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My wife and I have created a zero based budget every month since we've been married, including a budget for the wedding.
So far we've completed 60+ budgets and have perfected our method for budgeting that I believe can help other couples reach their financial goals.
Meetings Are Boring
Our first year of budgeting included a lot of tears and frustration. We were budget newbies and made several common budgeting mistakes that newlyweds often make.
One of the biggest mistakes was that our budget meeting was just that, a meeting.
Meetings are just plain boring. Who gets excited about showing up for meetings at work? That is the whole reason your boss entices you with donuts and prizes—so you'll show up and stay awake.
If I had my wish, our monthly budget meeting would be more like an all day budget workshop.
My wife, on the other hand has an attention span of about 20 minutes. She is super smart and frugal with money, yet she'd rather do other things than stare at 10 tab excel spreadsheets and a stack of pie charts and graphs.
My guess is that your marriage might be similar or perhaps both of you have short attention spans…squirrel!
We devised a different approach to our monthly discussion about money. We threw a party.
Throw a Budget Party
A budget party is easy to throw, will keep your budgeting discussion short, and will be an event you actually show up for each month.
I enjoy budgeting, so I do the prep work (steps 1-3).
Here is how we throw a budget party each month:
- Agree on a date and time and I buy a yummy treat like Chunky Monkey ice cream.
- Balance the checking account(s) and prepare the budget of the previous month for review.
- Create budget for the upcoming month with known and foreseen expenses.
- We meet and set the timer for 20-25 minutes.Prayer is 1st asking for patience, guidance, and wisdom.
- We review the previous month and how much over or under were spent in each category. (5 minutes)
- I present the current budget and she adds birthdays and event expenses from the family calendar. My wife has a vote and can change numbers around as long as our goals are met and we end up with a zero balanced budget. (10-15 minutes)
- Then we agree on the budget and it is binding. If we need to change the numbers, we both must agree.
- Eat our Chunky Monkey Ice Cream and talk about something other than money.
Plan Your Budget Party
There it is. A simple way to throw a budget party that is fun—or at least tolerable and doesn't take up your whole life.
Our monthly budget party has enabled us to reach our family goals of my wife staying home with our son and for me to follow my dream job. This budgeting stuff works.
What are you waiting for? Make a date with your spouse and start planning a budget party for next month.
Brent Pittman is a personal financial coach and writer at On Target Coach who believes money should be easy to understand and shouldn't consumer your whole life.