This semester I'm taking a personal finance class which has completely opened up my eyes! In my opinion I don't think you should be able to graduate from college without taking a class like this. It really opens up your eyes, and everyday I leave being like....I'm so glad I know this now!
Our book for class Guide to Money & Investing, which you can get for just 20 buckaroos is a really great book about personal finances.
On top of that, nothing beats One for the Money! This is an awesome book through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that offers advice and counsel to everybody. The principles in here are not just for the wealthy but for people of all financial circumstances. There is also a debt elimination calendar and budget spreadsheet that is to die for.
Since we are both getting closer to graduating and want to grow our family sooner rather than later ;) we have really decided that we needed to get a better hold on our finances.
What better way to figure out what's up with your finances then to see where you are spending them! So found out that we spend WAY to much money eating out. More then we definitely should. So we are using this website Budget Tracker, the basic stuff is free which is really all we need. It allows you to put in your month expected income. Then schedule all your bills that you have each month (i.e. rent, gas, electric, credit cards). After that we made a budget for stuff like gas, food, dining out, dates, and school expenses. The point of this is to get you to really commit to not spending more then you need to. So when we go grocery shopping we go through the fridge and find out the basic stuff that we need. With the left over $ we plan out what we are specifically going to eat for the week, and make sure it doesn't go over our budget. Then we take only $50 to the grocery store. That's actually quite a bit too for two people, so we usually don't have to put stuff back.
The trick is to literally track everything you spend. Sounds a little anal right? Well, if you do it for a little bit it gets easier every day. The point of a budget is to get you to only buy within your means and to be frugal. It's not about restricting you, it's about you managing your finances and not your finances manage you. So pay for stuff in cash only. Me and Ben both get $10 a week to eat out. Between his long days at work, and my days on campus it isn't realistic to not spend a few bucks to eat out. So we each get a $10 bill every monday and it has to last us until the next monday. Works out pretty well.
It actually fun to keep track of your money and to build up savings, and get out of debt. That's our goal when we leave here in December to have a great budget and to be saving money for the future.
Managing your finances though isn't just for the wife. Ladies get your husband excited about finances! Elder Marvin G. Ashton said "In the home, money management between husband and wife should be on a partnership basis, with both parties having a voice in decision- and policy-making".
In my Family Foundations class we talk about about money management in the family, and it surprises me how many people don't really sit down and go over it. Every night we track the money (if we spend any) and we talk about how we can improve, upcoming bills and if we are in need of anything that we didn't budget for (like a haircut or medicine). It's going to become a tradition for us, we've just started doing this at the beginning of the week but I have seen as soon as today from less stress and more knowledge.
Our goal isn't to turn into this