Author Topic: How transparent are you with your spouse on spending habits?  (Read 20986 times)

PabloHoney

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How transparent are you with your spouse on spending habits?
« on: October 12, 2014, 07:56:53 AM »
I started reading the blog about 2 months ago and soon thereafter hatched my plan to retire in 10 years at age 45. 

So once per month (only twice so far), I roll up all of our spending from mint.com and categorize it so we can talk through it and find ways to prune it down.  Toward the top of the list is usually money spent on clothing by the Mrs. ($300 the first month and $230 the second) - though I've only put it under the microscope twice, I know it's about in-line with past spending she's done on clothing. 

When we look at our spending habits together, she gets defensive and insists that she doesn't want me looking at where she's spending her money and that we should each have our own "none of your business" fund.  She points out that spending this amount on clothing may seem silly and stupid to me, but it really makes her happy.  She also points out that if we want to buy each other gifts and can't use cash (i.e. online), we're screwed because it'll all show up in the list.
My position is that we're in this retirement plan together (she says she's on board with the plan and excited about it) and we shouldn't have anything to hide; and that we basically have to look at the nitty gritty of our spending in order to make progress.

So my questions are:
  • Do you review all of your spending with your spouse regularly?   How does that go?
  • Do you keep a separate "none of your business how I spend it" portion or is it all wide open?
  • If it's all wide open, how do you handle gifts bought for each other?

I realize that it's up to us to figure out for ourselves and there's no right answer.  I'm looking for opinions though.  Am I being too anal - let me have it!

Gray Matter

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Re: How transparent are you with your spouse on spending habits?
« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2014, 08:04:19 AM »
We have complete transparency, but I don't think it's strictly necessary.  We used to argue about the other's spending, until we came respect that we just valued different things and had a right to spend our money on things the other didn't value, as long as the amount that was spent fell within agreed-upon parameters.  Now, we each have a set amount of "personal" money a month, and I track it so I can categorize it, but I don't pay any attention to what he spends his on and vice versa. 

Jmoody10

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Re: How transparent are you with your spouse on spending habits?
« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2014, 08:07:04 AM »
1. Yes. Weekly. It goes well normally. My wife and I each have our own weaknesses.

2. The big thing is to not be judgmental and to find a system that works. Having a small free spending amount for your wife might be a good middle ground.

3. We let each other know when we are going to buy a gift for each other in advance. For example, if I buy her a gift from amazon I will let her know so that she doesn't check the resent orders.

Metta

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Re: How transparent are you with your spouse on spending habits?
« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2014, 08:08:12 AM »
Do you review all of your spending with your spouse regularly?   How does that go?

We set aside one weekend hour (more or less) to keep the budget, pay bills, review the spending, and discuss our goals. It goes great! It ensures that we are pulling in the right direction and that we both know what is going on.

Do you keep a separate "none of your business how I spend it" portion or is it all wide open?

Yes. We each have an allowance. We track how much is spent in each person's allowance area and use separate allowance credit cards  to ensure privacy. The amount is public. What it is spent on is private but it needs to stay within the person's means. We track that in a spreadsheet and the portion of the allowance unspent is carried over to next month. My husband generally saves his allowance for months and months. I spend it all.

If it's all wide open, how do you handle gifts bought for each other?

This is why it didn't work to have it all wide open for us. It made me miserable.

GardenFun

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Re: How transparent are you with your spouse on spending habits?
« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2014, 08:16:20 AM »

  • Do you review all of your spending with your spouse regularly?   How does that go?

I wish we reviewed it more often.  DH spending is minimal so he tells me it's up to me to do what's necessary with the rest (I'm a SAHM). 

  • Do you keep a separate "none of your business how I spend it" portion or is it all wide open?

Informally.  If there is a large unplanned cost (higher heat bill than planned in winter, textbooks for his graduate studies), I'll mention to watch the spending that month and he complies. 

  • If it's all wide open, how do you handle gifts bought for each other?

Haha, that ship sailed long time ago.  We have morphed into the "if you want it, then go get it.  I'm not a mind reader."

Workinghard

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Re: How transparent are you with your spouse on spending habits?
« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2014, 08:19:51 AM »
In a sense we have a "none of your business" fund in that OT pay belongs to the person who earns it. I use mine for additional savings where as my husband will use his for misc. stuff. Occasionally we'll pool our OT for vacations, or when we wanted to paint the house. However, we still discuss it. I would have a hard time if he was blowing that amount of money regularly. I don't spend that much in a year on clothes. Maybe it would help if she saw how much the 3k+ a year spent on clothes delayed retirement as far as opportunity cost.

Gifts are often, but not always, shared things we both want-like a new sink last Christmas.

studentdoc2

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Re: How transparent are you with your spouse on spending habits?
« Reply #6 on: October 12, 2014, 08:29:01 AM »
1. We do NOT review our spending together each month. I tried to do that at first, and my partner's eyes (he's the free spirit, let's live-in-the-now person) would start to glaze over or he'd get really fixated on a random detail (i.e., "we went $30 over on groceries last month... that must mean we can't buy ANY groceries this month! We must be destitute!"). I, on the other hand, check Mint every day, several times a day, so I always know where we stand. I update him throughout the month on a few details ("only $50 left in the grocery budget this month, so let's focus on eating what we have"). I do think it's important that we both know where our money is and what we're doing with it (esp. should I die first), so we do talk about any big decisions ("let's pay down student loans before we save for a house") and have semi-annual financial updates ("we just paid $10,000 down on our student loans in 5 months!"). But he basically trusts me to handle all the financial decisions and keep him in the loop as needed.

