It Takes Two To Make a Budget Succeed

Couples argue. Vonnie and I are no different.

After a week vacation in Kentucky and the following weekend out of town for my class reunion, we needed to do a serious budget scrub.

I knew we had exceeded our original budget for both activities, and I began to outline just how much. I  hadn’t done a good job of keeping track of, or communicating to my wife during that two week period as to when the over spending had occurred, and by how much. I just kept thinking to myself, we don’t have anything planned the second half of the month, that will just even things out.

The problem is, those overages really added up, and we were now faced with bare bones funds for the last two weeks of July. Our budget scrub turned into a knock down, drag out screaming at each other kind of discussion.

Vonnie questioned why I wasn’t smart enough to allocate funds to chip in for gas for the pontoon boat our group rented in Kentucky.

I asked her why she thought it would be a good idea to suggest to our friends to go out for dinner at a sit-down restaurant when we had agreed that lunches were going to be done on the cheap.

This was followed by more accusations and eventually degenerated into the kind of name calling yelling match that no longer had anything to do with finances. Eventually, we just stopped talking. I on the chair, Vonnie on the end of the couch. Both of us just staring at the wall.


“You need to communicate better,” she said, finally.

“I know,” I said, “and you need to do a better job of remembering how we planned to spend our money.”

“I know,” she repeated.

I came off the chair, crawled over to her, and laid my head on her lap.  Apologies were exchanged, and we agreed that we had both contributed towards the budget failure. We also re-affirmed to each other something we had talked about many times before:  it would take the efforts of both of us to make a budget work.  Then the most wonderful thing ever happened.

We had “make-up budgeting.”

Pencil lead and numbers went flying everywhere in a whirlwind budgeting session. When it was over, Vonnie and I sat on the couch together looking at crumpled pieces of notebook paper strewn across the living room. But squarely in front of us was a plan to successfully get us to the end of the month, and to our next payday.

Couples argue, and couples fight. You cannot have two people living in the same space and not expect conflict every now and then. Having two people with very different perspectives trying to figure out how to handle the finances is like a powder keg just waiting to explode.

But the great thing about being crazy in love with someone is that when the yelling and accusing is done, we can smile at each other, put it behind us and work out a solution together.

About Travis

20 Responses to “It Takes Two To Make a Budget Succeed”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. You and Vonnie never cease to amaze me!! You are both truly dedicated to reaching debt freedom and even though there are bumps along the way somehow, you always pull through.

    Communication is key in every aspect of a relationship and especially when it comes to shared finances; kudos to both of you for sticking out the fight and making it work 🙂

    • Thanks Suzanne! 🙂 We’re obviously not perfect at communicating, but we’re slowly getting better. The key, in my opinion, is to want to work at it and improve. There will always be disagreements, but working through it is worth fighting for. I love this saying, and it applies so very well here: “Nobody said it was going to be easy. But it’s going to be worth it!”

  2. bogofdebet says:

    Arguements do happen! But, like you said, they are easy to bounce back from when you really love the person! Communication is key–it’s something I have to work on as I seem to think that people can read my mind. I’m so glad everything worked out!

  3. It’s extremely helpful both of you seem to have similar conflict styles. Unfortunately, many couples aren’t in that kind of position.

    I’d love to know, have the two of you always dealt with conflict using compromise and apology, or did your relationship evolve to this point out of necessity?

    • We’ve always been this way….although admittedly after 16 years of marriage, we’ve improved our arguing “style” in the following ways:

      1.) Arguments getting to this level have become more and more rare. What we’ve worked hard at is to recognize when things are getting out of control, stopping, taking a deep breath and redirecting our discussion back towards being productive.

      2.) When arguments do get to this stage, years ago we would stay silent for hours, maybe even a day or longer. Now we both know that’s just a waste of valuable time lost that we could have spent happy with each other. So, the time from “silence” to “apology and go on with life” is much, much shorter.

      Marriage is an art, that you can continuously improve upon. 🙂

  4. Wow, I’m super impressed that you guys were able to resolve the argument so well! I’m sure it helps that you both ended up admitting where you could have done better so that it didn’t end up in one person being right and one being wrong. Like you said, conflicts like this can’t always be avoided but it’s how you communicate in the end that matters.

    • It doesn’t always end up being resolved so gracefully…..especially when the argument advances to such a level. One of the reasons I chose to write about this one is because I was surprised at how we did resolve it quickly and immediately moved to coming up with a solution and action plan. I obviously don’t want to argue with my wife….but it’s going to happen……and when we do I hope we can learn from this experience and do the same thing again!

  5. Those midmonth emergency budging sessions can be tough! Keep pounding that debt!

    • Travis says:

      Thanks for the encouragement, Brent – we’re going to master our finances, kick that debt to the curb, and come out the other end stronger than ever!

  6. Gillian says:

    Love how you guys communicate!! When we were getting out of debt we kinda learned how to communicate as we went. Honeslty it wasn’t until we were out of debt and then FINALLY took Ramsey’s FPU class (we did it backwards 🙂 that we finally saw the roles we were each playing in the budgeting sessions. Now that we are debt free we have moved onto adopting debt free and the skills we’ve worked on for communicating on the budget are key to keeping us working together.

    • Travis says:

      Thanks for your thoughts, Gillian! Not everyone does things the same way – and as long as your path led you to being debt free and having the skills to stay that way, I say you did it exactly right!

  7. Mr. BFS and I fight a lot like you and Vonnie. 🙂 Every few months, our conversation degenerates until we hurt each other’s feelings…then one of us will just go over and hug the other one until we start talking again. And the fight is almost always because of crappy communication. Glad you two worked out a new budget!!!

    • Travis says:

      It’s unfortunate that discussions turn into arguments, and end up being nothing more than a trading of insults. I think it’s important that we take something away from experiences like this…..this time we did, but I’m not so sure that’s always the case.

  8. Great story Travis- I think it’s amazing when couples actually work together to budget, I’ve seen that in most cases it’s usually only one person’s job. You guys seem very logical and competent, *thumbs up!*

    • Travis says:

      Thanks Kevin – that’s how we used to operate….and it didn’t work for us – thus the whole reason we’re now spending years paying down debt. Every couple has to find what works for them, and we’re slowly but surely doing that!

  9. Mike says:

    Great post! My wife and I have rarely argued about money, which I think is rare, but probably isn’t entirely a blessing because we were both far too willing to spend it! Now that we are battening down the hatches, we have had a few “disagreements” about what we should cut, but they’ve all ended amicably.

    • Travis says:

      We used to never fight about money too…..but it was because we would just supplement our income with credit cards. I hope that as we get better at handling our finances, and as our financial picture improves, our “discussions” will become less frequent. 🙂 I wish you nothing but success in your journey to “batten down the hatches!”

  10. Kris says:

    Nice story. And very powerful message. I just read an article the other day that said that money was one of the biggest reasons for divorce. I would guess that it’s not just the amount of money that is the cause, but the way it is perceived. Sounds like you guys can work together to understand each others point of view. Clearly not all couples can do this well. So good work!

    • Travis says:

      I can definitely believe that money is a big contributor to divorce…….the handling of a family’s finances has such a huge impact on a household’s day to day life that if done incorrectly could make life completely miserable. I’m not sure how well we do it…….given that we did get into quite a nasty argument. But I think we’re getting better at it, and we’re willing to work at it – so that has to count for something, right? 🙂

Leave a Comment...


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.