Recently, my sister-in-law asked me who balances the checkbook in our house. The question caught me off guard… not because I don’t know, but because there’s not a designated balancer. J and I both check into our finances at least every other day. [And then we tell each other about it, as if the other is completely unaware of the state of things. Not sure why. ]
I’ve always been vigilant about my money. When I started college, I had enough money to pay tuition for a semester, and stupidly, I spent all the money on tuition. [Ideally, I would have kept the money in an emergency fund, and avoided many tight squeezes during undergrad.] Until I graduated, I had to make do with loans (which usually only covered tuition) and whatever pitiful income I had from part-time jobs. At some point during my freshman year, I worked almost 40 hours a week to try and pay for my stay in the dorms. I didn’t have much discretionary income, and I had to monitor all my expenses carefully. I checked my bank balances daily. I remember having $0.19 in my checking account one day, and knowing that I had at least another week before I would get paid again.
Over the years, I gradually scaled back on school (dropping down to 9-12 credits a semester) so that I could work more and pay for more of my tuition and living expenses, rather than stacking more student loans on my growing mound. Ultimately, Jason and I paid for my final year of school out of pocket… on top of paying for our wedding. This was done through careful planning and budgeting, and weekly (if not daily) checks into our finances. We cut back on eating out and boozing it up, and tried to spend less than we were bringing in. Eventually, this allowed us to build up our savings for a move to Texas, and helped with our transition between states, apartments, and jobs.
Nowadays, we still (both) track everything carefully. We know exactly what we’re spending each month, and even when we have unexpected expenses (travel due to family issues, repairs for a dent in a rental car, etc.), we’re never caught off-guard. And though it takes time to keep track of everything, it’s comforting to know that we’re both invested (pun intended, ha!) in our current and future finances.
So. Who balances the checkbook in your household?