Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Managing Family Finances

Thank you to TurboTax for sponsoring my writing about household finances. Learn more about how TurboTax can help you find every tax deduction you deserve. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

I am the financial manager in the household. I pay all the bills, and I track our spending, transfer money between accounts as needed, and determine when we can afford major purchases we're anticipating. Ironically, my husband is the one who does our taxes, but that just keeps it real, right?

Because of this, I'm aware of every penny spent and where it goes. I have a spreadsheet - and no one who knows me should be surprised by this - where I break down all of our spending into category by month versus what we'd anticipated spending. To do this, I go through each credit card statement as they come in to ensure there isn't anything on there that shouldn't be, amongst other reasons.

That works great three quarters of the year. That last quarter? That's where I realized the problem came in.

When my husband and I were newlyweds, he planned an awesome trip for us for our first anniversary. We went to Spruce Meadows in Calgary for their summer show and spent four days there - including two in a really cool VIP tent super close to the course. It was awesome.

It wasn't, however, a surprise. Remember those credit card bills I and I alone peruse? Unfortunately, that meant that I saw the airline tickets to Calgary. I saw the hotel deposit. I saw the tickets to Spruce Meadows. And I knew exactly what he was getting me for our anniversary. Weeks in advance.

How much cooler would it have been to be surprised as we headed to the airport? How much more exciting would it have been if I hadn't been on the web exploring Spruce Meadows ahead of time? And how much more authentic would my happy face have been when he handed me the card with the details on our anniversary?

It isn't the knowing that makes me sad. It isn't not having the surprise. It's the fact that my advance knowledge meant that this completely cool surprise that my husband created for me was still cool but was no longer a surprise because I'm the one who handles the finances.

I needed to find a new solution because of him - because I didn't want to do that to him. And so of course I did. I simply don't look at the details of those credit card bills in the month leading up to my birthday, Christmas, and anniversary. I still pay them - and know the totals throughout the month by managing them online - but I keep the specifics a mystery. Or at least as much of a mystery as my husband creates! There's plenty of time to enter the line items into my spreadsheet after those glorious occasions have passed.

Because our anniversaries and birthdays aren't about the presents we receive. It's about the love our family and friends show us, the caring and the joy. And I'm going to do my part to ensure that none of that part gets spoiled.

Accountants are allowed to have fun after all, right?

In the interest of full disclosure, I was provided compensation by Clever Girls Collective for writing this post. All opinions expressed are my own, as always.

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