3 Ways a Budget Eliminates Stress & Creates Freedom in your Marriage (Part One)

#1 – A Budget Eliminates the Tendency to Judge

Beth has always loved Starbucks. When we were dating, she only worked a couple of blocks away from one, so I would sometimes run by and pick up her favorite drink, an iced tall nonfat caramel macchiato, and surprise her at work.

Likewise, I love books. I worked close to Books A Million, and would spend many lunch hours there, getting a good dose of both caffeine and inspiration. I discovered one of my favorite books, “Three Cups of Tea,” during one of these times.

When you’re dating, you don’t think much about the “little” purchases your future spouse makes on a frequent basis. However, when you’re married, you and your spouse are pulling money from the same pot, and those little purchases suddenly go from being “cute” to competing with each other.

If she spends $20 a week on “Starbucks Therapy,” that’s $20 I don’t have to spend on the next book that grabs my attention….you can see how a simple thing as a book or a cup of coffee can quickly turn into a battle for control.

Your Values Drive Your Spending

In the first few months of our marriage, we had to make several adjustments to our budget, as we found that our different spending habits were creating conflict in our marriage.

As an example, I went through a couple of months of our bank statements, and figured out that we could buy an espresso machine for less than what we were spending at Starbucks in a year. But the reason Beth loved Starbucks wasn’t for the drink itself; it was an emotional retreat from the daily grind of work (sounds like she needed more than a macchiato).

Similarly, my love for books was driven by a desire to grow and change. I would buy a book for the promise it offered me, but more often than not, that promise went unfulfilled as the book usually sat on my shelf without getting read.

Be a Jury, Not a Judge

Most couples get angry with each other over what they see as wasteful spending. “Why spend $20 a week on coffee which has no lasting value?” “Why spend $20 on a book that you’re not even going to read?” You know how the conversations go. They usually result with spouses passing judgment on one another and deciding that conversations about money aren’t worth the stress.

You should confront wasteful spending, especially when you’re in debt. However, often what we see as wasteful is really a difference in value. For example, clothing & fishing. I could blow a lot of money at Bass Pro; my wife could drop a lot of cash at Anthropology. I value sport and nature; she values beauty & elegance.  We could easily call each other wasteful, or we can take the time to discover what our spouse values, and then work together to find an affordable way to fulfill those values.

What really helped us was to stop judging each other’s purchases, and start communicating with each other to try and understand why the other person values that purchase. Once we understood that this was a legitimate value, we were able to make room for it in our budget.

Don’t Miss The Power In This!

The answer for us was to add two new line items to our budget (simply titled Beth Personal & Wesley Personal), where we allot a set dollar amount each month for each of us to spend any way we wish. When we were buried in debt, I think it was $25 or $30 a month. Thankfully it’s a little more now since we’re debt-free.

What this did was eliminate the tendency to judge each other based on our differences in opinions on what should or should not be purchased. Don’t miss the power in this principle; this reduced a lot of financial stress in the early days of our marriage.

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What’s one expense that seems to always create conflict for you & your spouse? What is the hidden “value” behind this expense?

Committed to your success,

-Wesley

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4 Responses to “3 Ways a Budget Eliminates Stress & Creates Freedom in your Marriage (Part One)”

  1. Shanygne Says:

    You guys rock! love what you’re doing!

    Reply

    • Wesley & Beth Says:

      Shanygne thanks so much!!!!

      Reply

  2. DebtEye Says:

    I really enjoyed reading this article. Although I’m not married, I can definitely see how this can be a problem. I always encourage all my readers to start a spending journal. I even surprise myself to see how much I spend on Dunkin Donuts coffee every morning!

    Reply

    • Wesley & Beth Says:

      Thanks so much for your comments!! You have some great content on your website as well.

      Reply

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