It’s hard enough keeping track of your own expenses. So you shouldn’t be surprised that managing money as a team effort can test your patience, especially if your partner has a different method of keeping financial records—or worse, no method at all.
In some ways, it’s easier for you today than it was for your parents or grandparents, who could keep track of how much they had in their checking accounts only by balancing their checkbooks. This meant writing down every deposit and withdrawal to add or subtract from their total. Thank goodness modern banking has evolved to make it much easier.
But tracking expenses isn’t about realizing that your balance is $300 less today than it was yesterday. It’s knowing where the $300 went and whether that spending is in line with your plan.
Budget and tracking tools
If you find keeping accurate track of what you spend challenging, a digital spending tracker might be helpful. Most basic functions on apps or websites are free, but some have add-on features designed to provide more options or insights that you’ll need to pay for. Then you have to connect them to your banking accounts.
Our online banking and mobile app include a free personal financial management system that tracks expenses, offers reports, and other budget tools. And because it’s offered by us, the information regarding your accounts will always be up-to-date.
We also partner with Banzai, a financial literacy company, to bring you articles, calculators, and financial coaches through our partner site.
Seeing can make all the difference
For some people, seeing how much they’re spending on clothing and shoes on a monthly basis is enough to help them slow down the shopping. For others, seeing the dollar amount available for discretionary spending is all they need to curb their spending impulses. And for some couples, the information is enough to make them realize they need to reduce large set costs, which might mean moving to a smaller apartment or leasing a less expensive car.
Although it may be a difficult conversation, comparing your spending with your partner’s may be a huge step forward in getting on the same financial page. This is especially true if you’re sharing household expenses, with each partner responsible for specific categories.
The buck stops with one of you:
Setting financial goals, developing a money management strategy, and following through on your spending decisions require a joint effort. But that doesn’t have to be true about tracking your expenses. When you’re dividing up your household chores, you might agree that one of you should take primary responsibility for monitoring spending in your joint account, paying the bills that are due, and confirming the balance is always positive.
Tackle problems together:
If it turns out that one of you, or both of you, are not following the spending plan you agreed on, what’s next? Chances are it means you’re spending more than you had intended to on certain types of expenses or were unrealistic about what specific things would cost.
The best first step is to rethink the amounts you’ve allocated to various categories. For example, if transportation costs are higher than you planned, and there’s no feasible way to reduce them, can you agree to cut back on what you’re spending on something else? Fixed expenses are the most difficult to adjust. For example, probably the only way to reduce your rent is to move, and that involves costs of its own. But other costs that are variable, like food and entertainment, are fair game.
The worst-case scenario is that one of you is overspending and unwilling or unable to change. It’s a problem you’ll have to face as a couple if there’s any hope of your having a healthy financial relationship and future.
When it comes to passwords:
Even if you and your partner share a bank account, we strongly recommend getting your own online banking IDs. You can enroll right from the login screen.
Each of you will also need access to other shared accounts for investments, financial institutions, or third-party apps that will assist you in managing your expenses.
Don’t forget we’re a resource, too!
Our branches want to help you make the most of your money and make managing it a positive experience. Find your branch if you need assistance along the way.
We also have free copies of the book, “Your Money: the missing manual” available. Send us a message through our social channels or at BankLocal@chesbank.com with your mailing address and we’ll send one to you for free, while supplies last.
While we hope you find this content useful, it is only intended to serve as a starting point. Your next step is to speak with a qualified, licensed professional who can provide advice tailored to your individual circumstances. Nothing in this article, nor in any associated resources, should be construed as financial or legal advice. Furthermore, while we have made good faith efforts to ensure that the information presented was correct as of the date the content was prepared, we are unable to guarantee that it remains accurate today.
Neither Banzai nor its sponsoring partners make any warranties or representations as to the accuracy, applicability, completeness, or suitability for any particular purpose of the information contained herein. Banzai and its sponsoring partners expressly disclaim any liability arising from the use or misuse of these materials and, by visiting this site, you agree to release Banzai and its sponsoring partners from any such liability. Do not rely upon the information provided in this content when making decisions regarding financial or legal matters without first consulting with a qualified, licensed professional.