How Do You and Your Husband Handle Spending and Money?

Updated on March 18, 2010
J.G. asks from Baltimore, MD
37 answers

My husband and I are at a crossroads about our day-to-day finances. I am looking for ideas on how others budget, handle checkbooks, who decides how much is OK to spend...

Some info about our problem: My husband has always been lean and mean and does not like to spend money on anything material like clothes, furniture, home improvement, extraneous items of any kind, dining out, etc. He is OK with spending on food, Target and Sam's Club. I, as the female, am in charge of grocery shopping, preparing meals, and any shopping for the house, kids and myself. Therein lies the problem: I spend it and he controls it.

My DH does not have any idea how much groceries, kids clothes, my clothes or haircuts cost. Whenever I buy clothes for me or the kids or something for the house he goes crazy. He likes to be in charge of the checkbook and credit card and looks online every day to see what I spend. I get a hard time for anything except buying food. He keeps the checkbook with him but gets mad if I don't record all of my spending in it from debit card expenses (I can never find it!!). I have asked many times for more control in handling the budget and the way we pay bills but he just gets defensive and says I don't "do it right."

To top things off, I am now working part time, which gives us extra money and makes me more determined to get a little control of the way we handle things since I am contributing also. I would love suggestions on how you handle your checkbook (joint or separate?), if you have your own "budget" for things you want to buy for yourself and general ideas on how to make handling our money not such an anger-producing thing. Thank you!

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W.J.

answers from Roanoke on

I just wanted to also recommend Dave Ramsey to you. My husband sounds just like yours (he literally looks at our account every day and if I've made a purchase with our check card, he calls and asks me what I bought), and using Dave's system has really helped our finances and our marriage. The best thing about it is that it gives you a way to get on the same page about these things. We use the cash system that he talks about, and it has done wonders for us. We looked at what we were spending each month, set up a realistic budget, and then began taking the cash out each month for the expenses. We keep the cash separated by category (groceries, personal care, kids money, personal money, household items, etc), and stick to the amount of cash we have each month. This has helped us because now my husband knows how much money I'll spend each month on things, and I know that I don't have to give him any details on how I spend the money unless I want to. We have personal money built into our budget as well, so each of us has money to spend however we want. This is where money for clothes, eating out (without each other, if we're together we use our entertainment category), fun stuff, books, etc comes from. My husband plays fantasy football, so he uses his personal money to buy magazines about it as well as going out to each with work friends. The funny thing is that my husband (who is truly a saver) always spends all his personal money each month whereas I, the spender, rarely do. Because we're on the cash system and have all regular purchases accounted for each month, I never make a purchase that isn't in our budget without talking to my husband. Even a small one. We've found this is what works for us, and since the majority of all spending comes from our budget I don't need to talk to my husband all that often about extra purchases.
Another positive thing about doing this has been that I can see how my husband's annoying habits over money are actually strengths. He is anal about our spending, but he has a long term goal in mind that I didn't realize he had since we were too busy arguing over daily money issues to talk about long term stuff. He has a plan for us to have an emergency fund that will support us if something were to happen to his job as well as a plan for our retirement. I've also come to realize that I'd rather my husband be the one controlling the money than to do it all myself. I have many friends who hate being in charge of the finances, but their husbands are not as good with money so they end up doing it by default. They are constantly telling me how lucky I am to have a husband who takes care of those things, and now I can see that they're right. I'm sorry to have been so long-winded, but I really believe that sometimes husbands get a bad name for things (like being told they're dealing with something in an unhealthy way) when in reality they're just trying to do what they think is best for the entire family. A lot of time we just need to learn how to communicate with each other about these things so that we can all be on the same page.

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J.D.

answers from Washington DC on

Honey, this is soooo much bigger than working on a budget. This is about his controlling you and making you have to answer for every cent you spend. This is not a marriage, this is a dictatorship. I'm not saying he isn't otherwise a great guy or a good father but I'd bet this is not the only issue he has controlling issues with. Lots of people with abusive personalities or at least aggessive issues are "good" spouses, fathers, etc. But that does not mean that this controlling aspect isn't a problem. Do you want to live like this where you are worried about dealing with it? I'm not saying go spend money like crazy, but if you go to the grocery store because it is your "job" as the woman, and then you have to turn around and defend your purchases!! Come on, you don't deserve that. And the kids don't need that influence either.

Make a stand. Seek counseling - with or without him. Set up your own bank account - your name only - he'd probably be pissed but you need to protect yourself. You have sent out a very scary message and if you are able to step back and read what you wrote, you'll see that there are some major issues going on here.

I do wish you luck.
J.

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T.C.

answers from Austin on

In our household, my husband does most of the money-related stuff because he is better at it. He has a degree in economics, although that's not what his job is in. He has taken the time to show me how to access all the credit card statements online even though I never will. He's the one who clips coupons, goes grocery shopping, takes my son for a haircut, looks for good deals online(fatwallet.com). It's almost like a sport to him. The budget is all there in his brain and I trust him.

