When you develop your home budget, you can use your checking accounts creatively to help you easily manage that budget. Several checking options can help you keep your budget organized and on track. Online banking and financial tracking software can help you keep your checking accounts balanced and within budget each week.
If you've never managed a household budget or a checking account before, start small. Stick to one checking account for the household, which means only one account to balance. All your bills and personal spending come out of this account. The downside is that if you overspend on personal items, there may not be enough funds in the account to pay outstanding bills. The upside is that it takes less time to manage a single account and you pay few -- if any -- bank fees.
Account for Bills
Many couples who keep separate accounts after they marry set up a third joint account from which to pay household bills. Once you set up your home budget, divide it in half, or in a way that reflects the percentage of the total household income each person earns. Each person should transfer the correct amount into the household account each month. All the bills can then come out of the home checking account, leaving each person with a private account for personal spending. If your bank charges fees on checking accounts, keep in mind that you'll have to pay for three accounts with this option.
Some of your bills may be automatically deducted from your checking account each month, such as your car insurance or phone bill. Having a separate account set aside for these auto-pay bills helps you make sure you always have enough to pay them; set your own minimum balance for the account, or set a certain day each month that you transfer money into the account. This account can protect you in case of fraud; if the companies drawing money automatically are compromised and thieves get your account information, they can only take the money from that account, not from your main checking account.
Savings is an essential part of any home budget. Although it's best not to touch your savings account, you can use that money as your backup plan. Tie your savings account to your checking account to help cover any miscalculations in your budget that result in an overdraft in your checking account. This can help make sure your bills are paid, even if there isn't enough money in your checking, and keep you from paying returned-check fees. Some banks charge a small transfer fee if money is automatically moved to prevent an overdraft, but it's usually cheaper than bouncing a check.
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