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Keeping $$ Under Control #cleverfinance

by TerriAnn

Thank you to TurboTax for sponsoring my writing about household finances. Learn more about how TurboTax can help you find every tax deduction you deserve. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.


How do I manage my finances? I make my husband do it! Just kidding, there is no way that my family would be able to survive on one income if we didn’t plan/budget well together. Watching sales and taking advantage of discounts can only do so much. Ultimately, it’s a family affair to make sure we live within our means.

The first step is to find out what those means are. We use a spreadsheet to manage what is coming in, what’s going out, and how much flexibility is possible each month. My husband keeps an ongoing record of when his paycheck will deposited as well as recurring bills which are pre-scheduled to be paid. Larger expenses such as car maintenance, household repairs, etc. are also added to the spreadsheet. He then communicates to me a summary of our account.

Based on that, I know whether I have to be careful to only buy bare necessities or if that is the best time to stock up the freezer. I am also able to gauge how much I can put toward gas, clothes, entertainment, dining out, and recreation. I *try* not to buy impulsively but for my moments of weakness I’m thankful for good return policies.

To contribute to things running smoothly, I do not:

  • Hide purchases or pretend I bought them at a different time
  • Make my husband feel guilty if he says we can’t afford something
  • Nag him about purchases he makes

We’re both pretty open with one another about what we spend or want to spend. Communication, trust, and equal responsibility has helped us to get even footing on our finances.  Also, it has been especially important for us to keep good track of ANY purchases, as even small amounts can add up really quickly.

Another key point is that we try really hard to NOT spend what we don’t have. Credit cards are only used when necessary (booking flights/hotels, renting vehicles, store rewards) and are paid off monthly. If we have a revolving balance on one, we generally pay more than the minimum every month.

When we tried to have either my husband or myself take full ownership of the finances, it just resulted in excess stress. Plus, we both had different approaches to the way we organized things. We found that this system works well in allowing each of us to use our strengths yet function as one unit.

Even if you save 50% on something, you still have to pay the other 50%. If we don’t really have that other 50% and it’s not vital to our survival, maybe it’s better to wait until another deal comes around next time. When it does, I’ll be sure to let you know!

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sonia January 20, 2011 - 9:51 am

good info. thanks.

Cookies & Clogs January 20, 2011 - 10:58 am

You’re welcome. Thanks for reading 🙂

Stefani January 24, 2011 - 12:17 am

I will b using Turbo Tax to file my taxes this year too!

Cookies & Clogs January 24, 2011 - 9:37 am

Hope it works out for you. I must admit that I let my DH do the tax work 😛

Virginia from That Bald Chick January 24, 2011 - 5:31 am

With the exception of our mortgage, we live debt free and it is because we, too, live within our means. Great tips, thanks for sharing.

Cookies & Clogs January 24, 2011 - 9:38 am

That’s fantastic. We had a few bumps along the way so we hope to claim ‘debt-free’ in a year or two!

Tee January 27, 2011 - 5:24 am

Great tips! One of our goals is to be debt-free. Unfortunately that won’t be for a few years… but we’re trying!

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