2. My partner and I each have personal checking and savings accounts in addition to our joint accounts. Everything we make is deposited into our joint accounts, and each month a personal allowance is automatically transferred to each of our checking accounts. We also have an agreement wherein if one of us manages to bring in a little extra (e.g., working overtime), that person can take some of that windfall for personal money. We continually renegotiate this windfall rule depending on our current circumstances -- when both of us had full-time employment [we're also full-time-plus students, so our schedules change a lot], we decided we were "allowed" to take 50% of our after-tax overtime money for personal spending if we wanted to [although we frequently just redirected it to joint spending].

We can spend our personal money however we want, and neither of us has a say in how the other spends it. Neither of us has access to the other person's personal bank accounts. If we don't spend it all in one month, we can save it to buy gifts, etc. I'm aware that if we eliminated some of this personal spending allowance and just agreed on everything, we might hit FI sooner, but at this point, I consider the personal allowance more of a cost-of-doing-business (i.e., marriage).  It definitely keeps the peace, and by not arguing over the smaller details, we stay aligned and in agreement on the big ones.

Bob W

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Re: How transparent are you with your spouse on spending habits?
« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2014, 08:43:48 AM »
Spending 300 per month on clothing seems a bit crazy high to me.  That has got to be a hundred pieces of clothing per year.   My guess is she actually wears these very infrequently.  Sounds like retail therapy?   Is this something she does with friends or family?  Is there a replacement behavior you could suggest?   Would she be happy buying clothing company stocks instead?    Has she tried exercise for her buzz?

Spork

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Re: How transparent are you with your spouse on spending habits?
« Reply #8 on: October 12, 2014, 08:54:44 AM »
  • Do you review all of your spending with your spouse regularly?   How does that go?
  • Do you keep a separate "none of your business how I spend it" portion or is it all wide open?
  • If it's all wide open, how do you handle gifts bought for each other?

1. We do have a sit-down/brainstorm but it's irregular.   We are both pretty mustacian... and we track everything to the penny.  We don't really have to sit down and talk, it's all in gnucash (and I have geeky graphy stuff that updates twice a day).  So... the actual finances are crystal clear.   We also have a sort of unspoken agreement.  If we buy something over about $100... we don't "ask permission" of each other... but we do inform each other.   This is just to avoid surprises.
2.  Not exactly... but ... sort of.  We each take a cash spending allowance.  It's not "none of your business" ... it's more a convenience thing.  It is also an antispending thing.  Instead of just swiping a card when you need to spend... if the wallet is empty, you're done.
3. We tend to have leftovers from the cash allowance.  Every time I get a cash allowance, I purge "the last allowance" into a drawer.  When it comes time to buy a gift, I have a pile of cash I use.  If I want to mail order it... I take it to a coinstar machine and change the cash for an Amazon gift card (no fee) and order it online with no credit card trail.   [ This sounds a little like "none of your business"... but I guess that sort of depends on your view point.  It's not secret and it's pretty easy to figure out that pile of cash is smaller and birthday present was purchased. ]

Mrs. PoP

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Re: How transparent are you with your spouse on spending habits?
« Reply #9 on: October 12, 2014, 10:23:51 AM »
So my questions are:
  • Do you review all of your spending with your spouse regularly?   How does that go?
  • Do you keep a separate "none of your business how I spend it" portion or is it all wide open?
  • If it's all wide open, how do you handle gifts bought for each other?

1.  Every week or two we review all transactions in mint to make sure we're on the same page.  Mostly it's "You took $20 out of the ATM is that under restaurants or shopping" kind of stuff.  The more often you do this, the easier it gets - at least for us. 

2.  It's all wide open for us - one of the true benefits to having a joint mint account in our opinion. 

3.  We're pretty open about gifts in terms of asking for exactly what we want so it's not usually a surprise.  Every once in a while we'll surprise the other with something and just give it to them before the next mint review (gifts on specific days like b-days don't mean much to us so we'll just say "Happy Birthday" whenever the package is delivered), or when we review our mint transactions we'll say that's a gift and I don't want to share what it is.  No biggie.  If you REALLY want to hide it in mint you can rename the store name for the transaction to obfuscate it a little.  A partner that truly wants to not be surprised could track it down on the cc statement, but we tend to respect the few surprises that we have for each other. 

soccerluvof4

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Re: How transparent are you with your spouse on spending habits?
« Reply #10 on: October 12, 2014, 10:38:42 AM »
Everything is transparent because we use Mint. If something is out of the ordinary like one of us sees a large transaction we might ask what that was for but in most cases any large transactions are discussed anyhow. 

TN_Steve

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Re: How transparent are you with your spouse on spending habits?
« Reply #11 on: October 12, 2014, 10:45:09 AM »
***
So my questions are:
  • Do you review all of your spending with your spouse regularly?   How does that go?
  • Do you keep a separate "none of your business how I spend it" portion or is it all wide open?
  • If it's all wide open, how do you handle gifts bought for each other?

I realize that it's up to us to figure out for ourselves and there's no right answer.  I'm looking for opinions though.  Am I being too anal - let me have it!

Agree that there is no "right answer," but FWIW here is what we have done for most (all?) of our 30 years as a single economic entity:

1.  We charge nearly everything on rewards cards; I print statements off each month; DW reviews and inquires about anything out of the ordinary.  [I review all spending and investments on a daily basis on quicken, thereby ringing the "anal" bell that you mention!]  I try to get DW more involved in case I get hit by a truck or find a new woman, but no luck....

