One of my goal’s for the month was to get our finances in order and to create our joint budget for 2013. We would have liked to do this at the beginning of the year, but we didn’t even get a chance to talk about our budget in January since both Viet and I were gone for large chunks of time during the month.
How people manage their personal finances is fascinating to me. It’s also one of those things that people don’t necessarily talk about that openly, and everyone has a different strategy. But I love to learn how people (single or married) manage their own finances, and I’m always looking for ways for us to improve upon our methods.
So here’s how we do it:
After Viet and I had lived together for a few years, we decided to open a joint bank account. I remember that that was the moment when I was like, oh. this is serioussss. Although we make different salaries, we decided that our personal spending budget for each month would be the same. We each can spend our personal spending $$ on whatever our hearts desire throughout the month. The rest of each of our respective salaries, goes into our joint bank account to pay for rent and our joint expenses (groceries, gas, travel, etc), and we also transfer money from this account into a joint savings account.
Both of our paychecks initially get direct-deposited into our separate personal bank accounts, and then we transfer the non-personal allotment into a joint bank account. We have a joint credit card that we both use solely for joint expenses, and then we each have personal credit cards that we can use and pay off at our own discretion with before mentioned personal funds. There’s one confusing exception to this, which is that I have a portion of my paycheck direct deposited into a completely separate savings bank account so that neither of us see it, and we pretty don’t touch or even really pay attention to that account. I really like direct depositing money into accounts I can forget about. 🙂
whew. That’s a lot of accounts. I know. But it works for us.
We track the majority of our joint spending in the following categories: cash, drinks, eating out, entertainment, gas, gifts, groceries, health, insurance, misc, parking, parking tickets (I’m embarassed to admit it, but we actually do need this category), rent/utilities, transportation (including the underground that Viet takes to work, the bus, tolls, car repair), travel, and walgreens. Additionally, last year we had two extra lines: our wedding and our honeymoon.
To determine our 2013 monthly budget in each category, we looked at a combination of the average monthly spending and the peaks and valleys during 2012. For some categories like groceries, we just used the monthly average as our budget. For others like travel, we weighted the expenses more heavily in the months when we are planning to travel.
Now that we have our budget set, I would like to find an app/site to track our joint expenses, so that we don’t have to do it manually. So I looked into several options, and here are the ones that I’ve found. We’re going to test each of them out to see which one we like best:
1. Mint.com (I’ve used this one to track my personal spending, and I’ve found it ok) > free
2. Pageonce: Apparently you can pay bills from this app. Awesome. > free
5. Manilla: Organize bills, statements and balances all in one place. >free
6. Light Arrow: This app promises to organize all aspects of your life (including finances) in one place. > .99
7. Feed the Pig: This app is focused specifically on helping you to save towards your own goals.
8. Tykoon: This site is geared towards teaching children how to manage money. Looks amazing. > free
9. Shoeboxed: I haven’t downloaded this yet, but I plan to immediately. This helps you track all of your reciepts electronically! No more crumpled receipts! > free
10. EEBA: This is a budget tracking app, but you can share it with other family members. Also looks like a winner. > free
Do you currently use one of these? How do you like it/them? Do you have a personal finance site/app that you use and love that I didn’t list? Please, let me know in the comments.
This is the first post in a new Top Ten series where I will feature the top ten things in a variety of different areas. I hope you enjoy it.