June 6, 2008

on saving and spending...

My husband and I have decided that we need to start keeping better track of where our money goes. I think it's a matter of us realizing that we could be saving alot more money than we already are, if we were more aware of just how much we're spending every month.

A budget you say? What? You're getting ahead of me, Nancy. Slow it down.

The thing is, before I was married I actually balanced my checkbook and new exactly how much I had in checking and savings at any given moment. (Granted, it was more necessity than preference. I was straight up living paycheck-to-paycheck for a while after first moving to California. Every time someone told me, "Wow, Disney must be a great company to work for!" I was compelled to sock them in the jaw.) In any case, after Jay and I were married, it was entirely too much work to try and keep track of everything. Especially balancing a checkbook. Because I knew that I would be the one doing it. And I'd like to avoid being any more of a nagging wife than I presently am. I could just see myself going postal when Jay didn't keep a receipt for his lunch at Subway.

"HOW AM I GOING TO KNOW HOW MUCH MONEY WE HAVE IF YOU DON'T KEEP YOUR RECEIPTS? YOU ARE DRIVING US INTO THE POORHOUSE!"

That's right, I'm a tad bit overly dramatic. I would like to avoid that at all costs.

After we married eachother, we were one of those couples who decided to merge all our money and stay away from the whole separate-account thing. Also, we do online bill-pay and online banking for the most part. For us, combining our money has worked out nicely. We make almost the same amount of money, and have separate credit cards. I get free reign over my work bonuses (well, most of it, because I feel bad keeping it all for myself) and he spends his tips and Tuesday-night poker winnings any way he sees fit. But otherwise, I like the fact that it's always been "our money" and not separate. And all things considered, I think that it's been easy to just think, "Oh, we know we have enough in the bank. About so-and-so amount." But I think after two years of marriage and a good, solid savings account going, we've begun to think about how much more we could've saved up through the months.

I mentioned this to one of my coworkers, and she immediately sent me an Excel spreadsheet that she put together for her and her husband's monthly income and spending. That's right, formulas and everything. A dozen different categories from groceries, utility bills to NetFlix. (Yes, I could see this getting out of control, but I'll try to keep my head on straight. I'm not going to lie, I sure can appreciate a good spreadsheet.)

As for the time being, my husband came up with the idea of us just writing down all our expenses and income this month and see where we are at the end of the month. It won't be completely accurate, but it's a good starting point. He's finding it entertaining to call out, "Put it on our expense report!" every time we buy groceries or pay a bill online. Makes me laugh.

I'm looking forward to being a bit more organized with our finances, though. Especially after seeing the financial advisor last month - which really got me to thinking about the long term, and just how much money we will need when we purchase a home someday. (And retirement? Gah. Don't talk to me.) I'm so thankful that Jay and I have been able to save as much as we have already (big shout out to the folks at Bank of America and their Investment CD's - holla!) but I know that we could definitely have more saved up at this point.

How do all of you keep track of money? Any solutions that have worked out well when working with two incomes and spenders?

10 comments :

  1. oh GOOD LORD.

    This is an area I'm mighty guilty about - we have one account, and have tried to keep track of our money spending in order to create a budget. Heck! I've created SEVERAL budgets in our one year of marriage. (I'm a lover of Excel spreadsheets as well. I almost want that one your coworker gave you, but fear it would cause severe guilt onset.)

    But they all FAIL. Miserably.

    So now - our game plan is to save as much as we can, while discussing big purchases together. And only eating out once a week (this was just imposed 3 days ago, so we'll see how that goes.) I am the money person - so I monitor funds and make sure we're doing well.

    Yeah, it could use some improvement, so I'm looking forward to hearing what everyone else does!

    (Oh, and Suzie Orman's book: Young, Fabulous, and Broke is great. As is The Money Book for Young Couples.)

