How To Get Your Spouse Involved In Household Finances

get your spouse involved in household finances

Managing household expenses can be a daunting and stressful task. Do you feel like you’re doing all of the worrying about where your money is going?  Feel like the only one in your house trying to spend smartly and stick to limited spending while your spouse spends at will?  How can you change the way your spouse spends money so you can allocate funds back to your savings account?  Here are a few ways to get your spouse more involved and on the same page with the household finances!  **Note that having knowledge of Microsoft Excel will be helpful with this exercise**

1. Understand Where the Money is Going

The two of you collectively need to get bank statements of your checking/savings account in monthly format going back to at least three months prior and analyze your spending.  Then create spending categories (i.e. Groceries, gas, credit card, dining out, phone, cable, utility, mortgage/rent, etc.).  From your total household income of the month, figure out what percentage of your income each category is costing you.  Do this at least three months back to help establish an average percentage for what you spend on each category.  This is how you establish a preliminary budget.  Do that for each spending category.  Analyze each category.  For example, your utility bill is going to be higher in the winter months than it would be in the summer months.

2. Understand How Much Money is Coming In

The two of you collectively need to figure out how much money you have coming in.  This is not just limited to your salary.  This can be tax refunds, grants, gifts, or any other monies that you will put in an account and could be spent.  Try to be month specific.  For example, if your tax refund comes in April, you would add that to your monthly salaries for April so your spending budgets would be a little larger that month.  On the other hand, February has fewer days which results in less money coming in, and your spending budgets would be smaller.

3. Create Categorical Budgets

Now that you’ve analyzed and know what percentages of your income are being spent on which categories, you can now establish preliminary budgets.  Using a spreadsheet or Microsoft Excel, you can create a household checkbook to track all of your expenses and have working budgets throughout the month so you know how much money you have left to spend on each category.  You may find that your preliminary budgets when added up are more than your income for that month.  This is where you would need to figure out where you need to cut spending. Obviously, your fixed costs like the mortgage, car payments, etc. are things you can’t cut.  But dining out, entertainment, etc., are the areas that you would need to reduce your budget in these areas to have a successful financial month.  This is what’s known as flexing your budgets.

4. Create a Budget “Checkbook”

Now that you have figured out your preliminary budgets, spending categories, total household income, you are ready to build your Budget Checkbook.  Using Microsoft Excel, you will create a functioning spreadsheet where once it’s built, you will just enter your expenses and the spreadsheet will do the rest.  First you will need to set it up. Depicted below is an example of what it should look like:

As you can see, we established our spending categories running horizontally across the page. We established our budgets for each category along with a line for or total spend per category as well as a line for our variance which tells us how much is left in the budget per category.  Note that we began the spreadsheet with our fixed expenses. These are expenses that do not change from month to month and can be copied over month to month when creating new spreadsheets for each month. Then as you accumulate expenses, enter them in the section under the date, vendor, and purchase. 

5. Set up the Cells

This is where your knowledge of Excel will come in handy.  When looking at the actual spend line, you want each cell to automatically do the calculations for you.  For example, you’re looking for your actual spend of grocery.  You need that cell to add up the contents of the grocery column.  To do that, you would type in a simple formula:  =sum(F7:F60). This will automatically add up everything in grocery column.  To find your variance, you simply put in a formula that subtracts your actual spend from your budget.  So for example for housing, you would enter the following formula:  =(E2-E3).  Repeat these steps for each category.

With the steps above, you and your spouse can work together to eliminate stress of family finances. When both parties are involved, it will make a happier, more financially sound, household!

Spreadsheet Image License: Image author owned


    • DC @ Young Adult Money

      DC @ Young Adult Money 09/24/2013 5:25 a.m. #

      Great post, Nikki! Sometimes my wife is frustrated about not understanding all of our finances - i.e. car/house insurance, our 401k, etc. because a lot of it is on auto-pay or I pay for various bills so she never sees them. I think making time to go over various aspects of your personal finances is key.

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 09/24/2013 4:48 p.m. #

        While she may be a bit frustrated, it seems as if you have everything covered from a financial perspective. I think it is quite common for one spouse to be more aware of their finances then the other is.

    • Corina Ramos

      Corina Ramos 09/24/2013 7:40 a.m. #

      I am the accountant in the family and my husband has no clue what's going on lol. As long as the bills are paid he's fine. Sure he looks at the bills but just to see the amount. If it's more he'll ask why, I tell him and he's okay.

      I also have my bills on an excel sheet and I have formulas to calculate my expenses. It's a great way to see if you're saving or spending too much.

      Thanks for sharing these tips! Make it a great Tuesday!

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 09/24/2013 4:51 p.m. #

        Corina.....I love your setup! He makes the money and you spend it (manage it) :-)

        But seriously, isn't it pretty much the same in most marriages? One person looks after all the finances and the other steers clear of them. And as you said, he sees the bills and he knows how much is being spent, but the financial management is something you look after. It is the exact same in our house.

    • FI Pilgrim

      FI Pilgrim 09/24/2013 9:03 a.m. #

      Having your spouse on the same page with you is HUGE, accomplishing goals is so much easier that way. You might even say "possible" that way. My wife and I use YNAB for the same reasons stated above. We can both check budget categories on our smartphones while we're out and about and see exactly where we stand on any category. But Excel or YNAB will both be helpful!

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 09/24/2013 4:57 p.m. #

        Sounds like you guys have a great system in place that helps you both know where you stand financially.

    • Shannon @ The Heavy Purse

      Shannon @ The Heavy Purse 09/24/2013 10:49 a.m. #

      Great tips, Nikki! It is so important to have your spouse on the same page and aware of how money is being spent. While I manage our family budget, my husband is fully aware of how we spend our money, even if I'm the one who pays the bills. :)

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 09/24/2013 5:01 p.m. #

        That is the perfect scenario Shannon! Yes, it is important for both spouses to know where the money goes, but I think it is also important to only have one spouse managing the money. That where there is no confusion on who pays what, no worry of there not being enough money in the account because of the possibility of each spouse accidentally paying the same bill.

    • krantcents

      krantcents 09/24/2013 6:24 p.m. #

      Both partners must buy into any goal or budget to make it successful.

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 09/25/2013 10:51 a.m. #

        Agreed. If not you are fighting a losing battle.

    • corinne

      corinne 09/24/2013 9:53 p.m. #

      It has always been very important that my husband and I stay on the same financial track. I can see how it could cause huge disagreements if both parties are not on the same page. Unfortunately, I'm a saver/frugal shopper, and hubby is a spender. Luckily, he's also very open to listening and compromise so we talk things through. I doubt we would have managed to get out of debt so quickly if we weren't on the same page financially.

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 09/25/2013 10:55 a.m. #

        You guys have a really good setup and it sounds like it is working very well for you. Good for you guys for getting out of debt too!! It is amazing how many couples are not able to do that, and it can lead to so many issues.

    • Christy Garrett @ Uplifting Famiilies

      Christy Garrett @ Uplifting Famiilies 09/25/2013 6:44 p.m. #

      A spreadsheet is a great way to figure out where you money is going. Thank you for sharing these wonderful tips.

    • CarolB

      CarolB 09/26/2013 7:32 a.m. #

      Great tips! Though we are kind of "odd" in how we handle our finances. I manage all the short-term stuff - day-to-day needs, bills, emergency fund, how much is left over after all this is paid. My husband manages the long-term stuff - investments, IRA's, 401ks. It suits us well. I can't handle the risk of long term investments, he is terrible in the fine details needed for day to day. So long as we remain on the same page for our overall financial plan, it works well. And mostly we are on the same page!

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