Budget for a life together

Creating a joint budget is one of the first steps to a happy financial union.

Rachel Haig 29 April, 2010 | 6:00PM

Setting up a budget with your spouse-to-be probably ranks right up there with cleaning the toilet or pulling a hangnail. Although it's likely one of the last things on your to-do list, setting up a joint budget is one of the first steps to getting your finances in order as a couple. While you may dread the idea of setting up a budget, the process can actually reduce anxiety.

If you are barely making ends meet, the consequences of not having a clear roadmap for how you'll spend your money each month could result in bad debt problems that expand into bankruptcy or foreclosure. Even couples who are in good financial shape can benefit from a budget, however. Without a budget, money-wary couples often focus on simply "spending less." That's a fine goal in the abstract, but in reality, that approach can cause unnecessary feelings of guilt for occasional indulgences. Instead of taking the "just spend less" route, use a budget to prioritize where you spend your money.

Setting up a budget as a couple isn't too different from setting one up individually, but there are added complexities--after all, there are two of you, and you probably don't spend your money in exactly the same way.

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Rachel Haig

Rachel Haig  Rachel Haig is assistant site editor for Morningstar.com.

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