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Old 02-04-2012, 09:47 AM   #1
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Default Looking for a little marriage perspective

Hi Ladies,

I guess I am looking for an unbiased forum for this issue, because I know my friends have their own opinions about this and I'd rather hear advice from some level-headed individuals who aren't involved I realize that the general rule is "you never talk about money", but in this case, I want to because I feel like many marriages struggle with this, and if someone else has an idea that might make things work better for us, I would like to know.

My husband is a wonderful man. He's very supportive, he has loved me equally through thick and thin, and we have been through a lot together. I met him when I was only 14 and he was 18... and we've now been together for over 11 years. I just turned 26.

I had a pretty rough childhood and I didn't have a very solid foundation on which to build myself as a teenager. However, my husband is a very level-headed, logical, practical person, and he brought a lot of stability to my life. He was something I could count on when I couldn't count on anyone at home. However, I look at his parents, and to be frank, his Dad is a VERY controlling man. I would say to the point of being verbally abusive. My husband vowed to never be like that because he hated seeing it growing up, but I have always feared that it would still come back to affect us.

So, where we are today... my husband handles all the finances. He's very responsible about it, and his methods are meticulous - he has spreadsheets that go out 4-5 months in advance in an attempt to predict where we will be financially down the road. Since he is the one who does the finances, and I really don't have much involvement... I go to him for any and everything that involves spending money. And being that he is a very practical person, he hates it when I tell him I would like to buy something un-practical. And by un-practical, I mean anything that we don't absolutely need right now. If I want something, he usually asks me to give up something else in return... so I give up going out to eat 5 times so I can get new curtains. Just as an example.

He knows I can be somewhat spontaneous and he knows we have different ideas about how to spend money. He admitted he would never trust me to do the finances. However, I really don't think I am a big spender at all... I never am the type to go on a "shopping spree". And when I want things, it's usually something like paint for a room that hasn't been

I know in his mind, he feels he is keeping us safe from financial issues. However, I work full time just like him, and I feel frustrated at having him be the gatekeeper and having to ask permission to buy anything that costs more than $10.00... like I have no control over the money that I earn.

Is there a way to rectify this? If you don't mind sharing... how do you all handle finances? Does it work for you?
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Old 02-04-2012, 09:58 AM   #2
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I think it is a big problem that you are not involved in setting the budget and making decisions. You need to be a partner and know exactly what is going on. You should have control over the money you earn, but that also means you must be in the loop about your financial obligations.

You are being treated like a child.

Alternatively, you could sit down with him and figure out what your share of the bills are and keep your extra money in your own account for your own use. I know some people do this successfully. Our relationship is "all in"--everything we make goes into the pot.
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Old 02-04-2012, 10:02 AM   #3
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Generally when each person works their salaries go to benefit both of them rent, car, insurance, groceries, etc, BUT you should have some walking around money, some money to spend as you wish whether it is for household or personal expenses for yourself. Talk it over with him and see if it won't harm his fianancial planner if you keep a portion of your salary for just the things you mention.
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Old 02-04-2012, 10:26 AM   #4
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Thanks for the input ladies

I have talked to him about having spending money. But, here's the problem: he says that he can't calculate it because our financial situation changes every month. I have asked him for a number, like $50.00 a month, and he said he can't do that because one month we might have a surplus and then the next month, we might not have to dip into the savings, and he doesn't want to promise me spending money every month, and then be like "oops, sorry, we can't do that this month". We aren't hurting for money (at least not how I think of "hurting"... I grew up in a household where the family account balance would regularly hit $15.00 at the end of the month, so I don't see us as being in bad shape). However, my husband grew up in a more affluent household, and I feel that our childhoods might be shaping our perspectives of how much money we should realistically have in our bank account.

We do go to a therapist to help talk through various issues, and a big one has been this money issue. However, my therapist hasn't really offered us any advice other than "there are many ways to do a budget, and here's the different ways" and "a lot of couples fight about money. It's normal."

