A family budget meeting isn’t the sexiest thing I’ve ever written about but it is one of the most helpful tips I can give you to have better communication with your significant other.
The best way to think about a family budget meeting is to think of your families finances like it’s a business. Every business out there has budget meetings to make sure they’re on track so they don’t have to close their doors.
A family budgeting meeting is just that, a meeting to ensure that money problems and miscommunication aren’t going to the downfall of your family or your relationship with your significant other.
I get a lot of emails from you guys talking about how it’s so hard to get your significant other on board with your budget and you aren’t sure what to do. Well, a good ol’ family budget meeting will honestly do the trick.
Just 30 minutes each month that you both dedicate to your budget will get you closer to your financial goals and will help you be closer as a couple since you’ll avoid all the lies, miscommunications, and disappointments.
Let’s dive right into the steps you need to take to have a successful family budget meeting this month!
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Benefits of a Family Budget Meeting
There are so many benefits to a family budget meeting and it was hard to make a list of just a few for the sake of being concise, but here are some of my favourites:
- Increased cooperation and communication in a couple
- Builds financial literacy for the children in the family
- Less money related fights (let’s remember that a huge number of couples break up because of money!)
- Brings you closer as people because you’ll learn a ton about what your partner values and what makes them tick
- You’ll set smarter financial goals with your partner in mind, instead of both of you working against eachother
- You’ll have the opportunity to be proactive with your money instead of just being reactive
If those benefits of a family budget meeting don’t convince you that starting this process is a good idea, I don’t know what will! Let’s move on to the actual steps to have a successful meeting.
How to Have a Successful Family Budget Meeting
Step One: Keep a Schedule
Just like if you were a business you must schedule your monthly budget meetings. Why? Well, there’s nothing worse than your significant other coming home from a long day at work and expecting to unwind with a beer and some fortnite and them being surprised by a budget meeting.
Not quite the best way to spend an evening if you aren’t prepared for it.
You can do this in one of two ways (1) have your budgeting meetings be on the same day every month (i.e., the 1st of the month) or (2) make it on a day that works for you but give your significant other at least a week’s notice just in case it doesn’t work for them.
Once you decide on a day to have your meeting, honour it. Don’t move the date just because you have something better to do (unless it’s dire circumstances). These meetings don’t take too long and are insanely beneficial to you both, so it’s important to not cancel.
Step Two: Set a Strict Time Limit
Talking about budgeting gets boring really fast. This is why it’s important to not schedule this meeting to take 4 hours because then you’ll both end up fighting and hate each other by the end.
A budget meeting should be quick, concise, and to the point. This means that you should only need around 30 minutes to get the job done.
Set a timer on your phone for 30 minutes and once the timer goes off, move on to something fun. Maybe snuggle and watch a movie. That’s always a great choice after a budget meeting!
Step Three: Eliminate Distractions
These 30 minutes are going to be serious work so you need to make sure that there are no distractions that could take you away from having a successful meeting.
If you have young kids, put them to bed before you start. Turn off the TV. Make sure the dishes are clean so you aren’t thinking about all the housework you have to do when the meeting is over.
Sit in a room with a table (preferably a dining room, not a couch) and play some calming instrumental music that will help you focus but not make you sing along.
Distractions are a total detriment to a good monthly budget meeting, so this is one of the most important steps.
Step Four: Come Prepared
In most couples, one person is going to be a budgeter and one person is going to be a spender who hates budgeting. Because of this the one of you that is the budgeter needs to make sure to come prepared to the meeting to make sure that it’s as short as humanly possible.
I’m going to assume that if you’re looking at a post about family budget meetings that you’re the budgeter, teehee.
Here’s a few things that you can have prepared ahead of time to ensure that your budgeting meeting is quick and as painless as possible:
- A rough outline of your budget so you only need to fill in a couple sections with your significant other
- A list of your sinking funds and proposed sinking funds you want to start using
- Any bills that need to be paid
- A list of upcoming events that you need to prepare for financially
You can also use our 4 conversations to have with your s/o about money as a great jumping off point if you don’t know what to discuss at your first meeting.
Step Five: Expect Disagreements
Money is an extremely taboo topic and can often be really hard to talk about especially if you and your partner have never had these talks before.
