MADISON (WKOW)-- The first thing the Project Money teams had to learn was to make family finances part of their daily lives.
"I really thought I would hate it. At the end of the year I would have a big pile of receipts, but now I know every week, or every day. So at least I can prepare for the end of the week or the end of the month that way," says contestant Anglinia Washington of Madison.
"If I make a purchase, it needs to be recorded right away in the checkbook so I always know to the minute what's available to me. And I never go into a store without knowing what my balance is. That way I can't claim ignorance," says contestant Rachel Reinhart.
Next, came the system for paying bills and saving. Simplicity and convenience are key here.
"When I get paid at the first of the month I sit down and go through the list of all of our bills and I pay everything that's due. Then we work from there with what's left," says contestant Carrie Feltz.
"So you have these envelopes and you write down what they're for and how much you think you can put in, per month, to meet that budgeted amount. And you use that, for that. And if it's not used, it sits in there. You don't take it and move it around, it's a self discipline thing," says contestant Darek Faber, describing their bill paying system.
Other teams use the bank to divide their money.
"My paycheck is deposited into one account and I pay my bills out of that account. And then I give myself a $200 a week allowance. And that money goes towards gas and food and that extra little fun item and whatever other expenses need to be paid; household items," says Reinhart.
Online tools can be a big help. Most teams use simple Excel spreadsheets. And one team keeps everything on Google-docs, so they don't have to be home to record receipts and check balances.
"So we use that so we have access to it anywhere. No excuses, that's been key. everything's set up so we don't have excuses, says Kari Faber.