I do know that part of this is probably my fault in that I have allowed him, since the beginning of the marriage, to make all of these decisions without being terribly involved. It's only recently that I think I starting taking exception to this set up. I just recently got a job where I am making considerably more money than I was before, and I guess one day I was kind of like "well, where is all this extra money going, and why can't I spend any of it?".

To my husband's credit... last year was a very sucky year for us financially. Our house had problem after problem, and we shelled out well over $10,000 in house repairs last year. I think he is really scared of the same thing happening this year, and he wants to keep as much money in the bank as possible in case the same thing happens.

We have tried separate bank accounts before... back when we first got married. It wasn't pretty. However, I don't really remember why it was so hard at this point, and I think we are in a different situation now... before, I was making practically nothing compared to my husband, but now we are less than $10k apart from eachother in salary. Things feel much more balanced now and I want to play a bigger part in our financial situation... but my husband is very resistant to change and I think he will be like "Well, we tried something different before, and that didn't work very well, did it?"
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Old 02-04-2012, 10:48 AM   #5
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We're the flip. I handle all finances because my spouse is not good at it. We tried other ways but here's how we've been for at least a decade or more.

I invite him to review the budget periodically to make sure we agree on goals. Usually when I set up the spreadsheet at New Year. Then from time to time throughout.

But basically we have all joint accounts. Then if one of us kicks the bucket, it's easier to deal with. But we treat each acct for a specific thing and stay out of each other's way.

There's his "allowance" and my "allowance" and this is the fun stuff. No questions asked about what thing it is you bought -- it's your allowance. The only rule is something new comes in, something old goes away. Doesn't matter what -- just to maintain some kind of clutter control. It could be a new CD ousts an old book -- it doesn't have to be CD for CD. YKWIM? His is a bit more because it covers gas and lunches too and he goes out further than me. We started out the same and then figured out the gas discrepancy -- he needs one extra tank.

I sometimes thinks what he buys with his allowance is goofy, but whatever. I'm sure he thinks the same about my buys. But it's allowance.

Then there's the house accounts. One is fixed bills, always the same. That's were autopayments are pulled from. One is flex spending that changes -- groceries, home purchases, dinner out, that type thing. Then savings.

To me, things like curtains and paint would come out of flex house. Because it's not something that happens monthly but it is for the house.

What I do is take the paycheck deposit, top up the accounts accordingly, then we go from there.

If he happens to get something house oriented on his lunch break he buys on his allowance and I just pay him back when he gives me the receipt with a transfer from the right acct.

Hope that makes sense.

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Old 02-04-2012, 10:54 AM   #6
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We have a pot (account) for household expenses (groceries, electric, savings, etc.) and we each pay half of those. We split or take turns on stuff like movies, dinner out (sometimes treat each other) and then bigger stuff we discuss and usually split too. We agree on ballpark figures for gifts for each other, etc. Whatever's left over belongs to each of us to spend how we want. House stuff like curtains is split and we make a joint decision. We pay our own gas and insurance for our cars, but if we take a long driving trip, we split. We each spent a lot of years single, so we are used to covering certain things for ourselves. He's not controlling in the least, and I appreciate that sooooooo much.

Does your husband spend stuff on himself and withhold from you? I guess it's not quite as bad if he's tight with himself too.

I have to say, it doesn't sound like a good arrangement to me. I might not count as a level-headed person on this issue and be biased. My parents' marriage sounds like yours. My mother had to beg for every penny. She didn't even have her name on the accounts for years and years. My mother was not an extravagant person; it was my father who spent. She finally insisted when they retired that she be in on the planning. That was when they managed to save, finally. I swore it would not happen to me.

Edit: I'm glad you're seeing a therapist because hopefully that shows he is aware of the issues.

