As a married budgeter, I find myself more prepared for our joint budget meetings by going over our budget and goals on my own. A lot of confusion and miscommunication can happen during a joint budget meeting with your partner in crime. To make sure you’re not brain dead during your budget meeting it is best to have the numbers fresh in your mind and in front of you during the meeting. But what else can you do to better prepare for these meeting so you don’t waste each others time and efforts?
Pre-budget on your own! Taking a few extra minutes the day before to update your budget and get your numbers in order can dramatically change how you approach your budget meeting. I find that reviewing your finances on your own gives you more confidence and a solution-oriented mindset before meeting with your spouse. You don’t feel bad for going too slow or not having the budget updated. This extra time allows you to get your thoughts in order and communicate effectively with your partner. I know I don’t like feeling like the weak link in the budget meeting so for me, this alternative makes me feel more productive and prepared to solve money problems. I want to share some prep tips that have helped me get mentally ready for budget meetings with my partner.
Update your budget weekly
By updating your budget on a weekly basis this helps you keep track of your spending in short burst, instead of tracking down weeks of expenses. Once your budget is updated you now have more time to prep for your deep dive budget meeting with your partner. This might feel a bit like grunt work, but try setting up a weekly pre-budget date on the same day and time each week. I like to do my weekly budget prep on Saturday mornings, this way my husband can watch the kids and I can get some alone time to review all of the finances. As a busy mom, I don’t mind taking my mind off of singing the ABCs and switch over to the number crunching game. The next day we usually set up a time to go over all of the finances, so we are both on track with the money. I believe all couples should know what is going on with their finances and it’s okay to take some designated time to go over everything on your own too.
Strategize on financial hiccups
Yes, everyone goes over budget at times and for some all the time. Your budget is here to help guide you on smart spending decisions and running into hiccups is normal. Don’t beat yourself up too much on not having a perfect budget, just focus on how to fix it. Let’s say you go over on your credit card on personal items you really needed. Now what? If you go over your budget do you know what you will sacrifice to stay on the right financial path? This is the time you have to sit down and move money around on paper to see how to come up with solutions and ideas to fix the hiccup. This way you go to your budget meeting prepared with solutions instead of blank stares or even worst disappointment. Putting your thoughts on paper can also help you explain your current money mindset and methodologies to your partner.
Review your goals and accomplishments
Having written out goals that are measurable and easy to consume makes checking my goals easy peasy. Focus on separating your short-term goals (less than 12 months to achieve) from your long-term goals (longer than 12 months to achieve). This will help you spread out how much you want to save for each goal with a realistic time frame that won’t give you grey hair.
I also recommend to review your accomplishments and to make sure they are still functional for your situation. If your week didn’t go as planned you can always feel good about the accomplishments you did finish like your $1,000 emergency fund. This will pump you up to continue the path towards your financial freedom.
List out upcoming purchases
This is the best time to list out all of the upcoming birthday parties, back to school shopping, and any other home purchases that were not planned to the T. I like to list this out these events and purchases about 3 months out. This will give you a good estimate of how much you need to save on a monthly basis to cover all of the events. Having this list at hand can also help you estimate if you need to modify some of your short-term goals or sacrifice some personal lifestyle expenses.
Update your sinking fund
This sinking fund is something serious! I know I am not the only person who has forgotten about car registration bill until the bill comes in the mail. Forgetting about these yearly expenses can get old quickly, so I recommend to list out all of your yearly expenses on an excel sheet close to your budget. Either you can divide up how much you need to save on a monthly basis or schedule when you want to start saving for these expenses. This is a great time to use side hustle income to help mitigate some of these expenses. That way you’re not eating into your set monthly income and get the most out of your side hustle.
Again some couples budget together 100% and others separate. I like to pre-budget before our joint budget meeting to make sure I am up to speed on all money movements. Simply going over your budget and goals will help you strategize on financial solutions for budget hiccups and large upcoming purchases. I want to promote everyone to take a few extra minutes and review your budget and goals before you meet with your partner. Hopefully, this will make your budget meeting more productive and efficient.