I took a little break from blogging this past week, even in the middle of the 15 Day Challenge (whoops!) because I just simply wasn’t sure what to say. My running goals were funky, my job is a hectic mess everyday, and my finances were a huge state of confusion that I refused to deal with after a day at said hectic-mess job.
But then I slowly processed each area of my life and now I feel a little more in control. I mentioned my running plans yesterday. That means today I’ll break down my financial plans.
I’ve always enjoyed teaching myself how to control my finances. I’ve made a bit of a hobby out of my Excel spreadhseet budget/ledger, learning new ways to save, and of course blogging about it all. When I moved to Wisconsin, I didn’t have an income (yet) and Matt controlled our finances until I got a job and my first paycheck came in. I HATED feeling out of control and I suddenly had images that I would turn into a 50’s housewife that never saw or paid a bill in her life. I felt like my hobby was taken away from me, in addition to every other norm in my life before the move. Of course I became emotional and we could hardly have a rational conversation about money without me freaking out.
Then I got a job! And eventually I got a paycheck! And I thought I could have my financial freedom and my hobby back. But I didn’t, at least not at first. Matt and I have agreed to keep separate bank accounts and pay our own bills and the rest goes into savings that we will both use to pay for our wedding and big purchases. Despite separate accounts, we originally kept track of our expenses on one big Excel ledger. It was very messy and confusing to me but Matt understood it perfectly (he loves numbers and Excel) so he managed it. I wanted to keep my hobby the way it made sense to me so now we keep our expenses separate and communicate very well about how our finances are, what we spend etc. But things got tricky when it came to mutual expenses like buying groceries, gas, or fun spending money.
Groceries – Obviously we will buy groceries together since we eat meals together. However, with separate accounts, it was hard to determine who should contribute what to our mutual grocery fund and what happens when we stock up on groceries for the week – do we split the bill?? I hate the idea of having to pay my fiance back for groceries (although that may work for some).
So after a few conversations sans tears and a few attempts at grocery shopping strategies, we came up with our most recent plan that I’m excited about. On each of our paydays, we will each take out $100 cash and put it in an evelope labled “Food”. $150 will go toward groceries that we will buy throughout the two week period and the $50 left over will cover meals that we eat out.
Gas – Typically we fill up our own cars and budget accordingly for it. I allocate more towards gas since I have a 30 min commute to/from work and he works in town. But things get tricky when we go on weekend trips to visit people, and we do this most weekends. The small town we live in is 1-4 hours away from family and friends, depending who we’re visiting. There is not much to do in our town so we typically enjoy going somewhere new and we typically see more than one group of people so it makes sense for us to drive.
So how do we split up who drives where, when? Basically if we’re visiting my family or friends, I’ll fork over the gas money for it and typicall use my car. If it’s his family or friends, he’ll cover his extra gas expenses and use his car. Fairly simple. Since our savings is considered mutual, it really isn’t a matter of making the other have less money, it just keeps our budgets easier to keep track of. Again, I hate the idea of having to pay Matt back for covering some of my gas so his budget stays normal.
Spending money – Matt and I each get $125/paycheck to spend on whatever we want. If I want one more pair of shoes, I can use that money and he can’t say a darn thing. If he wants another video game, more power to him. But in the past we have always used this “allowance” differently so it’s been tricky getting on the same page.
If I have an allowance, I use it for a mix of going out with friends and trips to Target/the mall. If there is a bigger purchase I want to make, I set aside some cash from each allowance and save up. Matt doesn’t typically go to Target for fun (crazy, I know) and almost always uses his spending money for going out with friends. If he wants to make a bigger purchase, it simply comes from savings. A lot of his spending money though is also spent on me since he’ll pay for my drinks or take me to dinner when we’re out. That is sweet of him but I feel bad taking away from his allowance. Again, I don’t want to feel like I should pay him back for my drinks.
So now we have reached an agreement that I think will work. We budgeted $50 of our food money for us to go out with. If we spend more, we will pay for ourselves (or I buy a round, he buys a round etc.) and that way we maintain equal amounts of our allowance for whatever we want to buy. This includes bigger purchases since our savings really does need to be used for our wedding and student loans etc.
I have created a spreadsheet on Google Docs that tracks my spending. I like the Excel format but I need to be able to access my info when I’m out and about or update it on my lunch break at work. The simplicity and accessibility of Google Docs works for me and Matt will probably never stray from his Excel and that works for us. When we get married, we will eventually join accounts but we’ll let the future figure that out.
Now if you’re still reading AND you were able to follow all of that, go pour yourself a glass of wine! And yes, it might just be 8am when you read this, but that’s just more reason you deserve it!
No one needs to concentrate on mundane topics that early! My apologies! Tomorrow will be funnier, I promise.