Success Stories: Budgeting with Someone Else

Many of us have found ourselves in a relationship with someone that isn’t 100% sold on the excitement of budgeting—a partner, roommate, family member, spouse—at first. The reasons can vary! No judgment. 😉

Do you have any success stories to share for someone that was reluctant at first, but came around? Was there anything in particular that helped?

If you need a little inspiration, this blog post (and Whiteboard Wednesday) from Jesse is an oldie but a goodie about how budgeting can improve a relationship when you talk about your priorities.

Share your tips for budgeting with another person below!

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  • Also a good one to listen to is Hey Nerd! which speaks to the loosening up part.

    My husband LOVES the budget now. Because it lets him spend without worry. Why? Because YNAB is a spending plan. If you have your categories set up correctly, then the other person can go buy whatever from that category, record it, and move on. No lectures. No inquisition. No worries about the rent cheque bouncing because they bought gas. I had to loosen up on a couple of things. (Note I use he for the other person/spouse because that is what my situation is/was. There are plenty of both men and women who are hard to get on board).

    1. Give him the amount he needs/wants for certain things. Do I think he should spend $40 per month on the coffee truck at work. No I do not. But WE agreed that is the budget. So every month he gets his $40. Same with beer. Too much in my opinion (dollars not amount of drinking). But again, it is a separate category and he can spend freely. Even if he forgets to record it, there are only 2 places he generally buys it and they are easily recognizable when the bank posts them.

    2. If you don't want to know (or he doesn't want you to know) agree on an amount you can afford and just give that to him in cash every month. Record it once and forget about it. But he can't come asking for more later. So his number may seem too high but go with it.

    3. Be less anal about categorizing things. I have a category called Home Depot/Lowes/Canadian Tire which we fund $75 per month. I don't care if its for the car, the house, the backyard, or the dog. If it gets spent there, it gets categorized there. The only difference is for a large project (like my pergola) or purchase (like our appliances). Those have a separate category. Maybe your category is Amazon. Its a black hole. So rather than chase the other person around with a pen and a calculator, just budget an amount there and categorize it all there.  You can analyse it later (together) if it seems out of control. Trust me, this will be for you as much as it is for them.

    Like 6
  • I love YNABing, and could be content budgeting my days away.  However, my SO is more of a free spirit when it comes to money and budgeting.. if his savings is going up he is happy, and if it is sinking he will tighten the purse strings a little. 

    I've always thought that getting him too involved in the budget would be met with annoyance, and after talking it over we came up with a compromise that works for our situation. 

    For one, we have kept mostly separate finances, apart from one joint checking account. We each contribute an equal, substantial (%) amount into the joint account each paycheck (we have similar take home pays so this works for us). We have agreed upon categories (mortgage, groceries, utilities, joint travel, our puppy expenses, couples savings goals, couples wish farms, etc.) that are tracked as joint categories. When he pays for something that is covered as a "joint expense" he tells me or gives me a receipt and I manually enter it in YNAB with an Orange flag. I track my joint purchases with Blue flags, and once or twice a month I bill pay our credit cards from the joint checking account as reimbursement for these flagged purchases. I also track everything that comes in and out of the joint account.

    This way I can happily track all the joint expenses and my personal expenses without being a bother to him. Also, he rarely forgets to tell me of his purchases because if he does forget he has to pay for them from his personal account!

    Some people may think this is too bothersome or wouldn't like the fact that there is a big chunk of money that isn't tracked (his personal money). But this has been working really well for us for almost a year. It prevents me from micromanaging his spending habits while allowing me to see the important ins and outs of our finances.

    Every so often we sit down and talk about how much money we want to allocate here or there and what wish farms we want to fund. He likes to see the reports and numbers occasionally, but I'm the CFO ;).  

    Like 5
      • Ruth Elizabeth
      • Soil Scientist
      • Sapric_Histisols
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Cadet Blue Boa That sounds like a really creative approach to budgeting together without jeopardizing your relationship.

  • I don't have a success story to report sadly. Although it isn't bad. 

    One issue that came up were gifts for me. I now took the habit to enter the transaction and stay quiet about it! Telling him I know where he bought the gift and how much he spent on it before the event isn't helpful.

    Like 2
    • Ceeses Is he an online shopper? I know most people are these days, but if not he could withdraw cash to keep things a surprise. 

