Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Budget - Money, Money, Money and More Money

One of the topics that partners argue about most fiercely is finances... specifically, how to handle their money. We all have feelings about where our earnings should be spent, what portion to save and how to handle budgeting. Though the discussions seem to be centered around money, there may actually be a larger issue under negotiation. Partners may be working out disagreements over power in the relationship. This may be especially true when both are wage earners. The issues can get even more complex if the partners have a blended family. There are serious factors to be considered in making decisions at all levels of planning.

Partners to a relationship are individuals as well as part of a partnership. They each have desires that may need to be met via expenditures. If one or both of the partners have familial obligations from a prior relationship, those obligations need to be met as well. In order to avoid falling into a dysfunctional pattern of managing the partnership's financial assets, decisions may need to be made to handle finances in a business-like manner.

When both partners are wage earners a monetary arrangement can be made based upon equitable contribution. This asks each to commit a portion of earnings to joint expenses based upon the percentage of funds brought into the partnership on a monthly basis. The total expenses for the month are calculated. Each partner adds their contribution, based on the percentage of funds they earn, to the partnership account.

Should one or both partners have financial obligations from a prior relationship, it may be in the best interests of the partners to meet these monetary needs from their own personal funds. In this way partners take care of their personal obligations independently.

It is critical that partners work together to establish a budget. In working through the budgeting process, partners include all expenses, both weekly [allowances], monthly [rent], quarterly [real estate taxes] and annually [insurance premiums]. Once all items have been included, a realistic budget for the partnership can be set. This exercise gives both partners a clear understanding of the fiscal requirements necessary to keep the partnership afloat. If one partner suffers a decrease in income, the budget process must be reworked to include the decrease in overall income and the percentages of equitable contribution.

This budgeting process educates both parties as to the monetary needs of the partnership. A well thought out budget may eliminate much of the fiscal squabbles, as both parties have may personal funds remaining for discretionary spending.

Learning about fiscal responsibility in a partnership strengthens the bond between partners, giving them the shared responsibility of monetary policy in their own lives. This is an important tool that partners can use to enhance the value of their relationship and increase effective communication. Developing and practicing these tools may lead to increased self esteem as partners successfully share the duties of making their partnership solvent.

Practicing and using tools in our daily lives produces results. We can continue to raise our self esteem and increase the value of our partnership by practicing responsible fiscal policy in our relationship and in our daily lives. In this way we give ourselves the gift of financial security.

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