2.  Our minimal cash purchases aren't always discussed, but we are talking about really small numbers here.  That's the advantage of putting nearly everything on cards.

3.  We don't do surprise gifts for each other.  Probably did it two or three times, and the last one would have been in the mid-80s or so.  :-)

And agree with comments on $300 a month on clothing being a lot.  Wife is OB who likes to dress nice for her patients and I wear suit on the normal workdays.   With that combination over many years, the two of us combined are nowhere even close to spending $300 a month on clothes.


KMMK

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Re: How transparent are you with your spouse on spending habits?
« Reply #12 on: October 12, 2014, 10:58:27 AM »
All of our money we are allowed to spend it however we like without telling he other person.
However we also have complete transparency. I usually show DH our spending every month and net worth every quarter but he's not that interested in it. I track all our money in all our accounts. Gifts are a non-issue as it's rare and it's the thought that counts, not the surprise. I guess we could pay cash if we wanted to hide something but we have no reason to do that.

firelight

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Re: How transparent are you with your spouse on spending habits?
« Reply #13 on: October 12, 2014, 11:07:08 AM »
No, we don't go over each expense. He leaves regular stuff to me and only participates in semi large purchase decisions.

We don't have a separate personal fund but have a limit we can spend within and put the expense on a joint card. Mint helps us keep track of the limit on it.

For gifts, we charge on our separate cards and pay it off immediately.

Zikoris

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Re: How transparent are you with your spouse on spending habits?
« Reply #14 on: October 12, 2014, 11:12:43 AM »
I track all our spending to the penny with Mint. We use joint credit cards for everything, so it's pretty easy - once a week or less I'll ask him what a purchase was so I can categorize it correctly, but otherwise it's automatic. We're not people that have a gazillion little transactions constantly, so not too much "What the heck was that purchase?". There's no "none of your business" spending, but also no restrictions on what the other person buys because we only pay for our own things - no subsidizing each others spending choices.

There are no secrets, other than gifts for each other which are a small amount (less than $100/year combined) and not worth worrying about. We buy gifts from our chequing accounts which only we have access to, and my boyfriend also has a non-joint credit card that can use for that if he wants (he got it to build credit).

Other than the joint credit cards I only have my own chequing and investment accounts in Mint, so he has to keep his own records regarding that stuff, which he does. We compare net worths regularly to see how we're doing as far as milestones.

shelivesthedream

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Re: How transparent are you with your spouse on spending habits?
« Reply #15 on: October 12, 2014, 11:16:42 AM »
We've only just started doing joint spending, but here's our current plan.

1. He hates dealing with money and I love budgeting, so he gives me all the money. I get out our weekly food budget in cash and then transfer our personal monthly spending allowances into our respective current accounts. All he has to do is not spend more than I give him (we both get the same).

2. Everything is private except for our joint grocery budget and rent payments. Any irregular expenses, like a holiday or furniture purchase, is discussed and will come out of savings or we'll reduce our personal allowances that month. If we get money as a personal gift, unearned, we et to keep it to ourselves.

3. Personal allowances.

totoro

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Re: How transparent are you with your spouse on spending habits?
« Reply #16 on: October 12, 2014, 12:46:34 PM »
We don't track spending and we don't have limits. 

Sounds anti-MMM, but it isn't.  We both grew up poor and are really frugal. 

I don't care what he spends money on because I've never had to worry about problem spending and vice versa.  I'm happy when he buys some clothes (invariably Eddie Bauer on sale) or goes out for beer with his friends and he doesn't care what I spend on.  Sometimes he encourages me to spend more on things that I get a lot of enjoyment from.

falcondisruptor

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Re: How transparent are you with your spouse on spending habits?
« Reply #17 on: October 12, 2014, 01:17:52 PM »
We are very open about spending.  There are no secret accounts. 

For Christmas, we've tried gifts under a very small amount, a big joint item that we needed, a fun joint gift, and last year for Christmas we gave each other weekly mini dates. 

We have amounts set aside for entertainment, clothing, etc.  If your wife wants her own spending money, and you have the room, give it to her.  Over time, she might want to decrease her "allowance" or want to bring spending in the open.  I say if she's on board now, make the big changes to your budget now and you can work on the little stuff more and more as you guys keep working at the budget.

Prepube

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Re: How transparent are you with your spouse on spending habits?
« Reply #18 on: October 12, 2014, 02:24:06 PM »
We have had joint accounts for thirty years.  We institute rules about spending limits when economics requires it (currently we don't purchase anything above 50 dollars without discussion, but that limit has been as high as 200 and as low as zero).  I do not see how a couple with common goals can function effectively without 100% transparency if the goals they share are truly shared.  We make no decisions without 100% agreement, both have veto power over everything.  Gifts are not an issue because we always adhere to the cost discussion rule-- no questions asked unless the rule is broken.

We have had no money related arguements in our entire marriage because we agree to the rules and respect each other.  Separate finances are unnecessary and in my opinion would delay goal attainment (e.g., FIRE).  Having said that, I am sure others have found a way to make it work.  My SO and I are unnaturally compatible and we have found ways to exploit that so we can have a lot of fun and still retire early.

Metta

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Re: How transparent are you with your spouse on spending habits?
« Reply #19 on: October 12, 2014, 03:13:22 PM »
I do not see how a couple with common goals can function effectively without 100% transparency if the goals they share are truly shared.  We make no decisions without 100% agreement, both have veto power over everything. 

