Cash Management Ideas for Households


cash managementCash management, including budgeting and dealing with cash, can be difficult as your family grows.  Here are some simple tips for cash management at each stage of your household.

 Single

At this point in your life, cash management will be the simplest.  You don’t have anyone else to consult with at this point.  First put all your bills and savings on auto pilot.  Set up web bill pay with your bank, and using that try to auto pay as many things as possible.  From student loans to the cable bill, have everything paid from your account.

Also, if you have an IRA, have it set to make automatic payments to your account.  Next, use a money management program like Quicken that automatically uploads all your expenses and savings.  After a few months you will be able to see patterns in your spending that will help you budget and manage your money better.

Couples

For couples, everything that went for a single person still applies.  The only difference is that now another person’s feelings, expenses, and goals need to be included.  I would suggest sitting down once a month to go over your expenses.  From the trends you see, you can decide if the two of you are inline with where you both want to be.

Another thing that has worked well for my family is to put everything on a credit card.  And I mean everything!  This way everything can automatically be categorized and it’s very transparent where the money is going.

Family

Again, everything that applies for a single person and a couple still applies for a family.  However, a family probably has the most complicated money management of all.

First, if your children are young, make sure you are taking advantage of the dependent FSA, if possible, which will save you in the long run.  Second, if your children are older, bring them into the conversation of expenses.  They do not need to know about investment accounts or salaries, but they should understand how much everything costs and where the money is going.

I would also suggest giving an allowance at every age.  Especially for the older ones, giving them somewhat of a larger allowance will allow you to manage your money more effectively by putting the ownership on them to pay for miscellaneous things they want rather than constantly coming to you for cash.

Sources of Cash

We all have been in a situation where we are short on cash for the month. There are options available to fund your short-term cash needs like instant cash loans and reducing expenses. The first option should always be cut back on your monthly expenses. Some ideas include: eating leftovers from the freezer, having a garage sale, turning the cable TV or landline off, downsizing gifts, and temporarily changing your W2 exemptions. I would only recommend the last option if you have been getting refunds of more than $1000 over the last several years on your tax return.

Readers: Do you manage your cash or does your cash manage you?

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9 Responses to Cash Management Ideas for Households

  1. Thomas S. Moore 10/28/2012 at 10:21 pm #

    It was some much easier when I was single. The couple part was the most difficult process I have ever experience. I have never used cash loans and don’t think I would prefer to go that route. It may work for some but I have seen a lot of people start depending on those loans more then they should.

    • Paul 10/31/2012 at 5:48 am #

      I agree with you Thomas, cash loans should be used as a last resort.

  2. Glen @ Monster Piggy Bank 10/31/2012 at 11:03 am #

    I have an emergency credit card that I can use if I am short of cash, but it is seriously a last resort as I hate credit cards!

    • Paul 11/03/2012 at 8:21 pm #

      Glen – Have you ever tried a cash back reward credit card? It can be a great way to earn cash on purchases. Of course you must pay the entire balance monthly for this be a sound financial practice.

  3. Odd Cents 11/02/2012 at 10:22 pm #

    I would say that it depends on how you look at it. I try to manage what little cash I have, but because it’s so little I don’t have much managing to do. :(

    • Paul 11/03/2012 at 8:10 pm #

      Ha! I think most of us are in the same boat. There are easy ways to maximize cashflow like 1) scheduling bill payments to take advantage of when cash comes in during the month 2) Using a credit card with cash back rewards 3) and adjusting with-holding so your tax refund is no more than $500.

  4. Dominique Brown 11/06/2012 at 1:33 pm #

    Nice tips! My wife and I manage our cash through the online finance tool – Yodlee. We also automated our bill payments to avoid missing a payment and paying a late fee. It also saves us time and money on postage & checks. Though our bill payments are automated, we still reconcile our bills and monitor our transactions regularly to avoid any errors.

    • Paul 11/07/2012 at 2:36 am #

      I’m with you on automating the finances Dom! I’ll have to look at Yodlee, don’t think I have heard of that one.

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