Marriage Talk: A Shared Vision

What do you as a couple want to accomplish financially this year?  Save for the future?  Eliminate debt?  Start a part time job?  Being able to agree on your vision is a good first step toward getting what you want.

Power of Agreement.    At his website www.marriagebuilders.com  Dr. Harley has a link for The Policy of Joint Agreement.  To sum it up, he says that no couple should make a decision unless they both enthusiastically agree on it.  Whether it’s funding retirement or talking more like adults, you both must agree to move forward.  Whatever your vision is, you must agree on it to get traction toward your goal.  What areas of your finances would you both agree should be priority one?  Decide together on this and you are ready to move forward. 

Example:  We agree to get our budget in writing this month. 

Follow Through.  Having your priority defined is half of the battle.  The second half is following through on that priority.  What time or money is required to fulfill this priority? Discuss what changes this will require of each of you and make the changes. 

Previous Example:  Follow through by recording every purchase you and your spouse make for the next 30 days.

While this task can seem daunting, it will give you an accurate picture of where your money is going.  You don’t put a budget on paper before you first identify where the money is going.    At the end of the month get all of the receipts out and begin categorizing under headings like Housing, Groceries, Insurance and Eating Out, Clothing Utilities, etc.  Every dollar in your budget needs a designation and a destination.

Execute the Plan.  Before the first bill gets paid, create that budget on a spreadsheet or a software such as Quicken or Microsoft Money.  I use Microsoft Money and find it very user friendly.  After month 1 on your written budget sit down and review how it went.  Did the allocations work out alright?  Did any unexpected expenses arise?   How can you account for them in the future?  See my previous post on emergency funds.    

Evaluate and Adjust.  Mastering a monthly budget is about evaluating what works and what doesn’t.  The rise in the cost of items can cause you to allot for more in certain areas.  Grocery and gas costs are a couple items that have been impacted in our budget lately.  A good budget is a work in progress.  It takes time, attention and focus.

While I chose a written budget as an example for shared vision, you can address other areas such as date nights, clearer communication, or conflict resolution.  The ability to both agree is powerful in marriage.  It’s easy to fuss over differences.  A couple that can agree on something is on their way to a more enjoyable marriage.

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