When the right hand doesn't know what the left is spending, all kinds of calamities can result. Restore order by taking these two steps:
- Start Talking: Set up a regular money meeting to coordinate bill payments and purchases, timed to the joyful arrival of each paycheck. My husband and I do it every week. Make sure you both track the account balance online and, more important, keep a joint check register. It's old-fashioned, but - because your online record can lag - it's the best way to keep a real-time tally of your cash flow.
- Switch to Cash: Using debit can lead to overdraft fees because banks sometimes allow purchases to go through even when your balance is too low, and then they assess a fee. (Ask about your bank's policy.) Instead, use this basic budget method: Add up your core monthly expenses (rent or mortgage, utilities, food, etc.), then subtract them from your monthly take-home pay. Unless they're pre-deducted, take out the amounts you set aside in retirement and personal savings, too. Divide the sum left over by four - that's the cash the two of you can spend each week.
Ask MP Dunleavey your money questions at Parenting.com/momsquad.