Staying on top of the family finances does not have to be difficult. With a little planning, your finances can be kept up to date with ease. Believe me, having a handle on your family finances goes a long way in creating family harmony.
The first step is to set up a bookkeeping system. We've used Quicken software for years. It has helped to keep track of our expenses, and we have been very happy with the program. It takes a little bit of time to set up initially. The second part of your bookkeeping system involves setting up a place to save your receipts. We use a small cardboard divider file with a special slot devoted to "receipts that need to be posted". The key idea here is to have a place where you store all receipts from expenses (including ATM withdrawals) so that they are readily available when you go to enter them into your bookkeeping software.
Once you have the system set up, then you simply enter your receipts, whether income or expenses. As you enter each item, you select a category for it to go into. Reconciling your account is done online. One of the greatest advantages in using an automated system like this is the ability to see your expenses by category. With the click of a button, you can find out what you spent on groceries, entertainment or any other category for any time period, like last week, last month, or the last quarter. Many other reports are available such as a cash flow report and an itemized categories report. Using this system has streamlined our ability to keep our account updated. Bills are easily paid on time.
Once you've established your bookkeeping system, then you must set aside time on a regular basis to update it. For our family, we've found that a weekly update works well. My husband and I alternate weekly turns on posting receipts and then reconciling our account. It never takes us more than 30 minutes at a time and our account is always balanced.
If you are behind in your finances, start by doing just 15 minutes at a time. You'll catch up eventually. Then, be sure to make time on a regular basis to keep up with your account. Having your finances in order is a real stress reliever and can be attained by anyone!