I was recently looking on a investing website and noticed as I was browsing around that there was a family finance section. There was only about 6 articles it was sad to see that that 2 were about prenups and one was about your finances during a divorce. Why do these topics seem to be such a big part of family financial education? I have heard before that money is one of the biggest things that cause marital problems, but I have never really thought that working to secure our finances would be a vital part on me and Sylvia's relationship.
As the head of my household I have felt the need to secure our finances more firmly as we move into 2009. Thankfully my beautiful wife has made this an easy transition she has been clipping coupons, shopping for deals on the things we need, and cooking meals everyday. Looking at the numbers this month we have done a good job of reducing our expenses. I am sure a lot of others are taking similar actions.
I am a system kinda of guy. I like to have everything running like a finely tune watch. I don't mind getting things set up if system is fairly easy to maintain. I had a friend recommend some online tools for personal or family finances that I think are pretty sweet for guys like me.
Mint.com is a personal finance web application that can aggregate banking information from all you accounts (including investments i.e. 401k) and automatically categorize your transactions. Sometimes it will not put everything in the right category but you can change the category, label, and setup "rules" so that your regular transactions always import under the right category. You are able to easily see all of your liabilities and net worth.
One of the cool features allows you to compare your spending to the regional or nation averages in that category. It will also show you a pie chart of your expenses over a given period of time. This makes it really easy to see where you money is going. You can click on each section of the pie and it will create another pie chart of only that category divided into vendors. After a few months a data collecting you are able to see some trends in your spending habits and make the appropriate adjustments for financial freedom.
My friend also recommended signing up for an account with ING Direct which is an online bank. It free and the interest rates are a bit higher than average, but thing that I like about it is you are able to setup automatic withdraws from one of your "brick and morter" banks. This makes it very easy to pay yourself first and save your money automatically. You don't have to think about it every time you get paid. You just sit back and watch your savings grow.
In order to have an ING account you have to have a another bank account with a traditional financial center. I don't really think that this is a disadvantage because your ING account be comes your savings not your checking. What I mean is that it is separate and for some reason if it is not part of the funds that I use day to day then I am not tempted to use it.
Another thing that I like about the ING Saving it that you can setup as many accounts as you want and call them whatever. I made one call "boat". I've got a very small amount going into that account automatically, so someday I will be able to waste my money on something totally impractical.