This question is similar to this question: I can make a budget, but how can I get myself to consistently follow my budget? except from the point of view of a married couple.
In our family I earn the money and my wife spends it. For various reason it isn't feasible for us both to work, nor is it feasible for me to be in charge of spending the money, aside from having already automated all the recurring expenses such as mortgage and utilities. However, this still leaves the "general" category of everything else that doesn't fit, including things food, household goods and supplies, and fuel.
We both agree that we need a budget, and we have even sat down on multiple occasions and have agreed on a dollar amount for our general expenses. We have various tools to try to keep under budget such as Mint and an expense tracker, but it never happens. My wife admits that it is her fault, and that she is "bad at money" but I am struggling to find a solution that will both keep us solvent and keep her happy at the same time.
At first I thought maybe it was just poor planning: you have everything in mind you are going to get for the month, but then something unexpected comes up and it blows your budget. But after reading some of the comments on my previous draft, I guess there is some game theory involved here. If the budget isn't kept, then we both feel bad but at least she gets all the things she feels that the kids and us need. Even though she feels bad and wants to do better, I feel like she wins and I lose, so there isn't sufficient incentive for her to really do better.
So my question is, how can I find a scenario in which, if she doesn't stick with the budget, she loses?
Also, regarding the comment by @Question3CPO to make it so that "neither you nor her have access to the money the plan says to save. In that case, neither of you can go over." That sounds good, but how do you achieve this in practice? I don't know of a practical way of making a hard limit on funds that doesn't either cause potential safety issues (what if you need funds in an emergency) or increase costs and inconvenience (e.g. can't buy things online).
edit: Ok, I cleaned up the question but apparently it was still closed anyway. Not sure where to go from here...