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26 Aug 2016

What To Do When Your Spouse Goes Rogue

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by Lindsey Burgess

My husband just bought a new mountain bike.

I would have had no idea how much mountain bikes cost (so, so much), except that he just bought one last year. So, now he has two.

Which, whatever, we have different individual priorities. And that is OK. We have our own fun money categories and you know the drill—no guilt or explanation necessary.

This is all fine and good except, my husband, whom I can talk about openly here because he has never, ever read one of my blogs, did not have the money in his category to pay for his bike. Not. Even. Close.

Oh behalf of myself, our long-term goals and YNAB, I was annoyed.

After a moment (or two), I quickly shifted into the next stage, which I think I’ll call Budgeting Revenge: “Oh, Ok, so this is what we are doing? Awesome! Two can play at this game! I’ll take your mountain bike, and raise you a Pottery Barn couch!”

Except that is not at all helpful, moves us further away from our long-term goals, and starts to make YNAB mad. And I hate when YNAB is mad at me.

So, Now What?

Well, I had to get a little bit creative, which is a common side-effect of seeing red in YNAB, at least for me. (Am I the only one?)

I shifted some things around, I cut back where I could, and I invoiced a couple random little freelance jobs, I hadn’t been paid for yet.

It made the last two months a little bit tighter than normal, and we’re a little further away from a couple goals than we would have been otherwise. It isn’t the end of the world.

The money is gone and it is what it is, but for me, it raised some bigger questions about our long-term goals and whether or not they are actually “our” long-term goals.

It got me thinking…

Direct Import Changed Our Workflow (& Awareness Is No Joke)

We used to be hard-core about entering transactions as they happened. In the Burgess Family, if you spent money and you didn’t immediately enter it in YNAB on your phone, it was a mortal sin. I still did most of the reconciling and budgeting, but we were both on YNAB from our phones, every day.

Since last December, we’ve been using Direct Import and we don’t really enter transactions on our phone any more. I just spend about three minutes every morning, when I sit down at my desk, and import and categorize the latest transactions. As a result, I feel more close to our money than ever before.

It hadn’t occurred to either of us until the Mountain-Bike-Incident-Of-Which-We-Do-Not-Speak, that Eric hasn’t touched our budget in months. In fact, he hasn’t even really looked at our budget. I pay all the bills and do most of the shopping, and there hasn’t been any issues, so time flies and it just sort of happened that way.

Budgeting Really Works (& We Are More Comfortable Than We’ve Ever Been)

We have been living the budget life for quite some time now. Long enough, that I think we’ve kind of forgotten what it is like to stress out about money.

The Eric that I met and married ten years ago, was one seriously frugal dude. He would have never spent [insert God Awful Amount Of Money] on a mountain bike.

Now granted, ten years ago that was a lot more money to us but also, back then we were flying by the seat of our pants. Just kind of hoping it would all work out every month. We had no real plan, and the unknowns, what-ifs, and stress of not having a plan, made him painfully indecisive about anything involving money. (Looking back, this saved us from so many things that I would have gotten us into, but still….)

Boy, have we evolved! Now we plan for pretty much everything, live well beneath our means, and just like that, with the click of an Amazon-button, he goes rogue on me.

Despite my annoyance, this reflection gave me a moment of pause: I am proud of us. We got our act together. We are fiscally responsible grown-ups. We don’t stress about money. We are setting ourselves up for the future. It feels good. Budgeting has really changed us for the better.

We Need To Revisit Our Goals (& Monthly Budget Meetings Cannot Be Ignored)

This exercise illuminated the fact that I’ve been doing our budget solo for some time now. We haven’t really talked about our long-term goals in a while. I’ve been very hand-wavy about it, just making adjustments as I saw fit, perhaps making some assumptions, and expecting Eric to read my mind. Rookie mistake.

So, we went back to our roots, Monthly Budget Meeting style, and turns out, what do you know? There was a lot to talk about. Turns out actually, maybe I had been the one going rogue all along?

Because our priorities can only be our priorities if we actually decide that together. We regrouped. We reprioritized. We dreamed some dreams and captured them in the budget. It was fun.

It was a great reminder that we need to revisit our goals more often. And we have to connect on the budget every month. Even if the budget is boring and it seems unnecessary. (This is the part where I hope Jesse never reads my blog posts either…)

So What To Do When Your Spouse Goes Rogue?

Ask Questions. Is everybody on the same page? Have both parties been connected to the budget? Have priorities shifted or changed? Is there a communication breakdown somewhere along the line?

Be Honest. How did it make you feel? Why did it make you feel this way? Are both parties feeling heard? How could you do things differently in the future? If there was a misunderstanding, how could it be prevented moving forward?

Do Better Next Time. How can you divide the budgeting differently or better so everyone is equally invested? What routines or habits can you put in place so you are communicating about the budget more regularly? What new goals can you get excited about together?

Your Next Step

Remember, budgeting is not restrictive. You won’t be spending less, you’ll be spending right. You can do this! Today. Right now. What do you have to lose? Except all that debt and stress. (Ok, so kind of a lot.)


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