    ReplyDelete
  2. okay so. many people frown on this, but... steve and i have a joint account and it works really well for us. all of the money that goes in is "our money" regardless of who gets paid what and when. i handle the bill paying (online) and well... we don't have much of a savings, but we're working on it.

    i'm not gonna lie, i'm SLIGHTLY neurotic when it comes to personal finance and where our money goes. it drives me insane that we haven't saved up WAY more than we have, but acknowledging it was a big step in fixing the problem.

    basically, all steve knows about his money is that he's allowed $100 a week to cover gas, lunches and whatever else. anything over that we budget for and pay off. i'm lucky that we haven't racked up very much credit card debt and are close to paying it off. (i hate owning money)

    the thing i hate about having combined finances? he has WAY more bills than i do and somehow, i always come out on the short end of the stick... which is okay, because i'm just focused on the goal of paying everything off (truck, cards, whatever...) and getting to a point where the only bills we have are cell phones.

    i don't have any real suggestions as to why this works other than i compulsively check our account 9,000 times a day and can tell you the balance at any given time. and? that i handle all the finances. it's hard when you get two peoples hands in on that sort of thing. well, at least it was for me. oh! and?

    mint.com

    thank me later. xoxoxo

    ReplyDelete
  3. We use Quicken. It's like Quick Books. But Quicken is more for your personal use, rather than Quick Books, which a business owner could use.

    We use that as our check register. We put all our income and all our expenses in it. And you can run reports to show how much money you're saving or where you're spending your money.

    My husband keep up with all of it though, he's an accountant.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I am so bad at this and it's just me. Really bad. It's pathetic how bad I am. And I always intend to do better. I always say, "Okay, I'll start writing own all my expenses!" or "I wanna make a spreadsheet!" I. Love. Spreadsheets. (Good thing, too, or I'd hate my job.)

    Anyway, basically all I can manage nowadays is to make a conscious and concerted effort to SPEND LESS MONEY. Which basically, for me, means less shopping and no camera accessories and cutting back on travel. And then I just put everything I can afford into my savings account, with the knowledge that, if I hit a bind, I can spend it later. But not now. NEVER NOW. And certainly not on that pretty sweater from Anthropologie.

    I just know that a lot of my peers are making as much or even less than I am and they've been able to save more. So I have to make an effort to curb my careless spending. It's depressing, but it must be done.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Props on the "our" money thing. Everything should be "our"... because your lives are "our"... and divorce is highest amongst couple you have the "mine and yours" with everything.

    :) yayness.

    ReplyDelete
  6. *gasp* you didnt enter the exposaroonie this week!?!!?

    ReplyDelete
  7. Man, I need to start tracking our expenses again. I just bought two tanks for me and a shirt for john at old navy. bad BAD! no more spending. After our wedding last September we used up every penny of our savings so we've had to start all over again... and it's really true-- the more money you make, the more you spend. you'd think it could be, the more you save. Dang! We need to get back in the habit of saving more-- and not eating out every.single.lunch/dinner. SO bad. I know we could save so much more $$. If you think of a good plan-- let me know! That investment CD sounds like a good idea-- you'd think I would be all up ons that since I worked at the BofA call center for almost two years.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Good post! My partner and I have had a joint account for about 2 years now. It's working out for us wonderfully. No matter who gets paid what, it all gets lumped together and it becomes both of ours.

    We just jot down a simple, flexible budget every month to follow and if something happens where we need to change it, it's okay.

    It took us a couple years and despite the fact that we still have debt, our every day life is completely financially stable. We couldn't be happier. We are no longer living paycheck to paycheck and it's the most amazing feeling.

    Good luck saving that money!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I feel like I'm in the minority, EMT-Dad and I have seperate bank accounts. Always have...for 8 years. I know I would become completely neurotic if I ever saw how much and how often he buys running shoes. I know how much he spends, but I think it would freak me out a little more if I saw it as a debit, ya know? We split the bills and if one is short, we back each other up.
    This will change when I quit to stay at home with the kids. It will be hard for me to adjust to not having my own income, but the benefit of staying home will be more than worth it.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Here's a tip I forgot to mention. If you're trying to SAVE more, decide how much you can save every month, and put that into your savings as soon as you get paid. Instead of seeing how much is leftover after you've gone shopping and ate out a dozen times a month, you put it in savings first, then you can only spend what's left.

    ReplyDelete

Thoughts? Questions? General musings? Do share!

If you are asking a question, I will respond here within the comments—so, be sure to click that handy little "notify me" box below to know when I've replied!