I think this is a bit harsh and judgmental when referring to others. Obviously this works for you and that is a wonderful thing. But it is certainly possible to function effectively without getting down to the level of asking for a discussion before buying even very small things.

We started with shared goals and a determination to buy nothing without discussion. I will tell you that I found that I needed the privacy to buy gifts and I needed the privacy to buy certain personal products without a discussion. It was the day I realized that I had put myself in a position where I couldn't purchase feminine hygiene materials (which I find embarrassing anyway) without first having a discussion with my husband that I decided that transparency can go too far. And when I brought the issue up, he agreed that we had gone too far and we modified our plan to allow for private purchases.

There is a certain level of dignity that is enhanced by privacy. If you don't need it, then you don't need it and I commend you for your fearless openness. This is not true of everyone. A need for some privacy in one's purchases does not mean that people don't share goals or don't function effectively.

clarkm04

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Re: How transparent are you with your spouse on spending habits?
« Reply #20 on: October 12, 2014, 04:09:04 PM »
1. Totally transparent.  We normally do it every other week.  It normally goes well.  It was tougher at first, but has gotten easier over time. 

Most of our tense moments are over future purchases.  Anything that's not a necessity that costs more than $10, we have to convince the other it's worth buying.  If you can't, you don't get to buy it.  It takes a little checking of the pride to do it at first, but it makes us better with our consumer weaknesses.

2. No secret money.

3. We have Discover card that we don't use much.  Any gift my wife buys me goes on that card.  We wait until after xmas to go through the credit card statements for what I bought.  For her birthday or Valentine's Day, I just pay in cash OR do the same.

I get the defensive posture from you significant other, before MMM I spent a lot of money on beer and brewing stuff.  It was hard to have conversations about the future with discussions about these habits looking at past credit card statements.  Over time, we have gotten better at talking about and I'm more reasonable in my purchases, since buying one bomber of a rare beer is more reasonable than 3.  Yes, it feels restrictive at first or there's some initial resentment; but eventual with enough time it's a habit and I'm cool with it. 

Overall, it's good when both partners know where the money stands and what the goals are.  Luckily, for the past two years, our long term goals have completely aligned.

Good luck!

Abe

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Re: How transparent are you with your spouse on spending habits?
« Reply #21 on: October 12, 2014, 05:27:17 PM »
1. Completely transparent - i don't spend money on anything other than food. My wife does buy other things that she likes, I don't really pay attention. Anything more than 100 or so we will discuss and usually decide we don't want it after all.

2. No secret money

3. Neither my wife nor I like surprise gifts, so that works out well.

Emilyngh

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Re: How transparent are you with your spouse on spending habits?
« Reply #22 on: October 12, 2014, 05:30:15 PM »
I keep track of the finances, and dh is neither interested in them, but nor is he a big spender.   A couple of times a year I'll show him all of our budget categories and how much we have in various accounts.    But, he's really not interested.   Other than our allowances (discussed below), we only spend money on groceries (he knows the weekly budget and if he's doing the shopping doesn't go over it) and basic household stuff (eg., oil for the cars, pet food, etc).

We do each have an allowance of $75 a mo.   This is automatically deposited into each of our individual checking accounts (all other accounts are joint).   We can use this money for anything we want no questions asked, but also all eating out/coffee/family entertainment other than larger trips/clothing other than that from gifts/beauty items/haircuts if not at home, etc must come from this allowance.   We can either spend it on frivolous stuff, use it for family outings, and/or let it collect and get something bigger.   When we're planning on eating out or going somewhere fun, one of us will volunteer to use our allowance to pay for it.  We've never had the case where we wanted to eat out or similar (which we only do usually like once a month) and not had one of us with enough allowance to cover it.

We started doing this b/c I would become soooo pissed off if I saw DH got a soda/snack from a gas station, although he rarely did it and spent no other money really; it just seemed so wasteful to me.   But, this way I don't even think about it knowing that we each have $75 a mo and that's it, so he can waste it as he pleases. It also keeps me form feeling guilty if I buy some makeup once a year or something similar.   Compared to the other spending amounts I've heard adults talk about this is peanuts, but it seems to be more than enough for us.

Oh,and gifts.   We have a budget of $75 ea for gifts for each other for xmas and birthdays.   At those times of the year, I transfer that amount into his private account.   We often add allowance money to this though if we really want to get something that costs more as a gift for each other (eg., I'm planning on spending about $200 on him to get him a chromebook for xmas).
« Last Edit: October 12, 2014, 05:32:24 PM by Emilyngh »

deborah

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Re: How transparent are you with your spouse on spending habits?
« Reply #23 on: October 12, 2014, 05:31:11 PM »
For many years it worked like this:

1. We agree who spends money on what, and have no transparency. If either of us has something big to buy, and not enough money for it (or money is in the wrong place - eg recently started term deposit) the other will give a loan.

2. All money is secret. We tell each other how much we have if we feel like it.

3. N/A

We were both frugal. We have different risk tolerances, so we put our savings into different investments. We are both FIRE now. If we had joint decisions, we would probably have fought about all sorts of decisions because of our differing risk tolerances.

MsRichLife

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Re: How transparent are you with your spouse on spending habits?
« Reply #24 on: October 12, 2014, 06:40:20 PM »
1.Do you review all of your spending with your spouse regularly?   How does that go?

I keep track of all the spending at least weekly (but usually daily :/ ) If everything is on track according to our budget I don't really talk to DH about it. If spending that he's responsible for (i.e. groceries) is getting high for the month, I'll mention it but don't harp on about it. We aren't on that strict a budget.

