It is easy, what with all of the other details moms have to manage, to be tempted to allow your spouse to have total control over managing the family’s finances. After all, you love and trust your partner. You know that your partner is good with money and, frankly, you love the idea of having one less thing to have to worry about.
It is important to understand, though, that managing your family’s money is different than managing a carpool schedule. While you might relish the idea of not having to worry or even think about the bank account–provided that you’re able to make the purchases you need to make to keep the house running–it is important that, at the very least, you understand exactly what is going on with your family’s finances at all times.
After all, while we love the idea of forever and ever, what if tomorrow your partner has an accident and you have to take over? Yes the chances are slim but do you really want to be caught completely off guard? Of course not! This is why family financial management should be a team sport.
Tips and Tricks for Tracking the Details
Technology has made it easier than ever to keep track of your money. There are apps that tell you how much money you have, how much you’re spending, how your investments are performing, how well you’re sticking to your family’s budget, etc. Here are a few of our favorites.
Mint is at the top of everyone’s list. Why? Because it gets the job done and it gets the job done well. Mint can help you track your budget, your investments, your credit cards, your spending, a variety of bank accounts and even mutual funds and retirement accounts too. It syncs across all of your devices and is accessible via the web. You can even use it to map out saving, investing and spending goals for multiple members of your family. As an added bonus, it does all of these things for free!
HomeBudget isn’t free, unfortunately. But for the small $5 fee, you get an incredibly robust app that tracks your accounts, your spending, your budget and your income. This app is particularly handy for freelancers whose incomes vary from client to client. It syncs across devices and allows everyone immediate access to all of the family’s financial data.
YNAB has been all the rage for a while now, but we have to warn you: this app is pretty spendy. Instead of a simple cloud based app (like Mint or HomeBudget), to use YNAB, you have to download specific software–and that software costs $60. Once you have it downloaded, though, the software syncs all of your financial information in real time and across all of your devices. It handles everything from the tiniest detail to your larger financial picture and makes the information available and easy to understand.
Apps Aren’t Everything
It’s true that there are financial apps that will take care of just about everything for you, but you shouldn’t rely solely on apps for your family’s financial management. Sit down with your partner and your kids regularly to go over the family’s spending, saving and investment details. Look for ways to curb your spending, save money, bring in extra income, etc. This way you won’t run the risk of plateauing your family’s financial growth. These conversations might not be super fun, but they will save you a lot of hassle and heartache in the long run.
Why Track at All?
There are some families who prefer not to track their financial details at all. They operate on an “if there’s money in the account, everything is fine” approach. While this is certainly fine if you have a guaranteed income and your expenses are small, it’s also how people find themselves overwhelmed with debt. Remember, bankruptcy can happen to anyone. According to Lexington Law, bankruptcy strikes anyone from poor to rich, so don’t assume just because you get paid well that everything is fine!
Managing your family’s money doesn’t have to be difficult, but it does take time and practice. And while we understand the temptation to simply let someone else worry about it, it is important that every Mom knows and understands her family’s financial situation. Remember, you don’t have to be in charge per se, you simply have to be informed. Trust us, if something goes wrong, you’ll be glad you took our advice!