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Who Should Be in Charge of the Money?
Interesting comments on my post about budgeting below, and I wanted to follow up with some thoughts.

First, as far as I'm concerned, if your husband has tithed on the income, and then he gives you some, you don't have to tithe. That's not your "income". That's simply money that he's put in one of his "jars"--in this case, the jar marked "Wife". So it's not new income.

But I want to get back to this idea of allowances. I actually talk about this in To Love, Honor and Vacuum in a whole chapter, but I have to agree with the commenter below who said that allowances for wives made her nervous. They make me a little nervous, too.

Let me explain. In my philosophy about marriage, and I think this is biblical, once you are married you are one. Everything is shared. There is no "his" and "hers", and there's no concept that he made the money so it's his and he can decide how to spend it. The money is yours together. He may have earned it, but you're working in other ways, and the money is for the family, not for him.

If together you both decide a budget on how much you will spend on household expenses a week, since you're the one who does the grocery shopping, etc., that's a smart thing to do. There's nothing wrong with that. But what gets me nervous is this concept that it's him handing over the money, because frequently that means that he has access to the bank accounts and she does not.
That is not a safe situation to be in. What if you need money for an emergency? Or, more importantly, what if something happened to your husband? If your name is not on the bank accounts, and he is in an accident, you cannot get access to it without a lot of legal wrangling. Even if your name is on the account but you have no bank card or no credit card it's not easy to get to in a pinch.

And do you know anything about your family finances? Do you know if you have savings, or debt? Do you know what your retirement fund is invested in? Do you know if you have disability insurance (which everybody should, especially when you have young children)? If he wants to be the one to primarily look after the money, and you don't mind, that's okay. But you still need to be familiar with all of it and you need to be able to get your hands on it if you need it. It's just common sense, and it's protecting you and the children.

Philosophically, though, I do think that the husband having control over the money and doling it out to his wife as the husband sees fit is not a picture of oneness in marriage. Decisions about money should be made together. I have a sister-in-law who, as of Saturday, is no longer my sister-in-law. She married my brother-in-law, they divorced, and on Saturday she remarried.

But money was one of the big issues in their marriage. He felt that since he made it it was his. He would give her money for groceries, but he would monitor what she spent. If she spent too much on herself he'd get upset, but he could play all the golf he wanted. It wasn't an equitable relationship.

If your husband is unwilling to give up control of the money then getting an allowance is probably the best you can do. Make it as high as possible so that you can take some of it and save it for things that you know you and the children will need in the future.

On the whole, though, I think both partners should have access to the money, and both partners should decide how much you both will spend on things. It's fine to give you an allowance for household items if that's what you've decided on and if you still are firmly in the financial decision making loop. But does he have an allowance for his spending, too? Or is it only you who has to control herself?

Even if he doesn't budget for himself, of course, that doesn't remove the obligation for you to be responsible with money, and budgeting is always a good idea whether or not he does it. But if he doesn't do it, and he's asking you to, then it means that there is a mistaken idea fundamentally about the nature or marriage. Both of you need to come to the realization that what you have is shared completely. That's the way that God intended.

All of that being said, I know another woman whose husband recently took away her bank card and credit card and put her in a strict allowance. But she needed it. She had issues with spending too much and she was endangering the family's well-being. She laughs about it, and feels that he was right. And it has changed her habits. Last week when her son had to be do a project for school, she would have normally gone out and bought a project board. Instead she rummaged around the basement for an old one, took all the stuff off of it, and voila!

So I am not saying that allowances are always bad ideas. I am just saying that such decisions need to be reached mutually, and that the wife should always be knowledgeable about the financial situation with the family and have access to all the finances.

What do you think? Am I being too harsh? Not harsh enough? How do you divide the money? I'd love to know!

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At 1:20 PM , Blogger Mrs. Querido said…

Over here in the FITPH household we don't divide the money. As you stated, when you get married you are one. My husband is the provider and I am the homemaker, but the money is ours. We set a budget for where the money needs to go, and we stick to it. Up until recently, I was in charge of the checkbook reconciling, but he has decided to relieve me of that duty (for which I am grateful...I have always loathed accounting!). However, I have access to all the money at all times. We don't have separate banking accounts.
To me, having separate accounts undermines the unity that you are supposed to have in marriage.
I am extremely blessed to have a husband who entrusts me with our finances. And he is blessed to have a wife who isn't a :)
So, a long winded rant all to say: Both should be in charge of the money. However, if one likes accounting more than the other, then that person should be in charge of reconciling the check register. Both parties should know how much money is in the account, how much debt is owed, and what is being spent on what, at any given time. Keeping secrets undermines unity as well.
We are mutually accountable and responsible for our finances.

And I appreciate your post about this topic. I have known women who get an allowance, and I have thought that it just isn't the way it is supposed to be. Trust, in all areas, is what builds a great marriage!


At 3:42 PM , Blogger Kelly said…

I totally agree with the husband and wife being one and both knowing and having a say in the finances. I am one of the wives who gets an allowance, though that was not what I called it. My husband also gets money of his own out of his check. What I referred to as my "paycheck" from him is for groceries first and then anything or nothing, however I see fit. I usually buy our son clothes or gifts for birthdays etc with this money. And put some into savings in sons name.
Hubby and I do share a bank acct and, where we both have check cards to it. He also has a separate checking for his business. I am on it (for emergency only). I always know how much is in that acct. My husband is self employed, so our situation is a little different. We never know what the next check will look like. A joint savings is something that we just started. He had one and I had one, both prior to marriage and just joined them and opened our son one. Our savings and sons savings takes both of our signatures to withdrawl unless we are transferring money to our checking.
Our best friends are going through a divorce due to money issues mainly. The husband said he would rather she lied to him about cheating than to lie to him about money. (???) It is weird to me how we put money so high up on our priority lists.


At 7:05 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

I agree. Marriage = same page, joint decisions, the whole bit. Due to disability I am the breadwinner and DH does not work outside the home, but that sure doesn't mean it's "my" money. DH is the one with the financial smarts--not to say I'm uninformed about all of it, but he's the one with a previous finance career. Every week we sit down together and pay the bills so we can both see exactly what is going on. DH enters the information into the computer program we use to track our finances while I write out the checks and file the statements. After the bills are paid we make sure anything else either of us wants to discuss with respect to financial stuff is discussed. We go over our retirement accounts every couple months too -- he is the one who decides how and where to invest the money, again because of his education and experience, but he explains everything to me and makes sure I agree and if not we reach a compromise. Needless to say we are both on all the accounts. We have NO debt and are both committed to staying that way. It hasn't always been this way but there were some hard-learned lessons about being on the same page financially.

Unfortunately, the biggie (TITHING) is still a point of bitter dissension. He doesn't think we should give money to pretty much anywhere. I am OK with deciding together where and even changing it up month by month, but no go. Occasionally he'll "let" us. Not often, and not more than $25 (except once, when I used money given to me for my birthday, but he even had something to say about that). I usually don't even bring it up so as to avoid a fight. Is that wrong of me? Ugh. We even agreed to look together at what the Bible said on the topic. He asked me to write down verses I found during my studies for him to look at. I found 4 (typed) pages of verses. He never brought any to the table to show me. Then he accused me of only showing him stuff that supported "my argument." Ummmmmm. Well, yeah. I've never found anywhere in the Bible that says, Oh it's OK, you work hard, keep it all for yourself. Or, let someone else help the hungry. Or, better hoard every penny because you never know what is coming and you need to see YOURSELF through a rainy day. Ummmm, nope. Arrrrgh! Shut up and pray, S, shut up and pray. :)


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About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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