how do couples work together on home finance

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omega
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how do couples work together on home finance

Post by omega » Tue Jul 02, 2019 10:17 am

Hello All,

My husband and I frequently visit bogleheads forums and have found very useful information here.

I am in a situation for a while now and would like to hear about how other couples handle their finances together. Do you both sit together on a regular basis and go over some/any numbers..

I keep insisting that my husband and I need to sit together for 30 minutes a week to see how much we are spending/saving, basically anything finance related since we have not done anything of this kind together in the last 11 years.

My husband is of the opinion that since I am the one who spends on the kids activities, I have to calculate how much I spend on them without him being involved. This frustrates me since I believe we should be doing this together.

I am going to have him read this topic and would love to hear how the couples on this forum handle this process.

Thanks

ohai
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Re: how do couples work together on home finance

Post by ohai » Tue Jul 02, 2019 10:21 am

Hi. Have you considered using aggregation software like Mint or Personal Capital? My budgeting is now 45 minutes, once a year. I just download the transaction history, and they have somewhat intelligently sorted it by category - groceries, car, restaurants, travel, and so on. So, after some minor error checking, I have a good idea of what happened to the money.

Anyway, I think if you are financially inclined, you should just take over this budget overview process in your household. It is much easier sometimes with just one person, and you will fight less about spending decisions. If your husband doesn't care about the details and you are willing to put in as much as 30 minutes a week, then I don't see why you wouldn't just do it yourself.

Jack FFR1846
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Re: how do couples work together on home finance

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Tue Jul 02, 2019 10:23 am

Married 33 years. DW has zero interest in finance, budgeting, any of that. I have all the bills on auto pay and we talk only about big upcoming purchases. If we don't agree on a big purchase, we don't make it. We have no reason to "sit down" to talk about any of this. You may be different. Does your husband have any interest in financial matters? If he doesn't, you're probably not going to be able to make him take an interest.
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onourway
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Re: how do couples work together on home finance

Post by onourway » Tue Jul 02, 2019 10:26 am

From years spent on this site and others like it, I think it's pretty common for one partner in a relationship to be more interested in the finances than the other. I think you should use some kind of budgeting software so that you are tracking your spending continuously/automatically and then only involve him in larger decisions or monthly/quarterly/yearly or whatever interval suits him to update him on the general situation. I use YNAB in our household to track spending. It takes 0-5 minutes/day and perhaps 10-15 minutes once per month to do the next month's budget.

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ResearchMed
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Re: how do couples work together on home finance

Post by ResearchMed » Tue Jul 02, 2019 10:29 am

omega wrote:
Tue Jul 02, 2019 10:17 am
Hello All,

My husband and I frequently visit bogleheads forums and have found very useful information here.

I am in a situation for a while now and would like to hear about how other couples handle their finances together. Do you both sit together on a regular basis and go over some/any numbers..

I keep insisting that my husband and I need to sit together for 30 minutes a week to see how much we are spending/saving, basically anything finance related since we have not done anything of this kind together in the last 11 years.

My husband is of the opinion that since I am the one who spends on the kids activities, I have to calculate how much I spend on them without him being involved. This frustrates me since I believe we should be doing this together.

I am going to have him read this topic and would love to hear how the couples on this forum handle this process.

Thanks
What is the "problem" you are trying to solve with such discussions?

Are there financial pressures, such that you need to "cut back"?
Is there just a sense of spending being out of control?

If not, and nothing similar, then why do you think you should make changes; that is, why are you concerned about changing the status quo?
Are you just wanting more "together planning" in general? (That is, is this really a financial issue, or perhaps something more?)

It might help if you figure out what your goal is, so you can better share that with him.

RM
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supalong52
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Re: how do couples work together on home finance

Post by supalong52 » Tue Jul 02, 2019 10:36 am

I do most of the financial lifting in our household because I enjoy it. My SO is involved a little bit.