This works fine because we make most decisions together and I am just as concerned about spending too much money. He'll tell me he's thinking of buying something. I'm the one who says no we don't need a new computer, car, stove or TV- even if it is a good deal the old one works fine. I cut my own hair and I'd rather have dinner at home. I even try to avoid shopping by myself so I don't buy impulse items.
The one problem that we still have is that if I buy something on a credit card, he will know about it by the end of the day. He doesn't get mad that I bought something, it's more that I used the "wrong" credit card and didn't get points. Then I get mad and go shop at the thrift store with cash and don't tell him.

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K.F.

answers from Washington DC on

Men like to be in charge...they are control freaks with trust issues - especially since he is working all the time and wants to know he is doing it for a good reason....but now that you are working, you should approach him again on spending money....here's how my husband and I work:
I used to work full time so we each had our separate checking accounts - I would use mine for stuff for the house, entertainment, and groceries and he would use his for bills and stuff necessary. Sometimes he would pay for the groceries if we used a lot of mine for furniture or something that was due. I would still 'consult' with him about any major purchases and ask him his opinion, etc....he still didn't like spending money on going out to eat because he thought it was wasteful, but I explained that I don't want to work all the time and come home and cook, etc so I would cook 90% of the time and then 10% i would ask that he took care of dinner...of course if he didn't feel like cooking we would go out to eat - which was a treat for me too....then he started getting used to the idea and realized how it made me feel to cook all the time, so he started asking me to go out to eat more and more....he was in total charge of the finances for bills and he would sometimes give me a grocery 'allowance.' I could always ask for more and if we had it, he would lend it....
THEN, I got pregnant (on purpose) and lost my job (not on purpose)...I knew I was going to quit working eventually any way, but not so soon....so we had to drastically cut back on our budget, as many families have in the recent times....so I gave up eating out all the time and we both decided not to make any major purchases like furniture, etc...and I started being more budget friendly with groceries....DH would give me a certain amount for spending money and I tried to stretch it for groceries and superfluous items...we don't buy many household items or clothes, etc....but I would always come up short, so we discussed it and decided I would take over the bills, etc and handle the finances so I could see just how much money we had left over....which really helped me spend less because I could see just what was going on with everything. Plus, I have more time at home than he does, so it's easier for me to pay the bills...if your DH has a problem with how you handle things, ask him what he prefers and then ask for a trial run - to show him that he can trust you with the finances....then I would check out just how much extra money you have left over after paying bills every month and then budget for tithes, debt, groceries, etc, then whatever money is leftover can go to entertainment and clothes, household stuff, etc. You may find he is more stressed about finances for good reason...and less trying to be the bad guy. But maybe since you are working now, you can use your paycheck for the extra items and let him continue with the bills...just try to compromise and have open communication to see what he is really thinking/feeling. (Men like to know what's going on and be in the loop - if you are purchasing things without his knowledge, then he could feel more out of control....so just a quick - hey, do you mind if I get the kids' new Easter outfits? will go a long way....he doesn't want to be mean and say no - so if you consult with him and he has the extra money, more than likely he will say yes...)
Also - the way I have been doing the finances is - I have a spreadsheet with all the bills listed, when they are due and how much....with a link to the website where i can auto pay - so every 1st, 5th, 10th, 15th, and 22nd of the month, i will pay the bills that are due for that time period...then I will check the account and see how much is left....then I will budget for the remaining things....the spreadsheet really helps me so I don't forget anything and I have a track record of when I paid everything.
Good luck - let us know what happens!!!

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A.F.

answers from St. Cloud on

Hi J.! The way your husband is reacting is not healthy. Finances are a shared thing, and he is wrong to get upset at you for buying things that your family needs. And it's okay to buy things that you want too, within reason.
Sitting down to do the budget is a great idea. Make sure you each have some cash for incidentals and have a joint checking account AND separate accounts.

Ask him why he gets so angry and let him know how he makes you feel. My husband is a money and numbers whiz and early in our marriage he didn't seem to understand that I managed my money beautifully before he came along! :) I had to tell him that I felt guilty for buying ANYTHING and that he made me feel like a child instead of an adult. He was appropriately grieved that he made me feel so badly!

He needs to trust you and respect you enough to not be controlling. You are his WIFE, not some untrustworthy employee.

V.M.

answers from Nashville on

Dear Miss J., Money is the route of all evil they say, But without it we can't live. Finances are one cause of divorce today. When you do the grocery shopping make a list and stick directly to the list with no extras, try giving your children haircuts instead of going to a salon. Set certain spending limits to what you buy and how much you can spend per month, per person, if needed.
Also your husband needs to set a limit on the amount of money he spends each time he goes "shopping". Don't shop at Target or Sams Club. Try going to some lower cost retail shops, and buy just the basic needs not wants. Try taking the extra money that you save from the bargain shopping and put it in a special Account towards something that you really want or need, but don't tell your husband that you have done this and see just how much money you can save compared to what he allows you to spend. Once you have started saving this then you can purchase what you want or use it for an emergency fund if needed.
Miss J., you are a grown woman who is capable of managing money and a household while working part-time. Your husband should be proud of you because there are a lot of women who aren't able to do the things you do. I was a mother of 2 girls,who was in college and worked 3rd shift at a hospital. That was in 1998. I know what is is like to have to sacrifice, struggle and do without.
I am now remarried to a wonderful man who i have taught how to save money by cutting back on the utilities and other things. We are a 1 income family that lives in a brick home with a morgage payment just like everyone else. I will gladly tell you how we cut back and how i taught him how to save money. Hint: Our power bill went from $300.00 per month to $70.00 per month average now. If you are interested just ask. I hope this helps you. God Bless you.

