It’s inevitable. An individual within a married couple will become the main financial person. It’s common knowledge that over the course of marriage, either the husband or wife will emerge as the “one who does the finances.” But should this be allowed to be taken to the extreme? Should only one be in charge of the finances while the other is left in the dark? Of course not! If you’re struggling with who should do the accounting, budgeting, and spending within your marriage, this article is for you.
My wife and I have been married for a little over a year now. Fairly quickly, it was evident that I was more interested in personal finance than she, so I began researching budgeting methods and implementing our finances. I knew that my wife needed to be involved in the process, but I wasn’t sure to what degree.
Typically, I would sit down with her every month and we would decide together how to spend our money for the next month. It worked well, but I felt something was missing. Nevertheless, I proceeded to reconcile all our transactions, send off all the bills, and have overall control over the financial situation. It just didn’t feel right. I had to find out what was missing!
After much thought, I found that I had just too much responsibility and needed Courtney to know the inner workings of our budget. Instead of reconciling our transactions myself, we now sit down together and do it! It was not enough for Courtney to know how much to spend or even enough to just have a say in how much we spend, she needed to be a part of the larger process. Now she knows how to reconcile transactions in MoneyWell, how our bill scheduler works, and other nuances of our financial plan.
Benefits Of Equal Financial Responsibility
So why share all the little fine details of your financial plan with your spouse? Here are a few reasons it is crucial to a healthy financial future.
- Brings up discussion on spending habits: By reviewing transactions together at the same time, you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions about why money is being spent on certain items. Remember, this is an opportunity for discussion, not argument. Encourage each other in this process.
- Ensures that each person is financially capable in case of emergency: If you were to be in the hospital for any extended period of time, would your spouse understand what bills to pay and when? If not, go over all the essentials with your loved one to make sure the financial end of things is handled while you’re recovering!
- Builds your relationship as you spend time learning to work together: This one is powerful. Learning to work together as a team is essential for any relationship. If you can’t work together in marriage, your marriage is likely to fall apart. Budgeting together is a wonderful opportunity to learn from each other and build your communication skills.
If you’re having trouble getting your spouse to let go of some financial responsibility and letting you get involved, be patient and prayerful. If your husband or wife is controlling and wants to handle it all, counseling is recommended – there are probably larger issues that you must address.
Most importantly, keep communication at a high level. There will be less room for argument and you’ll become more productive in your financial plan. So, do you share equal financial responsibility with your spouse? Start today.
Peter Anderson says
We share the responsibility at our household, but I still end up being the main financial person who takes care of things. My wife, however, knows how to reconcile things in her checkbook and then in Microsoft Money – the program we use – and we have somewhat regular family budget meetings. Could she be more involved in our finances? Probably – and I should probably take the lead on this and get her more involved.
We have a mix of joint and split responsibilities at my house. We jointly come up with a budget about twice a year. We use Numbers (like Excel, part of iWork) to record the budget. Also, we jointly decide on giving although often we have items that we individually have a desire to give to and are free to do that.
Individually, she pays the bills and tracks our monthly progress letting me know how we are doing frequently. I can also check an envelope at any time. For this we use mvelopes.com and have been using it for almost 3 years. I handle the investing.
Recently my wife wrote a “paying our bills for dummies” for me and is keeping it updated as things change. This is a document we keep in our safe at our house that explains to me how I would pay the bills if anything would happen to her.
I think I will try to blog on our budgeting strategy that helped us pay off our house tomorrow.
Mint has brought us together. ;) Seriously, I find that having Mint on his iTouch has helped him see what and where we’re spending. Now how to get him to click on the icon more often…
Another reason why it is important for both individuals within the marriage to know where / how the money is being spent is if there was an emergency of some sort and the “financial” person wasn’t able to pay bills, like an injury or extended travel, etc. That way the “non-financial” person knows what is happening and can make sure there are no missed payments.
@Jenna – this is one reason why we have a cheat sheet that I called “paying bills for dummies” so I could know when to pay what bills out of what check if anything happened to my wife. In the worst case (death) you need clear written instructions that take little remembering or memorization to understand and someone else could step in if needed. We saw this with an acquaintance earlier this year who lost their husband at 36 years old, even though he had told her what to do several times she blanked in the difficulty of the moment and a friend had to step in and help her do it because she couldn’t handle the situation.
A cheat sheet is a great idea. My grandma went from not having a clue after my grandpa died, to being a money management whiz a couple months later. However, those first couple months were pretty rough (for obvious reasons).
I’ve tried to get my husband involved with the finances, but he simply has no interest. Part of it is that he knows that he is terrible with money, and I don’t think he trusts himself to go anywhere near it.
I have tried several times in the past to get him more involved. The best I’ve managed is to verbally update him on our progress (savings, debt reduction, and projection for the next couple of weeks) after doing the budget for the week.
He’s happy as long as I give him his “blow money” once a month, and that’s all he has to worry about. Fortunately, he has started practicing the art of budgeting THAT money, so maybe there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
I really like the cheat sheet idea. I worry sometimes about what he will do if anything happens to me. I have a very fine-tuned system for which week certain bills get paid, which weeks we contribute to savings and which weeks we pay down debt. This system practically runs itself and requires very little effort on my part – just monitoring, really. Realistically, he should at least learn this.
Lots to think about – thanks!