Last edited by tea2; 02-04-2012 at 11:10 AM.
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Old 02-04-2012, 11:04 AM   #7
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I work in an office. I work hard to earn my own money--but we pool it and pay the bills and it isn't that we each have an allowance, but we take $200 a week out and leave it in our home for gas and a few lattes (a real treat for us both), the occasional lunch, or the occasional run to the grocery store for an odd item, possibly a pizza delivery treat. Trust me, much of the $200 goes to gasoline these days! Anyhow, I am not an extravagant spender. To keep this post about you and not about me, let me just state that I would be averse to my husband controlling all of the money, half of which is mine, and telling me I could not buy curtains, curtains, and knowing that I have to give up X to get Y, when X and Y are relatively inexpensive to begin with. It isn't as if you've said to him "honey, I'd like to buy a Lexis." Perhaps he is not abusive like his father, but he definitely is controlling if you have to have his permission to purchase things, and he is treating you like an incompetent.

At a minimum, I feel you should get co-involved in the budgeting, the planning, the banking, and actually see your bank account statements and the spreadsheets that pay all the bills, so you know what he is doing with your money. If he is sending significant extra amounts of payments in addition to the minimum on bills, you might want him to stop that so you have a little bit more cash flow. While its great to get out of debt quicker, its not a great idea to send so much that you put yourself in a month-to-month financial situation where you are cash strapped. You should know how much cash you have on hand at any given moment.

As devious as it sounds, if you have a coin jar, you may want to start dipping into it $1 at a time and stashing that away for yourself (although if you do have one, describing his habits, he may know whats in the jar to the penny, huh?). When you go grocery shopping, if you pay by check, add an additional $10 to the tab, and get that cash back, and save it up somewhere for yourself. If you have to have him approve every little purchase, perhaps squirreling a tiny bit away for yourself, devious I know, might be what you have to do. If you take a $20 bill and run to dunkin donuts, or the deli for something, etc., take some of the change for yourself and hide it away. Instead of getting $20 worth of gas, get $18 and hide the $2. Sadly, I suggest these tactics to you.

It would drive me nuts if my husband told me I couldn't have a small thing. My father is dead; I don't need to be treated like a child. Your husband is being very controlling.

Also, that you write he is meticulous about the bills and does spreadsheets months in advance.....that would drive me insane.

Is that your final answer?

Last edited by 124chicksinger; 02-04-2012 at 11:05 AM.
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Old 02-04-2012, 11:10 AM   #8
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Money. What a big issue it can be in a relationship.

Currently my husband makes 2 to 2 1/2 times what I do. He pays all the household bills. I pay my own credit card bill, health insurance payments and buy food. We each have our own checking accounts. We are an unusual couple because money has been the least of our problems. I did have a problem at one time because my husband is so giving. He would help someone do a pole barn job and that person would get paid and Rod would not take anything. I gave up on that battle. I have to accept his giving personality.

Balancedlife-after reading your post. My advice is to both agree to put a certain amount of money in the household fund and have some for yourself. Dont ask him to give you permission-make it a choice for him as a choice of what the amount is. Subtract the amount from you weekly pay and give him a $ to cho0se. You deserve to have some of the money you earn. Your check less $25 or $50 a week or whatever amount. I have a feeling this is deeper than money-I think it is about control.

I am no pro at marriage though. Just my thoughts. This is a very touchy situation and you need to do what your mind and heart tell you.
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Old 02-04-2012, 11:13 AM   #9
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Ugh. We are in "financial lockdown" (said with ominous tone and downward hand motions) because we are working really hard to pay off our newly redone office. All our extra money is going there and there isn't much for "fripperies" right now. So, I'm coloring my own hair (the horror!) and doing without new clothes. I'm used to having plenty of spending cash for little things like songs from iTunes or a new pair of earrings or Starbucks coffee, so it is killing me.

We recently were in BB&B and I saw a couple of very cute pictures that I thought would be perfect for our new house. Total cost 50.00 - my husband said we just really shouldn't buy them right now and we left without them. It was really really hard for me.

If this were long term and not a temporary situation, I wouldn't be able to deal with it. I would advise contributing the majority of your paycheck to your joint account and setting up your own account where you can directly deposit what you feel is a suitable amount of spending money for you. You need to be able to spend at least some of your own money how you want without having to consult your husband for a 10.00+ purchase. That's crazy.
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Last edited by Glory87; 02-04-2012 at 11:14 AM.
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Old 02-04-2012, 11:29 AM   #10
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Default re

You have every right to know where your money is going, period.

