The Household Finances Should be a Team Effort

by Justin on March 11, 2016

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When it comes time to pay the bills do you handle it by yourself?  Does your spouse?  No matter who is in charge of the household finances it is important to work together as a team, as both should be fully aware of the money coming in and going out.  Some may think that being in charge of the finances is just making sure bills are paid on time.  While yes that is important, but it also means making financial decisions on monthly spending and planning for your financial future, so it can definitely carry a burden.  You may think you are doing a good job so far alone, but take a step back, are you set for the future?  Are you only making the necessary purchases?  Your spouse knows everything about to take over if something unfortunate should happen to you?  My guess is there could be an improvement, so make sure you start to get your spouse involved.

The first joint effort that should be created is the household budget.  It is good to start from scratch so first go through all of the monthly expenses and see how much money is left over.  Decide a set amount that will go to savings/retirement accounts.  It is ok to start small and gradually increase.  If your company, for example, does match 401(k) contributions at 6% it would be a good idea to start with that.  Decide how much you would like to have in an emergency savings account, whether it is 3-6 months of expenses, and figure how long it will take to get there.  Factor in gas, food, and spending money as well, doing your best to plan in advance for events such as birthdays and holidays.  Performance testing allows you to measure full user experience when it comes to saving money, so compare budgets month over month to see what works and what does not, tweaking any unnecessary spending with the goal of increasing savings and retirement account balances.

When it comes to paying the bills, familiarize your partner with the monthly expenses, due dates, and show all account logins/passwords and how schedule and pay online.  Even if your spouse does not want to physically pay the bills each month going forward, they should still be aware of all expenses, so a good suggestion would be to list all accounts, due dates, and online account information on a spreadsheet for easy access (and a quick view so you do not miss any payments as well).  Look in advance when your paychecks come in vs. the bill due date.  For example, if the bill is due on the 19th and you get paid on the 15th, pay the bill when you get paid instead of in advance, or if you get a grace period for an auto lease payment, which can be up to seven days, or a mortgage payment up to fifteen days, schedule around that, it will not be late.  Try and balance leftover money to be the same each pay check.

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