Should a married couple have one family budget or should each do it on their own?
To begin with, it is best that we have a budget, period. As to the question of what is better, a combined or separate budgets, that is up for discussion.
Best way to Budget as a Family
Most families would actually have some sort of a combined budget, where the husband and wife agree on which items each will cover, how much will the two save etc. The idea is to sit down and talk, discuss what is coming in, who will pay for what, and how mush saving they need to make.
Going it alone without any discussions about the role that each will play is a recipe for disaster. ‘Financial issues’ is often cited as one of the major reasons why a lot of marriages end up failing and families splitting. To be more specific, these couples often fail to discuss their situation and how they will budget as a family. The end result is disagreements over who will pay for what, what will they buy and what should wait etc. Another advantage to having a family budget is to act as a system of ‘checks and balances.’ In other words, if one family member wants to spend on something, they can’t just do it alone. They would have to discuss and agree on it with the other and come up with a decision. Of course, we are talking large purchases here.
Agreeing on a budget early in marriage is extremely important. In fact I would suggest couples sit down and discuss their budget even before they are married and living together. It prepares you for what is to come and helps couples avoid any disappointments. Budgeting should depend on the income for each, what financial or debt obligations they already have and whether there is kids involved (yet).
How to Budget together?
One ideal way to budget for a family is to create a shared bank account-in addition to the individual accounts that each will have-where each will contribute a certain amount or percentage from every paycheck. Using that account, you will then decide how you will pay for the various things, including shopping, mortgage, bills, kids expenses, saving for the future etc.
One reason why it is a good idea to create a shared bank account is to help couples feel like they are indeed working together for one common family purpose, as opposed to each working on their own. But like I mentioned already, that doesn’t negate the need for individual bank accounts for each because you still have to have a bank account where you can keep your money for any personal spending etc.
Budgeting for Kids in the Family
Although we will cover the role of children in a family budget in the future, for now, it is just important to remember that kids should have their own category in any budget. Whether it is for their own monthly spending, future education savings, parents should allocate something-however modest-to their kids. Just because they are minor and don’t have a lot of expenses doesn’t mean you don’t account for them. Quiet the contrary actually. If you budget for them now, they will thank you later when they are ready to peruse a higher education.
If you are married with a family and don’t yet have a budget, get going right away. Create your first budget to ensure that you live a happier and more financially-secure life.