Family Budget Meetings – Yes, You Need To Have Them

Talking about money and conducting regular budget meetings is an important task for every family and serious relationship to take part in. However, many people are clueless when it comes to their family’s financial situation. According to a survey taken by Fidelity, 43% of respondents don’t know how much their partner earns and 36% are…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: May 25, 2023

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Talking about money and conducting regular budget meetings is an important task for every family and serious relationship to take part in.

However, many people are clueless when it comes to their family’s financial situation.

According to a survey taken by Fidelity, 43% of respondents don’t know how much their partner earns and 36% are unaware of the amount they have invested.

Then, there are the financial horror stories where one spouse has hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt and the other spouse doesn’t even realize it. Or, one spouse thinks the family is financially sound, when in reality the truth is the exact opposite.

There have been many times when someone has told me that they had no idea what their monthly mortgage or rent payment is, they don’t know how much they are putting towards retirement, they are unaware of the debt they have, and so on.

Even more shocking, some can’t even give me an estimate and have no clue whatsoever about what the amount would be. Or, when they do give me a number, their significant other chimes in about how wrong they are.

Sadly, this is surprisingly common.

Just because it’s common, doesn’t mean it’s a good thing. It’s not good at all!

Below are my top tips for successful money talks and family budget meetings.

 

Money talks and budget meetings can be helpful in many ways.

A family who has regular money talks and budget meetings is more likely to be financially successful and happy than a family that doesn’t.

There are many ways conducting regular money and budget meetings and being aware of your financial situation can help you.

  • You can work together and succeed. Together, you can tackle your financial situation and are much more likely to have a positive outcome when you are both putting effort towards your goals.
  • A lack of money communication can lead to financial infidelity. According to an article on Forbes, 20% of those in the U.S. keep financial secrets and 7% of people between the ages of 18-49 have a secret bank account or a secret credit card they keep from their partner. 
  • Knowing your financial situation will help you keep a budget. By knowing your financial situation you can create and keep a budget that works for you. You will know more about the amount of money you are spending, whether you are living paycheck to paycheck, and more.
  • Being aware may prevent everything from falling on one person. Everyone should be aware of their financial situation. It’s not fair for one person to manage it all, and you would be in for a rude awakening if something were to happen to that person.
  • Being involved can help you with your family’s goals. It would be quite difficult for a person to work towards their family’s financial goals if they weren’t aware of the financial situation they were in. Being involved can help keep you motivated and know what’s going on.
  • Regular money talks can lead to less fighting. When you are open about money in your relationship, you are less likely to have financial surprises and money fights. Both of you will be aware of what’s going on when regular money talks and budget meetings are conducted.

 

Many different things related to money can be discussed.

In your budget meetings, you can discuss:

  • Your financial goals.
  • Money values.
  • How the family is doing financially.
  • What changes need to be made.
  • What the family’s budget is.
  • When, where, and how much is needed for retirement.
  • Any financial problems, and so on.

There is no right or wrong answer as to what should be discussed in a money meeting.

The key to a successful meeting is that both of you are up-to-date on what is going on so you can work together towards your family’s financial goals.

Related: The Complete Budgeting Guide: How To Create A Budget That Works

 

You may have different opinions.

Everyone has a different opinion about everything.

So, there is a chance that you and your spouse have different feelings about certain money topics and situations. However, that does not mean it’s the end of the world.

You should be open to what your spouse has to say and work together towards finding a solution.

Plus, if you have widely different money views, this is a big reason why you should have regular money talks. Without talking about money, there is a chance that you don’t even know or realize what your spouse thinks about a certain money situation!

 

Money and budget meetings should be held regularly.

Regularly communicating about money is an important step for every relationship. Being open about your financial situation can help prevent any surprises, it will ensure that both people in the relationship are aware of what’s going on, and so on.

You and your partner should sit down once a week, once a month, or whatever timeframe works best for the two of you. You may want to try out different lengths of time to see what does and doesn’t work.

Personally, I do not recommend going months at a time without talking about money. Too much can pop up in that length of time. Plus, money talks and budget meetings do not have to be excruciatingly long. They can be as short as 10 minutes, so there is no reason to not have them regularly.

Do you talk about money with your family? How often do you have budget meetings?

 


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Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. Wow those are some horror stories! I can’t imagine not having compete transparency with my wife on our financials. We have been fairly regimented for years, budgeting each year and reviewing how we track to budget monthly. This has helped tremendously including finding new and unique ways of cutting back unnecessary expenses.

    I’d recommend budgeting expenses to everyone as the first step in getting your personal finance under control! Thanks for the post.

    The Green Swan

  2. I handle all of our finances, but I make sure my husband has a good idea of what’s going on. We talk about how we want to save and spend our money quite a bit too. We don’t really have “meetings” but we talk about it a lot. Plus, if we have extra money, we decide together what to do with it. It’s so important to be on the same page about money stuff!

