Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Marriage and money

Yesterday I went through all my receipts and I'll be honest: it isn't pretty. What's worse is that I seem to be missing a SIGNIFICANT number of receipts, so the budget is sadly going to be vague, at best. I need another hour or two to reconcile everything, so it's probably tomorrow's post.

Does this happen to anyone else though? You think you're doing pretty well with your record keeping, but say, a certain MAN can't seem to fork over evidence of his spending? This has been a problem for us literally FOREVER, beginning back in the days when we were in college and flat broke and we'd leave the grocery store and I'd catch my husband pitching the receipt into the trash before I'd even gotten the chance to SEE it, much less write it down in the check register.

He's budgetarily challenged is what he is.

Professionally I've definitely noticed that there's always one spouse that seems to be good with money and one who's, well, not. What's it like in your marriage? And more importantly, do you combine everything or maintain separate accounts?

22 comments:

Bunny said...

We now use Mint.com to track our spending and monitor our budget. We don't have to enter things into a checkbook type register, we just watch it as transactions post (since all of our transactions are credit card - which we pay off in full each month). We also keep our receipts and stack them on a pin like in a diner...that was a Peter Walsh suggestion and it works wonderfully. I can find receipts when I need them, but for the most part the receipts are just stashed away.
We've been "budgeting" for 2 months now and I have really changed our spending and have spent hundreds less these months than before. Since we see where everything is going it is easier not to spend too much.

Ali said...

We combine everything. And he's gotten better about saving receipts, I just have to know where to look. Specifically, under the dash cover of his car. He'll sit down once in a blue moon with me to look at Quicken and to see how we're doing. God forbid something ever happen to me, I'm sure the power and water would be shut off the first month!

On the same note, my grandma passed away a few years ago and my grandpa was completely lost. He didn't even know how to write a check. So I've taken over his bookkeeping as well, which I love. It's the one area that I feel completely organized - unlike the toy room!

Mrs. CPA said...

We have a joint account for household expenses, car payments, groceries, kid's clothes, etc. Then we both have a separate account of our own, that we don't have to answer to anyone about. Out of each paycheck we put 200 in there. It's our lunch money, drinking money, birthday present money, or money for something that we should pay for ourselves like my new computer or the 4 pairs of shoes I just bought.

We don't even keep receipts anymore, my husband does all the accounting through our online account which shows a debit card purchase practically the minute it is made. Yes, I know I'm a CPA who lets her engineer husband do the bills, but during tax time I have NO TIME and I'd rather spend what little time I do have with my kids instead of bills. The best decision I ever made was giving that over to him.

Jen said...

Ha Ha. We are both bad with money. Sigh.

LizP said...

We have separate joint accounts but I pay all of the bills. I track everything through on-line banking. We tried using Quicken but I get enough accounting at work, I don't need to be that retentive at home. My husband will keep every receipt for every penny he's spent for.ever.! Once I get a statement or acknowledge something was posted correctly I like to shred most of my receipts. I'll keep the ones for things that might need to be returned.

Emily said...

We used to have 3 accounts, one joint, and then our own as well. It worked really well until we moved and just combined everything because I wasn't working. Now I'm about to give birth to our first and not planning on working, so we've just kept one joint account. I liked having the 3 account thing, but now it's just too hard because we don't have much left over with me not working.

That being said, I'm the bill payer and the money-stresser and my husband is not at all. We (ie I) use mint.com as well. I hope now that it's out of beta it will work better. We lost a bunch of transactions from the Spring, which kind of makes tracking your spending difficult to do.

Kendall's Mom said...

I'm sure I've told you the story of my twenty-eight dollar mocha? While we were planning the wedding I was writing checks willy-nilly for things like, you know, tulle, and I was a little slow on putting them in the check register. I wrote a check to my fave drive-thru java stop - for a $3.50 mocha... and I didn't have enough in my account to cover it! My (former) bank dinged me the twenty-five dollar penalty fee and poof! Twenty-eight dollar mocha ($28.50 to be exact)... and now hubby does the bills (duh.) It works fine. Meanwhile, if anything were to ever happen to him, I would be ok, I did have a 401K and buy a house and all on my own before we were married...

Dena said...

