Couples with Opposite Money Styles
self help article
by Jane Chidester
Prosperity and financial wellbeing self help article:
Q: I am truly desperate to find a way to manage money in our family. I have been keeping our heads above water but I still feel like we are sinking slowly but surely.
I have a husband that just doesn’t get involved with making money decisions. He is great at spending the money.
We just got married two years ago and ever since I have been struggling to find something that works so that I at least have something to be proud of.
Do you offer any advice to dealing with a spouse that doesn’t want to know the facts? As long as there is money in the account he is happy. What do I do?
He brings home a paycheck just like I do, so I can’t tell him he can’t use the money. But I can’t let my dreams fade away into the sunset either!
I am so confused, and afraid of failing. Is there anything at all that you can say to give me a little bit of hope?
A: What I read in your message is frustration – you want to set up a wise money management plan for your family. Unfortunately you can neither seem to interest your spouse in any kind of monetary planning nor convince him of the importance of such an activity.
On top of this, while you are not in any “real” trouble now, you fear that, if present patterns continue, down the road there may be problems waiting. You also want to do more than “earn and spend, earn and spend”, but want to build for the future, aim for dreams, and be proud of your accomplishments.
On the budgeting front, I have two suggestions or ideas that I hope might be helpful.
In my BudgetYes! system, I discuss the idea of what I call the “$ Account”.
The idea here is that you set up a special, “virtual” account within your checking account, a spending account that contains all the money that’s left over AFTER all the other bills, obligations, and DREAMS are taken care of.
The way that BudgetYes! works is that whenever you get paid, all your funds get allocated to what you (and, somehow, I hope, eventually your entire family) decide it should get allocated for. Hence, the “$ Account” contains money that is free and clear-the “mad” money, or discretionary spending money.
You mentioned in your note that your husband is happy “as long as there is money in the account.” If you could somehow redirect his attention to how much money is in a discretionary spending pot – or “$ Account”, to use my lingo – it might work out that you could have money reserved for your dreams and accomplishments, and he could still enjoy his spending.
It could be, unfortunately, that you and your spouse are so far apart in your views that you don’t feel he would go for any type of money allocation scheme or intelligent discretionary spending.
What works for some couples in this situation is separate checking accounts. There would be a “joint” account, an account for your husband, and an account for yourself.
The “joint” account is used for all shared obligations such as house payments or rent, utility bills, taxes, groceries. You figure out your total of such obligations, and then each contribute some pre-agreed-upon amount (usually either 50/50 or by percentage based on your pay) to cover the total.
What’s left over from each person’s pay goes into their personal account. The understanding and agreement, then, is that each person can do whatever they like with the money in their own account, but may not touch the other person’s account or the “joint” account.
With such a system set up, I hope that you could eventually expand the scope of the “joint” account to include things like saving for retirement, planning for the next house or car, or perhaps even saving up for that next wonderful vacation.
If you start small and “sell” the idea of a “joint” account, then sometimes you can expand it little by little to eventually accomplish having a true money management system in place.
I hope this doesn’t sound like sterile or canned advice. It’s difficult to give truly accurate, targeted answers without knowing the total picture, or knowing all the dimensions of the dynamics involved.
Don’t kid yourself – you’re in a tough situation for which there is no instant solution. Careful and honest communication is the key, as always. The ideas I offer above are ones I know have worked for others, and I hope they – or some form of a related idea – will help you as well.
One other thought I might throw out is a book that has radically changed my life, and offers many insights that I feel might directly apply to your situation.
It’s “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, by Dr. Stephen R. Covey. It’s available in your local bookstore. It targets, specifically, how to aim for your dreams, put first things first to achieve the dreams you have, and work with your spouse in “win-win” arrangements to have BOTH partners meet their dreams.
In particular, it addresses communication, and how to make sure that both of you really understand what the other person wants and needs, in a non-threatening, supportive way. There is no connection between Dr. Covey and myself, other than that we are both authors of books designed to improve people’s lives.
His book came to mind when I read your message, and I just thought I’d mention it in my sincere efforts to help.
Quite frankly, if you were only going to spend $20 on one book, his or mine, I’d recommend that you go get “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”. If you can get to the bottom of the communication, understanding, and support issues, the budget will be an easy problem to solve.
Jane Chidester Jane@TulipTreePress.com is the author of BudgetYes! 21st Century Solutions for Taking Control of Your Money Now!
Visit her Web site at http://www.TulipTreePress.com Budget Central: Personal Budgeting Information and Resources Repository of information and resources on personal budgeting, financial planning, and household money management–a complete budgeting education.
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