Ask him to see the spreadsheets he works on or whatever he uses, even if they are on "his" computer. If you bank online, make sure you have all the user ids and passwords.

I'm sorry, but if he doesn't agree, flat out start out putting your money back into your own checking account, then sit down and do the bills together.

And that therapist? Seriously - it's normal? It's not the 1950's and you're not 10 years old. You have an equal right to everything in the marriage, especially the money you bring home.

I've seen and heard too many stories where a marriage breaks up and the woman is left with nothing financially because she let the husband do it all.


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Old 02-04-2012, 12:06 PM   #11
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Hi everyone,

Thank you so much for the continued input. I am happy to hear how other couples do it, because I know there is not one "right" way to do everything, and I do think that we need to do SOMETHING to change how we are doing it right now.

I do want to clarify... the finances are no secret. We share computers and at any point, I can go in and look at the spreadsheets whenever I want. And when he does do the finances, he shows me where things stand. The problem is, we have differing views on what the numbers mean and what is "acceptable".

For example... At the end of the month, I see that we have $3,000 in the savings account. (I am just throwing out numbers, this isn't necessarily a reflection on our actual situation). I see that and I go, huh, well, I should be able to spend $50.00 on paint this month and take care of that ugly, dingy yellow sunroom (that is true... this sunroom has been hanging over my head since we bought the house over a year ago). My husband will say "No, we don't have $50.00 this month, because next month you need new tires and the dog has to go to the vet to get her teeth cleaned.

I still see the $50.00 as a small expense and say, well, what difference is that going to make? And his response is "Well, first you want $50.00 for this and then you'll want $50 for that and before you know it, we've spent $500."

And as for his spending... he's not a spender at all. He is very big on "just appreciating everything you have" (which I don't disagree with) and he just feels that he would like to have lots and lots of money in the savings to feel "safe" before we go and spend money on things that he doesn't see as necessary. Like I said, I think he is still scared of large unexpected house expenses.

Now, it's not like I never spend money... last week we went shopping, and I got a yoga mat. But, I felt like I couldn't buy it unless I "asked permission" first. And this is what is bothering me. That I feel the need to ask permission. He isn't my father, he is my partner, and he shouldn't have the almighty power to veto my every financial decision.

The thing that set this whole thought process in motion (why I came here to get some other perspectives) is that I just had my birthday. For his birthday, he said that I shouldn't spend too much money... so I didn't. I spent a total of $60 on him. However, we do have a trip coming up (with his parents - no comment), and our current digital camera is not that great. I had asked for a camera for Christmas, and I never got it. So, it wasn't a surprise that, for my birthday, he bought a digital camera. However... it's a $210 camera... and with all the accessories he bought for it, it came out to over $300. And it's not the camera I asked for... that one was $170, and I didn't need any accessories for it. When I asked him about why he spent so much... he was like "Well, when I buy things I want to do it right and get something really good that will last a long time. And since it's kind of for both of us, I figured I could spend more." For both of us... my birthday present, which is different than what I wanted, is for both of us...

Last night, over dinner, I told him that my job at work would be made much easier if I had a smart phone, because I am in internet marketing and I have to have access to things like mobile apps and the internet to better understand our market. He told me that unless my company pays for it (my boss said it would help, but it's not required) we can't get one for me. The smart phone that I want is about $300- plus an additional $5.00 a month in data.

I got very frustrated because A. this is something that I want that would help me with my job and B. he just spent $300 on a camera for "us".

I don't get it. Sometimes he is fine spending money, and then other times he is not, and I feel like there is no rhyme or reason to it.
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Old 02-04-2012, 12:07 PM   #12
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My perspective:

I am a SAHM, so all of our income comes from my husband. That said, it is all OUR income.

We are both in charge of the budget - we agreed to all the categories and amounts together, and we always talk to each other about purchases over $50 or so (with the exception of groceries, etc.) This is a joint partnership.

