Organising finances in a modern family

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If you follow me on my Instagram stories you will know that last week, I was having a little bit of a financial drama that culminated in myself and Papa Ginge spending two evenings sat in front of spreadsheets and heatedly debating our expenditure. I found this all emotionally exhausting if I’m honest. I’ve now vowed to not let our finances get so out of control again.

What happened

Since the last time we assessed our finances, our expenditure had just crept up and up without us even realising. In hindsight, we hadn’t checked on our finances enough. The last time we assessed our spreadsheets (thrillingly sexy I know) was before Lena was born. Having a second child and then going on maternity leave, then returning to work and putting her in nursery meant that in the 2.5 years, there had been a number of substantial changes to our financial expenses.

We had realised that we kept taking out of our (small) savings constantly and at first we thought it was because we had a lot of bigger expenses. We had taken a loan out on our car, we had Christmas, then Lena’s birthday, then our trip to London for the UK Blog Awards in April, our living room renovations, a trip to Manchester for the Blog On conference and weekend at Flamingo Land. It was always something and we thought that it was just that, combined with having kids in childcare that was causing us to be short all the time.

Analysing our expenditure

However, looking at our income and expenses it is clear we are spending too much on things we don’t NEED. Especially Papa Ginge. He’s spending lots on his lunch and coffees and treats each day at work. I half-heartedly asked him if he had a gambling problem or a second family because I don’t understand how he’s been spending so much money.

We have been spending way too much on fast food, takeaways and eating at restaurants – most of our disposable income has been going on this. (As an aside, could you guys tell me how much you think is reasonable to spend on eating out/takeaways a month as this is still a bone of contention between us).

When Papa Ginge has been popping to the shop to pick up bread and milk he also picks up a load of naughty treats that bumps up the bill. We had just lost our way for too long. The result is that our savings are now less than half of what they were which saddens me. All we can do now thought is rectify it, learn from it and be better going forward.

How to rectify the issue

I asked my Facebook followers how they manage their finances and how they keep their finances fair.

It seems that most people just have one joint account and everything goes into and comes out of that account. I’m not sure that would work for Mark and I though. As a feminist I want to retain some financial independence. Also, I don’t want to pore over Papa Ginge’s bank statements (although perhaps I should!). Plus, I want us to be able to surprise each other for birthdays and Christmas which we couldn’t do if we shared only one account. We have always had our own accounts, plus a shared joint one. We work out what our joint bills should be and we both put half that amount into the joint account to cover our expenses. Then what was left from our salaries was our own to spend and save. Problem is we weren’t saving and the joint wasn’t covering the expenses so we were taking from our savings to cover the shortfall. Ugh, heavy sigh.


Also, for a long time, I’ve felt that it wasn’t fair on me. For the past 5.5 years, I’ve been paying the same into the joint account as I did when I was working full time and earning the most. Despite having had two maternity leaves and going part-time. So half of our bills would decimate me but Papa Ginge has had more to play with/waste.

Following the responses from my Facebook question, I decided that we needed to work out what percentage each of our earnings contributed to our total. Going forward, this will be the amount each of us puts into the joint account. The child benefit payment goes to me which bumps my income up a bit. It worked out the Papa Ginge brings in 57.5% of our income and I bring in 42.5% of our income. Re-calculating all our bills to reflect this seems like it will be much fairer going forward.

What we are doing going forward?

We have both agreed a set amount that we will both get after bills for spending as we see fit. It is the same amount each. The rest of the money we will save, so Papa Ginge will save slightly more than me but we will both have the same disposable income. This seems fair. If we stick to it, it will make me very happy – and will have almost made the drama worthwhile.

Changed banks

We are also moving our bank accounts. My old bank kept charging me £6 each time I went into my arranged overdraft – even though it was purely a cash flow issue between my accounts and the overdraft was there for that reason. So we’ve used a switching service that we will get cash back for and have moved to a bank that won’t change us anything for going into our arranged overdraft. I’m also currently researching the best ISAs as the ones we are using are rubbish! So once I’ve found the best rates I’ll be moving that too. I think I should maybe make it one that we can’t access easily either to prevent us from stealing out of it.

We are now going to review how its working once a month. We aim to stay on top of it better – make adjustments where required. Once we have a system that is working then we can move to 6 monthly reviews.

So please learn from our lesson and check yourself before you wreck yourself (do the kids say this). Have a look at your expenses and check you are on the right path! If you’re a self-employed parent and need to complete a tax return then be sure to make use of this free tool to calculate your Tax return liability or repayment.

How do you manage your finances since having kids? How much do you spend on takeaways/eating out a month?

Organising finances in a modern family

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27 thoughts on “Organising finances in a modern family”

  1. Ugh we probably need to do this, but to be honest I am probably in denial. I am slightly envious of your ability to save anything, we are definitely in that just about managing category the government keep harping on about. We both need to curb our spending though – I have been looking at the no spend blog posts recently. Life is just too damn expensive.

    We have maybe 2 takeaways a month, usually under £20 a time. I eat out more than he does so maybe factor in a couple of meals out with friends or lunches.

    I work part time but bring in around the same amount, so we used to spit 50/50 but tbh I do pay a lot more out on childcare and food – I hate money chats so I just do it for an easy life. :/

    • Well don’t be envious yet because we haven’t done it yet and haven’t saved anything for a long time. I hope we can stick to this! Thanks for sharing.

  2. 1. I’d never share my bank account with anyone, when I was married we never did, it’s a feminist thing I think, I always feel like if it’s my money I want it to be there safe in case I need it, I worked for so long to become financially independent and I wouldn’t give it up again.

