How to Budget When You And Your Spouse Don’t Agree

Setting a budget is one of the first steps in gaining control of your finances. But how do you set a budget when you and your spouse aren’t on the same page? They say opposites attract, and sometimes it’s most clear when you’re talking about money. I understand. My husband and I have been there. I tend to be somewhat tight with our money and don’t see much value in frivolous spending. My husband enjoys fantasy football magazines, the occasional soda, and going to the movies from time to time. How did we manage to create a budget that works for both of us? It wasn’t easy, but we used the following steps to come to a consensus.Note from Bob: I just want to welcome our new writer, Lynnae. She’s been writing about personal finance and money management longer than I have and has some great wisdom to share. Please join me in welcoming her to the SeedTime team!

Setting a budget is one of the first steps in gaining control of your finances. But how do you set a budget when you and your spouse aren’t on the same page?

They say opposites attract, and sometimes it’s most clear when you’re talking about money.

I understand. My husband and I have been there. I tend to be somewhat tight with our money and don’t see much value in frivolous spending.

My husband enjoys fantasy football magazines, the occasional soda, and going to the movies from time to time.

How did we manage to create a budget that works for both of us? It wasn’t easy, but we used the following steps to come to a consensus.

Look at Your Finances Together

The first step in creating a budget is to know where you stand financially. How much is your income every month? Your fixed expenses? How much debt do you have?

Sometimes one person in the marriage has a good idea of where the finances stand, but the spouse isn’t involved. Before you can set a budget together, you both need to know the state of your finances.

Just seeing the ratio of debt to income can be exactly what you need to get on the same page with your financial goals.

Look to the Bible

Look to the Bible when you can't agree on the budget.

How do your finances compare to what the Bible says? The Bible actually has a lot to say about finances, work, business, taxes, tithing, and more.

If you don’t know where to begin looking for Bible verses about money, check out this list of 250 verses about money.

Read the verses. Discuss them with your spouse. Honestly assess whether you are living by Biblical financial principles. Write down what you are doing well and where you need to improve.

Pray Together

In my own marriage, I have found that nothing brings my husband and I together more than seeking the Lord in prayer.

Pray together about your finances. Pray for:

  • wisdom in creating a budget.
  • like-mindedness as you work together.
  • the desire to glorify God with your money.
  • motivation to stick to the budget.
  • patience and understanding when you disagree with your spouse.

Don’t be afraid to come back to God in prayer again and again as you create your budget with your spouse.

Discuss and Seek to Understand

Now that you know where you stand financially, understand what the Bible says about money, and have prayed about your situation, it’s time to discuss your financial goals.

  • Where do you want to be financially in 5 years?
  • 10 years?
  • When do you want to retire, and what does retirement look like?
  • Do you want to get out of debt?
  • How important is fun money?
  • Are vacations important? How often will you take vacations?

Discuss your financial priorities together. Sometimes it helps when both spouses make a list of their top 10 priorities and then compare lists.

While discussing priorities, be sure to really try to understand where your spouse is coming from. Don’t just try to make them understand your point.

Philippians 2:2-4 (NIV) says,

“…make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility, value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

I try to keep those words in mind when discussing anything important with my husband. Even when he sees things differently than I do, I know he is also striving to do what is best for our family.

Work out the Details of the Budget

How to create a budget, even when you don't agree with your spouse.

Once you and your spouse understand each other’s financial goals in life, it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty of creating the monthly budget.

First, budget your fixed expenses and things necessary to basic living like food, housing, and medical care. If you need some help, check out one of our 10 free budgeting spreadsheets.

Once you have the basics out of the way, discuss and try to come to an agreement on budget categories like vacations, fun money, and eating out.

This process will likely require a lot of discussion and compromise before you come up with a budget you can both live with.

Submit

If you absolutely cannot come to an agreement after much prayer, discussion, and seeking to understand each other, it’s time to submit.

In every decision-making process, there needs to be someone who has the final word.

First Corinthians 11:3 (NIV) says,

“But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.”

The Bible is clear on the order of leadership in the home. Wives – assuming that you and your husband are earnestly seeking God’s wisdom in managing your finances – if you can’t come to an agreement, let your husband take the lead.

Husbands, understand that as you take the lead you must seek to do what is best for your entire family – including your wife – in a way that is honoring to God.

As a couple, go back to the Bible, pray some more, and earnestly seek to place your spouse’s needs above your own. Be open to compromise.

Remember that a budget is not set in stone. If you both come to the realization that your budget isn’t working, you can make necessary adjustments as you go.

When you and your spouse do not agree on the budget, the goal isn’t to create a perfect budget. An imperfect budget that works for both of you is much better than a perfect budget that one or both of you won’t keep.

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13 Comments
  1. Tina

    Welcome, Lynnae! Great post. 🙂

  2. Mj

    What if you’re single on a fixed income & bills, is over my income.

    • Lynnae McCoy

      That’s always a tough situation. The first thing to do is cut your bills as much as possible, even if that means calling creditors to see if you can work out a lower payment.

      If that’s not enough, looking for ways to increase your income through side jobs might be necessary. There have been times my husband and I have strung 3-4 jobs together to get ahead.

    • Natasha

      You need a second job or a raise or free lance work like selling scented candles etc. Or possibly reduce your bills like cancelling anything that isn’t gas water and electricity. No phones nor internet until your situation is better.

  3. Dams robinson

    Good article with great advice. Thanks Lynn. God bless you in your endeavors and the welcome mat has been laid out for you sister.

  4. Murna Kazzah

    The best point in this write up is knowing that God is master of the couple and the willingness to obey him and put the interest of your partner over and above yours.
    Bless you.

  5. Melinda

    Welcome Lynnae! Love this post – definitely needed the guidance. 🙂

  6. Bob

    A great article my wife and I struggle with finding a solid plan to deal with debt. I believe it’s truly a matter of commitment. Trusting that God will take care of us.

    • Natasha

      I am reading Dave Ramsey’s book called complete guide to money and it really has changed my mind set, I’m teaching my x2 children the book at present so that they don’t end up like me almost 40 & In debt 🙁

  7. Linda Kreitz

    When I read through all your advice…..this all sounds like an exercise that a couple should
    do BEFORE they get married!!!

    This all would be great marriage counseling material. Maybe get some marriage counselors to link to your articles.

    • Lynnae McCoy

      Definitely! I’m a huge believer in premarital counseling, and learning to deal with finances should be a big part of it!

  8. Shell

    Thank you! Needed this TODAY!! We really appreciate your vital ministry!