Tracking spending: She has access to Mint and she tries to (1) keep her passwords updated, (2) add cash transactions when she makes them, and (3) update the spending categories on her own CC spending. She doesn't always do it, but I just have to ask if I see something off or that is missing based on our bank activity which I look at once a month.

Tracking NW: This is a monthly exercise for us. I fill in all the numbers for the accounts I can access and she fills in the rest. Realistically, I have 25 numbers and she has 3. But it gives her an opportunity to stay tuned in to the state of our finances.

quantAndHold
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Re: how do couples work together on home finance

Post by quantAndHold » Tue Jul 02, 2019 10:42 am

My wife likes to shop for the best deal on stuff, but is completely uninterested in anything related to financial planning or budgeting. I have a financial planning and budgeting spreadsheet that I developed, that takes me about 1/2 an hour to update once a month. Once I have it ready, she sits down with me and I spend five minutes walking her through the colorful graphs I created that show how our investments are doing, whether we’re tracking to our notional budget, etc. She wants to know how we’re doing, but more than five minutes of dealing with numbers would do her in.

On the flip side, my eyes glaze over when she starts showing me stuff in the garden.

barnaclebob
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Re: how do couples work together on home finance

Post by barnaclebob » Tue Jul 02, 2019 10:50 am

omega wrote:
Tue Jul 02, 2019 10:17 am
Hello All,

My husband and I frequently visit bogleheads forums and have found very useful information here.

I am in a situation for a while now and would like to hear about how other couples handle their finances together. Do you both sit together on a regular basis and go over some/any numbers..

I keep insisting that my husband and I need to sit together for 30 minutes a week to see how much we are spending/saving, basically anything finance related since we have not done anything of this kind together in the last 11 years.

My husband is of the opinion that since I am the one who spends on the kids activities, I have to calculate how much I spend on them without him being involved. This frustrates me since I believe we should be doing this together.

I am going to have him read this topic and would love to hear how the couples on this forum handle this process.

Thanks
Knowing what you spend on the kids is only one small piece of the financial picture. You are right to want to know whats going on with your savings and overall financial picture. My guess is that since your husband pushed you off is that he doesn't know or doesn't have a real plan. Start figuring out how to setup account access for all of your family accounts. Its really as simple as figuring out your income and expenses, the rest is savings or taxes of some form or another. Home equity and mortgage paydown schedule are important for long range planning as well.

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bengal22
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Re: how do couples work together on home finance

Post by bengal22 » Tue Jul 02, 2019 10:58 am

We seldom discuss finances. Spouse handles outgoing;
I handle incoming. System seems to work.
"Earn All You Can; Give All You Can; Save All You Can." .... John Wesley

Capsu78
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Re: how do couples work together on home finance

Post by Capsu78 » Tue Jul 02, 2019 11:00 am

I do a quarterly review in a format I have been working since 2013- Just updated it yesterday. I give my wife an "executive summary" of quarter over quarter performance, the "numbers" on her/my investment portfolios and a net worth calculation. She is an executive by day and any time she spots a red number, she says "what's this all about?"
She has another spreadsheet she pulls out from time to time that she likes to review just to check that the numbers I feed her make sense...and that I'm not funding a second family, a fast car or something else she doesn't know about, I suppose!

daheld
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Re: how do couples work together on home finance

Post by daheld » Tue Jul 02, 2019 11:11 am

We don't use Mint and similar software, but do download transactions roughly quarterly and plug them into a homemade excel spreadsheet. It details expenses, income, and we categorize all money going out so we know how much we spent in each category and compare against budget.

We used to do this monthly, but between work and having a 6 month old I'm thrilled if we can do it quarterly. We agree in principle on budgeting and spending and discussed our investing strategy when we got married and began investing our money jointly. Because we still agree, there's really nothing to discuss. We're still plugging away.

I do think weekly is excessive unless you have some pressing budgetary concern. I agree that your husband should at least be willing to look at finances with you, but I also agree with other posters that it's totally common for one spouse to be more interested in this stuff.

hightower
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Re: how do couples work together on home finance

Post by hightower » Tue Jul 02, 2019 11:27 am

omega wrote:
Tue Jul 02, 2019 10:17 am
Hello All,

My husband and I frequently visit bogleheads forums and have found very useful information here.