You’re 100% going to have little fights in the middle of these meetings about some of the silliest things.
Here’s an example of a money fight one of my readers got into: The reader (who will go unnamed) is the saver in the family and one day she noticed a charge for $15 on their credit card that she didn’t recognize.
She questioned her husband about the charge and found out that he threw away the lunch she made him and went and got a $15 salad on his lunch break. They fought for a week about this because they didn’t have open communication about money!
This is proof that one of you is going to buy a $15 salad and the other one is going to be annoyed by it. Just prepared yourself to have an argument or two in the middle of your meeting.
Step Six: Leave Your Ego At The Door & Never Lie
The whole point of a monthly family budget meeting is to get on the same page with your significant other. If you come into the meeting with your ego all puffed up and spewing lies you aren’t going to reap any of the benefits.
Your partner may question some of your purchases and ask questions about where money went, tell the truth. Lying during these meetings is only going to make things a lot worse.
Also, I’ve heard a lot about couples where one person thinks they’re more intelligent when it comes to money and they talk down to the other. This is also not going to be a constructive way to have a meeting.
If your significant other doesn’t understand something, take the time to explain it. The whole purpose of this project is to get on the same page and make financial decisions together.
Things To Talk About During a Family Budget Meeting
1. Your Wins & Fails
Talking about your wins is an awesome way to motivate you to work harder the next month so you can see more and more wins! And doesn’t everybody love a good win?
Well, it’s also important to talk about your fails and mishaps. This is way more important than discussing your wins because your fails are going to show you exactly how you can improve next month and where you both need to work harder.
2. Sinking Funds
Sinking funds are an amazing way to save up for things that you know are going to happen in advance. Talking about sinking funds at your monthly family budget meeting can help you prepare for all those expenses that you’re aware of!
Some examples of sinking funds you should have:
- Car Maintenance
- Health Care
3. Debt Payoff
The ultimate goal for a ton of people is to be completely debt free because it leads to a full feeling of freedom. I strive to be completely debt free (ugh, student loans) in two shorts years so that’s something I discuss at my monthly family budget meeting.
You can discuss methods of which to pay off debt, what to do before you tackle your debt, and more. Here’s a couple posts that may help you get started:
4. Financial Goals
One of the best parts about family budget meetings is that you can discuss your huge financial goals with your significant other and get on the same page.
You can talk about goals, such as:
- When you’d like to retire
- How to pay for huge purchases (i.e., a new home)
- How to save for your kids’ college
- How to be debt free in X years
5. Changes in Income
There are a few reasons why you may be working with changes in income:
- Promotions, raises, or bonuses
- Inheritances, gifts, etc
- Side hustle income (i.e., starting a blog)
- Time off, layoffs, maternity/paternity leave, etc
These are really important to discuss because you want your budget to reflect the actual amount of money that will be hitting your bank accounts each month, not a number that you’ve made before.
6. Huge Purchases to be Made
If you are aware of a giant purchase that you need to make in the coming month, this is the time to discuss it. How will you save the money for it? When will you buy it? Will you pay cash or finance? So many questions to ask during your monthly family budget meeting.
How to Make Next Month’s Family Budget Meeting Go Smoothly
1. Track your spending
Tracking your spending is the key to making sure a budget goes well. You need to make sure that you and your significant other are tracking your spending (all of your spending) for the entire month to make sure that you can really plan where to cut and where to spend.
2. Have a Mid-Month Meeting
Sometimes things are going to come up that you just didn’t expect and they can throw off your entire budget. When these things happen it’s time to try out a mid-month meeting just to make sure that you guys can cover this unexpected expense.
If you want to be prepared for unexpected emergencies, maybe it’s time to set up an emergency fund for your family.
3. Try Out a New Budgeting Method
Sometimes we try really really hard to get a certain budgeting method to work for us and we just can’t get it done. If you find that you’re constantly failing at budgeting each month but can’t figure out why, maybe it’s time to change up the way you budget.
Here are our two favourite budgeting methods that we suggest you try out:
Having a family budget meeting is the best thing you can do for your monthly budget and is a great way to avoid fights with your partner. If you have any questions about a family budget meeting leave them in the comments below and I’ll respond to them all!