Marriage and Money: Setting Boundaries
Let’s chat for a minute about setting boundaries. While sometimes it’s nice to think that we will always do everything together with our partner, it’s nice to also keep some of our independence and set up some guidelines to help us be successful as a team.
Sometimes we need some structure and guidance to be successful and to thrive. Our budget is a perfect example of this. It’s a reminder of how we are planning to spend our money and is very intentional. It’s critical that you don’t set it up and forget about it, but it’s also critical you don’t outright ignore it! When you’re approaching your finances as a team, your budget is the rules by which you play the game. Imagine playing on a soccer team and your partner just keeps picking the ball up and throwing it whenever they’d like. There would be consequences and it would take away from the fun! You can think of working on your budget in the same way. You have to work together within the circumstances you face. Your budget is the most basic boundary for you to set as a team.
Then, we can build from there! Consider how you can build boundaries around your spending money. I’ve had clients call this all kinds of things- fun money, guilt-free spending money, discretionary money. Whatever you call it, it’s all the same concept. We each have our interests and passions and it’s fun to buy things that we can call our own. Set some boundaries on the money you each get to spend on whatever you like. Then, let your partner spend it on what they want! The goal here is to give you both freedom and autonomy while working together as a team. No one likes to be micromanaged and this gives you both the freedom from constant financial oversight, but remember to stick to it! You can both spend your given amount on what you want, but if you over-spend there will be issues just like in the example of the soccer match I gave above.
Here’s one final thought on the importance of boundaries. Your mindset going into this process is likely the biggest challenge you’ll have to overcome. It doesn’t always feel good to have to stick to a budget or not buy exactly what you want right away. We encourage you both to think of setting limits as a form of self- care. If you know that you’re making these changes out of love (love for your life together, love for your partner, and love for yourself) it doesn’t feel so restrictive. Rather, it feels restorative, especially if you’ve got those long term goals in mind and a vision for your life together. Enjoy it!
Don’t have a budget yet? No worries! We’ll walk you through how to step one up, step by step. Register for our free 45-minute webinar on budgeting here.
Want to build more financial literacy? Join us for Financial Foundations, our online course that covers all the basics from budgeting to saving for retirement (oh, and we have a whole unit on money and relationships!). Learn more about it here.