5 Simple Ways To Manage The Family Finances

Planning Your Family Finances

Before my husband and I were married, we had to have that discussion on our current and future family finances.  We knew we had to eliminate any frivolous debt prior to our nuptials because I was uprooting my life and starting a new one with him in Florida with no job.

We worked to pay off any credit card debt and loans, not including my student loans to ensure we started our marriage with no extra debt or expenses outside of the norm (car note, rent, cell phone, etc.)  We did this all while also paying for our wedding.

He worked his corporate job and I put in extra hours at mine to make sure we kept to our budget and goals.  It also helped that I still lived at home with my parents and he lived cheaply but safely in what would soon become our small one bedroom apartment.

Staying Focused

Once we had said our I dos and the honeymoon was over and real life set in, budgeting was still priority number one because it was now two on one income.  Granted, all I brought to the table was my car note, a low, low student loan payment and a cell phone bill, it still stretched our budget thin. Like maybe a hundred bucks left over for the month thin.  But in spite of all that, we still were able to enjoy some nights out on the town.  We just kept it real simple.  

For instance, a maiden voyage of a party cruise hosted by a local radio station that was $10 for guys and free for ladies.  Uh! Score!!  And we had a blast dancing and exploring the different levels with different musical themes.  But it also didn’t hurt that we lived near the beach. Can we say FREE!!  Well almost.  We did occasionally rent a cabana.  But any who, we still managed to LIVE!

But that was only possible by sticking to the budget we initially created.  Even when I became employed, the budget was still there, except we now had a little more money to play with AND spend wisely.

Personal Expense Tracker
Personal Expense Tracker

Now it’s nearly 11 years later and that budget is just as important now as it was then.  I’ll admit we’ve had some times over the years, where we haven’t always made the wisest of decisions on how to best utilize our money, but you live and you learn.  Like buying a classic car without regard to the hefty expenses associated with its upkeep.  Or the countless business ideas that were tossed aside for one by one because of uncertainty, insecurity and fear.

But these days we are a lot more focused and have our sights on building businesses that we hope will one day sustain us fully without the need for a job or the immobility (moving on our terms, not theirs) that comes with it.

So how do we manage to try to keep it all together? You already know the answer but how do we do it exactly?  I’m glad you asked.

1. Living On One Income

Of course it was out of necessity when we were first married but we also never wanted to be dependent on two incomes to live life.  Any income I would bring in would be just icing on the cake so to speak.  That mindset has served us well over the years.  During the times I didn’t have a job, life as we knew didn’t come to a complete stop just because our bank balance was a little less.  No bills went unpaid, we still saved AND we acted like adults with no damn kids!!

We still live like that to extent these days.  While we’ve since added one little person, we still use the hub’s income to cover all of the necessities.  My income is now used for the extras such as gym memberships, music subscriptions and travel.  Basically, things we could cut if we needed to that don’t affect our everyday life.

2. Equal Pay For Everyone

The hubs and I have always had a joint accounts, but there was once upon time that we also had separate ones as well too which we both well aware of because we set it up that way.  It didn’t matter who made more (my husband did and still does) but we received the same amount each pay period.   These accounts weren’t used to hide money or anything to that effect.  It was simply our spending money.  It was a way for us to spend how we chose on everyday things, activities or shopping or even to buy gifts for one another as well.  

I didn’t have to track any extra expenditures outside what had already been allotted for bills.  We even kept our gas money in those accounts as well.  Now that amount was a little different but it was based on the car, amount of use and the distance traveled just as it is today.  While we don’t have the accounts anymore, it worked well when we had them.

3. Track Everything

I’m pretty sure my husband would probably have compared me to a prison warden because of my need to have a receipt for every purchase that was made not in my presence.  Not that I didn’t trust him, but it was how I tracked all money going out vs. coming in. This was of course during the time was when I tracked everything in a check register.  Remember those?  But now with the ease of online banking, I pretty much track daily expenditures online and normal household expenses on a spreadsheet I created years ago. It’s morphed a lot since then but it’s still just as practical. Plus our spending habits are a little different these days.  

Expense Tracker Part 2
Expense Tracker Part 2

4. Make Lists

For anything that we want or need, be it for the home or our businesses, we make lists.  They allow us to prioritize, budget and help keep us focused on our goals.

With each list, I put an estimated or actual cost plus a date if its needed to meet a deadline or affects transportation, housing or something to that effect.  

5. Automate Expenses And Use Cash As Much As Possible

All of our bills are either automated or paid as soon as the hubs is paid for two reasons. One we know exactly what we have with regards to activities or business investments after ALL bills have been paid.  The second and most obvious is that it’s convenient.  Our lives are full with our own activities, work, family and household chores that taking away one thing from the list of many helps alot.

When we use cash, it’s more so for purchases such as groceries and gas because it helps me see how much we’re spending on things that we need but can fluctuate in price week to week.  Plus it allows me to see where I can cut back if need be.

I use to burn through cash a lot faster than using my card.  But now I can hold on to it just as long.  I think about each purchase.  If I don’t feel 100% about it, regardless of the method of payment, I don’t get it. End of story.  More than likely, I’ll be returning it or regretting it later and boo I simply don’t have the time for all of that!

I’ll admit we don’t follow these “rules” 100% of the time because well, we’re human.  But I do my best to ensure that we stay on track more often than not.  By doing so, we are ensuring a better financial future for us and our little person.