The Boy and I have entered a whole new phase of our relationship. No, we’re not the proud parents of a puppy. No we’re not engaged. Instead, we’re officially joining our bank accounts. Enter, the joint account.
It all started with the near death of the Red Rocket. We were both losing our minds at how we were possibly going to be able to throw a car payment into the mix of our very limited income. This got me thinking. The Boy makes crap money. I make crap money. Separately, neither of us can afford a car payment. But together, we make WAY more than either of us have lived off of for the last 8 years. So why is it that the day before pay day we’re both REALLY looking forward to being paid? Because we were trying to do it all alone, that’s why. By pooling our resources we could afford a car payment – if we needed to. Thus, enter the joint account.
When I first mentioned this idea to the Boy he was very skeptical. “It’s a numbers game,” he said. “What difference does it make if the money is coming out of two accounts or one?” Deep down the hesitation came down to control I think. Would a joint account somehow leave me able to limit or control what he was able to spend. “What about the Bachelor party weekend? That’s going to be an expensive weekend,” he said. True. But an expensive weekend on your own will kill you. An expensive weekend together will still hurt, but less. After giving it some thought, he was willing to give it a try. July is our trial month. We’re 7 days in and I’ve gotta say – I think it’s going really well.
The added bonus to the joint account – the Boy and I are paid on opposite pay schedules, so we get paid our respective crap money every. single. week. Turns out, this is awesome! Tomorrow is my pay day, and while I’m sure if the Boy was trying to get through another week without being paid – it would be disastrous – right now there’s money leftover in the account before the next deposit. This is pretty rare in my experience.
We’re doing more than just depositing into one account though. We’re tracking our cash. I can now tell you where every dollar we have spent disappeared to over the last 10 days. The best part is when we have “free” days. Those are the days where the Boy proudly comes home and says “I didn’t spend anything today!” It’s a great feeling – it feels like we’re doing so well with our savings plan. As great as the cash tracking is – we’re well aware it’s not terribly sustainable. We will lose interest in owning up to every cent we spend. But it is giving us an idea of where the money goes.
To be clear, it’s not that we were living beyond our means before. We’re not prime candidates for ‘Til Debt do us Part, we will not be $1 million in debt in 5 years. In fact, we have very limited amounts on our credit cards (hurray), we pay for almost everything in cash. But we both have student loan debt, and we were both struggling with the amount we were able to put into savings, or pay beyond the minimum payment on our loans (the boy – nothing, me – not enough).
So we’ve got flow charts and spreadsheets and a daily cash sheet. It may be only 7 days in, but all in all it’s exciting to see the money that we should have left over at the end of the month.
The next phase of the plan? Figure out what to do with all the millions we’re saving. What is a Tax-Free Savings Account? It might be terrible, but I really have no idea. Where should we put our money? Should we have two savings accounts – one for each of us? Should we put extra money on our student loans every month? Or should we put a lump sum on it every 6 months? Should we have an account for vacations, one for retirement, one for emergencies, and one for 2020? Or should we have a savings account, and RRSPs?
If any good has come out of this it’s made me stop thinking, “I don’t make enough to put significant money into savings, so I’ll just do what I can.” Instead I’ve started a commitment to live the life I want now, and plan for the life I want in the future even while making crap money. When I get the new job, with the better income all that extra will be gravy! Or at least that’s the plan.