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D.C.

answers from Johnson City on

ha ha ha. I guess there is something wrong with me. I am the one who does the budget, pay the bills, etc. I am the one who is saying "no, we can't really afford to go to the movie this w/e." He is all "we need to go on a vacation!" and " We have $5 in our checking account? hmmm.. how can we spend it?" He spends an ungodly amount of money on.. STUFF. And anytime he finds out I want something, he doesn't just buy me what I want, he goes way beyond. I was trying to convince myself it was okay to spend $70 on an MP3 palyer to take to the gym to start working out again. He found out I was looking at them and tried to buy me a $300 one. I'm trying to pay off debt and save money. He just likes to live for NOW and have fun.
HE is just now (13 years of marriage) starting to think before he spends. we have 3 kids. And I guess I'm becoming less of a tightwad.
I think you just need to sit down together and show him where the money goes. Show him grocery receipts and stuff. Good luck!

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S.S.

answers from Washington DC on

Tedious, but it works! Do a spreadsheet of all of your spending over the past 3 months. This includes checking, credit card statements, etc. Don't leave anything out. Also, be as detailed as possible (haircuts, clothes, groceries, everything)! This is the average total of money that is needed every month for your household expenses and it should be in the "main" checking account.

Everyone has heard the expression "pay yourself first", right? Well, sit down with your husband and decide a reasonable monthly amount that you can pay yourself and your husband. (If it's only $10 a month for you each, so be it). This money goes into a totally separate account (one for you and one for your husband) and can be used for anything you want to use it for - no questions asked. I don't know what his balance is and he doesn't know what mine is.

To sum it up, we have 3 bank accounts. The main account for all household expenses, another account for myself and one for my husband. it sounds like a lot, but with on-line banking it is very easy to organize and stay on top of everything.

Just a short story, we started doing this because one Christmas, my husband got upset when he had to "ask" what he could spend for my Christmas present. Now, he can save his monthly "allowance" for whatever he wants to spend it on - I can too.

Hope this helps
S.

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M.L.

answers from Cleveland on

I need alot of help in this area too, some of these answers make me want to cry. I'm going to try to do better and track a monthly buget for extra expenses beyond morgage, car payment etc., i've asked my hubby to do the same but he refuses. I wish you well and hope you find somethign that works.

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L.N.

answers from New York on

my husband does the bills, and he is the breadwinner. he also likes to go grocery shopping (go figure), but i write the list (as specific as possible or he'll wander off and bring me something bla). we do costco together (i love just going to costco). he has no more say than i do in what needs to get spent. he knows i use sales and coupons for almost everything. i take about 500 dollars a month for clothes for kids (2), whatever doesn't get spent, gets put onto the next month's 500 for clothes (we never spend 500 a month, so there is always leftover money that i use for little things i do with kids, like ice cream outings, lunches with my daughters) etc.
we, as a family, dine out (lunch) on weekends. we don't want to waste our weekends cooking around for lunch and dinner. we have two places we like to go to which aren't overtly expensive but aren't restaurant chains either.
for big items like cars, furniture, vacations etc, is a joint decision. my husband likes to spend. so he needs restraint. if it were up to him, he'd change his cars every year. or it's been two years now that he has been wanting to finish our basement. i want it finished too but there is no way i will dig in our savings to have that done.
so, all said, we all decide, but i have the final say. if we're on opposite opinions, then what i say goes (only because i am more reasonable when it comes to purchasing).
good luck

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M.B.

answers from Medford on

Make a budget: income monthly / expenses monthly and write things down daily, weekly, monthly. Staples has a variety of budget books. Pick the one you like best. Do your best even if only you pay attention. Look for good communication times. I thought we would talk about everything (kind of a woman thing) but sometimes it is better to just talk about one section of the budget. Later on another might come up and you will have some solid info.

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A.R.

answers from Austin on

Check out Dave Ramsey financial peace university. You should be able to find a 10 week (I think that's the length) course in your area. Great information & a great forum for support. It's been great for my husband & I & has really helped us prioritize our expenses. My husband no longer fusses about my spending because it's in the budget. Good luck.

