If you’ve ever had that unpleasant money conversation with your spouse, significant other, or even children about how much things costs and where money is getting spent, you’re not alone. Budgeting can be incredibly uncomfortable for all if it involves accusations, criticisms and finger-wielding for past spending decisions. But what if budgeting didn’t need to be a dirty word in your household? Here are a few ways to change the conversation about budgeting into a positive and effective experience for everyone involved.
Schedule a conversation
By scheduling a money conversation while you’re both in neutral, this can allow you to talk openly about what you’d like to see happen in the future rather than focusing on past missteps and frustrations. Both of you need to feel you can talk openly and honestly about money without being attacked or judged. You should both come prepared with a list of things you want to discuss and be as equally prepared to listen.
Track your spending with automation tools
While it’s important to know where you’re spending your money, there are plenty of applications available to you that can automate this part of the process so that you don’t have to. The planning application our firm uses allows you to safely connect all your financial accounts and will organize your spending categories for you. It will help you observe spending patterns and see which categories get the largest portion of your income.
Focus on values
Focus your attention on what you both want and what you both value most. What would you like to spend your money on? Now, look back at your past spending over the last two months. Where is your money going and does it align with your values? If it doesn’t, now you can make some decisions about which areas consume a lot of your capital and explore what you can do to change that.
Take action, together
One of the best ways to move forward is to break it down into non-discretionary and discretionary buckets. Non-discretionary items are your fixed bills, such as: rent or mortgage, insurances, utilities – this monthly spending tends to remain constant every month.
Discretionary spending breaks down further into savings and variable buckets. Savings include: retirement, project saving, emergency fund, vacation fund, etc. These tend to be future planning accounts, so you can save the money necessary for you to accomplish something that is important to you later.
With the money that’s left we allocate toward the discretionary variable spending on categories that fluctuate monthly depending on the market or season, such as, groceries, gifts, meals, etc. These are the monthly expenses you always have, but they range in amount depending on other conditions.
When budgeting is approached as a way to help you better manage your cash flow, it offers a much better application for your life that can lead to greater financial peace all around.