How To Create a Budget You Can Live With

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Financial Disagreements are Bad for Relationships

A recent study showed that financial disagreements between couples were a greater predictor of divorce and separation than other common types of disagreements, such as division of household labor, amount of time spent together, sex, religion or disciplining children.

  • A National Survey of Families and Households found that disagreements about money is by far the top predictor of divorce.
  • A 2012 survey from Harris International found that nearly half of currently divorced or separated U.S. adults (48%) said they wish they had spent more time discussing finances before getting married.
  • A survey from the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) revealed that 68% of respondents had negative attitudes about discussing money with their fiancés.

Conversations About Money

Conversations about money can be difficult—particularly when couples have no idea how much money is coming in or going out each month. How do you resolve an argument about what's 'wanted' versus 'needed' when you have no idea where your finances stand?

A survey by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) indicates that financial arguments most often are over differing opinions of "needs" versus "wants," with 58% of those who argue about money identifying this issue as the most common cause of their arguments.

5 Ways To Create a Budget—And Live Within it

  1. Start with the Facts.

    Before you can make a budget, you have to know how much money you have coming in, how much money you have going out and where the money you spend is going.

  2. Set Goals.

    Decide what you want to do with your money. Do you want to pay off debts or student loans? Do you want to buy a house? Are you planning to save for a new car or additional education? Write down your goals and your strategy for achieving these goals.

  3. Create a Budget.

    Based on the amount of money you have to spend, put aside enough money to pay all your bills. See where bills can be adjusted. You both feel you need cable and Internet, but could you give up premium channels? Once bills are covered, how much money do you want to save each month? Can you afford investments? If so, which ones? Of the remaining amount available, how much can each person—or you as a couple—afford to spend on clothes, entertainment, etc.?

  4. Be Honest.

    Make sure your budget includes money to cover the things you really can't live without. For example, if you know you're going to buy a latte every day, make sure there's money in the budget for them. You may decide to reduce the number you drink or take money from somewhere else in the budget but you don't want to set yourself up for "financial infidelity," or lying to your partner about your money is going.
    The AICPA survey found that three in 10 adults who are married or living with a partner have engaged in at least one potentially deceitful behavior related to their finances. It's better to stand up for what you want than lie to get it. You work hard for your money, and you want to get the most from it.

  5. Track & Talk About Results.

    It's not enough to make a budget and hope for the best. You need to set aside time at least once a week in the early stages (and once a month after you've got your spending on track) to talk about money and finances.
    Look at where your money has gone since the last time you talked. Fine-tune your budget and reexamine your goals in light of new events.

What if, after talking about money, you and your spouse or partner still can't resolve your money differences? Call and speak with one of our consultants.

We can help.

Money is such a taboo subject that many couples assume they're the only ones having financial difficulties. If you're stuck in a cycle of guilt and shame or anger and resentment over money issues, talking to an unbiased third party can provide a tremendous sense of relief.


If you are a member of one of our solutions, give us a call to speak with one of our representatives. We’re available anytime, day or night.

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We can help you find possible causes and solutions to your financial problems. Your benefit through VITAL WorkLife offers free and confidential professional support services, including a consultation with one of our financial counselors. There are many options to consider when determining how to best address financial questions, issues or managing your debt. Most times you will want to do a combination of options to help you accomplish your goal. Areas where we can help include:

  • Budgeting, starting with the basics for your personal or family budget
  • Financial planning through a free 30-minute consultation with a Certified Financial Planner in our network and discounts for ongoing work with them
  • Debt management programs to possibly consolidate your debt into one lower monthly payment, while learning ways to improve your financial health
Online Work & Life Resources

Your VITAL WorkLife benefit also includes unlimited access to a wealth of online financial resources. You can find articles, information and tips on how to create a financial plan that meets your needs. Resources include:

  • Introduction to Financial Planning
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  • Your Financial Goals
  • Financial Planners—Who Needs Them?
  • The Most Important Part of Financial Planning: Why Do I Need Goals?
  • Let's Get Started—How?
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  • Investing in Retirement Funds
  • Investing in Fixed-Income Securities
  • During Retirement, What Planning Should Retirees Do Before They Retire?
  • Estate Planning & Financial Planning
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For more information about our comprehensive suite of well being solutions, call 800.383.1908.

About VITAL WorkLife

VITAL WorkLife, Inc. is a national behavioral health consulting company providing solutions to support all dimensions of an individual’s well being, while assisting organizations with improving employee engagement. Our approach consists of guiding employees, their families and their organizations in building sustainable, healthy behaviors and cultures. With over 35 years of experience, we have expanded beyond traditional employee assistance programs (EAP) and now offer comprehensive and holistic well being solutions including customizable programs, coaching, training, consulting and leadership development. We have deep experience in education, manufacturing and health care, especially assisting physicians and providers in dealing with the unique challenges facing their profession. Visit us at

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VITAL WorkLife

We help organizations, teams and individuals to be their best. VITAL WorkLife, Inc. is a national behavioral health consulting practice supporting all dimensions of well being in the workplace. For over 35 years, our proven solutions have helped to reduce workplace conflict, facilitate culture change, strengthen interpersonal communication and build well being.