We use a virtual version of the envelope system to account for everything. Each time a paycheck comes in, X is put in the mortgage envelope, Y is put in the grocery envelope, all the way down the list until every penny has been assigned a job. Some of them are fixed expenses, like the mortgage bill, and some are more variable, such as groceries, and some are "sinking funds," such as car repair. The bottom line for everything though is that if there isn't any money in the particular envelope (for example, "House" if we needed curtains), we either don't buy the item or we take the money from another envelope. If we use eating out money to buy curtains, then we have less money to eat out. If we need a major car repair and the envelope is low, we have to figure out which envelopes we can take money from to pay for it.

I think the biggest problem in your particular situation is that you don't seem to be a part of the planning process. For the most part, I do the day in, day out accounting of our finances, but my husband is always part of the bigger conversation and knows how to access any budget/spending information he needs to be able to see where we stand. We've agreed together on what our goals are, and we're working together toward them, together being the key word. It doesn't work without open and regular communication.

ETA: We were posting at the same time, but after reading your response, I am even more convinced that setting up envelopes (together) would help you. Looking at our checking account, I might see $X in there, but it doesn't help me to see that some is set aside for gas, some for student loans, some for diapers, etc. In reality, every single penny of the money in my checking account is assigned to SOMETHING, and what's really helped us in being able to see exactly how much at any given time is available for (insert current need/want).
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Old 02-04-2012, 12:56 PM   #13
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Wow.I thought at first perhaps you weren't working and I could slightly understand....but seeing as you both work,and full time at that....that floors me,but that's just me.

My husband works and I stay home.I pay the bills and have free reign with the money.If I want something and we can afford,my husband sees nothing wrong with me buying it.I however,am more of a saver and rarely spend anything on myself.When I did work,it was pretty much the same.
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Old 02-04-2012, 01:24 PM   #14
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I have to agree with setting aside small personal spending allowances - my husband handles the budget and bills and that is what we do. I know exactly what is going on every month and I ask him at the beginning of each month if we need to tighten things up a bit or I need to reduce my amount ($100 a month for me of undesignated line item spending). That way I have my amount, but we both have the flexibility to adjust it downward if something unexpected comes up.

We share all accounts and money, too, as an aside. And even withy my monthly budget I still run expenses by my husband, so HE doesn't have a surprise when paying a bill. As another member said, each dollar coming in our house is designated to something, it's just a matter of what that 'something' is. $5000 paychecks are already spoken for when they enter the house, because each of our budget items requires certain monthly amounts. The envelope system is incredibly helpful if just having pie charts and spreadsheets isn't enough. It helps you see exactly what is designated to each category and then you can plan purchases better. It just so happens that my monthly spending money is as much of a line item as our electric bill . We have a spending plan for all expenses, including possible surprises like home repairs and such, and the money gets set aside, designated, and rolled over if necessary.

I think a change of perspective on this might help you. The guilt or frustration in running purchases by him needs reframing - I ask my husband's permission all the time, and it isn't because he's controlling or I'm subservient, but because he is the one, at the end of the day, who is making the numbers work. My asking/informing him of spending is a loving courtesy so HE doesn't end up with surprises or stress when balancing our books. It could be a point of contention, but why make it so? No sense in making artificial conflict where none need exist.
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Old 02-04-2012, 01:40 PM   #15
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We have tried the "envelope" system and it failed miserably. Mainly because it was so much upkeep, neither of us had the willpower to log every receipt according to its category. My husband felt that it didn't matter how much was left in each category, because his main concern was the bottom line. His response was something to the effect of "well, if the water heater blows, are we going to take money from 25 different categories to pay it off? what then? Now we have 25 categories in the red?"

I think the best bet would be for each of us to have our own accounts and then have a joint account. We each put into the joint account for all the house expenses according to the ratio of our income (in our case, about a 60/40 split) we each agree to a certain amount to go into savings, and then whatever is leftover is ours to do whatever we want. But my husband will probably again argue that we tried that once, and it didn't work, and that it's too hard to keep track of everything.

We have a nice long car ride on the way to his parents' house this afternoon. Maybe we'll talk about it...
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