By Tim Mayfield
My wife threw the checkbook at me and said “Fine. YOU do it”. We were having a ‘discussion’ about our spending that month and how we hadn’t stuck to our budget. I was frustrated and impatient for her to finish balancing it, and she had gotten frustrated and impatient with me. She’s normally the patient one, so I’m sure I deserved the toss. That was a many years ago. Thankfully we’ve improved our money talk a lot since then.
Many investment advisors provide services for retirement planning, wealth generation, college funding, etc. We do all those things at LYDA Financial too. Some advisors suggest you improve your home budgeting process, they don’t usually help you know HOW to improve it. In my experience, home budgeting is less about math and more about two other things. The first is knowing how and when to talk with your spouse about it. The second is organizing your stuff so you can create and manage the budget.
The first rule in talking about your budget is to stop calling it a “budget”. That word is too much like “diet”. Which is usually negative and temporary. Instead call it your “Spending Plan”. In other words, it’s the list of things you plan to spend your money on this upcoming month. The second rule is to find a time and place where you both can talk about it. Usually that’s not in the evening when one or both of you are tired. I suggest Saturday mornings over coffee. If the subject is annoying or provokes frustration, try having the discussion at a coffee shop. Make it your Saturday morning date time. That makes it more fun and less of a chore.
When couples bring me their spending plan it is usually in one of two forms. Either it’s a collection of papers stuffed in a folder. (In other words—it’s a mess.) Or it’s on a computer spreadsheet. The idea of a spreadsheet sounds good, but usually it’s too complex and only understood by one spouse. The other usually doesn’t like it or even understand it. So in order to organize in a way that supports both spouses, I suggest tracking the plan in a spiral notebook. They list their income and savings goals on the left page. Then list their spending plan for the month on the right. At the end of the month they turn the page and do it again.
I know I’ve just made it sound easy. It’s not. It takes work and diligence. But it’s worth it. If you would like help creating or managing your spending plan, please call. It’s what I love to do, and I never charge for it. I’ll give you a spiral notebook and I’ll help you create your spending plan.
Securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Chamber of Commerce, Lyda Financial and LPL Financial are separate entities. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.
About the Author: Tim Mayfield is a financial consultant with LYDA Financial, Inc. Contact him at (503) 538-1900 to help with developing a spending plan.