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E.K.

answers from Washington DC on

Have you tried using a software program? Let him have the checkbook, you can record on the software program. It will show expenses for everything by category, at least Quicken does, I don't know about MS Money. That way he can see that you not being excessive. ALWAYS have a budget for the family and it's expenses. Run it as a business. You may find that both of you have some work to do when it comes to spending and SAVING. You are different people and will have different ideas on how things should be handled, but if you agree to the software and sit down TOGETHER to make the family budget, then neither of you can complain. Do not forget to include incidentals and unforeseens, ino ther words have a miscellaneous cash section built into your budget. Check out www.DaveRamsey.com , this man is great with teaching you, and your husband, about handling money

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L.B.

answers from Richmond on

We have a joint account, that the bulk of both of our incoms is direct deposited into. My husband, is the one that is bad with money, will buy on a whim, and overdraft the account because he does not keep track of what he has spent. He recieves an "allowance" of the monthly income that is direct deposited into his personal account from our joint acount, so that he can take care of his needs and wants, but the money that goes into his personal account, is acconted for in the Family Budget. There are also no bail outs! If he overdrafts his account, that is HIS problem, and he just has to wait untill the next pay check, and operate off what ever is left in his account after the charges, and overdraft fees are covered. It has been a hard lesson for him, but he is doing much better. We should be compleetly debt free next February.

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J.S.

answers from San Antonio on

Well when I started working part time I didn't want to put the money I made in the regular account because I wasn't sure how long I would be working and I didn't want us to become dependant on that money to pay bills so we opened up a seperate account and the money from my paychecks went in there. This account was specifically for "extra things"; clothing ,birthday party gifts, evenings out, fun time with the kids, etc. Notice the "we" and not "my money" if you get into my money your money it will cause division!

Also, maybe happen to be busy or at work one day when the kids desperately need a haircut or clothes so he has to take them. That way he will know the actual cost of stuff. My father use to do the same thing to my mother, but then when he took us shopping he just let us pick out whatever we wanted! LOL! My mom never let him take us again. The bill was really big!

There are also plenty of money programs for your computer you can buy. If you keep your checkbook on there you both can handle it. When you spend on the card then you can go enter it in the computer and he won't get mad at you for not entering it. Its more accessable than a checkbook he carries around. These programs also have budgets you can formulate as well as charts to see exactly how much is being spent in each catagory or store. A good on is called Quicken.

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S.H.

answers from Richmond on

$ is the #1 cause of divorce so you are right to be concerned. Why is your husband so controlling when it comes to money? Did he grow up as a poor child? Did he have a prior relationship go sour over money? Is he just controlling in general? I guess I am saying, ask yourself what the root of the problem is. There is something there.
My DH and I have 3 accounts - his, mine and ours. My paycheck goes in mine and his paycheck goes in his. I move money around as needed and I pay all of the bills but provide a spreadsheet showing where it went (complete with notes on big charges on the CC). We each get $100 twice a month to buy whatever we want - no questions asked. We still put gas, haircuts, etc. on a credit card (PIF each month) - the $100 is for little things. We don't spend over $200 at a time on anything without discussing it first. This limit works for us b/c our grocery tab is always under $200 - I didn't want to have to call and ask to spend $160 at the grocery store! You and your husband should know where all of the money is coming from and going to. He should not control the $. What would happen if he died tomorrow - would you know where/how to access everything? 1 final thought - is there debt you maybe don't know about that he needs to cover up or needs extra $ to pay on or are you all more in the hole than he wants to say? Men can have egos over such things since they are the "providers" so he might not want to admit things are much tighter than you realize. I don't know, I am throwing stuff out there in hopes that you find a solution. Good luck!

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K.S.

answers from Minneapolis on

UGH - Let me know when someone figures this out. CHildren are a lot of work and stress but also give make a lot of joy. Money and budgets are all work and stress but definitely no joy.

I have a similar situation but I am the primary breadwinner. We maintain separate checkbooks. The funds come into "mine" and I transfer a set amount into "his" every two weeks. I monitor both with online banking every other day so there is really no need to right everything down in the register immediately. His is nothing but awesome lunches, video games, downloads, coffee, ATM withdrawls...While my daily register is nothing but bills. Seriously, if I can pack a brown bag, why can't he? The amount that man lavishes on himself can drive me keeee-razy. And when I get to the breaking point:

I outline all routine bills as well as spending that has to happen but can be flexible (groceries, target, etc.) I line this amount going out with the amount coming in and paste this mini-budget to him into an e-mail to him. We find talking it about toooo frustrating. When the flat-broke numbers are put in front of him...He reins in for a few weeks and I feel a little more benevolent. But I have to be honest, this is just going to be a point of contetion between us until some of the more burdensome expenses recede (childcare, mortgage, etc.).

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F.O.

answers from Los Angeles on

I am the frugal one. My husband is reckless. He thinks expensive equates to prestige. I don't monitor the inflow/outflow of his finances, however, I manage the household account/expenses food and bills because they affect the family directly and I will not subject us to the "poor house" because he has big eyes. I don't believe in "extra money" when we should be always building a rainy day fund. BUT, what he does with his money for himself is his business, as long as he's not dipping into the joint account which again I manage. My solution is simple: It's about living within reason and your means and communication!!!!!!!

