I love talking about finances and money. I mean, after all, money is such a big part of our lives, right? Definitely not the most important thing in life, but hey, try not to have it. I am a big fan of a few personal finance / early retirement / money management blogs and I impatiently wait for their new posts and discussions in the ‘comments’ section. I check on my investment accounts
every day regularly and get excited about ‘playing’ with the ‘retirement calculator’ to see how much my investments will grow over time depending on the rate of return / contribution amount / and the age of retirement. I am slightly crazy like that.
To some extent I like it but to some extent I hate it too. I mean, how does a couple ever plan for big purchases (such as home) without budgeting together?
For the first 3 years of our marriage both of us literally did ‘our own thing’. With some sort of guidelines on who is paying for what, my part was paying a small fraction of our rent ($200) with T. paying the rest of it. I would cover utilities ($150 or so per month), I would also pay for groceries here and there as well as provide the ever priceless health insurance for both of us through my work. The rest of my paycheck would go towards my personal expenses, toiletries, gifts (if any), money to help out my dad and I would put away the rest (mostly towards retirement savings). Except the rest of the bills (rent, car lease and overall car expenses, travel), I would have no idea where T.’s money was going. And we would have no idea how much we spend each month, well we still don’t..
And so last November I started ‘the talk’. Well, I first prepped T. for it by asking to disclose all banking and retirement accounts, credit and debit cards and I did the same. That was an easy part. We don’t mind sharing this info. So I prepared an excel spreadsheet and put all of that in. And then I uttered the word ‘budget’.
I want to do what? ‘Put him on the budget?’ And then million excuses followed.
‘What if each month is different than another’, ‘what if I need to spend more’, ‘what if a business dinner comes up’, ‘what if I need to travel’, ‘it is what it is and we are frugal already anyway’, ‘I am not going to put limits on groceries’.
I wonder sometimes which one is more common. My (the above) scenario or the scenarios that I see just too often on frugal or personal finance blogs:
- ‘And then my husband and I set with a glass of wine and we peacefully discussed our budget for the following month’
- ‘My husband came up with some great ideas on how we can cut down on our spendings’
- ‘My husband and I are super excited to start our ‘no spend month’
- ‘And then my husband and I agreed on $20 in blow money each month but it turned out that actually he did not spend any and rolled it over towards credit card debt’
Seriously, who are those men? Do they truly exist or is this all made up for a sake of a blog post?
A couple of next ‘budget talks’ followed and both of us ended up arguing and being upset. The idea of following a budget is just not working out in my household and I am going to acknowledge it. I do have to say that T. is careful with money but he does like to splurge here and there occasionally. But I have to give it to him, he is not wasteful. So maybe I will just embrace that. I have a feeling I will always be the one who is more ‘obsessed’. What we did agree on is that it may be smart to manage the money together moving forward, even without following the budget. That was a success.
So I came up with a better idea. All the bills are being paid now from T.’s salary. We are paying for everything with money that he makes. Life has been good to us and whatever he makes is enough to cover all of our expenses. And what I make? All I make is being saved (after taxes, health insurance and other expenses taken out before I even see my paycheck). I know I am a better saver than he is so this makes more sense. This way I know for sure that money is being put away, while before it was not necessarily the case. And it’s for both of us anyway.
Are YOU and your spouse in a perfect ‘synch’ financially?