Money & Marriage Blunders- don’t let spending differences wreck your happy home! Recently it came to my attention that some married couples fight over money. Ha-ha, okay, I’m sure you can see the snarky sarcastic grin on my face, of course, couples argue over money, like that is news to anyone… but managing a spending conflict in a marriage can be rather tricky, particularly if the couple is working with a rather limited income. . . .
Shared or Separate?
I know several couples in which the spouses choose to have separate bank accounts from each other; They both work, but the bills are split 50/50% with each spouse being responsible for their own share. Having been married for near 20 years, I personally find this arrangement a bit odd myself.
How does one determine who pays for what and when on an arrangement like this… for instance if the husband makes half a car payment and the wife makes a half a house payment, which one pays for the kid’s school clothes?
Perhaps some couples find this to be the only way, but for couples seeking a bit of financial leeway, might I suggest a different avenue.
Open personal accounts for each of you. Create a category within your budget for a personal spending account in the amount of $600 each for the year. This is an amount that you deposit into each month as though you were paying a bill, but this is money that each of you can spend on anything you like.
The caveat of this deal is that you do not need to explain to your spouse where that money went or what it was spent on. So if you like to subscribe to 5 different magazines – the amount comes out of your personal account.
If you find a bargain that you just can’t pass up, a sale on jeans for $10, once again, that money comes out of your personal account. If you spend all the money that is in your personal spending account, you have to wait to buy anything else.
Create Personal Spending Accounts
There are several reasons for creating personal spending accounts:
1. You will have to track your spending, thereby spending less
2. You stop sweating the small stuff- if your spouse “wastes” $5 on a mocha frappa-expensa-grande-latte – you don’t have to come unglued reminding him/her that it was an uncalled for expense. It’s in his/her personal budget, it’s not coming out of “your” pocket and more importantly, it’s not worth arguing over.
3. Your husband will be able to afford roses on your birthday because he has an account with money in it. Okay- that last one I made up completely- but, how many times has your spouse said, I would have bought you this or I wanted to get that but I didn’t know how much money we had?
Believe it or not, in many relationships, 1 person is in “control” over the finances and the other spouse is in the dark, having little to no idea where the money even goes each week or month.
4. It allows for some spending flexibility while maintaining a household budget – if you feel like you’re deprived, statistically you are more likely to “treat” yourself. Having a personal spending account takes away those feelings of depravity.
Oftentimes, if one spouse is a stay at home parent who doesn’t work “outside” the home, they feel as though their work is undervalued. I can personally attest to being a stay at home mom where I felt as though I should account for every dime I spent- and by account- I mean downright explain why I was spending any money on anything when I wasn’t generating any income!
For us, having these personal “splurge” accounts have ended petty arguments and power struggles.