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J.C.

answers from Chicago on

my husband never had anything to do with $$....he didnt know how much i spent on a anything or how much the bills were, not even the mortgage.....but he has expensive taste & when i would tell him we dont have the money he would be upset saying "i make good money" i dont understand what you are doing with the money....so i found out about dave ramsey & found a class in our area (it's 13 weeks)....i convinced him to go & now i have created a monster....we got quicken too......i HIGHLY recommend the class there is also an online class, it will really help your marriage

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M.B.

answers from Washington DC on

Hi, you already have a lot of responses, and I haven't read through them all, so my appologies if I'm repeating anyone. My husband and I have gone through the same issues.
Firstly, some things need to be identified as essentials (bills, food, etc.), others recurring costs (kids clothes/shoes), others being family wants (home improvements, etc), and lastely, personal wants. Identify how much the essentials and recurring costs come to each month, so you have a better idea of what HAS to be spent each month.
Then, decide how much you as a family wants to save each month (so important) for a family vacation, or emergencies, or whatever.
From there you have an idea of what is left. My husband and I get an allowance each month, to use on whatever we want. For me that's clothes (I haven't changed shape much in the last 10 years, so unless work necessitates new clothes, clothes and shoes are a luxury, not an essential), eating out with my girlfriends, whatever I want. For him, it's gadgets and techy stuff.
Sometimes we have to have a conversation about whether something should come from our personal accounts, or the joint account, and usually, we can rationally talk it out and make a decision that we're both comfortable with.
It was hard at first, and kind of embarrasing to ask, "what did you spend $150 on at Target?" but it became good for both of us, and the way we communicated about it and other things.
Now, we are doing much better financially. No more fighting, we have a decent savings account, and aren't living month to month.
Good luck, and feel free to contact me directly if you have questions.
M.

G.R.

answers from Dallas on

we do this

we know how much money we have so

we pay bills
we pay grocery
and then some clothes 1 week is for the kids
another week for us
another week to buy something for the house

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A.F.

answers from Norfolk on

I'm sorry you have to go through that. My husband makes the money, I spend it. :P I buy the groceries, things for the house, clothes and what not for the boys (except shoes, hubby likes buying shoes. :P). However anything "big" we do together. If he wants to do something (outside of the norm) he will ask if we have the money to do so. If he doesn't like my answer, I keep records, so he can check anytime he wants. I would try to find a compromise somewhere. If he really wants to be that controlled over money, give him ur list and have him do the shopping and let him see where the money goes. This probably really doesn't help u out. Sorry for that. I just hope you two are able to find some common ground. Good Luck.

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A.B.

answers from Denver on

Well the first thing I did was I had my husband go grocery shopping- even though he hated it. I also had him buy clothes for our kids. Once he saw how much those things cost and that I wasn't just splurging and w really needed the stuff- he calmed down. As for spending on myself... I really don't do hat too much unless I have my own money (like from my part-time job) etc. Maybe have a joint checkbook for groceries and things pertaining to the children/house and have yourself your own that you can buy things for yourself?

Hope this helps!

A. B.

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L.M.

answers from New York on

I never could understand a married couple who have separate checking accounts. We have one checking account and I pay all the bills, since I have a financial backgound. In our relationship I'm the saver and he's the spender. In the beginning of our marraige when money was tight, we sat down and put together and made somewhat of a budget. We agreed neither of us would spend over $30 without first discussing it with each other. We each took enough money each week to cover gas for the cars, lunch out one day a week, and a little extra "mad money".

In your situation, I suggest you enlighten your husband on the cost of items. Give him the receipts for the groceries, clothing, hair cuts, toiletries, etc. Is it possible that he feels you may be spending more than necessary? For example he may feel that $50 is ok for kids clothes and your spending $75. I think it's time to sit down and come to some compromises.

Another thought, there's no reason to record the debit card expenses in the checkbook, if he has the control of the checkbook, simply give him the receipts so he can record them.

C.C.

answers from Fresno on

Sounds familiar! =) My husband used to control all of our finances, but I got so sick of asking if I could buy something and his answer would ALWAYS be, "No, we can't afford it." I make a good salary, so it made me wonder why we couldn't afford anything (such as groceries, clothes for the kids at Target, etc.). After asking some questions, I realized that he wasn't really keeping track. It was all in his head, which is no good way to manage finances!

Well, here's how I solved it. I installed Quicken on our home computer (you can go to Quicken.com and buy it for $50ish). I got us set up for online banking at our bank (free). I downloaded all of our transactions from the bank into Quicken. I set up online bill pay in Quicken. This way, I can plan out the whole month in Quicken, such as rent payment, credit card payments, tuition, water bill, you name it. I also set up our expected deposits (our paychecks). This way I can see what the cash flow is. I set up our paychecks so that a certain percentage goes into savings before it ever hits our checking account (check with your employers to set this up). So once I have set up our payments and savings deposits, what's left is ours to spend, whether it's for groceries, clothing, haircuts or whatever.