If we have big expenditures we discuss them before we make them i.e. DH is spending a lot on workshop tools at the moment. We discussed beforehand how much we were prepared to spend on them and then I just keep track against a separate expense line.

2.Do you keep a separate "none of your business how I spend it" portion or is it all wide open?

Nope. No secrets. We both have internet access to each others accounts.

3.If it's all wide open, how do you handle gifts bought for each other?

We don't buy gifts for each other. Honestly don't see the need for them as we have everything we could possibly need. Our birthdays are two days apart and we've made it a tradition to have a little holiday to celebrate. For Xmas, we'd rather spend the money on travelling to see family or friends. Sometimes we'll surprise each other with some flowers picked from a neighbours garden or something like that. I'd rather a little surprise like that than a gift bought just because it's 'valentine's day' etc. I don't buy into that commercialism.

Prepube

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Re: How transparent are you with your spouse on spending habits?
« Reply #25 on: October 12, 2014, 06:54:37 PM »
I do not see how a couple with common goals can function effectively without 100% transparency if the goals they share are truly shared.  We make no decisions without 100% agreement, both have veto power over everything. 

It was the day I realized that I had put myself in a position where I couldn't purchase feminine hygiene materials (which I find embarrassing anyway) without first having a discussion with my husband that I decided that transparency can go too far. And when I brought the issue up, he agreed that we had gone too far and we modified our plan to allow for private purchases.

Feminine hygiene products would be on our grocery list along with the toothbrushes, soap, and lotions.  It would not be discussed specifically, unless it cost over our 50 dollar individual item limit, in which case we'd look for the most cost effective way to obtain an item.  Everything we do is based on mutual respect, so there would be no judgment. Personal privacy can be respected within the parameters of a transparent financial agreement with your spouse.  Your needs are as relevant and important as your spouse's, and I am sorry you felt self-conscious explaining your needs.  The cost of your needs still needs to be addressed when the two of you are setting up budgets. 

As I said, I am sure others have found ways to work it out that are equally as satisfying.  Deborah, for example, sounds very happy with "secret" money, but I can't imagine how this would ever have worked for us because we had so little when we first started out. The commingling of our finances is what allowed us to survive when times were really tough, then we sort of forgot about the "yours" and "mine" concepts because it all ends up in the same pot anyway.  Things are "mine" when I'm the primary user of it, but it really belongs to both of us.  Each to his/her own, I guess, but I am always baffled about how people in a long term relationship can keep things separated.

urbanista

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Re: How transparent are you with your spouse on spending habits?
« Reply #26 on: October 12, 2014, 07:06:01 PM »

Do you keep a separate "none of your business how I spend it" portion or is it all wide open?


Yes, for the sake of our sanity, we do. We each have a "non-of-your-business-how-I-spend-it" fund.

In my first marriage, my ex insisted on being transparent on every minor spending. It was very annoying and just horrible. I simply started lying to him. Didn't even feel guilty.

Look, people are different. There is no way I want to know how much DH spent on footy games / lunches / whatever, as long as he stays within the limits of his monthly fun money. Maybe I would feel differently if we struggled to save, but we save 67% of our take-home-pay.

fa

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Re: How transparent are you with your spouse on spending habits?
« Reply #27 on: October 12, 2014, 07:11:06 PM »
Wow.  $300 a month on clothing?  That sounds like entertainment shopping to me.  Makes me wonder what else she does?

We have mostly joint accounts and there are no secrets.  Mint shows everything.  Historically, I was the bigger spender but not any more....

My wife is frugal, but since MMM I am hoping to push it further.  But since we are FI, it is more an issue of principle.  So I have little to complain about.

If your wife is on board with early retirement, maybe you can show her the impact of $300 on retiring.  A $3,600 a year spending habit requires an additional $90,000 in retirement savings at 4% SWR.  If you save $30,000/year, the clothing shopping means an extra 3 years of working!  Holy cow!! 

If all else fails, you could either set up either separate splurge money accounts, but $300/month is a big hit.  You could set up separate finances, so that she can keep working longer if she wants to spend that much.

Cookie

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Re: How transparent are you with your spouse on spending habits?
« Reply #28 on: October 12, 2014, 07:14:09 PM »
I am the one who monitors the budget. It is transparent, but DH isn't as interested in that sort of thing as I am. I usually give highlights every once and a while.

We used to have our own "fun money" but that has since gone away and now we just let each other know when we want to buy something that isn't needed. I think this works better for us than having separate funds because we have someone to give the face punch if needed. His weakness is video games, mine is clothes. If we didn't talk it over beforehand we would both give in to our weaknesses more often.

Before MMM I thought we were weird for not having gifts be surprises, but I've found that a lot of people here are like us in that area. We don't do surprise presents often and usually decide on the gift together.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2014, 07:21:31 PM by Cookie »

PabloHoney

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Re: How transparent are you with your spouse on spending habits?
« Reply #29 on: October 12, 2014, 07:18:14 PM »
Thanks everyone. 
Meanwhile, I decided to check this month's spending so far on clothing and she's up to $175 already for October! 
Judas Priest. 


urbanista

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Re: How transparent are you with your spouse on spending habits?
« Reply #30 on: October 12, 2014, 07:22:51 PM »
Good grief.

While $300 a month on clothing is high, I think you will have more success if you can negotiate an allowance aka "fun money" for both of you. Once you agreed on the amount, don't look where the money went.

