Family Finances – Making a plan to manage your finances
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Hello friends! Of one thing I am certain: Benjamin Franklin was right! If you fail to plan you are most certainly planning to fail. That is why today I want to share with you some strategies to plan for a better financial future for you and your family.
I am not a certified financial coach, so I am sharing the strategies and initiatives that have worked for us, but please do your own research and form your own opinions before dealing with your family’s finances.
I previously shared with you ways to analyze and better understand your current financial situation, and SMART goals you could set for the upcoming months and years. Now that we have that down, it’s time to decide how exactly are we going to achieve these goals. These are some strategies you can use to keep you on track:
The first thing your spouse and you have to do to get your finances under control is to decide who is doing what. Although we both work full time, my husband, Scott, has always have the most demanding job, so we decided I had more time and energy to manage our finances entirely. If you would like to divide things equally, then consider the different roles there might be:
– Who will categorize all the expenses?
– Who will make sure all bills are paid on a timely manner?
– Who will keep an eye on budgets to make sure you stay on track?
– Who will handle investments?
– Who will manage relationships with accountant, asset manager, etc?
– Who will gather all necessary documents and file taxes?
– Who will manage credit card miles and points?
Budget, budget, baby!
Man, I love budgets! I love spreadsheets, too! Yes, I said it! I love Excel and Google Sheets and I get excited about them! (count how many exclamation points I used on that one sentence). Budgets are to family finances like bones are to the body. Imagine your body without bones! Yuck! We need them!
Once you analyze your current financial situation, categorize all of your expenses and subtract those that can easily be removed/saved, you can go ahead and call those categories budgets! Family budgets look very different, but some common categories are: household, kids, utilities, education, medical, etc.
To know your budgets is just the beginning – and the easy part. Now you have to commit to stay within those budgets every month. We use an online tool and app called Mint.com to keep track of our budgets. Simply connect all of your accounts (it’s completely safe!), enter your budgets, and as transactions come in, categorize them, so they fall within your budgets. Mint learns how you categorize expenses, so you don’t have to do it over and over again every month. I log in weekly to categorize expenses and see how we are doing. This is a great opportunity to decide if we need to scale back on certain expenses to meet our monthly goals.
Mint is awesome! I will tell you more about it on another post 🙂
Finances email every Monday
Every Monday, I check Mint and other tools we use and I put together a finances email for Scott. Here are the sections on my email:
– Summary: The email is pretty long, so I include a summary in case Scott is short on time. I do require him to read the whole email even if he has to get back to it a couple of days later since I invest my time checking into our finances, analyzing our trends and writing the email.
– Goals: I like to remind us of our goals and how we are doing towards achieving them.
– Income: Here I write how much income we have gotten so far that month.
– Bills: A space to mention the bills that we would be paying that week.
– Debt: If we have any credit card debt, I would talk about how much and the plan to pay it off.
– Cash: How much money we would have in the checking account after paying bills and debts.
– Budgets: Here I will place a screenshot of our budgets on Mint. Some might be green, some might be yellow, some might be red. It’s a visual way to remind us what areas need more of our attention.
Monthly finances meeting
When we were trying to get out of debt, we had these meetings on a weekly basis. They were though. I think we were both upset at each other after each meeting. We knew we had to have them to keep us on track, but man, they were awful! That’s why I started doing the weekly emails and we started doing a monthly meeting instead.
During these meetings we talk about each budget and how we are doing. A piece of advice: don’t go into so much detail unless someone has a question. If you are using Mint and you see a budget is yellow, approaching it’s maximum allowance, and it’s just the middle of the month, then focus on what you can do to avoid going over instead of spending any time discussing who did what.
These are some of the strategies our family uses to make sure we accomplish our goals, but you might come up with some fresh ideas on how to better manage your finances, and I would love to hear them on the comments below!