Married Money

The other day my father went grocery shopping with me at Aldi. As we headed out the door he asked whether I had an agreement with Josh that I would not spend more than a certain amount without checking with him first. I said that I did not, and my father laughed and said that perhaps it was a good thing he had asked me when Josh was not around!

He then explained that he was thinking about it because one of my sisters has such an agreement with her husband, and her neighbors all have similar arrangements.

I said that while I can see why such arrangements would work for others, they don’t make sense to me in my life because I am most likely to spend money in frequent, smaller chunks. Also, it would probably really annoy Josh if I asked him about every $100.00 purchase.

My dad responded that he was not talking about $100.00. Each of the women in my sister’s neighborhood had limits in the $300-$500 range. It was my turn to laugh, as I asserted that $500 for those women is the equivalent of $100 for me given our relative economic circumstances.

Josh says that he wouldn’t care if I bought a $500 blender without consulting him.

We talked more about finances later, and as I was about ready to spew my idealistic views, I stopped myself. I told my father that I realized that I was in no position to speak. While we have struggled with finances due to straight up lack of income, I have no idea what it is like to struggle with a husband who is self-centered financially.

It makes sense that I have a lot of lofty ideals about money, and that I still firmly believe that fighting about money indicates a lack of love, honor, and desire to share a future together.

But this just means that I am unqualified to talk about money for normal people, because to others money is just money, right?

I later realized that for any expensive purchase I could think of, the issue with buying without consulting with Josh would be that I would need his input on the actual item. Large purchases generally require months of planning and saving and rehashing value. How on earth am I supposed to just buy something without consulting Josh on the item itself rather than just the price tag?

This is not to say that I have not had to change my ways with money since getting married. I have, but that is a story for another day.

What is the meaning of money in your world? Do you think that married couples should have a rule about a dollar amount over which they will consult the other before making a purchase?


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10 thoughts on “Married Money

  1. rachieannie

    During our premarital counseling, our pastor and his wife mentioned a monetary limit (they were also really good friends of ours, so they were able to be really honest about how they struggle with it in their marriage). They talked about how she was more likely to ‘nickel and dime’ them by picking up a candle here, or a movie there, while he was more likely to spend the big money on vehicles or guns (both of our husbands are hunters, so that’s a pretty typical purchase around here!). Anyways, we have found the same to be true in our marriage.

    However, to be honest, I have to admit that in a lot of ways I feel as if it is ‘his money’ since I haven’t had a steady job since we’ve been married. Luckily for me, Luke does not feel that way, but it is still hard to give up that idea sometimes. So, between our financial situation (lots of student loans, 2 babies, and not a lot of income), and my hangups, I find myself ‘asking permission’ a lot. It’s just a hard thing for us to find a balance on!

    Isn’t it interesting how every couple views/struggles with issues differently? Fascinating. This is why I love hearing other people’s stories! So many unique viewpoints in this world.

  2. Katie @NFP and Me

    We don’t have a number limit but we do have a courtesy factor that’s is mutually agreed upon. If it’s enough money to make we pause, I call and he does the same. It could be $50 for something absolutely frivolous or $500 for something important (like tires). I don’t think either of us would be upset if the other bought something expensive without telling the other but since we do have an ‘our money’ mentality I think it’s nice to give a heads up.

    Plus, he does the finances so I like to call just so he knows what that charge was when he sees it on his Quicken.

  3. Michelle

    We have an “our” money mentality since we both work full-time. My husband does the grocery shopping but that’s about it. With other stuff, if we need it, we get it and probably just give a heads-up to the other what the cost is. With large purchases (like TV or Computer, etc) we shop/purchase together and discuss.

  4. Kristy

    I’m with you – if we feel it necessary to discuss the cost, then we’re probably discussing the item(s) quite a bit, too. We don’t have limits, per se, just more a feeling on whether to discuss if $X needs to be spent on Y item.