It did take some doing to wrestle control of the checkbook away from my husband, but by using Quicken on our home computer, both he and I can see what's going on and how much money we have at any given time. I think he was relieved to have a good solution to all of his worrying, actually. Also since Quicken will reconcile your accounts for you, it makes balancing your checkbook a breeze. One click and it's done.

If your husband won't agree to this, I would question what he's spending money on that he doesn't want you to know about.

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L.S.

answers from San Diego on

We have three accounts - one for me, one for him and the third is joint and only used for any home expenses which include groceries, mortgage, gas, water, etc. and entertainment (which is going to an inexpensive restaurant in our neighborhood), as well expenses for our son. We each agreed to a certain amount each month in each of our own accounts that we use in any way we want (its not much but it gives us freedom to spend on little fun things here and there). We also have a joint credit card that is only to be used for home expenses (groceries etc.) and is paid in full every month. My husband does the budgeting with my input and keeps tabs on our budget but so far so good. I'm a stay at home mom now, but was working prior to staying at home and also earned more so we did take a cut in income but still continued the way we do things financially.We decided early on in our marriage that we didn't want money to be an issue so we planned it in a way that we both are happy. Good luck!

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D.H.

answers from Indianapolis on

Wow, been there and DONE that! We are going on 29 years of marriage! It's a battle, let me tell you. I went through the same thing. I rebelled. When I spent too much on groceries, he and the kids had hot dogs for a week. You'd be surprised how many ways you can fix a hot dog!! As for clothes, I made him go with me on one huge shopping trip. We had 4 kids, three boys and a girl. (He hates shopping) Told the kids they didn't get school clothes until Daddy went too......when I needed little things for the kids or food, I made him stop on the way home from work to get it.....had to come out of his "allowance" he had from his check for his expenses until the next pay check. He couldn't believe what a gallon of milk, a loaf of bread and a couple of pounds of hamburger costs.
Getting the picture yet? I suddenly was too busy to do everything, and buy everything......he took the boys to get there hair cut, because I was too busy. I gave him some money and told him to bring me back the change. (I gave him the right amount), when I was told it wouldn't be that much, I said, fine, gave him less and told him anything over that he paid out of "his" money.
Eventually, I was in charge of the bills and the check book. If they kids wanted something that I knew he would be upset or mad about, they had to get his permission and they had to explain why......this took up way to much of his time, and he didn't like it. I fought back nicely, but fairly.
As for the debit card thing, put them in a special place in your purse, the receipts, like I do, and I carry the checkbook. Then I can go back, pull them out and record them.
As for "your money".......what I did was I would look at what I made, then said, ok, I will pay, this bill and that bill. Which still left me money over for me for the time until the next pay. And once in a bit, I would take us out to eat.....if he didn't want to go, I left him. He finally decided to come after the kids kept asking why he didn't want to come and spend time with them.
You know him better than I do, but there are ways. He still complains about money and that I spend too much, but it's not at all like it was before. And he spends a bit now, so I have something to say when he starts complaining.
Hang in there......stand your ground, tell him he isn't your father, and that you will do better. Also, come up with a dollar amount, you won't spend over this amount of money on this or that with out talking to him first. This will be a battle for a bit, but after while, that gets old for them too.......And if you can create a budget, show it to him and stick to it, you'll get a little more respect. Just make sure you include things that will pop up in the future, men don't usually budget for the prom, or softball uniforms.

Good luck!

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B.C.

answers from Billings on

Hey! This is a tough one but respecting the family budget is tantamount to respecting the primary breadwinner. When there's not a whole lot to go around, it can get pretty bad! I know. I was a stay-at-home for way too long. If you can manage, set up an allowance system. First establish what items you will pay for and what items come out of the "general fund." In our family, I paid for all of the food and household needs (laundry detergent, pet food) while back-to-school clothing came from the general fund. Halloween costumes came from my account. My husband never checks my receipts! I am lucky for that. I learned pretty quickly how to shop. For instance, I know if I want department store clothing or make-up, our family will be having pasta or beans for dinner more than once in a week! I'm not afraid to shop the "sell today" meats for dinner tonight! I almost always shop clearance. Target stores, for example, price their clearance on the same day every week. It's smart to cruise the clearance for toys (prepare for any upcoming birthdays) to towels and sheets to underwear. I know it's cheaper to purchase an almost new Dooney and Burke purse at a thrift store than at a mall store. Right now, I have about a half a dozen new, still-with-tags shorts and capris for when spring hits; I purchased these last fall at steep discounts from the clearance racks. At this time, I'm already shopping for next fall -- Sears has Lands End clothing at super reduced prices, for example. If you have a Macy's card and you are self disciplined enough to pay it off, you can get some super deals -- card holders are always privy to terrific coupons. Couple those coupons with the Macy's clearance rack and, man, you can't believe the terrific deals. I also always read the grocery store ads. I plan our meals based on what foods are on special. Now that I'm working part time, I use a slow cooker lots; it's a real money saver for food prep. After doing this for so many years, I've learned to like it and, best of all, my honed money saving skills are actually admired by my husband! This is probably one of the tougher aspects of motherhood but if you can manage it, it will serve you well for the long haul.
Good luck!

