As I was cruising the blogosphere, I came across a really inspiring post at Man vs. Debt. Written by guest author Karina Dupree, it talks about how her fiance and she use a whiteboard to communicate and plan their joint finances. The post has been swirling around in my brain for a few weeks now and I thought I should share it with all of you. If you've been searching for the right way to keep tabs on your finances, this might be it. It would be especially great for couples or families who are learning to share their information.
As you might now, I love visual tools for financial planning. I know there are a million great things available, including all sorts of online programs, envelope systems, BudgetMaps, multiple hypothetical sub accounts, and on and on. What's best? Whatever works for you. I advocate this whiteboard method because it is very "in your face" and it doesn't require someone to slog through spreadsheets or ledgers. Plus, whiteboards are fun.
Karina uses their whiteboard for a basic list of their monthly bills and expenses. I suggest you go full-on and include some spending plans, plus at least one goal with a progress chart. For example, let's say you figured you would need a new car in two years. Your chart might look like the one on the right. As you can see, I've got a goal, an amount, a time, and a plan. I love marking off those squares each time I reach another chunk of our savings goal.
As an aside, Karina's post also includes another nifty tool that I love: a yearly schedule of non-monthly expenses. She found this great template at the Montana State University Extension service's website. It is an excellent way to remember those irregular expenses that can eat into a fine monthly spending plan.
Regardless of your specifics, a whiteboard might be a great way for you to face your finances and increase communication amongst other interested (or disinterested) parties.