Apr 9, 2012

Budget me this

I think one of the hardest parts of marriage is coming up with a budget style that works for both spouses. One spouse normally has "control" over the money and pays the bills. I'm no good at paying bills and my husband is an accountant, so it seemed only natural that he take this lead role.


Honestly, I hate to be told how to spend and not spend money. About twenty years ago my husband sat me down to show me "where our money goes". He had this great, colorized pie chart that showed how much went towards household expenses, how much to groceries, how much to utilities, and how much apparently just drifted off into space and was unaccounted for. It was (rolling eyes) for my benefit and his "nice way" of telling me I needed to keep better track of the money I spent.

I smiled, and ripped up the pie chart. 

He's not done that since.

So how do you work out a way for both spouses to have access to money, but to not be accountable for every single (@#$()@#($* penny you spend?  YES, we worked it out. Here we are, now married 34 years and we've never had one fight over money since the infamous Day of the Pie Chart. Here's what we do.

We have two checking accounts and two savings accounts - in different banks. We both have access to all accounts, but I don't carry around "his" checks or debit card, and he doesn't carry around mine.

My husband is responsible for all utilities, housing costs, car costs, insurance, entertainment/vacations and maintenance.

I am responsible for all groceries, medical (co-payments and medicine), clothing, pets and pet care, gift giving (birthdays and Christmas), and any new household items (new toaster, any new decorating, etc.)

I don't work outside the home, with a few exceptions here and there. I sometimes earn money through Ebay or CraigsList or by having a yard sale (or by waiting until my husband left for work to sell his riding lawn mower because it didn't have brakes and he ran over my bird feeder)... So I depend on my husband's income entirely. So, at the beginning of the month, he deposits XXX dollars in my account to cover the expenses for which I'm responsible, plus a tiny bit of wiggle room for unexpected expenses (aka fabric).

If I have money left at the end of the month, it goes into my savings account and I feel free to use it in any way I like (quilting class, fabric, vacation to Mexico with the pool boy -- still saving for that one.) The money my husband has left over at the end of the month goes into his savings account as our emergency fund and/or retirement fund.

Lately prices have gone up so much on groceries and gas, that when my husband got a raise at work, I asked for a raise as well. It only made sense (to me).

My husband no longer has to know where every penny I spend goes, so long as I stick to my monthly budget as planned. In his "pie chart" he just labels the money that goes to me "household expenses". For me, I know I have to stick to a budget, but that I don't have to report that "today I bought a yard of fabric on sale" and feel guilty about it.

Our style may not work for everyone, but it certainly works for us.

Life is good - especially when there's no Pie Chart involved!


Karen said...

Tag is really horrible with money - if there's a penny in his pocket he will find a way to spend it - so I am the money person in our house. The money all goes into one account and I pay bills, etc. He has a debit card, and uses it for his gas, etc. I keep track on a daily basis through our online banking, and if money is getting low at the end of the week, I let him know he has to "cool it". If he wants to buy something big, we discuss if we can afford it and if we can, he buys it. It works for us!

beebee said...

I think money is one thing that couples really have to work on. We established a strict budget when we were younger and raising children. We set up envelopes at home and put a monthly deposit of cash in each one....they were labeled...groceries, utilities, clothing, medical, recreation. I think that was all of them.. It worked for us and taught me how to budget. We now just use our debit cards to pay for just about everything. We used to have one account and well, I'm a spender. Each month I would spend the checking account down to 0.....I originally suggested a separate checking account for me and my expenses, he was upset and thought we needed to keep it all together. about 7 years later, after me spending the income to the 0 mark each month, he suggested that maybe he could take over paying the monthly bills and that we should have a separate account for my spending..what a novel idea...he's so smart....ha ha it had to be his idea and I am ok with that. Since we did that. our joint checking account has grown quite nicely and I have my account to do with as I wish. I get a retirement income so we each have $ coming in each month. We are hoping not to have to dip into his 401 K anytime soon. God has blessed us with plenty, we are not rich in the least but we do not have bit needs if you know what I mean. We have both been retired for about 8 years....I ramble too much!