Being the detail-oriented and Type-A half of my marriage of thirteen years, it happened pretty naturally that I began managing our day-to-day finances. I know many other moms that manage the money in their household; however, I’ve also met women that know very little about money management and have left it all to their partner to handle. That leaves them in a really vulnerable position should their spouse die or their marriage end.
While every couple has to figure out what works best for them, I think it is really important for women to be well-informed and have a hand in the management of their family’s finances. The more knowledgeable and involved you are, the more secure and confident you can become. It gives me peace of mind to know that down the road, if my husband dies before I do, I will not be floundering when it comes to our finances.
If you are ready to become more involved in your family’s finances, here are some tips to get you started:
- Learn how to access ALL the accounts that you and your partner hold. This includes checking accounts, savings, credit cards, and loans. If you don’t have access already, sit down with your partner and get the log-in info for every account. Check the balances frequently and review your monthly statements for errors.
- Track your monthly expenses and spending habits. Learn where every dollar your family spends goes by tracking your spending for a couple of months.
- Start budgeting. Once you know where the money is going you can create and maintain a budget. This goes beyond just tracking and allows you to work towards your family’s financial goals. There are several ways to budget: pen and paper, a spreadsheet, and various apps like Every Dollar, Mint, or my personal favorite, You Need a Budget. This article from wirecutter gives a great breakdown of the best budgeting apps.
- Know what your debt balances and interest rates are. Don’t bury your head in the sand about your debt. Acknowledging it is the first step to tackling it! A great website to help you tackle paying down debt is undebt.it.
- Know your credit score and check credit history regularly. Keep an eye out for any suspicious activity or inaccuracies on yours and your partner’s credit history. I like to use Credit Karma since it is free.
- Have regular conversations with your partner. Talk about your finances and your financial goals. These conversations are best had in a relaxed environment (i.e. no kids around), and snacks always help!
- Learn about investing. It can feel intimidating, and I will admit this is an area that I delegate to my husband right now, but I’d like to learn more as we get older and approach retirement. This book is a great place to start!