How do you and your significant other stay on the same page with your finances? How often do you talk about finances? There’s no right or wrong answers unless they are “we don’t,” and “never.” My wife and I recently revamped our financial handling plan, and committed to tackling our finances together. I wrote a post about it a few months ago, however we’ve honed our skills since then and have added some new aspects to our discussions such that I thought it warranted a new post.
Our budget cycle is bimonthly since my wife and I are both paid on the last day of the month, and I am also paid on the 15th of the month. We separate our bills into two categories based on their due date:
- Due date from the first to the fourteenth of the month
- Due date from the fifteenth to the end of the month
Both my wife and I maintain files listing the monthly bills split into these two categories. Her file is on her iPad and mine on my laptop. I pay the bills online, and we both update the amount if it differs from the previous month. This ensures all bills are paid on time, and we are both aware of every monthly bill and how much it costs us. This also facilities constant reevaluation of each expense as to whether it provides enough value for how much it costs us.
Checking Account Resolution
We try to balance our checkbook every day we have transactions to record. We’ve found the less transactions we have to deal with, the better chance we get things right the first time.
My wife keeps the checking account register on her iPad, while I log into our account’s online portal. I gather the receipts from our spending, and read them off to her so she can deduct them from our running balance.
Each time we balance the account, I print out the last 50 transactions, as well as record the balance and transactions that have not yet posted. This allows me to see exactly what transactions have posted since the last session. On the new printout, I write down the current balance and subtract any transactions that have not yet posted.
Our totals should equal. If they don’t, we go hunting for our mistake.
Our spending planning discussions consist of four different varieties:
- Weekly Spending: We discuss on a weekly basis how we’re going to spend our available discretionary funds. Examples of items discussed include activities with friends, dining out, trips to the salon, new running shoes and fertilizer for the lawn. We prioritize things based on the importance of the purchase, or whether it could wait. These discussions ensure our spending never goes out of bounds.
- Mid-Range Spending: Any spending that is between a week and a month in the future fall into this category. For example, we joined a wine club earlier this summer which requires us to buy two yearly shipments in exchange for a 15% discount on the product. We have an order that will be fulfilled on September 1st that we thought would be too large of a hit to have it all come out of a single week’s discretionary funds. So, about a month ago we started putting a little bit away each week so the purchase wouldn’t leave us with no discretionary funds for that week.
- Long Range Goals: If we’re saving for a vacation, or trying to pay off a debt we talk about how we’re going to accomplish that. We create a plan together and then execute on it every time we discuss finances.
- Left Over Funds: If there are left over funds from the previous week’s discretionary fund we usually just let them roll over to the following week. But if we have funds left over at the end of a budget cycle, then we talk about what we’re going to do with them.
Every couple has to find the best way to communicate about finances. This is what we’re doing right now, and it works for us. It may not work for you, and it may not work for us a year from now. But if you’re struggling with how to handle your finances together with your significant other, maybe it will give you an idea of where to start.
How about you, EOD Nation, how do you and your significant other handle your finances, and how often to you talk about it?