Guide to Budgeting & Tracking Money For Newlyweds

August 31, 2008

Do you often wonder where you money goes? Do you struggle to save money after all of your bills are paid? The problem is your budget, or lack of a budget. Less than 5% of the households in the United States keep a consistent household budget, and that is why 95% of the nation struggles with money. The word “budget” has a negative connotation to many people. You don’t want to be constrained by a budget, and you think it will run your life. It could do that, but if you budget correctly, it will actually free you from living paycheck to paycheck.

The Basics of Budgeting for Married Couples

  • Start doing it the moment you get married. The more you wait to start a budget, the less likely that it will become a habit in your household.
  • Create a budget together. One of you might like maintaining and forming the budget than the other, but you BOTH need to be present to contribute to the budgeting plan for that month or period of time.
  • Choose how you will keep your budget organized. You can use a pencil and paper, Microsoft Excel, Quickbooks, MS Money, or you can use an online application such as Mint.com.
  • Write down all of your monthly recurring bills such as utilities, mortgage, cable, debt payments, and insurance. Then, estimate your other monthly expenses that tend to fluctuate such as food, gas, entertainment, clothing, and car maintenance.
  • Continue to tweak your variable expense allowances over the next three months.

Budgets are not perfect, and they can make life a little frustrating at first. It’s no different than starting an exercise regime. Your body will resist the exercise at first, because it’s not used to doing it, but it will get easier the more you do it. Budgeting is the same way. Here are some common budgeting struggles that newlyweds often face:

One spouse is on board to budget, but the other is not. Talk through it, and try to figure out the root of the issue. Do you share the same goals with money? If you can’t come to a resolution, then seek out marriage counseling. You can’t have one spouse following a budget while the other spends whatever they want. It won’t work.

Neither one of you has the will power to follow the budget. Seek out another couple to keep you accountable. Ask friends of yours to keep you accountable with your budget. They can call you once a week to see how it is going. If you have someone else asking you about it, it will help you follow the budget better, because you’ll feel embarassed if you keep telling them that you busted the budget.

You get easily frustrated that the budget isn’t working. You will not get immediate results with a new budget. It takes three or four months to tweak the budget and start seeing results. Once you get it right, you’ll quickly see how much more money you have at the end of the month.

Here are a couple of free excel files to help you track your plan to get out of debt and create a budget.

Remember, budgeting is a way of life. You must develop the habit of budgeting, or you’ll drop it like any other fad. Once you see the results and the immediate income boost by spending your money on paper before you spend it, you’ll get excited. So, get excited, and start your budget today.

Erik

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Erik
Erik Folgate is a husband and father living in Orlando who's been writing about money online for 6 years. Digging himself out of $20k of debt after college and his former experience in the insurance industry give him some useful insights into personal finance issues.

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Comments

17 Responses to Guide to Budgeting & Tracking Money For Newlyweds

  • Chad Smith, CFP®

    Really good pointers. We’ve found in working with young couples that using Quicken is the most effective way to manage your budget. The key is to cut out most of the categories that come with the software. It tends to bog you down making you lose enthusiasm. Create your own broad categories with a max of 10. This helps you to get a better feel for which areas you can most easily cut. We are actually just wrote a post that provides more info on budgeting…

  • Kristie Tamsevicius

    My friend just got married 2 weeks ago and is settting up a budget with her new husband. She found this great list of expense categories to track in your budget and said it really helped her.

  • Steistas

    Thanks a lot.

  • Ben

    Steistas, sorry about that, the links should work now.

  • Steistas

    Great post, the only little problem – the links to the spreadsheets are coming up with 404 error. Is it possible to restore the links, please? Thanks in advance

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