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Money – if only it grew on a tree that I could just pick off of when I had a bill to pay! That is probably the source of any stress that I have in my life, and I actually have it great compared to many others. As long as I keep an eye on my savings and leave enough of a buffer, surprise expenses like extra property tax bills, random plumbing problems, and car-related expenses have a more cushioned impact. It hurts a lot less when I know I can afford to dish out that extra $$$ without being unable to pay for the regular bills.
Ryan and I have been together for 2.5 years, living together for a little over a year now. I’m not sure other couples handle their finances, but we are very open with ours. From the very beginning, we have laid it all out there. We know what the main course on the plate of the other is.
My plate: mortgages and His plate: student loans, car payments, medical bills
We each have our separate bank accounts, but about halfway through the last year, we set up a joint account. It is currently funded by Ryan’s rent, and it is used mostly for those surprise house-related expenses. When it comes to groceries or dining out, we take turns paying. For utilities, I take water and garbage. He takes electricity and internet.
So what works for us in terms of managing our finances?
- Open communication: We talk a lot. I don’t think we’ll ever turn into one of those couples with secret bank accounts. My thoughts on that – if you’re going to keep a bank account a secret, what else are you hiding from your significant other?
- Constant monitoring: Keeping an eye on your $$ is not a bad idea, whether you use an application online or do this with a spreadsheet. I like to use a spreadsheet to track upcoming bills, so I make sure that I’m not only on time, but that I have the money in the bank for it.
And what we’re working on until a money tree grows from the backyard:
- Budgeting: I wish this one was as easy, but we’ll get it right at some point. I’m just lucky that we are on the same page when it comes to spending – don’t spend more than we have to. Tracking our budget is a little difficult since we have to consider all accounts, so I am still thinking of an easier way to do this. I am not particularly fond of keeping receipts, but we might give this a shot. As Ryan puts it, it’s just a behavior change, so once we make a habit of it, I won’t dislike the inconvenience as much.
- Stretching our Dollars: Along the same lines as above, we’re working on getting more for less and taking advantage of deals where we can find them. By looking out for deals, we were able to save over $100 on our lift tickets and dinner this past weekend. That doesn’t mean to save $20 on a massage that we weren’t going to get anyway. <-- I am so guilty of this!
I don’t think a lot of people talk about this, and I’m curious to know what other people are doing. What works for you? What doesn’t? Does one person take charge of the finances, or do you keep it separate? Please let me pick your brain!