Author Topic: Tracking SO Spending?  (Read 1049 times)

randomusername

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Tracking SO Spending?
« on: November 08, 2018, 06:17:40 AM »
Since my SO and I married 14+ years ago we have always had separate bank accounts.  We like it that way for many different reasons and I've never thought about changing it until I learned about FIRE and started really tracking my spending a few months ago.

Basic information:
- No credit card debt
- 1 car, paid off
- Recently moved to LCOL area
- Work in tech, 6 figure income
- Remote position, so no commute except occasional air travel to visit clients
- SO is stay at home parent as of about three years ago (we homeschool and have lots of land, so they stay very busy)
- Recently maxed out 401(k) and HSA
- Emergency fund and investing not where I want them to be

I get paid every two weeks and deposit $500 into SO account and the rest goes into mine (started doing this when SO became full time SAHP).  SO pays internet bill and I pay the remaining bills.  We always grocery shop together and sometimes they pay, sometimes I do.  Because of this I haven't been able to pin down our exact grocery and household spending.
SO has more of a frugal gene than I do, so I don't think their spending is in any way unreasonable.

In your opinion, should I ask to track their spending as I plan for FIRE?  Or just track my own?  I want them to feel like they have autonomy without me breathing down their neck so I'm leaning toward just tracking my own.

FLBiker

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Re: Tracking SO Spending?
« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2018, 06:24:23 AM »
I have the sense that others on this site would disagree but, personally, I wouldn't worry about it.  I don't budget, and while I do use Mint I don't pay much attention to the budget side of it.  Personally, one of the great benefits of living frugally / below one's means, is NOT having to count every nickel and dime.  It sounds like your SO is already doing OK.

That being said, I'd certainly share you're increased interest in FIRE with them, talk about shared goals, etc., which could motivate them to look at their spending themselves.

randomusername

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Re: Tracking SO Spending?
« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2018, 06:44:22 AM »
Personally, one of the great benefits of living frugally / below one's means, is NOT having to count every nickel and dime.  It sounds like your SO is already doing OK.

Very good point.  I think this is a great way of looking at things.

PoutineLover

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Re: Tracking SO Spending?
« Reply #3 on: November 08, 2018, 07:26:41 AM »
If you know that they spend all of that and aren't saving it, you can use the 500 as an input in the budget without worrying exactly where it goes, and assume that the amount is enough to cover those expenses. If you would like to get that number down, maybe see if they'd be on board with putting the account into mint so you can track it better. Or, if they use that money for personal spending too perhaps you can switch to using a joint account for the grocery and internet, and then just transfer a smaller personal amount that they don't have to specifically track.
No matter what you decide, definitely have conversations about it. And be careful of monitoring too closely and making the sah spouse feel like you are micromanaging their spending and keeping them on an "allowance" cause that's not a fun adult dynamic.

randomusername

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Re: Tracking SO Spending?
« Reply #4 on: November 08, 2018, 08:01:04 AM »
No matter what you decide, definitely have conversations about it. And be careful of monitoring too closely and making the sah spouse feel like you are micromanaging their spending and keeping them on an "allowance" cause that's not a fun adult dynamic.

Yeah, that is exactly what I am trying to avoid.  We've been talking, but should probably sit down and discuss specifics.  Also want to have discussions with the kids about the process so they know why some spending habits are changing.

fatcow240

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Re: Tracking SO Spending?
« Reply #5 on: November 08, 2018, 08:03:16 AM »
I wouldn't worry about the $1000 per month, at all.  I would start talking about FIRE and make a plan together.  Start talking about what you are planning to do to be more frugal.  Start tracking your own and share your results.
I was able to slowly get my SO on board through minimalism, she hates clutter.

randomusername

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Re: Tracking SO Spending?
« Reply #6 on: November 08, 2018, 08:13:14 AM »
Start tracking your own and share your results.

Oh, this is so good and a (now) obvious way to start!  (I should have thought of that!)

beee

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Re: Tracking SO Spending?
« Reply #7 on: November 08, 2018, 03:15:51 PM »
Here's how it's been working in our family.
I do track all the finances myself. My wife just gives me receipts when she pays for things.

When she buys something and doesn't want me to know about this, she just doesn't give me a receipt.
And I don't track it, and it's ok because the point is not to have a 100% accuracy. The point of tracking is to pay attention to your money on the regular basis.
I do correct her account balances in my app every month or so.

Been manually tracking all income and expenses for 7.5 years now with my own app HoneyMoney.