I am in a situation for a while now and would like to hear about how other couples handle their finances together. Do you both sit together on a regular basis and go over some/any numbers..

I keep insisting that my husband and I need to sit together for 30 minutes a week to see how much we are spending/saving, basically anything finance related since we have not done anything of this kind together in the last 11 years.

My husband is of the opinion that since I am the one who spends on the kids activities, I have to calculate how much I spend on them without him being involved. This frustrates me since I believe we should be doing this together.

I am going to have him read this topic and would love to hear how the couples on this forum handle this process.

Thanks
I think that you will see a lot of variety in how couples handle finances. I've heard examples of all extremes. Some couples never talk about it, while others have scheduled meetings once a month and keep spreadsheets together. The key is figuring out if there's a problem. Do you feel that the reason you want to meet is because there's a problem with your finances that bothers you?
My wife and I tried to meet and it never worked because we're not very disciplined. Basically I manage our finances 100% myself. I let my wife know when we've been spending too much to hopefully help keep things in check. We try to stick to a rough budget that involves trying not to go over a certain amount each month on our credit card. We use our credit card like our checking account. All spending comes from it, but I pay it off in full every month when I get paid (I currently only get paid once per month). I make sure to direct money into savings immediately after getting paid. I'm also responsible for choosing and managing our investments. My wife just doesn't take much interest in that stuff and trusts me to do a good job.
We do discuss large purchases (over a few hundred dollars). But, if it's a few hundred bucks or less, as long as it's not a weekly occurrence, we don't really discuss these purchases. I probably spend more than she does on average due to my expensive hobbies, but she spends freely as well. I don't really care as long as we don't go too far over our monthly spending goal. We generally live very well below our means, so we do a good job saving even when we spend a little more than we should.

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ChowYunPhat
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Re: how do couples work together on home finance

Post by ChowYunPhat » Tue Jul 02, 2019 11:31 am

Hey there Omega.

Believe it's perfectly natural for one person in the marriage to take the reins on finances and it doesn't really matter which person so long as they're inclined to give the task appropriate attention. However, you are right that it is important be on the same page w/regards to how the money is managed. Would recommend a dinner date to work through some of these ideas with your husband. Make it fun.

My wife is financially savvy, but has left the majority of money management to me throughout our marriage. This includes banking, loans, investing, and credit cards. We talk once a month, and I try to make these sessions as painless as possible...but it's clear to me she is often times distracted and focused on other things. The good news is we trust one another and there is some understanding to how the inflows and outflows match up as well as overall philosophy on spending, giving, and savings. The couple of times we were out of sync, we paused and took a closer look at spending to make some adjustments. More recently, my wife has retired so she is taking on more of the day to day bill paying.

Some other suggestions if you're open to them:
Have a budget, split it between discretionary (Vacation, fun, shopping, restaurants, etc...) and non-discretionary (groceries, mortgage, loans, utilities). Focus on the discretionary piece only to simplify matters.
If you're a budget nerd like I am, you can probably create a report through data from Personal Capital or Mint, and provide the summary to your husband periodically.
Create a shared goal for the year that your husband can participate in. This can be saving for a vacation, a general savings goal, or something else that can create the sense of inclusion without much effort on either you or his part.
Incorporate fun into your finance sessions with your husband. Perhaps scotch (I recommend a 10yr Laphroig)?

Best of luck to you and your husband on the journey.
A wise man and his money are friends forever...

Andyrunner
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Re: how do couples work together on home finance

Post by Andyrunner » Tue Jul 02, 2019 11:41 am

I do the most of it, pay the bills, watch the investments etc. But since I took most of it over since we have been married I often feel like I need to give my wife 'executive summaries' or approvals to move investments (I had a long sales pitch to convince her to move some savings over to a higher yielding money market).