We have one joint account. For us, it's just what makes most sense. I get the idea behind having one joint and two separate accounts, but this way, we talk about every purchase we make. Because the way I/we see it, every purchase we make, whether for the household or one of us individually, is being paid for by OUR money. Everything we buy impacts what we, together as a couple, can do.

And that works fine -- neither one of us feels like we have to "answer" to the other one for things we buy. I mean, even if we still had personal accounts, if I bought that pair of leather boots I have my eye on, my husband would see them and would know I bought them.

My husband manages our money, which is fine with me. I could do it, but he's so much better at it. He uses Excel to track our money, which works for him. Tho now that I know about mint.com, we may use that.

I am the one that's bad about handing over receipts, I have to admit! I don't ever lose them or toss them -- I just sometimes collect them and have to fork them all over in one big bunch, which does not make hubby happy. I *try* to be good about it, but alas....

Naomi said...

We have several accounts ... and I need to make it easier on myself.

One joint account, a "private" savings account (to squirrel away a surprise) and numerous others ...

I'm the one who is bad at money ... but on the same token, he does nothing to participate in the tracking/budgeting, so he's equally as bad, I guess.

1hottiredmama said...

My hubby is pretty good about bringing receipts home, so that is not so much of an issue.

We have one joint checking & savings account. We also have a joint money market account where we keep an emergency fund.

We have a bit of a different situation as my husband owns his own company. A lot of his day-to-day activities get expensed to the company (he puts them on a company card). Most of the time, he doesn't even spend money that is included in our personal budget.

I will say that we are both pretty good with money. However -- when we do spend, I tend to spend in a bunch of small increments and my husband will just make one huge purchase. We have a pretty good communication going so it's usually no big deal, but we have an ongoing somewhat-sarcastic conversation going. He accuses me of buying too much stuff and I accuse him of spending too much on one item. It's very jovial though so it's no big deal. We just spend money differently. I am usually shopping for everyday needs and he is usually shopping for a new "toy."

Oh -- we do use Quicken at home and I check our checking account daily just to make sure I don't miss anything. I am the one to pay bills, budget, etc. I am using Spend (at your recommendation) to keep my budget at my fingertips.

Kristy said...

We are both great with money. We both tend to be "savers" not spenders. We also plan future purchases and make decisions together. I have a good old excel filing system and I keep track of everything spent. We have separate accounts and one joint account. I cannot be bothered keeping track of his misc spending but it is rather low for any guy. I have added up his monthly expenditures for odds and ends and it usually totals under $60 for an entire month. His stuff is usually morning coffee from 7-11 and bait to go fishing with. I pay all the bills myself and we have a pre-arranged agreement as to who is responsible for what per month. He saves nearly every dollar he earns and I don't even tell him to do so. I also buy him a lot of things myself because he simply doesn't/won't. Our monthly expenses are less than your monthly budget for discretionary things. We live so far below our means that money is never an issue for us. We also do a lot of things since we live so close to Orlando. There's always an event to attend.

His checks go into his checking account. Mine go into mine. We use our joint account to pay the mortgage which he always pays. I use my account to pay the utilities and all other bills(which I always pay). I have a savings account, he has a savings account and we save money in the joint account collectively putting in money together. I do not ask him about every dollar, he does not ask me. We have a clearcut arrangement.

I work full time, so does he. We are equal all the way around. I pay out the same amount that he pays out on the mortgage per month on our collective utilities. We split grocery bills per month and spend around $300 a month on groceries for a family of 3. I pay for all expenses for my child from a former marriage. He dumps money into a savings account for his stepson (my son) every single month without ever being asked. He's a good guy. He also works only 40 hours a week. We have a good life, a very good one.

I don't believe in that theory of "our" money. I believe both parties need to hang onto a sense of self identity and independence. We don't argue about money and we don't have financial problems ever. We do discuss any large purchases and we usually both go halfs on anything over $100 for the house. We do things 50/50 and no one has resentments.

However, having said that if my husband gets bonuses, or tips at work, they are his, never mine. That's my rule. He earned them through his hard work and he should benefit. If I want a bonus, I earn it myself.

Emily said...

I'm terrible with money. Husbando says he wants to help but he never really does and I generally feel overwhelmed. Doesn't help that neither of us are making nearly what we were a year ago. Your blog is so helpful - thanks!

Anonymous said...

Kristy, you come off as so "better than thou". You really should watch your tone, it's rude.