    2. Takeaways, well in a perfect world we have 1 a week at weekends but it’s usually 2 at weekends as I’m working all of the time plus we usually go out for dinner on Fridays, this is maybe around £100 a week on eating out, totally acceptable!

    Money is the biggest source of arguments in any relationship and that is why I am happy to be single for the rest of my life!

    • Haha Mandy. Yeah I think I should have specified in the post that part of the reason I didn’t want just one account is my feminist beliefs. I feel you should always have some independence!

  3. Interesting post! We’ve got a similar arrangement where we have a joint account into which I put a certain amount. And then I transfer money for my partner and leave myself a similar amount. I don’t think it’s fair to pay the same amount if you earn at different levels. When you’re a family it should all be joint and both get the same amount of money to spend on yourself.

  4. We are unable to save at the moment.

    Takeaway and eating out are special occasions only. So most months we don’t do either.

  5. We have a takeaway once a month if that probs eat out twice a month (ish) I have my own account and pay for food and childcare hubby pays for everything else but he does earn 4 times more than me. He is much better with money doesn’t spend much on himself at all and saves really hard. I sometimes think I wouldike a joint account but I like having the freedom to spend money on hair makeup clothes etc and if we had a joint account I know we would fall out over it! We share buying stuff for the kids and discuss big purchases but generally he pays.. I think every couple is different and you have to do what is right for you.

    • Exactly Helen and if it’s not broke, don’t try and fix it. Sounds like it’s working for you guys. Thanks for sharing! I’m jealous Neil is good with saving. Mark is such a spendthrift!

      • I think in so many relationships you have one spender and one saver as long as neither starts resenting the other that’s fine. I think Neil just turns a blind eye to the top shop/river island bags!!! I often question our situation but overall I’m happy ?

  6. It sounds like everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet on this post. Me and my husband have a joint credit card and everything else is separate. I pay my wat based on my percentage of the total income as well and then am free to do as I please with the rest.

    My hubby does like to save and I’m more of a YOLO kinda person so we do have falling it’s about that but as long as they bills get paid then we’re fine. As for savings he has a lot. I have nothing. But being a part time worker and mum means I have only a fraction of his income anyway.

    Money is such a horrible part of relationships and one that will always cause trouble.

    • Our situations sound quite similar, thanks for sharing Clare. I oscillate wildly between being YOLO and then crapping myself because I have no savings ?

  7. I LOVE managing our money and it annoys the crap out of Simon! He has the attitude of “does it really matter” whereas I’m “every penny counts” – we try and meet in the middle but it definitely does lead to arguments at times.

    I’m a very savvy shopper in the Supermarket, am very strict about how much we order takeout or eat out and don’t often treat myself to anything. There always seems to be something big we’re having to pay off, it’s a never ending cycle and I’m forever waiting for the day when we have some money and can losen the purse strings a little (never going to happen!)

    I schedule “budget meetings” every single month with Simon, we sit down the week before pay day and sort out our finances for the month – he thinks I’m absolutely bonkers but it works a treat!

    Working on percentages is definitely the way forward, we don’t have joint accounts yet and haven’t decided whether we’re going to do that going forward but when it comes to savings we work on percentages rather than amounts as Simon earns a lot more than me – it’s no fun if one person is buying all the sweets and the other is struggling to find pennies to buy shampoo!

  8. I have just spent nearly £1k on our cat so I’m now having to sit down and do some serious budgeting to make sure we’re ok for the next few months. I think most people are feeling the squeeze now 🙁

    • OMG this makes me so pleased I don’t have pets. Yes you are right, I shouldn’t entirely blame us as the Government is playing a big role in the squeeze on our finances too. Grrr.

  9. I love dealing with our finances (it’s the admin person in me lol) and we have a joint account and then our own accounts too. Though I have to admit I stopped contributing to the joint account when I became a SAHM and have never started putting money back in since I started working part time (ooppps lol). Though I tend to pay for the kids things so I am sure it evens out along the way. Our downfall is eating out and take aways and we probably spend £100 – £150 each month on this!!!!! Writing it down that is probably horrific but we don’t smoke or drink alot, and eating out for us is definitely something we all love doing (plus it’s a good way of getting the teen out of the house if you promise to feed him). Sorry that was a rambley long comment lol. Well done for tackling it by the way x

    • That’s the thing isn’t it Tracey – if it makes you happy then maybe its better to spend on those fun things than save! I think £100-150 is a fair amount when you have older kids to feed as well. I tried to get Papa Ginge to agree to £75 a month and he’s bartered me up to £100 but we were spending a lot more than that I think! Thank you for sharing. x

  10. It really is such an important thing to do. It’s so very easy to let finances spiral out of control. Much better to have a grasp of what’s going on in the bank account than ignore it!

  11. I’m so boring but I was raised in Germany & yes, we are sad people out there & like to save lots and spend little… and any sort of loans/credits scare the hell out of us! So I am very much a personal finance admin in our household even though I’m only 25 I save as much as I can. I was raised in a family of business people and stopped using my parents as soon as I took my plane from Germany to UK 5 years ago! 🙂 It’s all about finding balance and controlling each other. When I feel like I need a takeaway, my boyfriend points out at our overfilled fridge. When he feels like he really really needs to get another Playstation game, I point at his pile of games! It shouldn’t be too strict as life is short but my dad always taught me, in case I lose my job, I should be able to survive without it for at least 6 months. And not depending on anyone else is the best feeling in the world! And I’m pretty much saving as I would be living on Beyonce standards for 6 months 😀 Hope your plan will work great & you can enjoy its fruits soon enough.

  12. Creating a budget is always the first step for successfully organising your finances. It may sound daunting now, but it’s easy to do and can make a big difference to how you view your money right away.


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