      • Ceeses
      • Ceeses
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Faness That would imply a lot more organisation than his current mode of going about it. He starts with a vague idea of what he'd like to buy. Find a lunchtime when he will have enough time to go shopping (typically just realising so on that day). Then see what he can find. 

    • Ceeses Ah, a spur of the moment shopper. ;) Gift cards (like Visa gift cards) that he could carry with him are another option, but still calls for some preparation. I don't think it's too bad to know a "surprise" is coming.

      Like 1
    • Hey Ceeses ! My husband and I tend to use a pretend payee for gifts. "Nunya", as in it's nunya business. 😂 We talk about a general amount and budget for it a few months ahead of the holidays, and both of us tend to forget by time they roll around. This blog post has some great tips about gift giving when you share a budget too!

  • I think shared Rule 3 responsibility is critical. The rest is negotiable.

    A single enthusiastic budgeter can import, categorize, and reconcile all the transactions. They can follow Rule 1 and identify (initial) jobs for all the money, making sure to consider True Expenses (Rule 2) and working toward a financial cushion (Rule 4). You don't need both parties involved in all of that planning (though it helps).

    However, both parties absolutely need to be involved in Rule 3. If anyone overspends, they need to be accountable for identifying which other category(ies) to move money from. Ideally, the budget is consulted before spending, and adjustments are made ahead of time (or perhaps decide not to spend at all).

    Rule 3 is the critical "feedback loop" between real world behavior and the idealized YNAB budget. I creates awareness and self-accountability. Without both partners following Rule 3, there's little point in operating a budget. 

    Like 5
  • I don't budget with my husband, but he's included in the budget which has made all the difference. We went over our expenses and outlined how much we each need to and would contribute - it's automatic and has become pretty pain-free. It's taken a lot out of the day-to-day questions of what we can and can't/ should or shouldn't buy, because we already have that guideline in place. Goodbye, micromanagement. 

    We still discuss larger purchases and financial goals for the month/quarter/year, but overall we've gotten to a point where things (mostly) run on their own. 

    Like 2
  • Cadet Blue Boa said:
    It prevents me from micromanaging his spending habits

     This is a relationship saver!

    Like 2
  • Faness said:
    we've gotten to a point where things (mostly) run on their own. 

     Yup, financially our lives are pretty boring, which is a good thing. We budget paycheque by paycheque but this is based mostly on scheduled transactions and YNAB goals. I also work within the category groups for overspending. So if restaurant goes over, I cover from groceries. Same with car and house.

    Like 1
    • MXMOM I hope you don't mind me asking! What's your category group breakdown? Is restaurant and groceries all under a Food category group? I'm thinking of splitting out my True Expenses but haven't made a jump yet.

      • MXMOM
      • MXMOM
      • 1 yr ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Faness  I did not go with the YNAB structure because we migrated over from the old Dave Ramsey Gazelle budget so we had pretty much set a structure by type of expense. So we have Housing, Food, Transportation, Medical/Insurance/Personal (which is Hair/spending/Gifts/basically non-essentials). Then we added the University group with breakdown for each year (which I shared previously) and the Germany trip group (also broken down into smaller portions). And the Wish Farm category group.

      Food has Groceries, Restaurants, Starbucks monthly allowance, Coffee truck. Each category has a set budgeted amount per month but if I have to WAM, I try to stay within the Category group so Restaurant WAMS from groceries.

      Like 2
  • My husband was not very excited about budgeting when we first started. One of the first things he told me when we started dating was that he has always wanted to travel to Japan. That was one of the first long-term goals we added to the budget. Seeing the amount of money we've put aside for the trip and how that will become a reality sooner rather than later has helped a lot. 
    What has also helped a lot has been combining accounts. When we first got married we kept our accounts separate because both of us liked our banks, but combining made us feel like we were on the same team. 
    He has commented several times that he has no idea where his money went before we started budgeting. He wasn't "bad" with money (zero credit card debt, minimal student loan debt, and a car loan), in fact, he was in a better place financially than I was at the time. He just wasn't saving or spending with a plan. Being able to see why we're saving money and why we're making purchases has really helped budgeting click in his mind. Now he encourages co-workers and friends to try out ynab!

    Like 5
  • My sister and I are now moms by day, budgeters by night; we're the PJ MASCs* (Moms Allocating Scarce Currency)! 

