You sit down at the kitchen table with your husband, a notepad, pencil, big eraser and a calculator. If you’re smart, you’ve also got a glass of wine. The task? Trying to figure out where the money came and went…and just exactly how many Starbucks trips you made. See? You need the wine. The frustration, tension, overwhelm and confusion start to grab you both. All this money talk just stresses your marriage out!
Budgeting can be stressful for anyone but when you’re doing it together as a couple the stress is magnified. Why? Two different people with two different perspectives. There’s estimating incomes, covering all the bills, and deciding what to spend the extra on in those rare instances that there is any. Did you know 78% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck?
This is our history too. Many of our family members are the same. In fact when my man and I started life as teeny boppers, we had like zilch money (if this is you, I promise there is hope!). We’ve gone from government housing and lots of help from family to successfully generating income to support four children, live comfortably, and have extra money on a regular basis. And we don’t want to kill each other when talking about money! Well, not all the time. 😉
We budget our money every month. We utilize Ramsey Solutions EveryDollar app (the free version) to estimate how much we’ll make and use a list of everything that needs that money. We use the budget sheets from our FPU class with these awesome erasable pens call Frixion pens. You’ve probably got the most obvious down; mortgage, electricity, gas, groceries. But then your car starts making some funky noise which you didn’t even notice because you were jamming to Ed Sheeran. Now your hubs is stressed, you’re stressed, and the budget is stressed. This, my friend, is where budget sinking funds come in.
Sinking funds have helped us relieve so, soooo much anxiety and stress. We know we need them. You need them too!! Work these sinking funds into your monthly budget and they’ll build up balances. Go to your bank and open a special savings account for each one and have it named appropriately. Then when events happen (because we all know they will. It’s this thing called life.) you’ll have prepared beforehand. You can pull the money from the sinking fund, fix the brakes, and go back to singing Beautiful People at the top of your lungs. Stress gone!
Recommended BUDGET Sinking Funds
Like we said, life happens. Your vehicle will need some repair at some point. Don’t get caught with the back half of your car falling off and the stress of having zilch money to cover repairs. Even my boss’s Bentley had to go in the shop for work. This budget sinking fund will cover things tires and anything off the long list of repairs needed. You know, when the mechanic says, “The blah blah blah blah needs to be replaced so that your car can do double back flips.” I don’t have to understand you dude. I just have to pay you.
We keep oil changes as a different budget sinking fund. We know how much they cost for each vehicle and figure each vehicle will need one quarterly. We do that math then split the total into twelve monthly “payments”. Except these aren’t the stressful payments plus interest to Capital One. No, no! These are simply a monthly transfer into the oil change sinking fund. When that dashboard light goes on the only stress is finding the time to get it done!
Much like oil changes, we know how much these cost and that we’ll need to pay for them annually. We simply break up the added total into a monthly allotment into this sinking fund. This lowers the stress levels by taking a $150 hit to a much more palatable $13 per month. When the time comes to renew our tags the money is already sitting there waiting. Ahhh, zero stress!
Do you see a pattern here? If only we were the Jetsons and our precious Cadis (or in our case, the minivan) flew and lasted forever and never needed the oil changed or the brakes replaced or… a new engine?! Are you kidding me, that bill is more than the car is even worth! This is why you need a car replacement sinking fund. Your beloved Toyota named Toto won’t last forever and no, you don’t want a monthly $600 car payment for the next five years. We want to lower the budgeting stress not hike it!!
Now we are relatively healthy people so I’ll be completely honest with you. Sometimes we skip this one when others take bigger priority. But we also know that as we age doctor bills will climb. Remember, the idea behind budget sinking funds is to prepare beforehand and lower money stress in your marriage. We don’t want to be sick and broke. Some people are struggling with astronomical doctor bills. That’s an issue that I feel strongly about that we’ll have to save for another day. We simply want to do what we can to prepare for the inevitable (these little germ magnets called kids will give me strep once in a while) in order to lower the stress levels when it happens.
We put money into this budget sinking fund much like doctor bills. It covers things like inhalers, antibiotics, anything that requires a prescription. Anything over-the-counter is usually bought on an as needed basis and lumped in with the grocery budget.
I will take this time now to give a PSA – just because these sinking funds have money in them doesn’t mean we just toss whatever dollar amount to whoever! I strongly encourage you to check prices. I recently paid $42 for an inhaler that was quoted at my normal pharmacy for $111!
We took a cruise to Mexico this past summer. We couldn’t predict the weather, but we could the cost! We estimated the following – drive/fly to the destination and back home, meals, tickets, souvenirs, experiences. We planned ahead, booked our vacation, and put the appropriate monthly allotment into the vacation sinking fund. Will you get it exact? Probably not. But it’s not about being perfect. It’s about lowering the budget stress!
Like vehicles, parts of your home will need repair. Unless you’re in an apartment you’ll need to put money monthly into this budget sinking fund. We’ve fixed plumbing, appliances, doors, and a wonky mailbox all without the stress of trying to scrounge up the money somewhere. It was sitting in bank waiting! Trust me. From a $30 deadbolt to thousands of dollars for a new plumbing line, you’ll be grateful you’ve got this sinking fund in the budget when something breaks.
We calculate the subscriptions we have as annual renewals (many will discount the price if you pay annually instead of monthly) and break it up as monthly “installments” into this budget sinking fund. We’ve covered gym memberships, Amazon Prime, Disney +, etc. Now we’re good looking, ordering without shipping, and binge watching Star Wars all at the same time. Just kidding, but we’re not stressed over how to pay for them!
Like subscriptions, most of our insurances are on annual plans. We each have one term life insurance policy. We total these and our identity theft policy then divide that into monthly amounts. Then we simply “pay” (transfer) the monthly amount into that sinking fund (aka a special savings account).
Spoiler alert! Christmas will be here in December. Let’s go through the calendar. Valentines Day equals money spent. Easter will bring clothing expenses. Mother’s Day and Father’s Day you’ll need gifts for all the ‘rents. Fourth of July will bring picnic and firework expenses. Memorial Day and Labor Day you’ll need potluck food. Thanksgiving and Christmas will have plenty of expenses. If you have kids and they’re not little monsters, they’ll prob get invited to some birthday parties that require presents.
You and your husband should have this date. Sit down with a glass of wine and a beer and discuss what holidays you want to celebrate (I know I missed some!) and how you want to celebrate. This date is simply the dreaming phase. 😉 It can be fun and doesn’t have to include financial layout. That can be done in the next budget “meeting” when you take the notes from your date and start to guess prices. Then start putting it in your sinking fund and your holiday dreams can come true!
It’s all About Stress Relief!
Are you overwhelmed? It may sound like a lot if you’re just starting out but I promise you it will help relieve the stress of budgeting as a couple. Prioritize them and start with a few then add in as you can. Gone are the days when an expense comes up and we have to scramble to find the money somewhere. These budget sinking funds have saved us from countless financial tensions in our marriage. I want them to do the same for you! Feel free to contact me with any questions you might have about budgeting as a married couple. I’d love to help!
Ciao for now!
- Budgeting Tips for Couples; The Practical Steps of Managing Money Together Without Strangling Each Other, Even When You’re Opposites
- Lower Budgeting Stress With Your Husband; The Emotional Side of Managing Money Together As A Couple
- Couples Tips to Reduce Vacation Stress
- How to Handle Your Husband’s Stress;Tips for Being the Supportive, Comforting Wife that You Want to Be
- Balancing Being a Wife with All the Rest of Life; How to Prioritize Your Husband Within Your Other Responsibilities and Stay Sane