If you know me at all, you know that I am a planner. I love making lists and crossing things off and I am most at ease when there is a plan (preferably created by me). I try to be flexible and let the little things slide, but personal finance is a big area where planning really helps.
We started our marriage knowing each other for many years with lots of honesty and similar financial views, so that helps. Discussions about money are always regular conversations and we are usually on the same page, but until this fall, we did not have a devoted time to discuss our finances.
I pay all the bills and manage the accounts and felt it was important to have a devoted time to include the hubs so he knew exactly what was going on. He trusted me and was never worried, but I wanted things to be team decisions and for him to feel like he really understood exactly where things stand. So I scheduled monthly “finance meetings”.
On the first Monday of the month, after dinner, we sit down and go through my spreadsheets:
1. Balances on all of our accounts (assets and debts)
2. Spending (actual compared to budget) for the previous month
3. Goals (I will do a separate post on goals)
I use Microsoft Money to track all of our spending and bank accounts, but I still find it easier to create my own Excel spreadsheet using information from Money reports. It took a little bit of work to design the spreadsheets, but now I just update them each month.
The first month’s meeting was pretty long as we walked through all of the information, but now we just briefly meet to review them and discuss any items on the “agenda”. Usually agenda items are finance/employment items that one of us is supposed to take care of/or look into and report back. This serves as a way to keep anything (like submitting transportation expenses for 2008) from being forgotten.
So far my husband loves these meetings and really enjoys all the information my spreadsheets provide. He also seems to enjoy having clear concrete goals set. Even though we always discussed things before, they are more clear now that they are documented with target dates and prioritized. This type of planning has really brought us both to a new level of stability and security with managing our money.
This is really working for us so far and it feels really rewarding to see our progress towards our concrete goals each month!