If you came here looking for some amazing money management tips – you came to the wrong place. Rather, I need some tips from all you wise readers of this blog. Prior to getting married, Sarah and I had very different ways of managing our finances: Sarah managed hers and I didn’t. So now we’re trying to figure out how to do this together, and as you can imagine, we’re having a lot of fun with that.
Since being married, we’ve tried a few different ways of handling the money. At first, Sarah just let me look after it and make sure we were doing okay. But, that didn’t work. And we both knew we each needed to be taking part in the discussion and care of our finances, so we switched to our current method, more-or-less described below:
- We spend money, and we keep all of our receipts.
- Every week (more like every other week, or if it’s really bad, every three weeks) we sit down and I read through each receipt, while Sarah manually inputs them into Quicken, categorizing them according to the budget we created.
- Then I get online and check the online bank statement to make sure we caught all of the online bills, purchases, deposits, etc.
- More often than not, the online balance and our Quicken balance are different (tonight there was a $350 difference).
- Then, if we haven’t gotten frustrated enough already, we’ll check the budget to see how badly we’ve gone over the budget.
This process is frustrating. I’d prefer to not have to manually input all of the receipts. But we need a way of knowing where our money is going (and it does find places to go, doesn’t it?). And the fact that the balances are often different is frustrating as well. But we really don’t know of any other good systems. Do we just sign up for the $4.99/month Quicken service where it automatically downloads all of our transactions into Quicken – but then we still have to go through each one and add the correct category. More often than not, now, we don’t actually look at the budget in the end (we also haven’t adjusted our budget since having moved to Princeton), and I wonder what the point of any of it is. Sometimes, I’d rather just check online to see if we had enough cash in the checking account, and if we did – then we’re good to go.
So, what do we do? What do you all do? Those of you who are married – what have you found works well for you? Any systems that work well? Any tips? Any money programs (for Mac), other than Quicken, that you’ve found helpful? Any Excel users out there?
[In case you missed it, this is the point in the post where you begin to dispense amazing money management tips to the Walker Cleavelands and all other readers of this blog]