Budgeting when you’re a single person versus when you have a family is a lot different. For one, there is so much more to think about. I bet when you were single you didn’t even think too much about budgeting, as long as you had money at the end of the month, you knew that you were doing okay. But with a family comes more expenses, more priorities, and more of a need to sit down and hash it out. Here are some of the key differences between budgeting for a single person versus budgeting for a family.
Budgeting When You’re Single
When you’re single, the only person you have to worry about is you. It is just your income and your expenses each month that you need to account for, and the goals of your budget are yours alone. Want to budget for a trip to Hawaii? Awesome! Nobody is competing with you and you can plan your budget however you want. However, all of that changes once you get married and start a family.
Budgeting as a Family
Once you get married, your budgeting needs change. First and foremost, you have multiple income sources and you have two people spending money now, instead of just one. A budget can be a great tool to improve communication on this front, and really plan things out. For example, how will the bills be paid? How much can each person spend on things for themselves? What is the limit on a purchase that needs to be discussed? All of these things come into play when budgeting for a family.
Then, you also have the goals that need to be addressed. Hopefully, since you’re married and decided you’re compatible, you share some similar goals about money. However, that is not always the case, and you may need to really sit down and discuss money priorities beforehand.
When you’re budgeting as a family, it is important that you keep it simple, and you will probably want to leverage technology. With so much going on, using a program like Mint or Quicken can be a huge help. Also, using one credit card for all family expenses can be very useful as well, both from a logistics and a budgeting standpoint. By having it all on a card, you can balance your budget using this software very easily.
Separate, but Equal
However, for some couples, putting together a joint budget and sharing everything just doesn’t work. That’s okay, and at least you figured it out sooner, rather than later. In this case, you should both keep separate budgets, and on each budget, keep line items for the joint pot of money, which will cover things like the rent or mortgage, insurance, and shared grocery expenses. Then, you can each maintain your own sense of money security, manage your own budgets, while still making sure that you are taking care of the household expenses.