Madwoman Out of the Attic

a feminist trudging forward in a patriarchal world

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Money in Marriage

I handle all the finances in my marriage. I pay every bill, open up all bank accounts, take the lead in long term investing, and do all the purchasing. I do it all, and I like it that way.* So does Mike. I think a part of him kind of wishes he knew where the money went, but a much bigger part of him is relieved to not have to deal with it.

It’s not that Mike has absolutely no idea of what’s going on. If there’s something electronic we need to buy, or something car related, or something really big, like over a couple hundred dollars, we talk about it.

Every six months or so, Mike makes a half hearted comment about how we (I) should spend less. But there isn’t any strong feeling behind his comments. He knows that we’re in the black and saving a good chunk of money every month. He also – and this is so interesting – has told me that he doesn’t say much about my occasional clothing splurges or decisions to give away chunks of money because I bring home a paycheck as a part time teacher, and he regards this as my money.

This is fascinating. If I were a full time stay at home mom, would he be more critical of what I do with the money? Does my part time job earn me space and freedom to purchase and give as I see fit?

I remember my mom once telling me her ideal way of handling money in a marriage. The majority of money should go towards the common expenses and necessities– mortgage, utilities, food, etc., but that each person also should get a few hundred dollars (or less, depending on financial circumstances) of personal money every month to spend however he or she wished. And each person would not be at all accountable to the other for it.

I love the egalitarian quality of this idea, so recently I offered Mike (and myself) a monthly amount that we could do whatever we wished with. At the time, guilt was overcoming me since I have so much more fun with money than Mike does, who never wants to buy anything except books.

He wasn’t as impressed with the idea.
“What am I going to do with _____ a month? “ said Mike.
I said, “You could save it and someday buy something big you really want.”
“Nah, sounds like a hassle,” was Mike’s reply.

Gotta admire the man’s desire for simplicity.


Blogger Bekah said...

We have a very similar arrangement in our house, where I manage the money. And we each have discretionary funds, which is extremely important on a tight budget. The less money we have, the more important it is.

It's rather sad, I think, that there is no monetary reward for homemaking. I'm often heard muttering "I need a raise!" I suppose we've come to the realization that though I only sporadically bring income to the family, my work at home allows all of us to lead the lifestyle that works for us.

As an aside, I believe strongly in financial independence, which is why I've begun saving(from my husband's income) for my retirement. If anything, I wish I had started earlier.

3/14/2008 3:48 AM  
Blogger m.m. said...

so does that mean you get to spend both allowances? :)

3/17/2008 9:22 AM  
Blogger Caroline said...

Bekah, way to go for already saving for retirement. That's amazing on a grad student salary!

M.m, yes, I spend both. :) I try to get Mike to spend money, but he just won't... Or it just goes into our savings.

3/20/2008 10:12 PM  

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