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N.B.

answers from Bangor on

Well, the way we do things in my house is like this: I buy the necessary things like toilet paper, paper towels, laundry detergent, dish detergent, etc. My husband knows when I buy it. I let him know the night before, or I send him a text message letting him know. I try to buy the cheapest stuff, too. Saving money is important. I don't buy clothes unless he's with me. For the most part, I don't like to. Also, I don't really need to buy clothes that often. I wait for summer time and hit yard sales and things like that. New clothes are expensive and don't last long. Also, my husband cuts the kids' hair, his hair, and my hair. Buying furniture should be something you do together, too. As far as food, I try not to spend more than $100.00 a week. So far, things have worked out good. There have been a couple of times when I've splurged and bought things we didn't really need, but I've always tried to let my husband know when and how much it cost. It's not really about control, for the most part. It's about saving money. Even when you get extra money, it's better to save it and stick it away then to spend it. So, I would just let him know that there are certain things that you need to buy for the house (toilet paper, paper towels, detergent, etc.), and the other things that you'd like to buy, you'll discuss with him first and get his opinion. If he says you don't need it right now, you probably don't. As women, I think we tend to buy way more things than we need to. I don't think it can be helped. We're women. LOL I hope this advice helped. Good luck!

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E.L.

answers from Charlottesville on

Hi - I'm not usually a big fan of giving anyone marital advice because everyone's marriage is different. Since you asked and it seems like a pretty pervasive issue, I'll give you my opinion based on *my* experience and ideas about the subject.

My husband and I do the budget *together*. It's actually one of the many "activities" (if you want to call it that) we do together to build our relationship. We sit down with the laptop when we have some quiet time usually at the begining of the month and review our budget (that we developed in excel when we first moved in together). We tweek it and just do a general overview to make sure we know what's coming up that month in terms of spending, bills, etc. Some months we might have extra cash so we plan accordingly if one of us needs something, or wants something, or if the house needs something, or we want to take a trip, etc. We make the decsion together about what gets priority. We are fair, rational, reasonable people, so there has never been any arguing or hurt feelings when we do this. Sure we've disagreed, but we always work through it with compromise or maybe once or twice we've just "tabled" it until the next month or payperiod giving the issue time to sink in or allowing more time for research (if it's a big purchase). In terms of the check book/debit card/credit cards - we both have access to all of them. Since we have already discussed the cash flow for the month, there should be no question as to who is spending what.

We both work for the state and make decent money. We are both students as well. This means we have to manage student loans and grants as well as our salary. Right now, I make a little more than he does as he is a full time student and I'm part time. In a month or two he will graduate and *hopefully* find a job in his field which will mean he will be making much more than me. We don't really even think about who makes what because we see it all as *family* income, combined money that only serves the purpose of our common goal - taking care of our family the best we can.

For me, this is the *only* approach toward finances that I would find acceptable in a relationship. Personally, I wouldn't feel respected or as if I were in a partnership with someone who handed me an "allowence" or kept watch on my spending as if I were a child incapable of good judgement and common sense. This wouldn't change if I were a stay at home mother either. In fact, when he graduates, our plan is for me to become a full time student and quit working. Nothing will change in terms of our budget or how we handle the money just because he is the one bringing home the bacon. Caring for your children is THE most important job a parent can do, not to mention it cuts daycare expenses, etc. Why shouldn't that person have just as much of a say in where the money goes?

Working together on finances has been one of the single most important bonding experiences we've had (aside from parenting). It gives us a chance to have healthy debates, feel like a team, support each other in individual goals (such as, him one day building his dream PC and me one day getting plastic surgery to remove my stretch marks)...his dream seems silly and wasteful to me because the PC we have is fine, but it's HIS dream and I support it as long as we can afford it....likewise, my dream is silly to him because my stretch marks are a part of me and he loves me, but he knows they bother me a lot and supports me in gaining more self esteem, regardless of how wasteful or silly it seems to him. When our finances allow for it, we will both get what we want and neither of us will feel shameful or resentful. Marriage is complex, but it really boils down to loving, respecting and trusting one another enough to compromise and care about someone elses needs/ideas.

The other thing that I should mention is that money is not that important to us. Neither of us are the type of people that want to be rich or wish we could have the very best of everything. Sure, we want to be comfortable and not have to stress about bills being late or not buying the food we need. We even have goals like being able to buy organic/local foods that are healthier, dreams like what I mentioned above. The thing is - we discuss these things, we plan for them accordingly and then we drop it and LIVE LIFE.

