Getting Married > Budgeting Your Balance Sheet: Figuring Out Your Cash Flow

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“I’m not filthy rich. Why do I need a balance sheet?”

Businesses have balance sheets, so think of setting up a personal one as insight into the Business of Me. 

Your Business of Me might be a happy, profitable startup; after you get engaged, your Me Business goes for its IPO. Figuring out your Business of Us will help you delve into what you have as a couple and inform your decisions on when to buy a house or if you can afford to take time off after the birth of a child. Even if you haven’t gone for the IPO, it’s important to thoughtfully plot the Business of Me’s future.

Like any extensive task (or one that sounds more heavy-duty than it is), break down your balance sheet into chunks, starting with an honest discussion about your income. Without turning into a pop quiz, here’s three basic questions for this conversation:

- What is your annual salary? (Or projected salary, if you’re a freelancer?)

- What’s your actual take home pay after taxes, any 401(k) or IRA contributions, and how often do you receive your paycheck? (Biweekly? Monthly?)

- How much of your paycheck is left over after covering your expenses each month, and how much of that amount do you save?

If you don’t have a written list of your regular monthly expenses by now, Business of Us isn’t doing right by its major stakeholders. Start a Google spreadsheet or the like to keep track of those costs as well. 


Photo: Tax Credits

This article is 1st in the Establishing Your Balance Sheet Series

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