Budget and Bill Paying With Your Spouse

10
April

Bill paying with a spouse involves two of the most difficult activities in life: Bill paying and cooperating. The loving bond between spouses can quickly turn into a shouting match between foes when mutual bills come up on the agenda. This dilemma requires plenty of planning and patience by any spouse that wants to come out of the war zone a better person.

I’ve personally experienced the damage that ineffective bill debates can inflict on a family. Children are forced to watch parents fight. Parents drift apart during this process. Worse yet, bill payments wait while the two people in charge argue over what comes first, next, and last. The first part of more effective spousal bill paying is figuring out the rules between parties.

No name-calling or screaming

Mutual respect must rule the day. When bill payments are simple, it’s a matter of putting a check in an envelope and being done with it. Sometimes things can be trickier, like deciding which bill can wait another month and which one can’t. One party might think the television can be lived without while another believes the phone can go for a month. It’s at this time that the first rule has to be remembered. There is going to be no name-calling or screaming during these negotiations.

Take Turns

To aid in the no name-calling or screaming rule, a take turn policy should be in effect throughout the talks. This means that parties talk and then listen. No one is allowed to interrupt. I’ve heard of people using a timer during negotiations. This usually works well for me. It doesn’t mean that the other person listens 100% but it increases the chances that they will listen. If they have 5 minutes to hear things through, they might just get bored enough to listen.

Children must be out of the household during serious discussions

If things don’t go the way as planned and spiral out of control, it’s useful to have the children out of the household at that time. They don’t need to hear the unpleasantness that sometimes ensues during these discussions between spouses.

Discuss bills in a soothing environment

I’ve heard many people say that bills are discussed at a kitchen table. Why? There are many more soothing environments where comfort and natural beauty make the event a little less stressful. Go to a picnic area, the backyard, anywhere that’s less confining than indoors. Privacy is a must, so scout out potential areas of natural beauty that are secluded. If none are found on the day in question, it might be time to march to your backyard for bill negotiation.

Budgeting
Budgeting is the more complicated area of spousal bill paying and can lead to all out war if rules are in place and respected. Spouses often disagree on what constitutes a need. Even more disasterous, it’s difficult to decide on what wants should be indulged each month. A wife might be dreaming of a new dress and a husband might be dreaming of a new television. To reduce the chances of household warfare, the no-naming calling/screaming rules still apply, but a few more ideas might be needed.

Take turns

This isn’t the same kind of take turn rule discussed above. In this take turns rule, both parties admit that they can’t agree on what luxuries should be added to the household next. In response to that, they agree to take turns adding wants to the household. In the above example, the husband would buy a television the first month of the bill cycle and the wife would buy her dress in the second month of the bill cycle. This monthly time limit can be reduced or increased depending on the financial circumstances of the family.

Respect

Above all, respect is the pivotal concept behind good spousal cooperation on the bill paying frontlines. When both parties meet with the idea in mind that they want the same things for their family, only good things can happen. Better still, both people can reduce fighting and help one another understand how to get bills paid more efficiently each month. It’s a negotiating process that demands mutual respect. In the end, it pays off for the whole family.

This post was written by

jason – who has written posts on Budget Clowns.
Father of three and married to a lovely women. Always looking for ways to save money, and invest it properly for my children's future.

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