Every family handles finances in a different way. My husband and I are no different. While it may be “traditional” for couples to combine all of their finances into one account and then spend from that, that method of finances just didn’t work for us. I don’t think it works for a lot of people these days, especially since people are marrying later and have different ways of handling their money. So here’s what does work for us in our family budget and also what we’re considering doing in the future.
Contributing a Percentage of Expenses
I’m the budgeter in our family. I’ve been using YNAB since it was a spreadsheet file you could download over fifteen years ago. It’s been really helpful for me in keeping my expenses balanced. So I also use YNAB to handle our family budget. I track all of our expenses for the family. My husband has access to all of the numbers, but I don’t think he checks it that often – he trusts me to keep an eye on it.
Every year, we take a look at our income and compare, and then we split the expenses based on that percentage. We’re close to a 50/50 split, but not quite. One of us makes a little bit more, so that person pays a little bit more of the expenses. We put money towards future goals in this way as well. And then we keep the rest of our money separate. Obviously, the lions share does go into the family expenses, but other things we spend individually stay separate.
Contributing a Percentage of our Income
Right now, things are very easy to predict. Our big expenses for our son are daycare costs. It’s a super easy budget line. But as he gets older, his financial needs are going to become less and less predictable, and it will be easier to make financial decisions if we are working from a single pot of money that we can both see. So we’re talking about potentially switching over to contributing a percentage of our income into the family budget and then keeping a smaller portion to ourselves. We do all of our spending as a team, so this makes a lot of sense, but I think because we both were so very independent when we got married, giving up that kind of control gets a little scary. We also have very different spending habits and our current method keeps us from arguing about money. So for now, we’re letting things stand. We have family savings as well as individual savings so there aren’t big concerns about not being able to cover our expenses or anything like that.
And this certainly isn’t some way of planning for a split in the future. This has nothing to do with my comfort and confidence in my marriage. It’s just about finding where we can avoid stress.
So this is what works for us in our family budget. Every family is different, and it’s all about finding what works best for you.
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Megan is a 40-something government employee in the Washington, DC area. She got interested in Personal Finance when she got out of college and realized that her paycheck wasn’t going to go as far as she had hoped. Since starting this blog, she has managed to buy a house and make a solid start on her retirement goals, and hopes to help others do the same. Here is her story:
In 2007, I was a gainfully employed 20-something with no debt but not a lot of knowledge about personal finance. It was a co-worker’s comment about Roth IRAs that sent me to the internet, searching for information. It was then that I realized that I really didn’t know a whole lot about personal finance and that my current financial situation was due a lot to inherent frugal tendencies, generous family members, a fear of debt, and good luck. While that was working for me, clearly I needed a better plan.
While I had no debt, I was also pretty much living paycheck to paycheck and not worrying about going over budget (I say this as if I had a real budget) because I had an emergency fund set aside to cover any overages.
Except that’s not what an emergency fund is for.
So I did a lot of research, read a lot of blogs, and decided that I needed a plan. I needed to budget. I needed to know what I was spending my money on. I needed to prepare for the future.
I decided to create a blog not only to make myself accountable to others but also to share the knowledge that I gained along the way. I’ve learned so much from my fellow bloggers, and I hope that my readers can find something useful in what I have to share as well.
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