What a week. If you’re an especially astute teen, you are probably aware that there is a battle happening in Washington over the Federal budget. If you are like most Americans, you are probably confused about what exactly that means, and why the parties’ differences were big enough to shut down the government completely.

If you’re looking for a political stance, you can look elsewhere. Today, I’m going to address the truth that we can all understand and relate to: budgeting is tough!

In marriage, money is often cited as the number one reason for divorce. Yikes! Money is such a sensitive subject that mishandling it—or miscommunicating about it—can lead to problems in marriage, work, and apparently the Federal Government.


Why is it so tough? One major reason is that money reflects our heart’s desires. We put our money into the things we value. We are emotional spenders, emotional savers, and emotional investors. It’s one thing to make a list of the things we plan on spending money on. It’s quite another to not spend unplanned funds when your emotions are running high.

When two or more people have to work together to plan a budget, suddenly the emotions and values of multiple people are at play, making a seemingly mundane task feel personal, significant, and even threatening. Just watch CSPAN this week and you’ll see emotions on full display.

So what do we do about that? Well, there’s much more to budgeting than I could address here, so I’m going to address two of the most overlooked issues that can arise in attempting to plan or stick to a budget.

If you’re a teen, you probably aren’t making a budget with a spouse or fellow congresswoman, but you may be helping with a family budget, or working on a personal budget. Understand where each person is coming from. A seemingly unreasonable position about a certain area of spending or saving probably has a deeper root than what is on the surface. Ask questions. Find out what that concern is, and address that.

Also, factor some wiggle room into your budget. One of the biggest reasons budgets fail is that we throw them out in a moment of defeat. We think, “well this will never work so forget it.” (Again, is this ringing a bell this week?) So give yourself some allowance to spend on expected wants or needs. Unexpected wants are going to happen, so you should factor them into the budget.

Budgeting is a fantastic tool in your financial tool belt, but it can also be intimidating and divisive. Think about each other’s motives and give yourself some grace, and your budgeting process will be much easier.

Looking for more info about budgeting? Check out our entire episode devoted to the topic!