For those of us in the USA, Tax Day has come again. I’m thankful to have already done my taxes, but today’s post isn’t really about taxes, but money. As couples, one of the things that comes up in conversations almost daily is money. I’m blessed to be in a relationship that we don’t really disagree about money and spending, and while I’m a lot better about managing money than he is, he’s getting better. If you’re not as fortunate as I am, here are a few tips to help you and your partner with money.
Don’t ignore it: When you don’t know what’s in your account, you’re setting yourself up for issues. I know approximately how much I spend each month in bills and other expenses, plus what I make (even with the ups and downs of an entrepreneur’s life). If you both pretend the issues will go away or the money will just appear in your account, you’re making a big mistake.
Track it: There are tons of different software and programs out there you can use to manage your money and track what’s going on. There’s Mint, Quickbooks, Microsoft Excel, and even pen and paper if you don’t want to use a computer (although I suggest you do). I suggest you track everything, from grocery to babysitting to donations and lunch money, in addition to your traditional bills. The more you track, the closer you’ll be to not missing any money at the end of the month and being able to identify where it all went.
Fix it: once you’ve tracked your spending and income, you can decide if you’ve got expenses that you don’t really need, or which areas you can cut back on (if necessary). Spending money is necessary in life, it’s not something we can do without. But you can be smart about your spending and make sure that you’re preparing for the future and college/retirement and unexpected expenses too.
Update it: I strongly recommend that you update your chosen money management program monthly. Even better, update it together. If you’re both aware of what’s going on with the money, you can’t blame each other if things go south.
The biggest change you can make today is to actually talk about it. Be aware of where you’re at and don’t avoid the conversation.