Monica said...

My husband and I both hate the keeping track part but we also realize that we do much better when we do it, so we alternate. We each take responsibility for it for 6 months at a time.

We have a joint account, and we each have our own account (which are actually joint as far as the bank is concerned for ease of transfers) and we get an allowance every 2 weeks that goes into that account.

We don't save receipts, but we do use debit cards for every purchase, so it's allocated to the correct category in Quicken that way. It means that occasionally something is allocated incorrectly but in general it works out pretty well.

Alias Mother said...

We're both okay with money and have traded the responsibility back and forth through the years. I tend to be better with the everyday budget management, though, so recently I've made that my domain. I collect and enter all receipts weekly. He does the monthly reconciliation in Quicken. This works pretty well for us and it keeps us both informed about where we are financially.

We have a joint account that we use for all household expenses, separate accounts for occasional personal spending, and he has a business account for specific business expenses (tools, taxes, job supplies). We used to have completely separate accounts but it turned into a real headache to manage and made tracking the budget near impossible. For us, the joint works much better. We also have a joint savings and one for our daughter. My goal for 2009 is to open up a few different savings accounts for specific purposes (travel, occasional expenses like insurance and taxes), so we don't keep pilfering what is supposed to be our long-term savings account for that stuff!

Nancy said...

We have a joint account and then our own separate savings/checking accounts. Everything goes into the joint acct and all bills and budgeted savings come from there, and we each get some fun money transferred to our personal accounts to do with whatever we want. We've both morphed from spenders to savers over the last few years.

Kristy said...

I find it hilarious that just because my husband and I have our finances in order that anyone would think I feel better than them. I have worked hard to get a grip on the reality of money and how best to manage it rather than having debt and despair manage our lives due to poor money management. I am not doing anything that no one else couldn't do if they so desired to take control rather than be controlled.

denise said...

when i was working, we had a joint savings account and separate checking accounts. i paid for all bills (since i'm not a saver by any means, hah) from mine and he'd put most of his paycheck into savings. now that i'm not working (we moved), we only have 1 joint account. i'm trying to figure out a good system for me to squirrel some money away for surprises but it seems like too much of a hassle to get another account. i'm also beginning to worry about our spending now that i'm not working so this website of yours is a great read (i came over from mandajuice).

drowninginlaundry said...

My partner is much better with money then I am, but he also makes at least twice as much. What we do is we both put the same percentage of our income into a joint account; this pays for the mortgage, groceries, bills and stuff for the kids. After that we each have our own bank account which we can go ahead and spend from.

The only stipulation is that I save at least $3000 a year (he takes care of the rest of our savings) and don't complain when he wants something expensive with his money.

Also big things like a new roof or new car are his purchase to make from his money (because he makes that much more then I do).

We have never ever in 12 years argued about finances. Works for us.

Kady said...

Everything for the house, I buy, my husband only buys things like newspaper, coffee, lunch, etc... so he gets $120 a week for that "stuff". I have a little book that goes everywhere with me where I write down every penny I spend. At the end of the month, it goes into Quicken (and posted on my blog).

We have a joint savings acct (where our checks direct deposit in) and a joint checking acct (that we transfer a set amt in every month).

Tina Miles said...

Hubby is the money person. I joke I got married so I wouldn't have to deal with budgets, he got married so he wouldn't have to shop. Everything is combined in one account. What is working best for us right now is for me to get a lump sum each week in cash and then do with it what I want. When the cash is gone, the spending is done. That's for food, clothes, eating out, etc.

bugbear said...

For couples who have trouble "submitting" receipts to the spouse who does the expense tracking/budgeting, it is a good idea to simply designate a jar or a pin (that "restaurant spike) in your kitchen or office where everyone can deposit their receipts on a regular (every day or so, or week) basis and at their convenience--no need to stop catch your spouse at an "appropriate time," the pot is always there waiting, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.

that avoids the problem of having to stop your spouse to hand over receipts. YOu just make a habit of putting them in the jar or on the spike, and you are done.

In my house, there is a simple blue clay flowerpot that lives next to the computer. All receipts go in there, and when I sit down at the computer I open up Excel and enter any that are in it into the spreadsheet. If I didn't have advanced Excel abilities, I would probably use You Need A Budget, which is the best and most practical budgeting application I have seen out of many.