A while ago I came across this article about money matters and mistakes in marriage. There are different ways to handle finances in a marriage, there is not a one size fits all solution for finances. It is important however to find a solution that fits your situation and work on it.
What NOT to do.
I have seen people post and talk about hiding purchases from their spouses all the time. “I just had to have it, I’ll tell him about it later.” “I make the money I can spend it how I want.” “She’ll find out when she balances the checkbook.” “I will wait until he is in a better mood before telling him about my purchase.” I have heard these and so many other excuses and justifications. In the long run there will be conflict in a marriage. Honesty and open communication is vital in all aspects of any relationship, especially a marriage. Statements like these are telling of the relationship and functionality. It baffles me when men and women find the need to hide purchases from their spouses.
Making it work.
Buying presents and gifts is great and not about hiding purchases. Like all things, make it smart, plan it out and fit it in your budget. Set aside funds for gift purchases, there are multiple ways to do this; separate “extra” spending accounts or cash withdrawals worked into the budget.
In order to properly balance a checking account and monthly finances spouses need to know about miscellaneous purchases and make large purchases together. As with many other aspects in a marriage, open communication is important and vital for success. Find ways to work together on extra purchases. Make informed decisions when making larger more expensive purchases and do it together.
Fear in a marriage should not exist between partners, especially over finances. If honesty does not exist regarding purchases for the household how can there be honesty in the rest of the marriage?
On the other side it is necessary to be understanding and listen when a partner wants to discuss purchases and finances. Remember there is a bigger picture. Both partners work to maintain a marriage and household. Not always do both of them receive a physical financial paycheck for their work. Withholding money or giving an allowance belittles the other person and makes the marriage unequal.
Between his ex-wife spending all of his savings before leaving him during a deployment and my ex leaving me with all of our debt we had no real savings to speak of but we had plenty of debt. Over the years we have paid some off and accumulated some others. Our biggest purchasing decision was when we bought a house a few years ago. Because of the VA requirements, my name was not on the loan or the title for the house. It will eventually be changed, this is our only money problem. We have had to communicate and work together to achieve this working relationship with our finances.
In our marriage AJ makes the money, I stay home and manage the house and household matters, including the finances. I have always handled my own finances prior to being married. I had a system for managing my bank account, paying bills and leisurely spending. When we got married we took some time but eventually merged all of our accounts. We consolidated some bills and set out a general long term plan.
I pay the bills, balance our joint checking account and allot out funds to each of our individual checking accounts for additional spending. The additional spending and separate accounts are built into our monthly budget. When I make household purchases not built into our budget I let AJ know about them so he also has an understanding of where the money is going each paycheck. Just as unfair as it would be for him to put me on an allowance from his paycheck it would be equally unfair of me to spend all of the money each payday without letting him know or consulting him on the purchases.
Find what works for you and stick with it, keep open, honest and two-way communication in mind and in the process.