Payoff Team Member Ty K. shares how she and her husband overcame conflict while budgeting as a married couple.

The Beginning

Prior to saying our “I do’s,” my husband and I went through some pretty intense premarital counseling focused on an array of things, including our finances. In addition to that, we spent hours crunching numbers while planning our wedding and honeymoon. So even though we had yet to actually sit down together and see each other in budgeting action, we were sure we’d be fine. At least that’s what we thought.

Fast-forward to just a few weeks into our marriage and pretty fresh off of our honeymoon. I went to my husband and said, “Babe, we need to go over our budget for the month.”

As I pulled out my red book and, as he likes to describe it, pushed my glasses up on my nose and whipped out my pen, I saw a fear in his eyes I don’t think I’d ever seen before. He instantly started to squirm like an unsuspecting insect that had gotten caught in my budgeting web.

The Conflict

Being The Architect I am, it’s no shocker I had our money all mapped out for the month. And being The Free Spirit he is, he was immediately overwhelmed by it all.

I was as shocked at his paperless system as he was by my extremely detailed financial road map, nestled safely inside my red book. I’m sure we were both wondering, “How have you survived so long living this way?”

I was as shocked at his paperless system as he was by my extremely detailed financial road map …

See, my husband was used to working, putting money in the bank, paying his bills, going shopping here and there, hanging out with family and friends, taking trips and basically doing whatever his heart desired — without ever writing any of it down.

Somehow we made it through that first painful conversation. And then month after month, we muddled our way through family budgeting meetings with me feeling guilty for having everything written down and my husband feeling equally as guilty for not doing the same.

The Compromise

Finally, after several months of feeling like we were both enduring the most painful trip ever to the “dentist of finances and budgeting, we remembered that before we met neither of our bank accounts had ever been overdrawn and we were both living pretty comfortably. It hit us that our systems had been working for each of us just fine, and now that we were married all we had to do was find some common ground for our budgeting styles.

Now, 3 years later, I’m excited to say that the gaping difference in our approaches to budgeting didn’t kill us. In fact, we’re happily married and my husband no longer cringes monthly when I pull out the red book.

… Now that we were married all we had to do was find some common ground for our budgeting styles.

These days I like to think he’s actually smiling about it on the inside, somewhere deep down in that free spirit of his. Over the years I’ve heard him say to family, friends and strangers alike, “We couldn’t have done this without my wife’s red book budgeting.” I’ve found myself responding with praise of my own, like, “We also couldn’t have done this without my husband’s beautiful mind.”

So, if you’re an Architect getting ready to marry a Free Spirit, don’t put away your red book just yet. There’s still hope as you create your own unique route for maintaining your family budget.

Written by Ty K. from Payoff’s Member Experience Team

14 Responses to Budgeting as a Married Couple — Our Little Red Book

  1. Toni says:

    Great article! Gives us all something to contemplate. Even after 14 years of marriage, it’s not too late to make adjustments conducive to working together financially.

  2. T Byrd says:

    Wow…very interesting read. Thank you for sharing..I’m single and need to learn how to keep a little red book myself, so I can be ready just is case my husband is a free spirit otherwise, we two free spirit individuals will be in some trouble…sounds like a book you should write…that I would definitely buy! Thank you

  3. Rochelle says:

    Loved this article! Very insightful. I would definitely love to hear more on this topic because although I’m not married… I -like your hubby- is a free spirit budgeter but I would love to balance that with your red book budgeting system.. Lol keep em coming Ms. Ty. Very proud of you.

  4. Trace G. says:

    Interesting article! Managing the finances as a couple can be challenging, but extremely necessary to live a happy married life.

  5. Muslimah says:

    Great Read!
    Thanks for sharing your gift of writing and story telling because it was very refreshing and just the right amount of words. I can relate to this topic, I too am a planner, but now I know another word thanks to you “architect”. Love how y’all recognized your different ways of doing finance and still found common ground!!!

  6. Joyce says:

    This was very thought provoking!! After 9 years we are still hitting a brick wall!! Thanks for sharing!!

    • Nine years is a long time to be working on this matter, but you’re definitely not alone. Many, many couples struggle with this and I think it’s great that 9 years proves you are still committed to working on it. Don’t give up! Thanks for sharing, Joyce.

  7. Kimberly Ely says:

    Love this article – I am a big believer in married couples sharing this most important part of their lives, and being a financial team! It’s not easy, but well worth the discomfort!

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