My husband is the numbers guy. So, when I sat down with him to work on my New Year's resolution to be more involved in the finances, he was a little surprised. "Welcome to the budget meeting," he said. I told him I didn't know we had one, to which he quipped, "We have one every month; you just never showed up."
It's true. I am much better at allowing him to do the finances. With a degree in agricultural economics, he is definitely more gifted in the area of making sense of, well, dollars and cents. Come to find out, every month he would prepare a budget. I tried to stick to it for the most part. Then about a year ago, he downloaded an app onto my phone that really changed the way I looked at money. More importantly, it made me actually look at money.
There are many budget programs out there like You Need a Budget, Mint, Yodlee and Goodbudget. However, we use the brainchild of Dave Ramsey known as EveryDollar — and it is a free app.
If you have never heard of Ramsey, here is a brief synopsis. He is the author of "The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness" and has his own radio show and podcast called "The Dave Ramsey Show." He answers questions from people — at any income level, in any business — when it comes to budgeting, investing and saving for retirement. His main goal is to help people get out of debt. His advice is simple: Tell your money where to go.
Every dollar has a designation. It is zero-based budgeting, where all of the income in a month is assigned to a category like home, fuel, groceries, and — yes — debt. And our family members are avid listeners.
To be forthright, my husband and I have both attended Ramsey's Financial Peace University. Back then we used to do everything by pen and paper. All our income was assigned to a category by writing it down, or in my husband's case, making an Excel spreadsheet (he's a numbers nerd). Still, I mostly just asked how much money I had to spend and tried to stay within it. However, since I was not personally invested in the process, I really thought my husband's budget was merely a suggestion — not a requirement.
Then he downloaded the EveryDollar app onto both of our smartphones. And for the first time, I could see on a daily basis just how much money I had to spend — but more importantly, how much I had already spent. From the app, we were both able to be in control of our finances.
What I found in talking with my husband and agreeing to where each dollar would go, and actually tracking it on my phone, was that I became interested in numbers and our money. The app is simple. But the best part of the app is allows you to create your own categories. When our daughter got married, we added a wedding category. There is a college category for our other daughter. And there is always a farm category on the phone.
If you are like me, trying to wrap your head around where you money is going — or more importantly, where your money should be going in 2017 — consider a phone app for help. However, at the very least, if your marriage partner sets up a budget meeting, make sure to attend.