split up, usually after years of growing un-healthy habits. Uncover the bad habits that are creeping into your marriage and replace them with healthy habits.
- Respect: When my wife and I make decisions together as a married couple, we often have different ideas about how things should be. We only have so much money and decisions must be made as to how to use that money. What happens when the last $200 is up for grabs and she wants new shelving and I want a new toy? My wife and I have learned that there aren’t any right or wrong answers, only different opinions. When she suggests doing something with our money that I am not on board with (or that I think is silly, wasteful, or wrong) it’s time to ring the debate bell. We go back and forth, I present my case and she presents the facts of her case. This is risky business because we have created a situation in which there is a potential winner and loser. Issues like pride and stubbornness can sometimes find their way into the conversation. It becomes a competition that could leave us both with a losing record. Having respect for each other’s opinions, thoughts, feelings, will provide a strong foundation for any marriage.
- Decision Making: Doing a budget will force you to make decisions together. When you do a budget together, you are making decisions, lots of them. Doing a budget together as a couple brings this to a whole other level. We quickly realized that we were making decision based on our values. But, what are our values? Answering that question is why it took us 4 hours to finish our first budget. And answering the question, “What are our values?” never ends. Our values will change over time because our lives are always changing (Perhaps due to a career change, new baby, or new living situation). Making good decisions together based on your values as a couple is a skill that will serve you throughout all areas of your marriage for years to come.
How has budgeting affected your marriage? What questions or advice can you share with us?
–Derek Olsen. Author, Speaker, and Husband over at beatnikbudget.com @
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