Keeping up with the family finances is not the same as “keeping up with the Joneses” In fact that is the last thing you should do. The most important thing to do for your financial well-being is to live within your means. If you are unhappy with your present financial situation then set about improving it. To do that you should first set a budget and consider ways to make money on a budget.
Staying on top of your family finances does not have to be difficult. With a little planning (you did set that budget didn’t you?), you can keep a handle on your finances. Believe me, sorting out your finances will remove a lot of stress and create harmony with your partner.
Record keeping for family finances
The first step is to set up a system to record your spending. You can use the old fashioned pen and book or a software program. It doesn’t matter as long as you keep track of your expenses. If you invest in a software then although it takes a little time to set up and get used to it can make the process easy.
You may associate software programs with business but they can also make keeping up with family finances much easier. There is something strangely satisfying about seeing your spending patterns appear on a screen, even if you don’t always like the result! In fact if you have children you can make it into a family exercise and teach your children about money management at the same time.
Some people update their records daily but others set aside one day a week or month to do so. If you are going to save them up then you need to get organized and allocate a place to put all your receipts. This will allow you to find them easily when you come to enter them in your records.
Once you have the system set up, then you simply enter all your receipts, whether income or expenses. As you enter each item, you can select a category for it to go into. If you do this in an online bookkeeping program you can allocate your spending by category. This means that periodically you can find out what you spent on groceries, entertainment, or any other category for any time period, like last week, last month, or the last quarter. You can get a cash flow report so you always know where you are at.
If you are using pen and paper you can allocate different columns to the various categories so you can total your spending in different areas.
Stick with the plan
The important thing once you have decided on your system is to make it a regular event. If you make it a weekly event then you should stick to that. It is easy to think you will do it later but far better to stay with the plan. If you are serious about getting your finances in check then you need to commit. This is much easier if you involve your family.
If you do get behind in your record keeping then catch up as soon as you can. You will find that keeping up with the family finances makes your life much easier. Once you can see where your money goes you can decide on areas where savings could possibly be made. This can give you more spending power and relieve a lot of money worry stress.