“Watch out for small expenses. A small leak can sink a great ship.”
I love that quote. It brings emphasis to the fact that the little things matter. Those little extra charges you think won’t break the bank, they will. Inevitably they will ruin you if you don’t pay attention to where your money is going.
Basic budgets work for some people, but where I found difficulty is budgeting in marriage. I had no real issue watching my own spending, as I’m the cliche saver in this union, but regulating my husband was a different story. I didn’t want to be crazy and controlling so I was overly lenient instead. That was my first mistake. Whatever “budget” of the moment we had in place would get blown every single month because of small charges that would seem insignificant at the time. Then, I would get mad after analyzing the destruction. Why didn’t he understand the imaginary “stop spending money line”? This became a cycle of waiting until the damage was done and then getting upset about it. It was very reactive and extremely unproductive. Not to mention is caused nothing but tension and headaches for both of us.
My second mistake was assuming it all made sense to my husband after one night of explaining. I basically word vomited my grand plan for paying off ALL of our debt one night as an episode of Scandal ended. I just sprung it on him out of nowhere, concluding the conversation with “Okay, so, are you with me?” He looked like a deer in the headlights. Poor guy. I overloaded him to maximum level. Sometimes it takes a hot minute to process that much information. And there is nothing wrong with that. Learning that about him made me reevaluate the game plan. In order to work as a team we needed a budget that allowed both consistency and freedom. And above all else it needed to be simple and low stress or I was never going to get him on board.
So, are you ready for the solution?
Multiple bank accounts. The concept is similar to the “envelope system” but in a digital form. I don’t know about your spouse, but mine was never going to be down with carrying 7 different envelopes of cash around with him. It was never going to happen and honestly, I wasn’t really down for it either. So here’s how we decided to break up and designate our accounts:
- Bills Account – Both of our paycheck are direct deposited into this account each month. All of our accounts are linked to this one so at the beginning of the month we transfer money out of this account into the accounts below. Besides that ONLY bills come out of this account.
- Grocery/Fun Account – This account gets a specific amount each month for groceries, eating out as a couple and things like going to the movies etc.
- Savings Account – We’ve always had this but now we put a specific amount in there each month
- Kendall’s Account – We each have our own spending accounts. We each get a specific amount each month and it pays for eating out on our own, our gas and anything else we prefer to purchase.
- Stephen’s Account – Same as above. We know exactly how much we have to spend and we can use this designated amount on whatever we want, guilt free. When the money is spent, it’s gone until next month. No borrowing from the month in advance.
It sounds crazy but really all it took was one trip the bank that lasted at most about 45 minutes. Then boom it was done. I was able to login from my mobile app at home, add the new accounts in seconds and even rename them. So, we’re talking an hour total to seriously revamp our finances for the better.
If having that many accounts freaks you out, I recommend you check out Mint.com. It will let you track your money in a similar fashion. However, my only qualm with Mint.com is it really doesn’t update in real time. There is a delay. So, again, going that route to me felt reactive and that is why we chose not to rely on a third party to track our spending. There are tons of people though that swear by Mint.com and I don’t want to rule it out for all those folks who may just love it.
If you are wondering how we came up with the specific amounts we put in each account check out this post on how we came up with our budget for the next 12 months.
Do you have a budget that works well for you? You don’t need a significant other to contribute. I’m always curious how other people are successfully running their finances. Shoot me an email or leave a comment! 🙂