How our house handles the money issue

I’m pretty sure one of the biggest topics of argument among couples is money. Understandably–you’re used to managing your own money and holding only yourself accountable… then you’re married and suddenly there’s this thing called “our” money and more bills, and kids, and who pays for what and whose money do you use?!

I’ve talked to friends and family many times about how they figured things out and how they handle money issues with their spouse. Seriously every family does something different. The key is finding what works for YOU. Some relinquish all duties to the husband. Or to the wife. Some take “allowances.” Some have separate accounts and some have joint accounts.

After 5 years of marriage, I’m going to briefly tell you what WE do and how it works for us. Believe me, we’ve tried many different ways of managing our money and have had many arguments civil discussions about it. I think we have finally caught on to something that works (for us).

budget

We have a joint account AND we each have our own separate accounts. All income goes into the joint account… that’s my husband’s salary and the money I make from blog/freelance work online. Even my paypal account is emptied into the joint account… it’s all “OUR money.”

The joint account is used to pay every bill, mortgage, gas, groceries, as well as things for the home and family like furniture, clothes for the kids, decorations, gifts, etc.

At the start of every month we have an automatic deposit from our joint account into each of our individual accounts. This is basically an “allowance.” It took  us a few months of trial and error to figure out how much we comfortably needed, but also a good “limit” so we don’t overspend and are able to save. This money is just for us… we don’t have to tell each other what this money is spent on or ask before we spend it. I use mine for clothes, Starbucks, lunches out with friends, haircuts, etc. MY stuff. Season 3 of Downton Abbey… you know, the important stuff 😉

We limit spending on unnecessary things. The easiest way for us to do this is to insist we use our individual accounts because the money in those accounts is limited. So if we want to go out for dinner? Or eat fast food for lunch or go to the movies or order pizza for dinner, etc, we decide if it’s worth it to use our precious “allowance” money. If we go out for dinner, we usually split it and each pay half from our individual accounts. This keeps us on somewhat on a budget–it makes us watch our spending and if we run out of money in our own account before the end of the month??? We’re out of money until the start of the next month!

I was reading this article that’s actually about ways to make your retirement cheaper… or, in other words, ways to save money so you have more of a nest egg when you retire. The tips are great though for any phase of your life like creating a budget, shop smart (buy in bulk, use coupons, etc.), make your home more efficient (conserve water, turn off lights, etc.)…

My husband is an excel nut. He has a spreadsheet for EVERYTHING. Our “budget” file has like 10 different tabs and tracks every penny we make and spend. It’s divided into categories so I can see in a second how much we spend every month or every year on fast food, our electric bill, clothes, car expenses, etc. It’s a great way to compare month to month and helps you to prepare for the following year (like we spent way more in Nov/Dec because of Christmas and Ryan’s birthday… so we need to budget for more money during that time of year). We use mint.com to track all our accounts and you can easily label EVERY expense with whatever categories you create… this is how Steve easily has categorized totals to put in his excel spreadsheets. It has helped us SO MUCH to track everything like this and has allowed us to create a nice savings. The best part is that we both have access at any time to mint.com and our spreadsheets–we both always know what’s going on.

You can get started with this handy budget calculator from Genworth Financial. It separates your essential expenses (rent/mortgage, groceries, bills, etc.) from your “nice to have” expenses like fun and dining out.

Find the system that works for you and good luck!!! Everything runs much more smoothly in our house when we don’t have to constantly discuss money. Good luck!

~Information for this post is sourced from Genworth Financial in partnership with the SheHeard Influencer Network. All opinions are my own! Photo credit: by Tax Credits at flickr.com

7 comments to How our house handles the money issue

  • Sounds like you really have a handle on it. Budgeting as a family is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, and we may have to shift to an ‘allowance’ system. Generally we are pretty tight and share everything, but I am so much happier when I do have my own *mad money* to do with what I want. The way you describe being able to buy clothes and coffee with no questions ask… Hopefully we can find that balance soon! The worst for me is having to justify spending money on my friends. An allowance type system would fix that.

    [Reply]

    babydickey Reply:

    Yea, we used to do it that way – share everything – and I found myself constantly asking permission to buy things or feeling guilty if I ate out or got Starbucks. I hated feeling that way… it’s kind of weird to think of being on an “allowance,” but we both are and it actually helps us save a lot of money. It’s definitely about finding a balance! Good luck!

    [Reply]

  • I really like the idea of having the joint account and then separate accounts. I have no problems sharing money, but it does get annoying to constantly ask how much “fun” money there is left or try to keep gift purchases a surprise.

    [Reply]

  • jenn

    this is a great post. I totally agree that most couples fight about finances. Thank you for the Budget counter I’ve been looking for way to work out our budget in my family.

    [Reply]

  • My husband and I thank goodness don’t argue over money. We do have our own accounts which makes it so nice for the both of us.

    [Reply]

    babydickey Reply:

    That’s great! I do think having separate accounts helps a ton!

    [Reply]

  • Alene Nielsen

    Having separate accounts is a great idea. This would stop lots or arguments.

    [Reply]

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