PabloHoney

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Re: How transparent are you with your spouse on spending habits?
« Reply #31 on: October 12, 2014, 07:29:47 PM »
Good grief.

While $300 a month on clothing is high, I think you will have more success if you can negotiate an allowance aka "fun money" for both of you. Once you agreed on the amount, don't look where the money went.

True.  If I look at where she's spending her fun money, I'll just end up with a friggen ulcer. 

Now we just need to negotiate the right amount of fun money to have - ha!  I'd be happy as a clam with $100 per month and mine will mostly go into an IRA anyway.  I don't think that number will go over too well though. 
I'll be pulling up the future value calculator so we can measure the impact and talk through it - other advice on smoothing over that conversation is more than welcome.  And wish me luck!
http://www.calculatorsoup.com/calculators/financial/future-value-calculator.php

zolotiyeruki

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Re: How transparent are you with your spouse on spending habits?
« Reply #32 on: October 12, 2014, 07:36:53 PM »
Depends on where she spends that money--$300 might only get half a dozen articles of clothing at a mall.

My wife and I are 100% transparent.  We're both pretty frugal, though, so there's not much stress to begin with.  If I want to buy something, I tell my wife first.  Her immediate reaction is usually enough to tell me whether I'm being stupid (she's pretty good about letting me spend money on stuff that's actually worth it).

We don't currently have "mad money"--not enough room in the budget--but we have in the past, and it worked well.

For gifts, well, ok, maybe we're not 100% transparent, but we set a budget for Christmas/birthday/anniversary, so it's not an issue.

I may be jumping at conclusions here, but it sounds like you and your wife have conflicting needs, and arguing about it without recognizing the differences (and the emotions behind each) is just gonna make it worse.  You gotta sit down, lay out the needs, and figure out a compromise.  We'd probably set a budget (would she be ok with $200/month?) so that one person gets the retail therapy without the other becoming stressed out about an uncontrolled expense.

urbanista

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Re: How transparent are you with your spouse on spending habits?
« Reply #33 on: October 12, 2014, 07:43:09 PM »
Give her $300. Seriously. But it has to include all the fun money, and I mean ALL OF IT: clothing, make-up, skin care, lunches, occasional coffee and drinks with the girls. That will be a good start, imho.





SailAway

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Re: How transparent are you with your spouse on spending habits?
« Reply #34 on: October 12, 2014, 08:15:42 PM »
We do his, hers, and ours. $X of each of our paychecks is deposited into our joint account. Anything extra (sometimes just a little, more if one of us worked overtime) goes into our individual accounts. All bills and joint expenses are paid out of the joint. Extras, gifts, whatever, are paid from the individual ones. I wouldn't call them 'secret' as that sounds nefarious. Just individual. It works for us.

Jacana

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Re: How transparent are you with your spouse on spending habits?
« Reply #35 on: October 12, 2014, 10:29:16 PM »
We don't review all purchases because my spouse can't be bothered; he trusts me with the budgeting and finances and typically just asks "can we buy x" But it's all there in Mint and YNAB and we'll occasionally sit down and look at spending together.

We each have a personal checking account that the other has no access to, but there isnt much money in either. We have an allowance system because he has very expensive hobbies and I don't. So he gets 400/ mo to spend on clothes, drinks and cigars with friends, gifts for me, and hobby related stuff. It is entirely up to him how he budgets himself, and he knows that if he blows 60$ on a night out he doesn't get to buy new hunting gear. I get 200/ mo (my decision not his to take half, I can't spend 400 a month if I try) to buy clothes, go out with friends, buy him gifts, etc. We do not track this spending, not that it is secret or anything just that we don't care what the other uses it for. This system has really removed money tension and we rarely argue about spending. It also helped when I became a SAHM; since we're all on his income now, I think it's important for us each to have guilt-free spending money.

kaetana

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Re: How transparent are you with your spouse on spending habits?
« Reply #36 on: October 13, 2014, 02:55:19 AM »
I think when trying to get a reluctant spouse on board, it's important to focus on the big battles. I agree with others who have said that focusing on the amount budgeted for personal use, but not the actual items bought, can really help.

I track my personal money entirely on the budgeting app we use, YNAB. I, like you, find value in examining the nitty gritty details of our expenditure. My husband could, in theory, look up what I spent my money on, but he never does. I've just had to accept that my husband isn't the same way. We agreed on the amount we each get, but every month I just expense that out to him as if it were already spent, and I transfer it to his personal account, where he does whatever he wants with it. This way, we only have to discuss our expenses if we want to volunteer the information, or if we want to go over our budgets.

Good luck trying to figure out your own way. Money can be difficult to bring up and discuss in a relationship!

Apples

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Re: How transparent are you with your spouse on spending habits?
« Reply #37 on: October 13, 2014, 06:15:49 AM »
Personal spending "allowances" are the best thing.  Those cover all of your wife's concerns, while allowing you to focus on other parts of the budget while you work towards the new goal.  I think the most difficult thing you'll have to do is discuss what the dollar amount each month should be for those accounts.  For reference, my spouse and I each have $150 to do whatever with, above basic clothing/haircut needs.  So for example, if I get the $17 haircut in town, that fits in our basic category for clothes/haircuts.  If I wanted (which I wouldn't) a fancy haircut and highlights and all that cost $60, that would come mostly out of personal spending.  My husband also gets an additional $50/month for brewing beer since that's become a big socializing factor for him and for us with friends.  It has evolved this year since we first set a budget in January, and over the last two months we've started to hit a groove with it.  So patience is key.  The first 3 months or so had several "discussions" about how much is enough, what should/shouldn't count in there (haircut, brewing), etc.  But if 1 year from now you two are in more harmony about this, it will be a year well spent!

