Finances. Oh finances.

Today, I told my wife, for probably the fourteenth time: “Honey, I’m just not settled with finances.”

I was speaking not about the amount of money we are making (though we sure could use a bit more), I was speaking about the managing of our finances and the logistics of it all.

She and I have been working on the whole financial management part of our relationship since our first months of marriage. Actually, we talked about it several times while we were dating, so it started even before we were married. But once you’re married and things become real, you get into the bank accounts, tithing, taxes, paying rent, and all the nitty gritty things that go into managing finances in a relationship – and things become a bit more tricky.

I believe in the importance of being a good steward over the things I have been given – be they talents, blessings, finances, or anything else. And at the moment, I feel that I can particularly improve as a stewart over my finances.

But when I said: “Honey, I’m just not settled with finances.”

She responded: “What is it that you are unsettled about? I feel like its working pretty well.”

And I thought to myself: Well what am I unsettled about? We have made some big improvements. What is it that is still bothering me?

So, I’ve decided to dig into this. It’s something I’ll spend time on over the coming weeks and months as I work through it and get to a point where I feel more settled.

Maybe its the bank fees that loom if we don’t transfer $100 from one account to the other and then back again. Or that I am still not sure if using credit cards of debit cards is the best thing for us to do. Perhaps its the frustration of managing personal and business finances in two different systems. Or that I have an excel spreadsheet, a mint.com account that we use regularly, written goals, and several documents to track health costs, etc. and I still don’t feel organized.

At any rate – I’m determined to figure it out. If its a better program I need: I’d like to build it. If its a better system we need to use, then I’d like to find it and switch to it. If its a person I need to meet and learn from, then I’d like to find that person.

Surprisingly, I’ve heard that others experience similar frustrations in the area of personal finances. I’d really like to know who is doing this well. I’d love to know what programs they use, if and how often they categorize their expenses, and how they stay prepared for tax time.

If you have a method that works well for you, I’d love to hear about it.

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6 Comments

  1. Not sure if you have listened to Dave Ramsey at all. I HIGHLY suggest you take his financial peace university course. It’s fantastic. He is very funny and makes the whole thing quite enjoyable.

    1. I have actually. I listed to his radio show off and on, and we read one of his books together when we first got married. My mom has mentioned that course to me a few times over the years – I’ve thought about it, but wasn’t sure if it would just be a repeat of the stuff we read in the book. But at any rate, its sure to be a good reminder even if it is a repeat because I sure didn’t memorize everything 🙂 Thanks.

  2. YNAB (You Need A Budget) is my favorite tool and I highly recommend it. I’m a pretty organized person, but I spent years jumping from one tool to another trying to find something that I really liked, but could never quite get there. I also spent years trying to live on a budget, and again, I came up short.

    One of the big problems for me is that I spend exclusively with credit cards(don’t worry, I don’t ever pay CC fees). So, I wanted a tool that would work really well with credit cards. I never really liked Mint because you can’t see the transaction until it posts, so it is never 100% accurate at any given time, unless you haven’t made any purchases within the last week. I tried other programs that I felt would work better, but they all just ended up being super confusing and not giving me the specificity and accurateness that I wanted.

    However, then I had YNAB recommended by a friend of mine who has some pretty similar philosophies on things as me, so I decided to give it a try when I was getting married. I knew that the convergence of my money managing strategy (spend as little as possible and experience guilt with all purchases) and my wife’s strategy (essentially paycheck to paycheck) wasn’t going to go over well unless we had a system that worked.

    Well, after a year of marriage, we both love YNAB and tell everybody about it. It is a bit manual, at least the way we do it, because we put every single transaction into YNAB, and we probably reconcile our budget two or three times a week, depending on transaction volume, but, it is still the best thing I’ve ever personally used. I’ve even started using it for business.

    Happy to discuss more if you have more questions or want to talk more about it. You can learn more about the tool by checking out this link as well: http://ynab.refr.cc/7GLZZZ6 That’s a referral code, but I think it gives you a discount as well. Anyway, hit me up anytime!

    1. Hey Aaron. Thanks for your input on how you’ve done things and about YNAB.
      I’ve considered YNAB and had a good friend of mine recommend it as well. While living in Italy, I used a tool called Toshl – https://toshl.com/ – which had us manually enter transactions. Overall it worked pretty well for our needs at the time and was well built. However, after using it for a year we decided that we didn’t prefer the method of entering each transaction individually. I’d prefer something that integrates with my accounts and pulls transactions.
      In addition, I’d prefer more of a tracking method to a budget method. Our mentality still partially follows a budget method, but I just don’t prefer a budget method in the tool I use. So for those two reasons I don’t think YNAB would be a good solution for me. But soon I’m going to go through each of the tools I’ve heard recommended or considered and will likely visit YNAB an additional time. So thanks for your recommendation! Always interested in hearing about what others do. Especially now since this seems to be a pivot point for me when it comes to managing finances.

  3. I second the Dave Ramsey comment!!!! the guy is amazing!!! I believe he has had a bigger influence on peoples lives than any one I can think of……period.

    1. Definitely. The Dave Ramsey book we read years ago has really given us some solid foundational principles to work from. We took his advice on debit/credit cards and ran that way for years, but then switched back to a credit card for a while. Bad idea for us 🙂 Now we are going back to using debit cards as our primary way to pay.

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