Dual incomes suuuure sounds like a sweet deal, doesn’t it?
Twice the money! Twice the stuff! And we’re so in love, it’s not like we’ll ever disagree on how to spend the cash or how to manage the bank accounts or how we can’t afford a new flat screen TV this year because it’s almost time for new curtains on all the windows. Compared to being single and having to pay for everything on a date, being a couple with money must be like like living in some sort of futuristic utopia, right?
Learning to survive on your own as an adult is a process. Some folks are naturally good with finances, but a lot of us aren’t. It’s a skill, a careful balance of budgeting and pre-planning, resistance to temptation and discipline that a lot of people simply don’t have when they start out on their own. So you can imagine how frustrating it might be when you’ve spent all that time figuring out how to keep your money straight only to find yourself loving someone who you come to find out spends like it’s water.
Couples argue about money. It’s a simple fact. Even the healthiest and happiest of relationships will find themselves at odds sometimes when it comes to finances.
Sometimes it’s about not having enough money, sometimes it’s about wasting what little excesses you do find yourself with — but a lot of the times it’s not even the money that’s the problem. Sometimes the arguments are about who controls the finances, or even where the money is kept.
Before you know it — arguments about money start sounding more like arguments about trust.
One of my first jobs out of school was working in a warehouse. We’d spend the day loading train cars with car parts. Every two weeks we’d get paychecks, and a bunch of the guys would immediately cash theirs. This one old guy I remember would always take part of the cash and put it in his socks. When I asked him one day why he did it, he said “My wife handles all the bills, but she doesn’t know how much I actually make. The sock money is mine.”
Damn, is that really how things are out there?
I was thinking about something that I keep hearing while the talking heads keep blabbing on about the election — about how women voters may have thoughts about social issues, but that their main voting concerns are with the economy, since so many of them handle the bills for their families.
And it got me to thinking — In the committed relationships you’re in (or the ones you’ve been in/hope to be in later) — do you have strong feelings about who should “control” the money?
Joint bank accounts or individual? Who’s “in charge” of the bills? Was this decided outright or was it the sort of thing that evolved over time?
Is this a straight gender thing, or should it be left to the person who’s better/more disciplined at it? Is there a best way to handle it? Or is it different for everybody?
Wondering how the menfolk feel about this,
- Miss Independent
We put this question to the OHN men’s roundtable and opened the floor to discussion. Guys from all across the country offered opinions — and even in some cases shared similar experiences of their own. Here are some of the highlights:
I’ve been an advocate of joint accounts for house bills. My check goes in. Any per diems or bonuses is my money– even tax returns if I’m the one filing Married. I’ve found that this approach keeps me hustling so I can have my own play money. She handles the bills outright, though. I don’t need the headache.
Since I’m the breadwinner I handle most of the big “house” bills; rent, lights, phones, groceries — things like that. She handles the insurance and childcare. Everything else is pretty much first come first serve, whoever has the money when something’s due is the one that pays it.
I used to be absolutely horrible with money. It wasn’t at all my thing, even though it should be common sense. My girl on the other hand is a budgeting genius. We have always had joint accounts and I have neverrrrrr lied to her about how much money I make. You can’t build real relationships on lying.
I don’t care who pays the bills. I don’t even care how much she spends. I’m a simple man, as long as I have enough money at the end of the day for weed and gourmet groceries I’m good.
It always bothered me when women or men talked about having “secret accounts” or withholding some money in an emergency get out quick fund — to me that seems like planning for failure. I’m all for honesty and openness: joint accounts, bills & budget handled by whomever is best at it, though both parties are involved.
I don’t care who controls the money, as long as s**t gets paid. If she made more money than me I’d probably have the expectation that she would step up and handle more of the financial responsibility. The way we do things are now kind of evolved from a time when she didn’t have a job, so I handled everything. But then when she found work she started stepping in piece-by-piece.
I like keeping a joint acct for bill purposes ONLY. My girl was horrible with money. She never seemed to understand priorities at all. So rather than pay a bill, she would go out buy shyt. Then when she was late on one of her bills she’d come ask me for the money a day (and in a few cases hours before) it was actually due or something was about to be cut off. I hated that. My parents told me that they always had their own money and a joint account. I figure as long as I pay the bills from our joint account, my girl doesn’t need to know how much I make.
I’m in pretty much the same position. My wife is a much better money manager, and to be honest I really sort of hate dealing with it all, so it ended up being an easy divide.
I’m an all or nothing type of person, so the way I see it — if we can share on creating life, we should be able share everything else. I’m talking about everything, finances included. If all of a sudden my wife decided that she needed her own account which i wasn’t privy to knowing what was in it — the divorce would be finalized by that afternoon.
Did anyone feel like handling the finances should be their job before their significant other “took it away” from them? Was it like a blow to your pride or something (even if they turned out to be better at it)?
Or did anyone ever end up “taking over” the job after finding out their partner wasn’t that great at it?
Early on in our relationship it did cause some tension, mainly due to my pride. When we first got married — she made considerably more money than me and I always felt awkward when ever I got money our of our joint account. Over time, that feeling went away due to her patience and me maturing.
I took over when I realized my ex wife was horribly irresponsible with money. Hell I’m still paying for her mistakes.
To be honest, neither of us is very good with money — but if I’m going to err, it’s going to be on the side of my wife telling me that my daughter needed that cute little coat as opposed to me trying to justify needing beer money and then later on in the week not having enough money to put gas in the car.
Joint accounts work best for us, but there is one problem — it’s impossible for me to buy her surprise gifts. Because she handles the accounts, she always knows when I’ve been shopping or when I try to get large amounts of cash out. I finally reached the point where I opened a second account that I send a small amount per paycheck to for gifts for her — and she doesn’t mind at all
One of the things you learn real quick when you go through a divorce is that when the love is gone, the way you deal with money gets a LOT more cutthroat. All the money fights I had when I was married about who was bad with the bills and who’s name was on the accounts is NOTHING compared to what I deal with now. So if you’re in something good and you really love the person you’re with — sit down if you’re having tensions about the bills or the bank and work that shyt out.
It ain’t like you can take it with you.
But that’s just our opinion. What do you think?
Got a situation? Need a man’s opinion?
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