My husband and I try to meet to discuss our finances on a monthly basis. We review our spending, our cash flow and our Family Balance Sheet.
Since I manage the finances for my family, I created our Family Balance Sheet as a way to communicate with my husband about our family and business finances. I wanted something on one piece of paper where I could show him our short-term and long-term savings account balances and our debt balances. I also wanted a reminder through out the year of what our short-term and long-term financial goals are. It is one thing to discuss goals in January, but if we aren’t reminded regularly, we could lose sight of the big picture and what we are working so hard for.
I pair this sheet with a Quicken print-out of our monthly spending by category.
The form is not time-consuming. I simply enter the balances as I get my monthly statements. It is not elaborate either and very easy to understand.
The first section recaps our assets and liabilities. The Asset portion is column B – D, and the Liabilities portion is E – H.
- Column A = Name of Account
- Column B = Balance
- Column C = Target Balance
- Column D = Difference between the target balance and the actual balance. How much do we need to save to get to our target.
- Column E = Monthly debt payment
- Column F = Loan balance
- Column G = final due date of the loan
- Column H = Interest rate or finance charge
- Column I = Statement date where I got the balances
The second section is for Financial Goals. How much do we want to reduce debt by? Do we need to replenish our emergency savings? What home improvements need to be done? Every home has different short-term financial goals.
The third section is for long-term financial goals, trips we would like to take, retirement aspirations, anything in the 2 year and beyond category. This is the big picture, the forest or where we get to dream a little.
My husband and I are meeting to discuss finances this weekend. We will both go into the meeting with an agenda, but I bring the numbers to the table for us to analyze. How much or how little did we spend in January? Where did we over-spend? What’s on the horizon that we need to save for – car repair, household repair? What can we do to add some income? What can we do to reduce some spending? It is a time to hash out any differences or make some bold plans so that we can achieve a particular goal.
I always look forward to these meetings even though they aren’t always fun to have. It is not always easy to look at the balances on both sides of the page.
How often do you review your finances, whether alone or with your partner?