When my husband and I married almost 20 years ago, we were both in our early twenties and right out of college. We had our first “real” jobs and a lot of hopes and dreams. Neither of us grew up understanding budgeting or personal finance, but we had similar values in this area.
Finding the right tools.
As in most marriages, it took trial and error and some tough lessons before we realized we needed help managing our money. Social media was still relatively new, and I recalled a friend from college talking about her debt-free journey and how she and her husband loved using a budgeting app. I reached out to her to ask what the app was called and told my husband that whatever it was, we were going to start using it. Our Excel and Word documents were not keeping us on track.
My friend told me she used a zero-dollar-based budgeting app. We were eager to start learning and using it in hopes of having guidance and structure in our finances. It didn’t take long to set up on both our phones, and we loved giving every dollar a job as soon as we were paid. This was especially helpful for me as a small business owner.
Communication with your spouse is key.
It’s been almost 15 years since we started using an app, and I can honestly say it has been life-changing. Since my husband is the nerd in our relationship, he does most of our bookkeeping, but we have regular weekly check-ins where we discuss our finances and what we need to budget for the month. Anytime we spend money, we do our best to immediately log the expense in the app to know how much money is left in each line item. We didn’t keep a perfect budget immediately. We read books and listened to podcasts to obtain the proper mindset to keep going.
I know budgeting sounds restrictive and no fun, but I can tell you it’s quite the opposite. There is so much freedom in knowing you have the money to buy groceries, birthday gifts, and even a fun night out with your friends. Keeping a budget doesn’t mean you must live a boring life. It allows you to live without the stress or burden of not knowing where your money is going.
Passing it on to our children.
Now that my husband and I have seen how budgeting has greatly improved our marriage, we have taught our children how to budget. We openly talked about personal finance to our children when they were young. This has helped them grow up with a healthy view of money and know the importance of saving, giving, and spending.
In 2020, at 13, our oldest daughter started a business. We helped her set up a budget to track incoming money and business expenses. She now has a part-time job and uses a budgeting app for her finances. She gets paid twice a month and immediately enters her paycheck into the app on her phone. She has various line items for her expenses, such as gas, entertainment, shopping, gifts, savings, and giving to our church. Her dad and I love seeing her confidence as she budgets her money and how it has helped her save to purchase a car one day.
If we can do it, you can too!
If you’re finding it difficult to keep track of your finances and have healthy communication about money with your spouse, I encourage you to find a better solution. For us, it was an app, but it could be a different tool for you. It doesn’t matter what program you are using. The most important thing is to choose something that is easy to manage and stay consistent. I guarantee that you will see improvement and less stress if you budget regularly!