So Monday I told you about how SSF and I finally took the plunge and combined our finances. I stand by my statement that the decision was the hardest part, but actually figuring out how to make it all work is no walk in the park either. It takes work, and whole heck of a lot of adjustment.
First we had to decide where we were going to keep our money. Initially we considered opening a new joint checking account at a new bank so we could take advantage of one of those deals where we can get cash for jumping through "x" amount of hoops when we opened our checking account. Another concern SSF had going into this whole thing is that we were missing out on savings because we never did anything with the money left in our own accounts at the end of the month. In the end for simplicity's sake and the hope of boosting our savings we opened our checking account at ING Direct. (Highly you recommend it, if you are interested in opening an ING account e-mail me, if you open with a minimum deposit you will get $25, and I will get $10. It's a win/win. )
Next, we had to figure out our cash flow. There are (apparently) many bills required to run a household and we each had our own schedule of paying those bills. Now we had to put it all together to make sure that no matter what bill was due, we had the funds to pay it.
Third, we (and by we I mean I) created a way to track our expenses. I wouldn't call it a budget, because if I did SSF wouldn't use it, but it's just simply an expense tracker. Broken down by spending category and month I tried to make it simple for both of us to see what money we had coming in and where it was going back out. September is the inaugural month, so at the end of this month or more likely next month we can go back, analyze, set spending limits, and hopefully add a little more to the bottom line.
(click spreadsheet to make bigger-- and btw don't judge on the figures, there were some irregular expenses like car insurance, and a larger than number cellphone bill to be paid, these do not reflect normal monthly expenses)
So just to summarize, there are three important things to do, if you are combining your finances.
1. Agree on an account.
2. Set-up a calendar (or at least, figure out what bills will be paid when)
3. Track your spend.
And a fourth for good measure:
4. Always be honest and open.
Are there any steps I missed? What did you do when you combined finances?