Managing Finances


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My parents didn’t teach me about managing my finances very well. I was on my own by the time I was 17, so I had to learn myself and by trial and error.

A LOT of trial and error. In the beginning of my relationship with my checking account, I used to go by the balance that I was given when I called the bank’s 800 number. What I missed was the concept of “pending charges”. Needless to say, I overdrafted when I was younger. I overdrafted several times, once to the tune of nearly $400.00.


As I got older, I learned my lesson when it came to overdrafting. The more you overdraft, the more fees the banks charge you and before you know it you’re up to your ears in overdraft fees. I’ve tried many different methods of managing my fiances and balancing my family’s budget, ranging from keeping a ledger and every single receipt to tracking only from online banking. I’ve set aside money for certain bills, and figured out exactly how much expendable income that I have each week. In our younger years, Josh and I had loads of expendable income. Now? Not so much. We do have some, but we used to just blow money like crazy. Movies, dinners out, drinking.. I marvel (and cringe) and how much money we just wasted before we had kids.

I’m still not great with saving. I have been trying to better my spending habits a little at a time. I know exactly how much I need to pull in each week to cover our expenses. Now, if I make more than that set amount I take 5% of whatever my paycheck is,  I put that 5% into our savings account. It may not seem like much, but it will add up eventually!

I think the biggest thing that’s helped me is creating a spreadsheet of our monthly expenses versus our income and using a formula to decide exactly how much we have to “play” with each week. This helps me keep track and not get in a tight bind when the end of the month bills come around. I’ve thought about taking that concept a step further and each week, taking out what we’re allowed to spend on things other than expenses out in cash so once that’s gone, I’m not tempted to just charge that Starbucks I want on my check card. If the cash isn’t there, then neither is the latte.

I know that as I get older I will learn better and more effective ways to manage our family’s money, and hopefully I will be able to clearly pass those skills down to my children so they don’t find themselves scratching their heads the first time they try and balance their checkbook. I’m not perfect, but I’m learning!

What are some tips that you have for managing a family budget?




  1. I work at a bank as a lender. It helps to be able to look at your accounts several times a day. It also helps that you would be fired if you default on a loan, bounce checks or have to file bankrauptcy.

  2. Baldeesh says:

    Oh, money. Such a pain in the butt sometimes.

    I make lists and stick to them. I had to actually stop going into Target altogether, because I'd go in there for one thing, and come out with twelve. Now I'm better with lists, and I can go into Target, get that one thing, and come home.

    It helps me to have savings goals in mind. For example, I have an opportunity to go to Iceland this fall. So I can look at something and think, "Okay, if I buy this, it will put me further away from going to Iceland. Do I really NEED this?" and then I put it back. It doesn't always have to be a goal like this – I just have in mind what I'd rather spend my money on or meeting savings goals.

    And I try to not browse websites like Amazon and the like. I find that when I browse sites that sell stuff, I want to buy stuff! And it's not stuff I need!

    Of course, you have to buy some things – like toilet paper and food and all that. I tend to seek out sales and coupons (you don't have to be a nut about it, if you save $1.50 on a shopping trip, it's good!), and buy brand X if the quality meets my standards.

  3. I agree with the comment about savings goals. I've gone from making six figures but not managing my money and looking at the big picture, to making less than half of that, and saving ten times as much. I recommend a monthly budget, even on months when it is painful. And leaving room for things like new tires, etc, that inevitably crop up!

  4. Baby Dickey says:

    I agree with the spreadsheets… Steve is obsessed with creating them, but I'll admit they've helped a lot. To see how much money we have (and in which accounts) and where the money is going each month. You see how much of your money is going to Starbucks in a month and it scares you enough to stop!! Okay… maybe not STOP… how about I just cut back. Haha.

  5. Oh man. I am the worst at budgets. That being said – one thing that made me and my hubby totally re-think our finances was putting everything into a spreadsheet for a few months and categorizing it: food, fun, utilities, bills, etc. The amount we were spending on going out to eat was astronomical and since then we've been a lot better about it. Maybe it's time we do that again to see where our money is going now!! (probably baby clothes – which is why I haven't suggested it yet!)

  6. Spreadsheets are great as well as what a previous commenter said about checking it multiple times a day. What I do is "subtract" bills and gas each month and what's leftover gets figured into food and supplies, and then I figure how much I can put into our savings account each month (currently $100-$200 a month). A little amount definitely does add up fast!

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