What works for us is discussing things during an activity just between just the wife and I. This is generally a hike, a bike ride or whatever we can get once a month or so. We will spend a good solid 15-30 minutes going over things like medium to big purchases, kid activities, how much is in the bank, what our retirement looks like etc. The activity is enough to keep the subject casual and not boring but removes enough distractions for us to get into a deep conversation.

This works for us, but it isn't for everyone. We are lucky enough where our income is much higher than our spending rate so we don't have to keep a detailed food budget, pinch pennies or debate small purchases. I also do seek approval on almost any purchase as a lot of small purchases do add up.

FreemanB
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Re: how do couples work together on home finance

Post by FreemanB » Tue Jul 02, 2019 11:45 am

Just figure out whatever system will work best for both of you. You don't each have to be involved in every detail. My wife has a monthly budget spreadsheet that breaks out our income, expenses, major events, etc. She usually projects it out around 18 months or so. We both have access to it, and it gives us a quick look at our projected spending, allows us to plan for vacations, large purchases, funding IRAs, etc. That covers our short-term planning. We both use Mint to monitor actual transactions and balances every few days, mainly to check for suspicious activity, view actual payments, and monitor spending. I also maintain a spreadsheet with our retirement/long-term savings accounts, including contributions and expected growth, with a separate sheet for post-retirement balances, spending, withdrawals, etc.(We're still over a decade out, so those numbers are mostly very loose estimates currently) I'm primarily responsible for asset allocation and other long-term savings decisions, although we will discuss them together.

We just fell into this division of labor for financial matters over the course of years of marriage. It works for us, and when we've tried to modify it in the past, it never really worked out. She asked me to get more involved in the household budget management, then rescinded that request within a week or two, after realizing that trying to keep both of us in sync with information and changes was more work than simply keeping track of it herself. It doesn't take two people to add numbers together. You should discuss and agree on the bottom line when it comes to spending and saving decisions, but don't get caught up in the details of the process.

Millennial
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Re: how do couples work together on home finance

Post by Millennial » Tue Jul 02, 2019 12:10 pm

We have all joint accounts (except IRAs, of course).

My wife handles the weekly and monthly budgets. This includes projecting payments and transferring from checking to savings when possible.

I handle all long-term, so 529, 401k, Roths, brokerage account, emergency fund, and savings.

We work together on larger purchases, and I go over my IRA/savings plans for each year with her so we can agree and she can work the amounts into the monthly budgets.

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peetsperk
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Re: how do couples work together on home finance

Post by peetsperk » Tue Jul 02, 2019 12:14 pm

We believe two people in a relationship working together toward a financial goal can achieve more than those working apart or those not in unison. While one of us does more on a day-to-day basis to manage the budget, the input provided from the other on upcoming monthly expenses is crucial. A monthly budget is then put together that attempts to meet our collective needs, wants and goals. Then prior to the start of the month, we meet to review the budget. Our "meetings" could not be more informal and often take place without interruption while we're lying in bed reading. Our collective agreement takes all of 5 minutes and then we both know we'll work together to achieve that end. It's simple and it works for us.
Last edited by peetsperk on Tue Jul 02, 2019 7:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Hockey10
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Re: how do couples work together on home finance

Post by Hockey10 » Tue Jul 02, 2019 12:34 pm

Jack FFR1846 wrote:
Tue Jul 02, 2019 10:23 am
Married 33 years. DW has zero interest in finance, budgeting, any of that. I have all the bills on auto pay and we talk only about big upcoming purchases. If we don't agree on a big purchase, we don't make it. We have no reason to "sit down" to talk about any of this. You may be different. Does your husband have any interest in financial matters? If he doesn't, you're probably not going to be able to make him take an interest.
This is exactly what I would have written, if Jack had not done so first.

fposte
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Re: how do couples work together on home finance

Post by fposte » Tue Jul 02, 2019 12:39 pm

30 minutes a week seems like a lot if he has no interest. Do you have the information you need about his finances to make the family decisions and does he track with finance plans you suggest? Is your concern that you don't want to feel singly responsible for the finances?