Zette

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Re: How transparent are you with your spouse on spending habits?
« Reply #38 on: October 13, 2014, 06:37:22 AM »
How long have you been tracking clothing spending?  I ask because sales come periodically.  I often spend $300 one month, and then almost nothing the next two.  So it really averages out to $100/mo.  By shopping the periodic clearance sales at my favorite high-end store, I might buy 12 tops that average $25 instead of 4 tops that each cost $75.  (The thrift store shoppers are scoffing at ths point, but I think trying to sell your wife on thrift stores would be a bad negotiating move!)

Cpa Cat

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Re: How transparent are you with your spouse on spending habits?
« Reply #39 on: October 13, 2014, 06:52:55 AM »
Everything is joint. It gets uploaded into Mint. Mr Cat doesn't check Mint, but has the login/password. We have an "allowance" - a set budget amount that we're each allowed to spend. I categorize such expenditures as Cat/Mr Cat in Mint so that we know if anyone went over, but no one does. If either of us wants to make a larger purchase, we just discuss it.

I don't scrutinize his expenditures. If he's not over his budget, then it doesn't matter. I only ever ask him if something seems suspicious. Like a charge at NigerianPrince.com. I sometimes ask him to scan the Paypal charges to make sure nothing looks fishy.

You should definitely avoid any kind of patronizing/controlling attitude. Avoid saying things like, "You bought a $300 crown at NigerianPrince.com?! Don't you have two crowns already?!"

The other thing that's helpful is that Mr Cat and I decided on what an appropriate allowance was. You should try to make that a joint decision.

Psychstache

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Re: How transparent are you with your spouse on spending habits?
« Reply #40 on: October 13, 2014, 06:59:15 AM »
After having worked in a high end clothing store, I do have one question: Did she spend $530 on clothes or charge $530 on clothes? I know tons of women who would come in and shop and spend 300 on one trip, then come and return 130 of it, then come back and spend 50 and return a 20 item, etc.

Ybserp

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Re: How transparent are you with your spouse on spending habits?
« Reply #41 on: October 13, 2014, 08:21:52 AM »
We call it play money rather than an allowance. The term allowance has you-are-a-child implications that are just not helpful in an adult relationship.

nottoolatetostart

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Re: How transparent are you with your spouse on spending habits?
« Reply #42 on: October 13, 2014, 09:04:08 AM »
Very transparent. Although he has virtually no interest in our money, he knows he can pull up YNAB anytime he wants to check things out. I would love it if he took more of an interest in our money!

We have "fun money". It is put into his solo account via paycheck direct deposit so we never discuss it (I keep a YNAB category for myself as opposed to an individual account since I don't take as much as him). I would get bitter if I had to transfer the money to his account twice per month, so direct deposit allows me to act like it is not there.

It helps keep harmony in our marriage because we have no say in what the other buys. The money is "spent" from our annual budget and allows me to keep our expenses predictable.

ender

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Re: How transparent are you with your spouse on spending habits?
« Reply #43 on: October 13, 2014, 09:15:49 AM »
You're working on a long-term plan here.

You've already seen reduction of 25% it looks like after the first month. This seems pretty significant to me, why the gloom/doom?

Also I suspect you are coming across as "you need to spend less so I can meet my goals" which is naturally going to get backlash. My guess is you are the detail oriented one, you are the one who initiated this plan, and you are the one pushing it on your wife. She sees it as you wanting to cut her spending, her lifestyle, and her life enjoyment to benefit YOU by letting YOU retire early. Of course this is going to be negatively received.

Two months is not enough time for most people to change their entire lifestyle as applies to spending money. Expecting and pushing this perspective on your wife is not going to be beneficial to her at all.

Last, you might get better perspective talking about your total income/budget at this point here instead of just your wife. Focusing your efforts on what you can control and changing your lifestyle and allowing your wife to see change in you is going to be a million times better than coming down with a hammer on her.

The problem most people have when initiating change is they forget that others cannot read their mind and see and immediately buy into the benefits. We almost always forget to explain how our new vision/goals positively affect those around us, whether in marriage or at work. We expect them to be self-evident. "Of course MMM lifestyle is better" is an assumption you have which she probably doesn't buy into as much as you. So you get frustrated, since you see it as "clearly we don't need to spend $230 on clothes" but she doesn't buy into, believe, or even know the underlying assumptions you have. These are what you need to communicate when you have these discussions. "Spend less" is a terrible discussion point. But without the "why" that's what it comes across as, if you are lucky. It might come across like, "spend less so I can work less because I want to be lazy."

Thegoblinchief

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Re: How transparent are you with your spouse on spending habits?
« Reply #44 on: October 13, 2014, 10:23:01 AM »
  • Do you review all of your spending with your spouse regularly?   How does that go?
  • Do you keep a separate "none of your business how I spend it" portion or is it all wide open?
  • If it's all wide open, how do you handle gifts bought for each other?

1. I blog about our monthly budgets (among many other things) and my wife reads that. We also talk from time to time, particularly when changes seem necessary. Starting this month, we're going to try out the Frugalwoods' idea of finance date nights once a month.

2. Yes. We each get $50/month, 5% of surplus cashflow, and all gift money and side income. At the same time, we typically talk about what we've used the personal $ for. It's not hidden spending, it just allows us to set our own priorities.

