Managing household expenses is an essential, though sometimes difficult, task. Whether your household has two incomes or one, it is important to know how you are spending your money and where financial improvements can be made.
Budgeting may seem daunting because it implies cutting back on some of your more fun expenditures and involves putting together a worksheet or a spreadsheet. But it doesn't have to be as hard as it sounds.
You will first need to organize your household budget and determine how much income you and your partner earn. Then, you will have to calculate your monthly expenses. NerdWallet suggested putting expenses into four different categories :
- Savings, which involves retirement and emergency funds
- Bills and loans, which might include student loans, mortgages or credit card bills
- Necessary expenses, such as food, clothing, rent and utilities
- Fun and recreation, which includes everything else, such as a vacation or date night money
How to divide expenses
The next step is where family finances will differ from those of a single person. You will have to determine how payment will be split up. According to StrongerMarriage.org, there are several ways a couple can decide how to divide financial responsibilities .
One way is to have a joint checking account, where both people deposit the same amount from their respective paychecks. This amount is determined by adding up all shared expenses from the categories above and dividing it in two.
Another way also involves a joint checking account, but this time, each person puts the same percentage of their paycheck into the account. This way, the partner that earns more also contributes more to the account.
In both of these examples, the remaining money is put into individual accounts, where each partner choose how to spend, save or invest the remainder of the money. A third way would be to share all accounts and expenses. In this model, both partners put their money into the same account. All expenses are paid from this account and the couple decides together how to use the rest of the money.
Plan to save together
Once you determine how to divide expenses, you and your partner will want to determine what your financial goals are. Do you plan to start a family? Do you want to buy a home? Do you hope to take a family vacation somewhere new? Decide what you are saving for and choose a deadline and then analyze your current household expenses and identify areas where you can begin to cut back.
LifeHacker explained when a couple takes the time to talk about what they want to save for, it can give them more incentive to stick to their budget .
After you have determined what your expenses are, how they will be paid for and what your financial goals are, figure out your plan for spending. Having joint checking accounts with a debit card or a shared credit card gives you the opportunity to make necessary purchases easily. Money tracking apps can help to keep you and your partner on target. A spreadsheet you both have access to or even a pen and paper kept in a safe place can also be effective. Some financial institutions have personal financial management tools available to their customers to help with budgeting and track spending. Central Bank offers Money Manager, allowing customers to track their spending and savings, set budgets, create goals and alerts and more from the convenience of their smartphone, tablet or computer.
Staying on budget can be harder to execute in real life than it is to plan on paper. If you or your partner go off-budget once in awhile, don't get discouraged; money management is a skill that needs to be practiced before it is mastered. The important thing in managing dual income streams is honesty, communication and a willingness to adjust when necessary.
. 6 Tips for an Effective Household Budget
. Budgeting Systems When There are Two Earners in the Household
.How to Set Up and Streamline a Shared Budget