Marriage and Money Matters
I do not like talking about money, which is a silly way to start a story about money, but this was a requested post so here I go…
I like to see money, count it, spend it, and heck even save it. But talking about it is pretty much agony.
While MisterE and I were dating this was not an issue. Our money was separate but (in)equal. When I met him I had just left a soul-crushing job as a medical device sales rep, and I was burning my savings on a graduate education. MisterE was living his best bachelor life, taking us on trips, and practically giving his money away to anyone in need. He can be generous to a fault.
He used to check on me periodically to make sure I had a plan for my money, and he also gave me a monthly allowance for “gas and upkeep.” He wanted to be sure that I was ok financially, and that I didn’t feel like I needed to ask for money.
Was it any surprise I agreed to marry him?
Saving for our wedding was the first time we were reaching for a mutual financial goal. We discussed how many people we could afford to feed and entertain, and how much of our money we were willing to part with. MisterE was perfectly willing to let me have my dream wedding, as long as it was within budget.
It was somewhere around this time that we started throwing around the phrase “NITB – Not In The Budget!” White ceramic dance floor? NITB! A private performance by Cirque du Soleil? NITB! A parade of elephants? N. I. T. B!
Almost 7 years after our wedding, you’d be amazed just how often “NITB” is thrown around these days, especially when I decide on some extravagant home-improvement project. Those four letters are really a great way to keep
us me grounded.
Very early on we discovered that we’re both incredibly debt-averse and excellent savers. Everything was looking great for a financially peaceful marriage, but after our wedding came our biggest trial of all: Combining our finances!
If you think exchanging eternal vows is the ultimate show of trust, you clearly have not given another person access to every dime that you earn!
After a few months of honest discussion and testing out different approaches, we came up with a system that really works for us. It comes down to a few basic principles.
- All money is our money. There is no “yours” and “mine.” There is no “breadwinner,” and we don’t divide bills. All the money just goes into the same pot! This has made life so easy, I can’t even tell you. It’s Mutually Assured Success.
There have been times when I’ve been unemployed, or MisterE has been unemployed, or we’ve had
extra bonus people living with us for weeks or months at a time… In every scenario our household continues to function seamlessly because of our one-pot approach.
- Give to Caesar what is for Caesar. Our finances are automated, so most of the time there’s nothing to think about. As soon as we receive a paycheck a few things happen at once: tithes are paid; money is divided between our joint checking account and five* savings accounts; money is put aside for the kids, investments and retirement; and bills are paid. Boom!
After every dollar is accounted for, we each keep an equal, agreed-upon amount from our paychecks as “pocket money.”
So get this: In any given month I keep 4.5% of my paycheck as pocket money to play with however I please.
It sounds crazy when I say it out loud, but believe it or not I hardly ever use up that 4.5%! A potted plant or bucket-of-paint here; an Audible subscription or sequined ballgown there; an occasional Sephora shopping spree…
I find that once our “household” is taken care of, there really isn’t much that I need and I’m able to put a lot of my pocket money into my personal savings account.
I don’t know, man, it’s easy because most of my hobbies are free. Napping, playing with the kids, ignoring the kids so I can nap…
- Respect the budget. Yeeeea, so, MisterE is a spreadsheet kinda guy. Any ideas I have had better be presented with a gantt chart, bid defense, and analysis of the expected return on investment. Spreadsheets make him giddy.
Luckily, I know how to bat my eyelashes in just the right way to get him to ignore the numbers every once in a while.
- Discuss any purchases above $150. This is mostly a failsafe for MisterE as he has a penchant for brown leather monkstrap shoes. I won’t tell you how many pairs of brown leather shoes he owns, but just know that it’s not a healthy number of brown leather shoes.
And that’s it! That’s how we do finances around these parts. We have financial peace and I get to avoid talking about money except for our monthly budget meetings, which take about 30 minutes to get through.
We’ve been doing things this way for over six years and have yet to have an argument about money. Well…there was that one time we were looking for daycares for Hurricane, and MisterE was convinced that I had googled “the top 5 most expensive daycares” for him to choose from.
All that said, MisterE and I were recently speaking to our good friends over at Hana’s SewAmazingLifestyle on YouTube, and they had us (well, me) rethinking how we split up our money.
Hana raised the point that it simply costs more to be a woman.
For example, men pay for soap.
Women pay for shampoos, conditioners, nails, lashes,
torture devices bras, face and body washes, make up, make up brushes, make up remover, make up classes, designer facials that are supposed to render make up obsolete… you get the idea. As such, she gets more pocket money than her hubby.
I found myself nodding in agreement as she said all this. It made perfect sense. Clearly, I need more money.
Hana also mentioned that Kunle pays for her hair care every month because it’s his privilege as a husband to take care of his wife… the same way he used to take care of her when they were dating.
I found this so funny as I thought back to the days when MisterE would give me money for my “upkeep.” Surely I need even more upkeep as a wife!
At this point the husbands began to shake their heads and tried to wrap up our conversation.
Long story short; MisterE and I did not renegotiate our budget after that conversation. What works for other people would quite possibly be disastrous for us. That doesn’t mean our way is the right way to do things. In fact, we’re always open to new ideas.
What tips and tricks are you using in your home to keep your finances in order? Do you use a budget, or live on hope? Let me know in the comments below!
*Oh, right: our 5 savings accounts for those who are curious are: (1) Emergency Fund/Long Term Savings, (2)Travel and Projects, (3) Car & Home Maintenance and Replacement, (4) Gifting, and (5) Roth IRAs.
Hey there! I am...
A homebody with wanderlust striving to balance the thrill of travel with the comfort of home. On the road, I am a photographer and storyteller. At home, I am an interior designer and personal servant to my two kids. In all cases, I seek out good food and belly laughs.
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