With the new year, I knew it was time to embrace a different way to approach budgeting for my family and me. Money is one of those things that can cause a ton of friction between couples—in fact, it's the number one reason couples fight—but our problem was that we really didn’t talk about it much, even after 14 years. It was time to approach the 2022 budget differently.
I took over our budgeting years ago, and while that was easy, the hard thing was that we were both putting too many things on our credit card. We weren’t holding ourselves accountable, and taking money out of savings to pay the credit card is a dangerous habit; we were just bleeding money that way.
This year, my husband and I knew that something needed to change. We're not getting any younger, and our kids always need more stuff. Having emergency savings and retirement funds has suddenly become more important than ever. Tightening our budget is our theme of 2022, and while talking money isn't exactly sexy, being in control and coming together for a common goal is.
After getting married, we made some of the classic money mistakes that all young couples make. We didn’t budget well when it came to our credit card. While we didn’t go into debt with it, we also didn’t have much money left to save either. Spending money eating out every weekend was also common for us. And seeing as we were just 22, we also spent too much money on booze, which we did until recently, when we realized how stupid it was. Our expenses were less, but when they got bigger, we didn’t adjust as much as we should have.
Before we had kids, we built up some money in savings, but it still wasn’t as much as it could have been. Then, when we had kids, and they became little eating machines, suddenly our grocery bills skyrocketed. Instead of saving money, we had to pick up the remainder for the ever-increasing food expenses.
Then, last year, something happened. My husband suddenly wanted to be more involved. He had been out of the process for so long that spending money through the credit card didn’t mean much to him anymore. He wasn’t seeing where it was going, and he needed to start.
At first, I wanted to safeguard my process. I had been doing the budgeting and bill paying for so long that I was resistant to giving up some of that control. But I also knew that he was right. Having us both look at things would only help, and we could form a strategy together. We have talked about money more this year than all of our years together combined, which I know sounds pretty messed up. I wish we’d gotten our act together earlier, but what's important is that we’re doing it now.
We have looked closely at our finances, stopped buying alcohol, and are using a budgeting app that we can both access. We have united toward a common goal, and it is not only super exciting, but it is also pretty sexy. Combining forces like this helps us feel like more of a team.
It's difficult to spend a lot of quality time together, but working toward a common goal has really helped strengthen our teamwork and our bond again. I feel closer to my husband than I have since before we had kids. It might sound funny, but this budgeting thing is just ours.
We’re not just strengthening ourselves financially, but personally as well. Depending on someone’s individual circumstances, maybe budgeting isn’t the thing that brings you back together with your partner. It could really be anything that you unite with for a common goal. Budgeting is ours right now, and it feels good to be doing something together.