Ask anyone who has gained control of their finances what their secret is and their answer is almost always “The Budget”. Dave Ramsey stresses the importance of the Budget Meeting between a couple. It allows you to make intentional decisions about your finances TOGETHER.
So you know budget meetings are supposed to be the key to getting out of debt but yours may not be going well.
Do your budget meetings involve mutual decisions, dream building, and a plan?
Or do they involve hurt feelings, arguments, and unresolved decisions?
If your budget meetings are anything but successful then you need to follow these 5 tips to ensure a successful budget meeting.
Over the course of our debt payoff journey where we’ve paid off $145,000 in the last 4 years we have seen that these every single one of these 5 steps are absolutely vital to our success that month.
Decide on what time works best
Finding a time that works to meet with your spouse monthly may seem difficult or sometimes impossible, especially if you have lots of young children. Try a few times until you find something that works for you and your family.
We choose to have our budget meetings on Saturday mornings because my mind works best in the morning. Our kids get to watch a movie while we sit in the kitchen and have our monthly budget meeting.
We have tried night times after our children are in bed but it always results in disagreements and forgotten expenses. My husband is much more of a night person than I am but my brain just does not work at night. Even if we need to talk about finances outside of our budget meetings we have a standing rule not to talk about finances after 10pm.
Some examples of times that may work best especially if you have young children.
- Early mornings before they wake up
- Weekend mornings after kids are fed and they can entertain themselves or be entertained with a movie
- Weekend afternoons while kids take a nap
- Schedule a date night out while your kids are with a sitter
- Night time after kids are in bed
DO NOT assume that your budget meeting will just happen. You absolutely must schedule it. Successful businesses do not ‘wing it’; they have business plans and scheduled meetings.
Take your family seriously and SCHEDULE your financial success by scheduling monthly budget meetings. You can decide what is best for you but they need to take place BEFORE the beginning of the month.
We have decided to schedule our monthly budget meetings the Saturday morning directly before the first of the month. I put it in my purse calendar, on the calendar on our refrigerator, and even send my husband an email to schedule it in his work outlook calendar.
Once your meeting is decided upon and scheduled there is no missing it! You wouldn’t blow off a business meeting so don’t do that to your family.
Beverage of choice
There is just something about having a beverage in your hand that makes budget meetings go smoother. I absolutely cannot start a budget meeting before I have a cup of coffee next to me.
Maybe you need a glass of wine or a beer if you’re having a date night budget meeting. Sipping something that makes you happy can diffuse a budget argument.
You wouldn’t show up to a business meeting unprepared to talk about your scheduled topic so don’t do it at home either. Think about what you will need in order to make successful decisions.
Since my husband is the financial analyst of the family he usually has a framework of our budget that month prepared already for us to discuss. He brings our preliminary budget printed out with him to our meeting. I am more aware of our family calendar so I bring our calendar. I look for upcoming activities that might have a cost implication (ex. Birthday party, or a gathering that we need to bring a dish to).
During the month I’ll also keep a list of items that I think we need to buy next month. Then I can include that in our budget meeting.
If you come to the budget meeting with not a clue about how to sign into your accounts, what bills you have next month, no budget framework started, no calendar so you forget expenses, you are setting yourself up for failure. Do yourself and your family a favor and come prepared!
Formalize your budget
There have been months where we ‘kind of’ ended our meeting but didn’t print it out, sign it and hang it on our refrigerator. These were the months where we went off our budget and spent money that was not accounted for.
Your monthly budget should be taken seriously, like a contract between you and your spouse and any contract is not final until it’s been signed. It may seem silly and frivolous but it really is a necessary step.
It finalizes the concept that this budget is a commitment between you and your spouse, not to be broken without coming together and redoing your budget.
Our most successful budget meetings have been when we scheduled it prior, on a Saturday morning prior to the first of the month. We have a fresh cup of coffee in hand, and our kids are occupied with a movie. Both of us have prepared for our meeting with printouts, a calendar, and upcoming expenses brought to the meeting, and then we’ve concluded the meeting by both signing the budget.
Every family is different however and in order to be successful you must find out what works best for you!
Tell me below – what does it look like in your family to have a successful budget meeting? Seriously, I want to know!