Zikoris

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Re: Tracking SO Spending?
« Reply #8 on: November 08, 2018, 07:57:24 PM »
We also have separate bank accounts. I'm a tracker. He's not, but likes it to be done, and to be able to poke around at the data after the fact and learn interesting things. So I got him authorized user cards on my credit accounts, and he just uses those for everything, which makes it really easy for me to accurately track everything. Twice a month he pays off his stuff and his half of joint stuff. And I get to make accurate pie charts and bar graphs to my heart's content.

Duke03

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Re: Tracking SO Spending?
« Reply #9 on: November 08, 2018, 08:48:39 PM »
Add us to the list of separate accounts.  Granted I can look at her accounts and she can look at mine.  My wife is a stay at home mom also.  A word of advice is I use to count every single penny.  It made her life miserable and especially my life miserable.  I run a pretty tight ship and it took me awhile to learn that chasing every tiny leak wasn't worth my time and effort.  Since I've eased up a bit our spending has leveled off at acceptable numbers to me and we get along a whole lot better.  Now I just put $500 in her account every two weeks to cover groceries, gas, clothes, birthday gifts ect.  For a family of 4 this seems reasonable to me.  If anything is left over I don't care what she spends it on.

lhamo

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Re: Tracking SO Spending?
« Reply #10 on: November 08, 2018, 08:53:54 PM »
If you want to have a more accurate record, the easiest way is probably to switch to using credit cards for most everything and then tracking them in Mint or a similar on-line aggregator.  we rarely spend cash anymore, and when we do I can split out amounts of the ATM withdrawals for different categories, too.

dcozad999

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Re: Tracking SO Spending?
« Reply #11 on: November 09, 2018, 08:31:45 AM »
I would just tell her you want to track the grocery spending for a few months and ask if she will give you all of her grocery receipts.

If she's reluctant, just assure her you only want to track the groceries. Let her know you are just looking for ways to cut expenses, not to change her $1k/month stipend. Keeping separate bank accounts when someone is a SAHP seems ludicrous to me, but if it's working for you no reason to change.



rentalnewbie

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Re: Tracking SO Spending?
« Reply #12 on: November 09, 2018, 09:50:30 AM »
Personally, one of the great benefits of living frugally / below one's means, is NOT having to count every nickel and dime.  It sounds like your SO is already doing OK.

Very good point.  I think this is a great way of looking at things.

The joke in our house when we buy something and feel bad about it is for the other to say "We can afford it."
"Oh is this museum we want to go to on vacation too expensive?" "We can afford it."

beee - your app name is adorable!

I would say for FIRE planning that you either need to count that 1k/month as spent or saved but you don't need to be more granular than that, just assume it's all spent. To optimize your spending, yes it's helpful to know where the dollars are going but you can still optimize your own spending without knowing more about your SO's. To figure our your FIRE number, you just need to know how much you spend total each year so I would say look at your own and add 12k - assuming you will FIRE together.

v8rx7guy

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Re: Tracking SO Spending?
« Reply #13 on: November 09, 2018, 09:54:22 AM »
I guess I am going to go against popular opinion here and suggest combining finances.  To me, having a SAHP and separate finances seems overly complicated.  Is there a particular reason why you have separate finances?  I would make the change to one bank account and shared credit card account(s) if I were in your shoes.

bacchi

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Re: Tracking SO Spending?
« Reply #14 on: November 09, 2018, 11:06:44 AM »
There are 2 reasons to track spending:

1) To know where the money goes so spending can be analyzed for places to cut.

2) To have as accurate a number as possible to calculate the 25x needed for FI.

As PoutineLover wrote, use the $500/2 weeks as an input for #2 and forget about #1 for your SO. You don't want to be one of those couples where the employed spouse gives an "allowance" to the SAHP. Though, as v8rx7guy wrote, that can be eliminated entirely by combining finances.

beee

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Re: Tracking SO Spending?
« Reply #15 on: November 10, 2018, 02:40:29 PM »

beee - your app name is adorable!


Thank you. I actually share my real-life expenses with fake incomes/account balances in the demo: https://demo.honeymoney.io


There are 2 reasons to track spending:

1) To know where the money goes so spending can be analyzed for places to cut.

2) To have as accurate a number as possible to calculate the 25x needed for FI.


In my opinion, the most important reason to track finances is that the action of regularly paying attention to money changes your behaviour. In a subtle but unavoidable way. With time, you start getting more bang for your buck.