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Extra Bits

Decide What to Manage p. 18

  • The number one contributor to marital strife is disagreements over handling money. So it’s a good idea to set up your finances to help minimize stress. Here’s one proven way to manage a couple’s finances: instead of having one joint checking account, use three checking accounts. Each person has his or her own account (to which their paychecks are deposited, which they can use for their own expenses), and each contributes an agreed amount every month to a joint checking account, which is used for shared expenses. This allows each person a certain amount of financial freedom, and both contribute to pay the common bills. Some couples contribute equal amounts every month; others contribute in proportion to the salary that each earns. Either way, it’s a good way to handle a family’s finances.


Set Up Accounts (Win & Mac) p. 19

  • Quicken allows you to have a Cash account, which is unlike the rest of the accounts because no corresponding account exists at a financial institution. You use a Cash account to track out-of-pocket expenses, or simply to record that spending money has come out of your checking account. For example, let’s say that you withdraw $100 from an ATM. In Quicken, that amount comes out of your checking account and goes into the Cash account (because it is money flowing out of the checking account, it has to go somewhere). As you spend the money, you can make notations in the Cash account to track how that cash has been spent. This can be a useful exercise if you are having trouble figuring out how you spend your cash; keep really detailed records for a week or so, and you’ll get a better look at your spending habits.

    However, this may be more detail than you’re willing to deal with; most people aren’t going to keep receipts for small expenses like stopping at Starbucks in the morning. For my finances, I compromise; spending money comes out of my checking account and goes into the Cash account, but I don’t bother to enter expenses in the Cash account. Naturally, Quicken thinks that the Cash account keeps growing (because there are credits and never any debits). This will eventually affect your net worth statement, because Quicken thinks that you’re carrying thousands of dollars in cash in your pocket. I deal with this by occasionally entering a balance adjustment in the Cash account register, returning it to zero.



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