3. We tend to do small, random surprises for each other than big gifts.

As to your original question, $300/month sounds like a lot, but I have no idea what your income is, your savings rate, your goals, etc. Maybe in the big picture it's nothing. At the same time, since it's clear you have different priorities, that's where having a budget or allowance and making each other stick to it will help ease friction.

lifejoy

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Re: How transparent are you with your spouse on spending habits?
« Reply #45 on: October 13, 2014, 10:44:34 AM »
We have joint banking, so everything can be seen.

We have an agreement where if you want to buy something over $100, you have to consult your spouse.

For gifts: the budget is $100 so usually cash will work.

MrsSmitty

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Re: How transparent are you with your spouse on spending habits?
« Reply #46 on: October 13, 2014, 11:04:58 AM »
I track our finances and give my husband the highlights when I do net worth calcs at the end of the month. We each have a credit card that we use for personal spending. He could dig into what I buy if he wanted, I've offered the details to him, but he doesn't seem to care. I don't question what he buys, all I see is the amount that comes out of our joint account to pay the card each month. He's assured me that he pays it in full each month and the total is pretty low ($100-$250/month). I know some of what he buys (coffee at 7-11 in the morning, occasional lunches out or drinks with his friends) but the total is usually around I planned for personal spending so I let it be. We make bigger purchases together. As for gifts, we don't usually surprise each other. For his last birthday I told him I wanted to upgrade his computer monitor for him (he'd been complaining about it for awhile) so he picked one out on Amazon and I bought it using our joint credit card. 

I'm lucky in that he's frugal by nature. He hates stores and shopping so all he buys on his own are things that can be consumed. I'm the shopper and planner of the household so really it's on me to limit what we spend as a couple.

Lizzy B.

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Re: How transparent are you with your spouse on spending habits?
« Reply #47 on: October 13, 2014, 11:13:19 AM »
Like many here, our finances are completely transparent. I handle the Day to Day transaction categorization, but we meet about twice a month to get a status update, see if we're overspending on one category, or if a large expense has suddenly popped up. (Recent examples include sudden back pain and the associated treatment and a surprise trip to the vet. ). All out accounts are shared, so either of us could check at any time.

We each get fun money for a month. We're at $80 now, which will be high for readers here, is much lower than many people I've talked to IRL, but just right for us. I tend to do lots of smaller things-coffee out, houseplant for the office, etc.- and he tends to save up for several months to get something bigger. All these transactions are in our shared account, so we both see them, but they're categorized as fun money. Neither of us is allowed to object to the others use of the fun money, provided it doesn't really clutter up the house. I LOVE having some cash to play with; it really takes the sting out of budgeting.

For gifts, we usually ask the other person not to check the finances for a few days. It takes away some of the surprise, but isn't bad. One of DH's most romantic actions was to ask me how to rename a transaction so I wouldn't see it next time I logged on. He never pays attention to the details of our purchase categorization, so that was really sweet. We have a gifts category in our budget that covers Christmas, birthdays, and the little random surprises too.

GetItRight

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Re: How transparent are you with your spouse on spending habits?
« Reply #48 on: October 13, 2014, 11:23:23 AM »
  • Do you review all of your spending with your spouse regularly?   How does that go?

No, I tried a couple times and it went over like a snowball in hell. I started using Mint to get a handle on where my money goes and cut out expenses that provide little value. She does not work and has many excuses not to (no kids, so no legitimate excuse in my mind given we both have debt) so I have been supporting her for quite some time, though she previously earned a good income. She does not like to talk about finances as I cannot afford to support her desired lifestyle of luxuries indefinitely. If I tell her she has to either cut back on expenses or generate some income she gets mad. I showed her Mint and how my spending changed after having good visibility, but she was angry to find that I have a category for her bills and spending money. She groans when I enter cash transactions in mint. So, it goes over quite terribly.

  • Do you keep a separate "none of your business how I spend it" portion or is it all wide open?

We keep everything separate. I have access/visibility to her accounts as I have been paying them since she has not been working. She does not have access to any of my accounts and doesn't have much interest when I try to run my spending and goals by her for input, though she is aware I'm happy to share everything and show her the details on mint and spreadsheets.

Since she gets mad when I bring up her expenses I have stopped paying her bills and instead give her a fixed amount each month that I can afford without compromising my initial goal of becoming debt free. She will have to address either the income or expense side of it, but I no longer question how she spends her money. She is verbally supportive of me pursuing ER and dislikes that I work long hours, says do it if it makes me happy. It does, so I am, and am waiting for the aftermath.

  • If it's all wide open, how do you handle gifts bought for each other?

We don't do much so far as gifts. Occasionally a card or something inexpensive but more thoughtful or personalized. She is aware I don't like consumerist holiday spending, though I try to do small things for her from time to time as she likes consumerist holiday spending.



To me it sounds like your SO has an expensive shopping habit. At $300/mo, well I spend less than that annually on clothes so can't imagine. If that's all she spends on or if that is a small amount of money for your income then maybe that's fine if it's the primary thing that she enjoys (like a hobby I guess). People can be very defensive about their luxury spending. Having separate fun money or allowance and being able to not stress over how she spends it would eliminate the specific spending as a point of contention, and discussion can focus on an appropriate amount that fits your long term goals.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: How transparent are you with your spouse on spending habits?
« Reply #49 on: October 13, 2014, 11:40:57 AM »
She does not work and has many excuses not to... <snip>

No offense, but your current trajectory screams divorce.