Family Finance Management

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I’m a tad obsessed with managing my finances. I’m not sure if this just has to do with my practical nature or if it comes out of growing up super poor. My mother taught me early how to write checks and balance a checkbook, and I’ve grown into a career as an administrative assistant in the Finance field. Money is kind of my thing.

I spend time almost every day looking at my bank account online or balancing my checkbook. I’ve used a combination of spreadsheets and various software programs to help me figure out my budget and monitor my accounts. I am at the moment stranded without a program that has cash flow projection capability (an absolute MUST for me because I pretty much live paycheck to paycheck) that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. I would love a recommendation that fits with my style.

In managing my family’s finances, I focus on the following:

* I rely heavily on cash flow projection to plan out when I will pay my bills throughout the month so that I don’t get into a situation where an unexpected expense pops up and I have no money in my account. This is important because I have very little in savings. I also schedule my bills to be paid automatically through my bank on the appointed dates.

* I budget everything, including groceries and leisure activities. I check each item off my list once the money has been spent. If there is money left over after bills and other living expenses are paid for, the rest will be sent to my credit card if there is a balance or to savings if not.

* I take advantage of tax savings through my employer. That includes a flexible spending account for my health care needs, the money for which is deducted before taxes are removed from my paycheck (which essentially lowers my income down into a lower tax bracket).

* Because I know I have no self restraint when it comes to keeping money in a savings account, I make sure I have higher-than-necessary amounts of taxes taken out of my checks so that I get a refund every year. I use that money to pay off any debt I might have. I know that some people prefer to open a savings account that is not easy to get to but that doesn’t work for me. I don’t forget about money or ever find misplaced money in my pockets. I know where every penny is in my house and purse at all times.

* I never carry cash. It’s much too easy to buy something with cash, especially frivolous things like snacks from vending machines or fast food. I have to think about it more if I’m going to use my bank card and consider how much is left in my account.

Those are all key things for me to “stay in the black.” My husband thinks I spend too much time on it all but he hasn’t yet offered to manage our finances so…he lives with it and me. 🙂

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