I hope that helped, or at least gave you some perspective into how another persons marriage works. If you'd like to email me, feel free: [email protected]____.com

Best wishes, Liz

S.T.

answers from Washington DC on

hi J.,
the degree of control your husband is maintaining over the money is a big red flag to me. being frugal is great, but going crazy whenever you have to spend for basics like clothes or new sheets is worrisome. it sounds as if you have to sit down and have a Budget Talk (oh, how i hate those, but they're so necessary sometimes.) arm yourself beforehand with facts and figures about how often the average person needs new jeans and socks, how often pillows and towels wear out, and what their average costs are. insist on having 'replacement items' worked into the budget along with food. if he absolutely cannot bear you to shop freely (red flag!) without trusting you can stay within the agreed bounds, then he'll have to simply give you a set amount of cash out of each paycheck for you to be able to spend on whatever you choose, without his prior approval. then you decide whether it goes on new shoes for the kids and a rice steamer, or an occasional massage for yourself.
when i was working more we had separate checkbooks, but now that i'm part-time we just have one. we both have to stay on top of entering debit purchases and so forth. he does the main budgeting and balancing so i don't make any substantial purchases before checking with him, not to get his permission but because he has a better overall vision of what we can do at any given time.
with a fellow like your husband i might just be inclined to have a separate account or at least build up my own rainy day fund in the lingerie drawer.
good luck!
khairete
S.

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S.T.

answers from Kansas City on

Me and my husband always argued about finances and money that was pretty much the only fights we would have. I decided to do the Dave Ramsey Total money makeover and we are doing great not only getting rid of debt but communicating and knowing where all of our money is going. Start a budget and you tell you money where to go!! Good Luck!

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A.F.

answers from Washington DC on

Sounds like you both need to sit down together and write up a budget. This budget will be your spending plan. Together you can decide how much to alot in each category. A monthly plan is the easiest to work with. This could help reduce your disagreements on spending. There is good budget advice on the internet. Hopefully this can bring peace to your relationship. Each of you should include in your budget a personal purse....a piggie bank fund of a small deduction from your paycheck . This personal purse gives you a little freedom to spend your hard earned money in just the way you want without asking your partners permission. AF

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C.M.

answers from Washington DC on

Hi J.. DH and I have a budget and know when cash flow is heavy or tight based on whether it's early or late in the month because of when he gets paid and when all the bills come. Honestly, I never come close to hitting what we budget for things like clothes, haircuts, toys, etc, because I like to shop second-hand and get a good bargain. We cut our son's hair at home, don't do a lot of driving which would waste gas, etc. It's rare for us to "splurge" on a nice piece of furniture, and that's something DH and I would discuss and plan out ahead of time. No impulse buying here. You don't have to go to any extremes if you don't want to shop for sales or consignment. My main point is just to keep communication open with your hubby. If you're at the store and you see something expensive that you want or there's a sale and you want to buy a ton of things, just give him a quick call on the cell phone and make sure it'll be ok. If he's the one doing most of the bills, he'll have a better idea of whether you can handle it. If you're concerned that he'll always tell you not to get something, you guys can discuss now much of a necessity it is and ask what other options he suggests. If it's a sale, you can tell him you won't find this item at such a good price again for a long time, so it's smart to stock up if you can afford to do so. If it's one expensive item like furniture, discuss it ahead of time with him and plan how much you will pay. Then he can move money around so you don't have to call at the time of purchase. Hope these ideas help.

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A.G.

answers from Norfolk on

I'd say come up with a budget together and as long as you stick to it you should not have to report to him. The check book should be kept somewhere stable where you both have access to it at all times. In my mind there is also no reason to write what you spend in the checkbook if you or he checks each day online. I can't really tell you what to do because I actually am responsible for all the money at our house. My husband really only ever shops for himself, and for presents for others. I pay all the bills and buy everything we need so he never really knows where our money goes. Being the responsible person is no fun either, but at least we don't fight.

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L.C.

answers from Orlando on

I do all of the bills and take care of the day-to-day expenses like groceries. Even though my husband really doesn't look over the account like yours does, I like to spend cash when I splurge so he doesn't know what I spent. You said you are working part time. Can you cash those checks and put a certain amount in the checking account and then keep some for yourself as cash?

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A.V.

answers from Washington DC on

We do his, hers, and ours. We determined a fair contribution to the bills (based on % of household income). Then we direct deposit to the ours account to cover the bills. We are both on that account and both write checks for specified household bills from it.

Then we each have an account to pay our own bills, buy gifts, splurge a little. I'm responsible for my car, he for his. If I want to spend a few bucks on a pair of shoes, that's my business.

To keep kid expenses fair, we try to rotate who buys. Groceries are an every other week thing (one week he buys, one week I do) and same with diapers and daycare.

If part of the problem is that he doesn't understand expenses, have him shop with you. Show him how even though Sally's shoes aren't worn, they don't fit and need to be replaced. Or how you bought clothes, but went to Target instead of Gymboree and got a good deal.

That said, I think his need to control every aspect of everything you buy is worrying. It seems unnecessarily controlling and restrictive. If he can't even trust you to buy a haircut for your children or clothes for yourself, what else is he controlling about? Why the overblown response? What else is going on? Does he try to isolate you and make you dependent on him in other ways? No budget will help if he freaks out at the thought that you might have spent some money. Counseling may be in order.

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