“What kind of system do you use to track your money?” -Ruthanne
[My apologies that it's Wednesday and I'm just now getting the Q&A Tuesday up. I had good intentions, but it just didn't happen yesterday!]
First off, contrary to what people might think, I’m more the creative and entrepreneurial one in our family and my husband is the numbers nerd. Without my husband’s attention to detail and love of spreadsheets, we’d be sunk.
What’s crazy is that over the last seven and a half years that we’ve been married, my creative and entrepreneurial spirit has rubbed off on Jesse a great deal, but, unfortunately, I’ve not become any more of a spreadsheet-lover.
So that’s why I’m so thankful for my husband. He has a sophisticated system he uses to track all of the money which comes in and goes out and he keeps us on track with our budget. We review these numbers quite often together to make sure we’re headed in the right direction and on the same page.
In the beginning years of our marriage, he used a ledger to keep track of all of our finances. This worked well, but it took at least an hour each week to stay on top of. He switched over to Quicken a few years ago and it’s been a huge time-saver. Plus, it’s so fun to be able to see all the instant graphs and spreadsheets available with a click or two of a mouse. (If you don’t already have access to Quicken, Mint.com is a very comparable free software which my husband recommends.)
Every single debit card transaction and check we write is accounted for in Quicken so that we can know exactly where we are financially at all times. Since we actually don’t spend a whole lot of money outside our regular bills and what we purchase from our cash envelopes, it usually just takes Jesse about 1-2 hours per month to input our receipts and make sure everything reconciles.
Unlike many people, we keep our cash envelopes separate from our regular accounting. We just take out $425 per month to fund these envelopes and we don’t track the expenditures in these accounts.
Our current cash envelopes are:
::Gifts — $30 per month which covers wedding, baby shower, birthday gifts and so forth.
::Vacation — $50 each month for family vacations (or, if we decide, a fun family outing).
::Clothes — $15 per month per family member (except Jesse, since he has a separate non-cash budget category for his clothing). This covers shoes, socks, clothes, under things, coats, etc.
::Eating Out — $20 per week ($80 per month) which covers our once-a-week dinner out. We usually vary whether we do something really inexpensive or a little on the nicer side.
::Groceries — $40 per week ($160 per month)
::Home — $30 per month which covers home furnishings, decorations and any other home items we need to buy (for instance, last month, we used the money in the envelope to replace our DVD player which had been on its last life for quite some time).
::Homeschooling — $15 per month which covers any supplies we need to purchase and some of our curriculum (I also used the proceeds from our garage sales to purchase some of our curriculum as we splurged on the Bob Jones Distance Learning DVDs for some of our curriculum this year.)
Instead of tracking all the expenditures in each of our cash envelopes, we’ve found that just adopting the “When it’s gone, it’s gone” approach works well for us. Because in reality, after using cash for so long, we’ve found that we rarely have empty envelopes!
How do you track the finances at your house? I’d love to hear! And if you’re married, are you the numbers nerd or is your spouse?