Money and budgeting seem to be at the top of many New Year’s plans. Finances can add stress to a relationship, but it’s obviously preferable that we know how to manage our finances before we are married, as well as have some sort of idea of how we want to share finances once we are married. What are some of your recommendations for planning your finances and budgeting your money now so that it will be less stressful down the road? Do you hope to share accounts with your spouse or have a yours/mine/ours system? How have you seen other couples manage their finances in a way that works well?
Money and Budgeting is one of those topics that no one likes to talk about. Many people just avoid it for MONTHS and MONTHS and sometimes YEARS. I have gone back and forth on the topic. Sometimes I don’t really want to deal with it and sometimes I like to.
A few years ago however I was tired of not being able to manage my money and basically using my account balance as my budget. If there was money in my account I was like hey I have money to spend and I wasn’t really saving much. Those yearly bills that come around once a year like car registration? Yeah, I never had the money to pay those and let’s not even start about Christmas. I wanted to get a handle of my money, how I should spend it and just more control. I started researching different programs and spreadsheets. In the end I finally tried You Need A Budget (YNAB)
I wasn’t in any credit card debt or anything (thank god). I just didn’t have control over my money. Around this time I met with this lady working with my mom and she gave us this article about money/budgeting and one of the questions was, “Are you in control of your money?” I always thought I was but the more I thought about it the answer was no.
After all that I wanted to get a handle of my money. Even though I didn’t make a lot of money it should still be able to budget it and control it. I started researching different programs and spreadsheets. In the end, I finally settled with You Need A Budget (YNAB). YNAB is a Zero-Based Budgeting System..which means you give every dollar a job. If your paycheck is $483.42. You figure out how to spend the money down to that 42 cents. It sometimes looks funny when my grocery category has 25.42 and spending money has 43.24 to make everything even out.
Looking back I’m not really what made YNAB stick. Was it the pretty program, the webinars, videos and classes offered, the philosophy, the forums. I think in the end it was all of the above. I had encouragement from the people in the forums. I was able to get questions answered easily. I was able to attend several classes to help me understand the software.
But I also think I was just ready to be disciplined about the process. In the past I would keep up with my budget system for about a month and then I’d give up as it became to complicated or frustrating. AKA losing excel files when I forgot to save and my computer restarted on me. Or sometimes I just got frustrated that there wasn’t enough money to do the things I wanted and basically throw a tantrum, do what I want, and throw the budget out the window.
Around the same time, I also created a Budget Binder to organize all the papers and bills and mail that come with “adulting” and managing your finances. Since then that blog post has gone viral and helped so many people!
When I get married I’m not sure what I’ll do. Right now I have accounts at 2 different banks, and several credit cards. I might use marriage as a chance to get rid of some of those accounts. We might do something like all the bills get paid out of one account and all our income goes into it but then we transfer out money into his/hers checking accounts for our spending money just to make things a little easier. Honestly I don’t really know and I don’t really have a preference. I just want to be involved in the process (which of course I will be).
I wrote about this in my comment on Lindsay’s post but want to share it here as well. One of my first jobs was working with retirees. And the one thing I learned while working there was that I needed to know what was going on with our money when I got married. Where things were, what bills we were paying, etc. etc.
We had so many women come into our office after her husband died or when her husband got sick that didn’t even know how to write a check. We had to help them create budgets and figure out how to pay bills. Honestly, I think budgeting needs to be part of every math class from grades 5-12. With the amount of financial hardship stories and credit card debt mistakes I hear it needs to be taught early on how money works. But that is another post for another day.
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