Budget Meetings

Does anyone else here hold a monthly/quarterly/annual budget meeting with their significant other? We’ve been trying it the last two months. It’s been a powerful tool for keeping us on track financially.

I make a goodie to keep Hubby happy throughout, and we sit down and work as a team going through an updated net worth statement, our financial goals, the numbers for the last month (to see how we did), and a proposed budget for the next month.

I always conclude by asking for any additions to a frugal ideas list. We review that list, checking things we tried that worked and crossing off things we tried that didn’t work. I pick a few ideas to work on throughout the month.

So far this meeting takes about an hour of our time once a month. There are a lot of good ideas that have come from it. We’ve also seen progress in our financial life even in such a short time. It keeps us focused.

I can’t take credit for the idea of budget meetings. It came from Hope and Larry Ware of Under the Median on YouTube.

What do you think? Have you ever tried this, or a variation of it? It’s very formalized, but that seems to work best for my hubby.

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My old boss called these State of the Unions :joy: our finances aren’t totally entwined yet but yes, I definitely plan to make a habit of it!

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We don’t do official meetings so to speak but every two weeks when I get paid I reconcile our finances and give him an update about where we are. At the end of every month I let him know where we ended up in the categories and how much we have available for extra savings and we decide together which categories to put the excess in. This is usually while the screaming children are yelling for our attention and it usually takes 3-4 discussions throughout the day to cover it ask since we are constantly interrupted. But, it works for us and we both feel like we have input.

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Sounds chaotic at your place! Hubby and I are older. We forget easily. It’s better for us to write everything down on various budget related printouts. I wish we’d started much younger, when we still had kids at home. It would have reduced the stress in our home immensely!

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I send state of the union emails every time I run the number each month. We used to do in person check ins, but since baby and new job that hasn’t been happening. The emails work well, but we have a really big base of being on the same page about our finances.

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we pull numbers monthly

  • invested assets
  • spend on regular things (house bills, credit cards, cash)
  • review the sinking funds
  • percentage of retirement funded/estimated withdrawal rate using the numbers from the invested assets tab and the past 12 months of spending plus funding sinking accounts

so I pull my numbers for the investments, the shadowy one pulls theirs and asks me to guess what the total number might be

I make sure the month’s spending is all in and do the math to give us % funded and estimated withdrawal rate and tell them. I may give an update on the grocery spend, because we’ve been tracking that closely the past few months, and I’ll flag if there are any concerns on the credit card spent that needs more intentionality the next month.

the budget spreadsheet goes back over a decade.

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We’re trying to do this more - well, I’m trying to do this more and Mr Meer isn’t averse to the idea - but it feels like just me reporting numbers rather than a conversation. We’re kind of at a “set it and forget it” level of finances rather than looking for places to be frugal, so I’m not sure what a conversation would look like for us? Is anyone else like that? Our I guess is it more of a report (one way) or conversation (two way) in your household?

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Hubby tried to make it a one way conversation at our house - with me being the “bad guy” and him being the martyr. I refused to fill that role. I kept emphasizing we are working as a team, together. No blaming, no shaming…just the facts and brainstorming ideas to improve the situation, taking into account our ages and health. Actually, Hope and Larry Ware go into considerable detail about the attitude to go into a budget meeting with. I found it very helpful to have my Spidey-sense confirmed. Hubby and I have always come to loggerheads on finances before. The Wares approach worked really well for getting us on track and keeping us there.

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I’m just in the first couple years of financial entanglement, but my husband makes us a quarterly PowerPoint :joy: it began as a joke but now it’s become quite entertaining. There are slides like “upcoming financial drains”. Overall percentages and trends this quarter. Random quips.

He’s very into spreadsheets, I’m not at all. So this PowerPoint summary is compiled from monthly excel inputs. I enjoy and really appreciate seeing the numbers laid out all nice and it’s cool to see all the historical data, but I definitely couldn’t keep that up myself. But it’s been turning out good so far because we end up talking about what we’ve been spending or up to and how it’s going. I think it will become more detailed as we go to one income so TBD, early days!

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Omg I love the PowerPoint idea!!

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We do! At the end of the month I go over all our numbers and we have a little meeting. I usually just ask him “is this a good time for some money talk?” and that’s how we start, I don’t usually ask for a formal time or anything. When husband was busier because he worked way more hours I would often just email him a 2-3 sentence summary, but I prefer talking about it.

I make all the long term strategy decisions and do all the research/management, which I don’t mind at all, but I never want him to be one of those spouses who has no idea what’s happening with the accounts. Any time I move money or hugely alter the plan I let him know in advance and make sure he’s ok with it/doesn’t veto it/etc… If I need numbers checked sometimes I’ll have him check my math too but I haven’t needed him to do that in a long time. I make my own projections for us and so far I have hit them so I think that’s made me more confident in my numbers. I used to have him look over my math a lot more!

Currently we are also talking weekly, not so much about the state of our finances but to talk about potential purchases that will be made in the week. This isn’t an all the time thing for us but we are saving for a house and have a HCOL and only one income so in order to also save we have to be diligent. Talking about purchases in advance helps both of us spend less. For husband, he’s prone to one off random spending (a new trash can, and a shower curtain liner, and some gum, and then also shoelaces, gas, and a coffee out) so I think the weekly stuff helps him organize his thoughts and be less random. For me, I’m more prone to consumerism and shopping, like clothes, makeup, skincare, ingredients, house stuff, etc. The weekly meetings help me spend less because hearing my husband talk about how carefully he’s trying to think makes me feel just enough guilt in the moment that I won’t spend (almost bought something the other day then thought about how he said “I can put off buying bar soap until next week” felt a bit silly and closed the purchase).

I’ve been very surprised to learn that a lot of couples don’t talk about their finances at all! Even people who have their money combined. I think it would be really hard to stay on track that way. Husband was very resistant in early years (he wanted me to take care of it, but not bother him with it). It only took me like, lol, two years or something to realize he was anxious about money and that’s why he was avoiding it. So I try to keep our talks short, and always start with a reassurance “nothing is wrong! we are ok! now lets get into spending…” and I think that’s helped. Also, not ambushing him helps. I love money and planning and so I used to just randomly pepper him with facts or questions and then he’d get all tense and weird. Asking first, “money talk time?” has really helped. I don’t have a lot of anxiety around money (or in general) so I don’t fully get it but it seems like that extra mental notice helps, fwiw.

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Sometimes it is a prompt to have a conversation, sometimes it is just situation update. Since we are about to rely on this pool of fake numbers recorded somewhere in a database, it’s also helpful for the shadowy one to see the fluctuation that happens on the regular, think about dividends, etc.

My partner and I do a form of this. We call it the housemate check in with a wide variety of topics but usually money is in there. We haven’t done this much of a deep dive so maybe during one of the next ones, we can discuss. Or do an EOY review on the things you have mentioned.

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