    We talk most nights after getting the kids to bed. The 3hr time difference means her littles and my big kids get tucked in about the same time. Not too long ago she was stuck in a cycle of: $ stress -> marriage stress -> retail & coffee shop therapy -> guilt -> $ stress, round and round. Not too long before that it occurred to me and my husband to ask, "Where's all our money going?"; then we had to stop pointing fingers at each other, then we found YNAB. I gushed to my sister about how YNAB took (most of) our $ stress away, about how YNAB takes away the guilt that often partners spending. I gushed about the 4 rules. Then...she ASKED for all the info. We started budgeting together during our evening gab sessions. We share our wins and struggles. We figured out how to remote screen share so we could look over each other's shoulder. Huge success!

    *If you have kids under age 10 you should get this reference 🦎🐈🦉

    Like 7
  • There were two big things that helped my partner come around:

    “Emergencies” stopped being emergencies by saving for True Expenses. We had the money ready when life happened—and it always does. Auto maintenance and dental? Inevitable. That time our car was broken into? You can cross your fingers, lock the doors and hope for the best, but can’t predict if or when it may happen.

    In January alone, we replaced a furnace, purchased a set of tires, paid for medical tests, vet bills and our home insurance deductible. Sure, the savings account is lighter but the money was there!

    Seeing progress toward our priorities. My husband is a tech guy, and loves having a computer of a certain quality. Seeing the category Available balance grow for the next rig, in addition to saving for all the rest was a huge motivator.

    Like 3
      • Tobias
      • Toviathan
      • 1 yr ago
      • 4
      • Reported - view


      Nicole said:
      “Emergencies” stopped being emergencies by saving for True Expenses.

       This was a big factor in getting my husband fully on board. We had already been using YNAB for a while because I said so (through mutual agreement I control the majority of our financial decisions and make sure to include him in the discussions, but he is very hands off). He would enter his transactions but if I told him I didn't care about it anymore, he would have dropped it instantly, never having seen any value.

      Then things would start happening like him saying "next time you get paid can we get haircuts?" And I would be able to respond "we can get haircuts right now because we funded that category however many paychecks ago." Or it would come time to get new glasses for his special eyes and he would ask "which card should I put this on?" since we would usually need to pay for those type of things over time. And I could just say "you're good, we already have the money for it. Use whatever."

      I still cant get him to check categories before he spends, but he at least asks first knowing that more often than not, I at least have something set aside for those irregulars now. He definitely sees the value in YNAB and the process, and that is worth its weight in gold compared to where we came from.

      Like 4
    • Tobias It's a progression! By asking if there is money in a category, I feel like checking is just around the corner.

  • My seven year-old son has his own category group in my budget that he allocates his allowance to. This put a stop to the begging for new toys! If we're out and he sees something that he'd like, he checks the app first. I'm proud to say that most of the time, he passes on the toy and chooses to save his money. He helps fill in the budget with me on pay day too; the first time he did this, he said "you don't have enough for everything." It was an excellent teaching moment. Now he sees it as a game - how far can we make this money go?

    Like 8
    • Mango Box This might just be my favorite budgeting partner story. Your son sounds like he already has a good head on his shoulders! :)

      Like 3
    • Mango Box Nice!

      my 11 year old has his own budget in my account. He just voiced that he didn’t want the drone he has been saving up for any more, but would rather have a new video game a bit sooner. Then he went upstairs to start his homework, delighting in the plan to open YNAB quickly before starting his work, to put the drone funds in the game category 😊

      Like 4
    • Mango Box That is such a valuable lesson for little ones to learn! ❤️

  • I wasn’t sure before if I viewed my own situation as a succes story... my husband doesn’t want to budget.

    But we are making progress. Just posted about it here:

    I do like the progress a lot! And am expecting more for the future. So it does feel as succes in a way 😊

    My son does want to budget. I’m happy to be able to add this to his upbringing.

    Like 2
    • Powder Blue Pony Thank you for sharing your story! We're always evolving and changing. Progress is definitely success!

      My husband and I had the same goal from the beginning of our relationship (less money stress), but had different ideas to approach and the level of "effort" we wanted to put in. Seeing the whole financial picture laid out, and how day to day decisions impact your goals makes a difference. It just takes some of us more time to get there!

      Like 1
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