Monday, October 06, 2008

A System of Checks and Balances

As a couple, we know several other couples with complicated bookkeeping systems to keep track of their finances. These systems involve multiple checking and savings accounts, spreadsheets, and a variety of other organizational techniques that Biker Boy and I . . . don't get.

I am almost embarrassed to admit it, but our system is half a sheet of notebook paper we have on the fridge, held there by a magnet with the picture of a Labrador retriever on it. It looks like this:

rent $x
Comcast $x
water $x

rent $x
Excel $x
car insurance $x

I just went out to the kitchen to double check and there's some arithmetic notations off to the side of the sheet for our one-time, yearly payment of renter's insurance, but that's all. Those are our bills. I don't know whether to laugh or cry. How do we get to be adults who have only five regular monthly bills?

ANYWAY, when we had our discussion about the bills, we sort of did an accounting of where the rest of our money went. Biker Boy tends to hoard his money and then buy large items (like the custom made bike frame that has a new home on the wall in our living room). I save a bit each month (but, oh how I am scared to actually go look at those balances now), pay for gas in Monster, pay for groceries, and buy gifts. And occasionally I buy things on Etsy. Because I am crazy obsessed with Etsy.

I went to a bachelorette party this weekend for a woman I know. She holds a responsible job and is a very capable lady, but she doesn't know what her own wedding budget is. Her fiance, a man who is super duper wonderful and kind, doesn't want her to know because he doesn't trust her to not go crazy with the money and spend it all. I was appalled as she was telling me this because, let me tell you, when we got married, every damn cent spent was on the spreadsheet. And every time a change was made to the spreadsheet, it was sent to the other person. On the morning of the wedding, the boy had to run to the flower store to buy more flowers and as we were going to sleep that night, I kid you not, on our wedding night, I asked him if added those flowers to the spreadsheet.

I am just fascinated by this look into other people's lives. I know that what works for us will not work for all couples. And I know that what works for others won't work for us. But every time I peek into someone's life and there's something that just doesn't quite mesh with my own personal values, I see myself turning into a judgmental brat.

So...when this woman told me that she didn't know her wedding budget, I clamped my lips shut and ordered another Sprite. No judgment here.


  1. I think most people don't have any clue about personal finances--it's not taught in school, and so few people take time to learn about it. We use a spreadsheet, but it mostly doesn't change from month-to-month. My has a rough idea of what the spreadsheet is, and he looks it over from month to month, but I'm the one who pays bills, saves, transfers, etc. This works well for me, because I like to be able to know where everything is at any given moment. (I'm a little anal.)

  2. Our system used to be HEATHER DOES IT ALL! But that got old after 12 years, so now the system is WALLY DOES IT ALL! I guess we've never had enough money to worry with spreadsheets and a "system". One check register pretty much covers it.

  3. Other people's finances intrigue me. I'm such a dork, but I always tell people that Dave Ramsey changed our lives. Without him, I'm certain we'd still be living in an apartment and BROKE!


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