If You Don’t Budget As A Couple Now, You Might Hate Each Other Later
I’m about to let you in on a little secret: Mrs. Enchumbao and I “mint” (review our finances) every weekend as a couple, while having homemade rolls with freshly brewed coffee. That was not a typo, we bake fresh rolls every weekend. Discussing how your life energy is being spent is one of the most empowering conversations you can have with your spouse when your saving and spending habits are aligned. It’s also a nice pulse check on how you’re living your present without sacrificing your tomorrow.
Financial problems are, without a doubt, a leading cause of divorce in the United States. Why not ensure that this doesn’t become an issue in your relationship? Before we tied the knot, money became a comfortable topic to discuss at any time. We put it all on the table while dating. As I realized that material possessions didn’t bring me happiness, which aligned so well with how Mrs. Enchumbao lived, I gravitated towards a simple life and started to eliminate all debt. By the time we got married, I was debt free. My wife has always been good with money and was an inspiration since day one of how much happiness a simple life could bring. She came from very humble beginnings and always lived below her means. She also has never paid a dime in interest.
Since we were on the same page even while dating, by the time we were married, we completely integrated our finances and I “moved in” into her mint.com account. We believe there’s no such thing as “your money” or “my money” because our goals are aligned. Every transaction illustrates our life energy spent and, therefore, must represent our values.
On a typical Saturday morning, as she sticks the knife into the hot rolls and butters them, we initiate our minting ritual. Instead of hiding guilt-loaded purchases from each other, we proactively go through the weekly Transactions, Budgets, Goals and Trends tabs on Mint. Her favorite section is Budgets, while I gravitate towards Trends. Our goal is to continuously challenge ourselves to lower expenses.
We don’t always get it right. In such rare instances, reviewing the purchases gives us an opportunity to reflect on it and think of how we can improve for the next time. There are times when I become her target for the little indulgences, such as purchasing a song for $1.29 or, God forbid, a full album. Even if it’s a simple purchase of a dollar, I do go through a mental checklist before clicking BUY: Can I hear this song in other ways without purchasing? If I buy it, am I going to be sick of it a year from now? Ultimately, does the purchase contribute to my long-term happiness? When all else fails, my defense line to her is that these little purchases are an investment in our happiness. When I buy a Latin song, we listen to it in the car and sing along. We even get to drop a sweat or two dancing to the rhythm at home or at family gatherings! This argument usually wins the case.
Once she brings up my “happiness” purchases, I bring up Pushok – the conniving asaroso cat I inherited as part of the marriage package – and his extravagant penthouse lifestyle, which requires a $35 monthly budget. Only then do we move on to more crucial topics like Financial Independence, or FI, as we like to call it.
If your partner and you are not on the same page when it comes to finances, it would be extremely beneficial to the relationship if you could agree on what goals and values your financial picture should represent. It’s not always easy. It can be hard trying to change a person’s mindset that is resisting change, but it’s worth the effort, so try it. Make it a fun and regular activity! You can try doing future-forward exercises with your significant other, where you define what happiness means for you and what that future looks like. Then, align how you spend and save your money to make that future a reality. Be sure to put a timeline on it: the more specific the plan, the higher the chance of succeeding. If pursuing a life fulfilled with happiness, simplicity and stress-free is in your DNA, then budgeting for that lifestyle with your significant other must be a top priority.
Do you budget with your significant other? What has been your experience?