If you don't have the first two, that's a bigger problem, but if it's the last, can you trim it down to a once a month "we earned this, we spent this, we saved this, our upcoming finance goal is this" briefing and just get a thumbs up?

GCD
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Re: how do couples work together on home finance

Post by GCD » Tue Jul 02, 2019 12:44 pm

omega wrote:
Tue Jul 02, 2019 10:17 am
I keep insisting that my husband and I need to sit together for 30 minutes a week to see how much we are spending/saving, basically anything finance related since we have not done anything of this kind together in the last 11 years.

My husband is of the opinion that since I am the one who spends on the kids activities, I have to calculate how much I spend on them without him being involved. This frustrates me since I believe we should be doing this together.
It depends where you are in your financial progression and how much you have on auto-pilot. We've been married 17 years and there are certain areas neither my wife nor I engage in and we just accept the other is handling things. But you have to have some knowledge of the big picture in case one of you dies or is incapacitated and the other needs to address everything instead of their slice of the pie.

I don't think your husband is wrong for wanting you to total up the spending on the kids. This seems to be something you are already on top of and it would just be inventing work for him to dig into the details. You spend what you spend however you decide and unless the total is a problem for the overall budget why should he care if soccer was $300 and ballet was $200? He just needs to know the total was $500 for the household budget. If the kid expenditures blow the budget then you can get into details. For you each to do everything is wasted effort. Portioning off duties is reasonable.

On a certain level, be glad he trusts you to spend money without accounting to him for every dollar. Many couples don't have that, especially if there have been instances of financial infidelity in the past.

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LilyFleur
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Re: how do couples work together on home finance

Post by LilyFleur » Tue Jul 02, 2019 12:54 pm

GCD wrote:
Tue Jul 02, 2019 12:44 pm
omega wrote:
Tue Jul 02, 2019 10:17 am
I keep insisting that my husband and I need to sit together for 30 minutes a week to see how much we are spending/saving, basically anything finance related since we have not done anything of this kind together in the last 11 years.

My husband is of the opinion that since I am the one who spends on the kids activities, I have to calculate how much I spend on them without him being involved. This frustrates me since I believe we should be doing this together.
It depends where you are in your financial progression and how much you have on auto-pilot. We've been married 17 years and there are certain areas neither my wife nor I engage in and we just accept the other is handling things. But you have to have some knowledge of the big picture in case one of you dies or is incapacitated and the other needs to address everything instead of their slice of the pie.

I don't think your husband is wrong for wanting you to total up the spending on the kids. This seems to be something you are already on top of and it would just be inventing work for him to dig into the details. You spend what you spend however you decide and unless the total is a problem for the overall budget why should he care if soccer was $300 and ballet was $200? He just needs to know the total was $500 for the household budget. If the kid expenditures blow the budget then you can get into details. For you each to do everything is wasted effort. Portioning off duties is reasonable.

On a certain level, be glad he trusts you to spend money without accounting to him for every dollar. Many couples don't have that, especially if there have been instances of financial infidelity in the past.
+1

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Kenkat
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Re: how do couples work together on home finance

Post by Kenkat » Tue Jul 02, 2019 12:55 pm

Every two weeks, my wife and I will sit down at the computer, open Quicken and “pay bills” (as we have coined it). This involves posting automatic deposits, debits (utility bills, house payment, etc. taken automatically out of the account), downloading mutual fund / brokerage and credit card transactions via Quicken, enter Venmo transactions, write a couple of checks, reconcile the bank statement, credit card statement or HELOC, pay credit cards or other bills online, and discuss anything of importance that has happened. She will occasionally say “if you die, I am going back to all paper” to which I respond either “yeah, I’m not dying anytime soon”, “if I die you can do whatever you’d like” or “you have no idea how much harder that (all paper) would be”.

Any bills that come electronically come to her email and she prints them and we enter them. I have kept to paper bills mailed to the house wherever possible as well.

