Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Somewhere in the Middle Where Things Get Tight!

I hate paying the bills. Ever since we got married I have been designated the family financial manager. That means it is my job to pay all bills, balance the checkbook. And review our budget. I also do a majority of the shopping, so I guess in a since it is easier for me to keep an eye on things than it would be for Paul.

Paul really has no clue how much money we spend on various things each month. He may have some notion of our mortgage and utility bills. But nearly all other bills have pretty much doubled since the last time he paid attention.

Then there's the checkbook. Supposedly each month I balance it. This is really not a very good description of what I do. Basically I just try to make it not quite so lopsided (or something). Lately, my method of keeping the checkbook on track is to look at our online balance, figure out which things haven't gone through and subtract them out. I do this every time I pay bills.

Tonight I wrote checks for all the bills I need to pay. Then I looked at our online balance. OUCH! I then selected the bills that need to be paid really soon and stuck those in the mail. The rest will have to wait until after payday. We would be considerably overdrawn if we paid them all now.

I don't know if this means I am a bad financial manager or what. There are just always unexpected expenses. I informed Paul of our situation and he was very much taken aback. He had wanted to take me out to Takaoka (Japanese steakhouse) this weekend, but that will have to wait.

I think that perhaps all women should take accounting classes as preparation for being housewives.

Excuse me now, while I go pound my head against a brick wall.


mirtft said...

The fact that it's tight certainly doesn't mean that you are a bad financial planner. What it probably indicates is that better tools or more time using existing tools are in order.

Based on your description of the situation I'd say that the tools could use an upgrade, and I somehow have a feeling that having three children and crazy hours job sort of limits the time inputs. ;-)

I've used a large number of financial programs out there, from: pencil and paper, custom excel sheets and programming, Microsoft Money, Quickbooks, and Quicken for both Windows and Mac, and I'd have to say I recommend Quicken for Windows (especially if you can find an old copy 2004 or earlier. I gave my copy to Amanda when I switched to Mac, but check around and you might get lucky.). With about 4-8 hours of setup and about 10 minutes a day it gives you eerily accurate account balances about 2 months out. It's most powerful features are recurring expenses and future recurring misc expenses for the 'unforeseen'. It's amazing how consistent those unforeseen expenses are when you look at the larger patterns across many months. And having good tools allows you to look at larger patterns that you simply can't see without them no matter how good of a financial planner you are.

M LO said...

Thank God David pays the bills. I would be terrible at it for several reasons. First is that even basic math seems to confound me. There's that and the fact that if I payed the bills, I would have a nervous breakdown every time I looked at our student loan situation, the credit card bill from the extra money we spent on our honeymoon, etc. I mean a full on nervous breakdown. David is much more calm and level headed about these things. So I think the fact that you haven't gone bonkers is down right commendable.