One of the recommendations Dave Ramsey gives is to have a weekly meeting with your spouse regarding your financial situation and review your budget. The point of the meeting is to keep both people involved, informed and actively working together on the family finances.
This does present a challenge for a lot of people with a limited amount of time with their spouse. For us, it has been true too. With two small kids, active lives, jobs and church commitments to juggle, there is little time for money meetings! This was the first challenge that came up on my challenge post, so we'll tackle it first.
I'm familiar with this problem and honestly, we haven't had a consistent weekly meeting either. Although, we do understand the purpose and see the value in the communication between spouses, so we've done some "tweeking" of the rules that work for us. Here are some of the ways we've kept each other involved in the decision making process.
-Both of us have access to all our accounts (it's always been that way)
-Both of us have email updates from all of our accounts (for example: alerts of overdrafts, fees, changes being made, transfers taking place, etc.)
-Purchases are communicated. Since I'm the one that handles most of the budget and sorting our categories, my husband is good about letting me know if he uses the debit card for any purchase so I'm aware of the amount being withdrawn from the account. Usually, he has the cash he needs for things, but in the event he needs more gas or is buying something online, he'll use his debit card. We've also given ourselves a buffer in our account for these types of things and to allow for miscalculations and not have an overdraft. If either of us is purchasing something online, we'll forward the email on to each other. It's not about "keeping track" of each other, but because we are following something so closely, we have to make sure the other one knows what's being spent to avoid potential problems.
-Every two weeks after I figure out the budget for the two weeks, I let him know what we had to cut or what amounts are in each category for that time frame. I'll let him know how much we have extra to pay toward debt and usually allow the chance for him to make any changes he'd like to if it's needed. Occasionally when we have the time or a month that has extra 'changes' needing to be discussed we try to sit down and do it together. For example this month, we are calculating some of our Christmas expenses and also needing to save for some large purchases, so we wanted to be on the same page as far as our priorities and how much was a realistic figure for each of those added expenses. So we did our two week budget together.
-We text! We'll text each other updates on bills, accounts, etc. if we aren't able to talk about them in person or if we'd like to ask about a purchase before making it.
-We NEVER make a big purchase without talking to each other. Just this week we had a large financial decision to make regarding some of our retirement accounts. It's something we've been talking about for a while. Since it involved some large amounts of money and significant pros and cons, we weighed them carefully and didn't make a decision on the spot. We talked to a number of trusted people, financial counselors and did some research on all the information we could. Those types of decisions require space to process and for each person to really feel comfortable moving forward in order to prevent future problems of possible blaming or resentment. These talks were never a scheduled meeting time each week, but we were intentional about bringing the topics up and discussing them as long as necessary for each of us to feel our points and opinions were heard, and then we came to a mutual decision.
Hopefully that gives you some ideas of ways to have your money talks even if it's not always on a weekly basis at a scheduled time. To sum it all up, it's about making sure neither person is more in control or more informed then the other. It's about making sure everything is out on the table and both perspectives are being heard. I also think that when you both are on the same page, you're a force working together tackling the same problem and that gives you both the strength you need to move forward in our goals.
Keep on working together!!