Do you find it difficult to discuss your household budget with your partner or other family members? Do these discussions become blamefests or even intense arguments rather quickly? This is common and one of the main reasons couples and families have trouble setting up a good, workable, household budget. However, it is often necessary to get by this limitation so that a workable budget can be developed.
First of all, remember the goal of discussing the budget isn’t to assign blame for excessive spending in the past that might have gotten you into financial trouble. Instead, you want to use the discussion to develop new financial goals that you and your family can agree to and live with in order to improve their financial position.
Another trap is falling into bartering of who gets what in the new budget. For example, such an exchange might go like this, "If I’m giving up my weekly spa treatment you’re going to give up your golfing on every Saturday!" Often this will leave items in the new budget that break it since neither side is willing to give in.
Instead of having a conflict, try to work mutually toward new goals. Here are some phrases you might be able to use to steer it in that direction.
"We both enjoy our relaxing hobbies but we need to find a way for both of us to spend less on them, do you have any suggestions?"
This kind of statement acknowledges a mutual feeling and reinforces the need to find a solution to a family problem by working together.
"I really enjoy eating out for lunch everyday at work but I can brownbag it every day so that we can achieve our goal."
Saying something like this shows that you’re willing to sacrifice to meet the mutual goal and, tacitly, anticipates a similar position by the other person.
"I can cut back on playing golf every other weekend if that would help."
Sometimes being first to offer to reduce or eliminate something can get the ball rolling toward finding mutually acceptable spending cutbacks.
Do you have any strategies for improving household budget discussions? If so, leave me a comment and let me know.