Planning for Your Financial Future: How to Set a Budget with Your Spouse
Step 5: Revisit the Budget You Created
From your one-month tracking of expenses, you should be able to create a more reliable budget. Review what your guesstimates were before you started recording every purchase for the month and see how close you were to the real number.
First, add the entire month's expenses and see how this total compares with the amount the marriage earns (after taxes). If you are spending more than you are earning, you must decide where you will spend less each month. Even if you're earning more than you are spending, consider whether you are comfortable with the amount of money you're spending in each category. You may realize that you're spending $250 each month on eating out and that you'd rather spend (or save) that $3,000 a year on something else.
Create a new realistic number for spending on each item that both of you agree to. Commit to your new budget for a month. Agree to use cash as much as possible. For example, if your monthly food budget is $500, take it in cash at the start of the month and place it in an envelope designated solely for food purchases. This helps you regulate your spending. It also avoids impulse purchases of "unnecessary" items.
The next step: Keep it up!