  3. We stopped having an official budget meeting to go over the monthly budget because we realized it wasn’t improving our spending–we were already good at following what we’d set. But we definitely talk about our financial dreams, goals,questions, and ideas on a monthly basis and come to decisions together. We share a large financial spreadsheet that we both check regularly to stay apprised of our situation.

  4. We have a budget meeting at the beginning of each month. That’s when we create that month’s budget and make sure everything we need to pay for is considered. It has worked great for many, many years!

  5. Sylvia @Professional Girl on the Go

    I try to have monthly budget meetings but I’m the only one that shows up.. lol Even though he hates it when I talk about money, I still keep him informed because needs to know what is going on. I don’t want him to think I am making decisions or spending money behind his back.

    1. Good job on keeping him informed. Talking about money is something that everyone should feel comfortable doing!

  6. Oh my gosh I believe in this SOOO much! Even though I’m not married yet, I’ve always had money talks and financial discussions with people I’ve dated seriously. I can’t imagine not incorporating that into a marriage and family. It’s so important!

  7. Those stats are unbelievable!! We have a monthly budget meeting (with wine) to make sure we’re both on track.

  8. We are very aware of our finances and we use budgeting software, but we don’t have “monthly meetings.” I’d like like to implement them, because I think it would help us. My husband is less convinced that they will do any good, since we do track our finances closely already. He has agreed to start doing monthly meetings, but I need to push it again because it hasn’t happened yet!

    1. Haha try harder ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. My wife & I spend a few minutes each week going over the purchases we made. She makes most of the buying decisions outside of the normal bills like utilities, cell phone, & gasoline, but I pay the bills each month. Since we live on variable income, we have a budget meeting usually once a quarter just to make sure our monthly expenses haven’t surprisingly increased (especially when saving for summer vacation).

  10. Jeanie Carter

    Michelle,

    I am a single parent and my youngest daughter is finishing up her 1st year at college. When she was 15 years old, she came to me wanting me to sign a contract for her to enroll in martial arts. Our budget was stretched to the max. I had her to sit down and review our budget and give me her thoughts on how we could possibly add another bill to our budget. She studied it for a bit and came back to me saying, “Let’s get rid of cable tv”. I couldn’t believe it. She was serious. I did just that and today we still watch free tv. She will be home in two weeks. I plan to have her look over my budget and give me recommendations as to how I can manage it even better today. The saying that two heads are better than one, is definitely true. I only wish I had involved her in the process at an even younger age.

    1. Awesome! Love your story ๐Ÿ™‚

      We got rid of cable over one year ago and it was a GREAT decision for us too ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Lindsey

    We have money talks every so often usually once a week. Since we track all of our expenses on mint we can easily both check in to see where our money is going. Usually near the end of the month we’ll have a more lengthy discussion to see if we need to make any changes to make sure we don’t overspend.

  12. Amanda

    After reading this post, I realized that my husband and I have very regular budget meetings, though they’re quite informal – sometimes simply communicating by text and sometimes accompanied by cocktails. Communication is the key to reaching financial goals!

  13. Becky@Frametofreedom

    Hi Michelle. We hold regular meetings usually about every 2-3 weeks and we have been able to get on the same page and pay off some serious debt. It is scary to see that a lot of people don’t know where their money is going. Great post!

  14. Great post! Our oldest child is only 6 but he needs to understand the basics of money and budgeting. So a couple of weeks ago I helped him roll all of his coins he had collected over the past few years and taken them to the bank. You should have seen his eyes when the teller said he had $212! We went home and had a nice conversation about saving and spending. Never too early to start the conversation.

    I also wanted to say Thank You! Because of you, I mustard up the courage to start my own blog. Thanks for the Blog tutorial, it really helped!

  15. Tyler @ Oddball Wealth

    This is a great article, by working together and keeping each spouse in the know, it’s much easier to set and work towards common financial goals together. It can even be fun!

  16. Love this, because I had to convene a budget meeting with my husband in January after we refinanced the house. I was slacking! There were things going on that I should have been checking on and we are actually due for our 6 month budget meeting next month. It was legit with excel spreadsheets and everything! I agree it is a good idea to set aside that time to talk money with full disclosure. Even years into your marriage it’s a good idea to keep checking in to make sure you are on the same page.

  17. […] Family Budget Meetings, Yes You Need Them – A family that budgets together… has less stress! [Making Sense Of Cents] […]

  18. We tend to have regular short chats and several approximately quarterly big picture chats that have longer scope and might involve follow up with a spreadsheet to plan out the next year or next several months.

    The more regimented and specific we’ve become, the more effective I think we’ve been in using our money in alignment with our values.

    Having the meetings really gives more meaning to not spending even $5 that isn’t really in line with what was discussed.