My husband travels a lot for work. While it's not a convenient way to live, my husband's job has afforded me the opportunity to be at home with our small children.
However, I'm not going to sugar coat; it having one spouse that travels can wreak havoc on your finances if there isn't clear communication about your budget and financial goals.
Here are a few tips for making budgeting a little easier when one spouse is traveling.
Have a travel expense fund
My husband gets a per diem, but only after he has returned from the job. So that means travel expenses like gas, food, lodging and laundry services come out of our bank account and are later reimbursed.
While my husband is diligent in making sure not to spend too much in these categories, we do have a travel fund separate from our regular bank account that he uses to pay these expenses.
That way when my husband is on the job he doesn't have to worry about letting me know every dollar he spent so I can balance our check book.
When he gets reimbursed the money goes back into that fund.
Continue meal planning
I will be really honest, it would be so tempting to hit the drive thru every night because I'm exhausted at the end of a long day wrangling a toddler and preschooler. But that would completely wreck our budget.
So while my husband is gone I continue to plan healthy and affordable meals for the three of us. And the bonus is those weeks he is not at home we spend less on groceries.
Have a healthy emergency fund
I've learned that if a disaster is going to strike it is going to strike when my husband is out of town.
We have made trips to the emergency room, called the plumber to come fix busted pipes, and even had to replace our refrigerator and air conditioner unit while my husband was traveling.
This has required a healthy emergency fund. It's more expensive to pay an electrician or a plumber to fix things that break that ordinarily my husband would fix.
It has also forced me to learn to fix some things and develop some skills I wouldn't have ordinarily.
Communicate about savings and goals
Because I make sure the bills are paid and the checking account balanced it's up to me to let my husband know how we are doing savings-wise.
Even when he's out of town we continue to have discussions on our savings goals. We're both tired after a long day and the phone is not an ideal place to talk about money, but it's still important for both of us to know where we stand.
It's not easy and it's not idea, but it's still important to keep your momentum going.