  5. Rebecca

    The Man and I’ve sure had our share of struggles with money (it really seems never-ending), but it wasn’t until I read this line: “I still firmly believe that fighting about money indicates a lack of love, honor, and desire to share a future together.”
    that I realized that this is how we view it too, which is why, no matter how bad it gets, we don’t fight about money. Yes, we fret and stress over it, but we do not fight one another over it. It’s just not worth it. The balance is what it is, we can talk about why it’s not more and we can stress that it’s not more, but it does no good to fight over it.
    While we’ve never said those words, it is how we live.

    Practically speaking, each week after I pay the bills, I share what the balance is and we talk about what we have coming up that we need money for. It works out well, and The Man always thanks me for being the one to pay the bills – even when I tell him (like last night :)) “we’ve got no money until Friday.” – and that means the world to me, him acknowledging that it’s a job he doesn’t want and being grateful that I do it.

  6. Adri

    When we got married, we set a “talk about it first” limit at $50. Realistically though, with the exception of groceries and gas, we discuss EVERY purchase, if not before, at least after it happens when I’m verifying our bank statements are accurate.

    We’ve also switched who pays the bills a few times in our 5+ yrs of marriage and keep a spreadsheet the other person can check whenever to make sure everything is on track. This is less about “checking up” on the other person, and more about preparing for a situation in which one of us isn’t able to communicate about where things stand. I’ve seen this happen, especially to older couples, when one runs the show financially. The other person is totally in the dark and lost when the other one passes away. Doesn’t know any passwords, due dates, etc. Sorry if that is too morbid. I just like to be prepared!

    Our goal is to be debt free one day, so we like to monitor everything very closely. I’m more relaxed about it, but my husband is very diligent and financially savvy. Though we both work full-time, I think he feels it is his responsibility to make sure we are in a good place financially when kids (God-willing) arrive.

  7. waywardson23

    “I still firmly believe that fighting about money indicates a lack of love, honor, and desire to share a future together.”

    How true.

    While nobody likes not having money, I have seen self-centeredness creep in when couples have enough money to have “his money” and “her money”. It is a form of “holding back” from your spouse that is incompatible with the ideal of what marriage is supposed to be.

    When you have no money, there is one less thing to be selfish over.

    Of course, sometimes there are good reasons to have separate finances, such as later in life marriages between already financially established people and various business-related/liability reasons. But starting off a marriage with the attitude that it’s OK to hold something back isn’t a good strategy.

  8. Jessica @ Faith Permeating Life

    I definitely think there’s a difference between a relationship in which one partner has to get permission to make purchases and the other doesn’t, and one in which both partners agree to consult each other on purchases.

    My husband and I each get $20 of personal spending money each month that we can spend without consulting the other. Birthday and Christmas money also goes into our personal allowances. We have a budget on with what we’ve set aside money for. So things like groceries and gas are budgeted for and can be bought with no question. Other things, though, we will discuss first. This system works very well for us.

  9. alison

    “I still firmly believe that fighting about money indicates a lack of love, honor, and desire to share a future together.”

    We must hate each other big time then! We ‘fight’ about everything, so I guess money is not off limits. Disagreeing and discussing why we disagree keeps us honest on our differences though, and helps us grow to understand different strategies of handling money (SO much of it seems based on family of origin). So while I wish we had totally exact same mindsets about it, we don’t. So we fight. Not in a “his” or “mine” way, but in what is ‘worth’ buying (my husband is an absolute minimalist…I have a lot of hobbies :) ) He seriously had one towel when we were married. And we’d have two now were it not for me. We discuss and disagree on how we should save our money, how much we should save, where to tithe to, what we should ‘invest’ it in (he’s a fan of real estate like any typical Californian, and I’ve terrified of it, like anyone NOT from California), education for the kiddo, and how we’ll teach him about money by how/if we’ll do allowance. Which loans to pay off first, how we will finance the new car we just got, etc. So of course we fight and discuss and hash it all out. Its not as constant a source of tension in our house but its definitely there much more than I thought it would be when we got married. I’d rather that then ignore it and let it fester because we were too afraid to disagree!

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