My grandmother asked me this question about a week after the wedding, and I am glad that I had an answer for her, I do. Of course, she asked me why my wife didn't have control too, and in our case it is because she is afraid of money. The important thing here is that we figured this out before we got married. We tried to combine our budget about 3 months before the wedding, and had more arguments than ever before or since (So far).
What we learned about ourselves.
- Our hot button issue is money
- Our financial discussions end in stalemate (a tied argument)
- Budgets really stress my wife out
- Allowances do not.
What did we do?
Since I worked at a Credit Union at the time, I was getting a large amount of financial planning advice, budgeting tips, strategies, etc. This made it clear to both of us that when it came to handling the finances I would be the better choice, especially long-term. However, since I can decide to spend large amounts of money rather randomly, as part of this control, I am required (it's in writing) to inform my wife about these purchases and show her that we can afford it.
Before we got to this point though, my wife had to get past the idea of not having control over her money, and this should be key to any family: You don't get paid anymore, your family does. This doesn't mean give your kids everything they want, it means that your family controls what you earn. Even though one of you earns more, all the money is equally everyone's.
Once we had figured out how much we spend on things (WOW we dine out a lot!) and where our sources of conflict are, (You spent HOW MUCH? on a new computer!) we were able to get on board with the idea of a combined budget designed to meet the needs and some wants of our family.
Ways to get on board
- Have the hard money conversations immediately, letting them go leads to bad things.
- Look up statistics for divorces caused by money problems (You don't want a divorce do you?)
- Plan on doing something both of you enjoy after you talk.
- Discuss things you would both like to do and promise to plan for those things in the future
- You love each other, and this is the simplest way to get the best for each other.
- Remember, a budget is not a law it's a living document subject to change.
What are some other ways you use to get excited about budgeting?