Many "marriage experts" say that financial issues are the cause of the greatest percentage of divorces. This is completely false, because money never did cause a divorce. However, people's arguments over how it is handled can indeed build into more hurt than it needs to if a couple lets it.

Besides the marital issues, parenting in itself brings many stresses over the budget. Parents who never worried about keeping up with anyone, suddenly feel the need to on behalf of their kids. Expenses DO in fact rise with the birth of a child, but they need not rise as much as the statistics tell us they do on average.

A little frugality goes a long way with a child. Some strategies for reducing costs with an infant are:

  • Breastfeed if you can. It is much more economical than formula.
  • Measure diaper cost by the month, not by the diaper. Some diapers need changed more often, and may not in fact be less expensive.
  • Make your own baby food, and freeze it in ice cube trays.
  • Use common items like instant mashies and applesauce instead of baby food versions when you can.
  • Buy used baby clothes. Babies don't wear things out. Watch for stains, and make sure they really are a bargain.

If you can adjust to the expenses of an infant, you'll adapt gradually as the child grows. You don't get children a bunch at a time (usually!), so you grow and learn and change as your family grows.

Now, keeping a budget really does help. It helps you to be able to put the bills with the paycheck that they will work best with, and allows you to have some expectation of how much you'll have for groceries, whether the amount you want to save is practical, whether you can afford to get the car fixed, and when, or whether you can afford a new payment.

I suggest creating a budget on your computer. Use a spreadsheet program. List all your expenses in the left most column - by name - include house payment, utilities, a food budget, a gasoline budget, insurance, car repairs, charitable donations, clothing or entertainment, etc. List your income types below that (leave a line in between). Put the date in the top of the columns going across the top of the budget. The dates should correspond with the dates of your paychecks. Then under each paycheck, list the amount of each bill you have to pay with that check - list it on the line for that bill name. Use the space between the bills and the income to total the bills. Total the income below that, and then use another line to subtract the bills from the income. Once you have that done, select the line that has the bill total, and drag across to the right. Choose Edit -> Fill Right. Do the same on your Income total, and on the final total. This way, when you plug in the amounts of the bills on your other paydays, the budget will automatically total itself. Add more dates as needed, or insert more rows to hold more bills or income types if you need.

I use a budget for every kind of income I get. We have a line for things like insurance payments, income tax return, overtime, and expected income from my business (I don't count it until I know it is scheduled to be paid). I always underestimate our income so that I don't get caught without enough. This allows me to make sure that bills are paid before their due dates, and that if we run short, that I can assess the best way to make it balance, before it comes in.

How you handle the budget between husband and wife is not important, as far as who does what. What is important is that neither one have total control over the money, and that you have some kind of agreement about how much you can spend without consulting the other. Respecting those standards can make a huge difference in reducing the arguments over money. Work out a way to handle it that works for both of you.

And don't let the budget scare you off of having kids. No one ever could truly afford to have a child. When you have them, the means come.