Every few months we will talk about how the investment accounts are doing, retirement, etc. There’s also a brief “if I die” instruction page and a list of where all the accounts are just in case.

I am more interested in financial matters but this process keeps her in the loop enough to feel like she knows where everything stands. Seems to work for us.

jerkstore
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Re: how do couples work together on home finance

Post by jerkstore » Tue Jul 02, 2019 1:02 pm

omega wrote:
Tue Jul 02, 2019 10:17 am

I am in a situation for a while now and would like to hear about how other couples handle their finances together. Do you both sit together on a regular basis and go over some/any numbers..

I keep insisting that my husband and I need to sit together for 30 minutes a week to see how much we are spending/saving, basically anything finance related since we have not done anything of this kind together in the last 11 years.

Thanks
Happily married 20 years (this fall), and we do not sit down on a regular basis and go over numbers. I force a periodic high-level update on my spouse like once a year...sort of a status update on our savings/goals. This status update conversation is entirely for me. My spouse is supportive and plays along, but I feel compelled to share what is going on financially because it makes me feel better. It makes me feel like "I'm doing the right thing" by being transparent and communicating. But, the truth is I'd be doing the right thing whether I shared or not...

DetroitRick
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Re: how do couples work together on home finance

Post by DetroitRick » Tue Jul 02, 2019 1:49 pm

Basically, we plan together, explicitly, once per year. Maybe 2-3 hours over spread over a few days, late in the year. It's all pretty organized ahead of time, so it's more of a qualitative discussion - home improvements, car purchase plans, travel, gift-giving preferences, etc. Unless something radically changes, our ongoing discussions are then cursory and sporadic for the next year. Except for big ticket items or surprises, where we would discuss and decide together beforehand (IF possible and practical). For us, income planning (withdrawals, taxes and ACA) is probably tougher than expense planning. And it definitely follows from that expense planning exercise. It's another short annual discussion for us, after expense planning is done, before year-end.

I have primary responsibility for paying all bills (almost 100% online), she routinely looks things over and helps with categorization via software (Quicken for us). Actual spending responsibility is divided between us. The investment stuff is all mine and she has only a general interest. We both check to see where we stand weekly or less less often, on Quicken, but discuss only if needed. We write almost no checks, and our bills are pretty lumpy, so we don't have to think about daily bank balances. The software itself provides enough visibility to all income, expenses, plans, investments and debt to meet our needs. And we both are comfortable using it. Otherwise we would opt for more frequent discussions. We used this same system before and during retirement with same effort and same results. Although we find less planning needed now than when we were first married.

Our system works great if everyone is on the same general page for wants and needs and savings goals. Fortunately, we are. And we realize that children would likely necessitate much more planning time together. Others might find more frequent discussions to be either motivational or annoying - depends on their personalities. In contrast to what we do - we also handle all of these same processes for my elderly mother-in-law. That situation is far more complicated and it does require much more frequent discussions. And those discussions are much longer and more tedious. But productive.

Overall, there are lots of different ways to do this that will work, just depends on interests, aptitudes, objectives and personalities. When in doubt, try a few different approaches to see what you like best. Make it only as complicated as you really need it to be for your situation.

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Tamarind
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Re: how do couples work together on home finance

Post by Tamarind » Tue Jul 02, 2019 1:54 pm

Weekly talks seem like too often for me. Monthly cadence might feel less onerous if your primary goal is budgeting.

My wife and I are both Bogleheads but she is of the "simplify and forget" breed while I am more of an optimizer. We talk a couple times a year about prioritization of our big goals. I occasionally show her updates on our progress, for instance when we cross a net worth threshold. And I make a point of asking her input for any large purchases (this week, for instance, we talked over how much LTD insurance is enough). There's not really a set schedule to any of this, because we've already established that we budget well together.

Another vote for Mint/Personal Capital/YNAB to help aggregate and present the data, especially in a scenario where your spouse is putting the data collection work on you. Mint is probably the easiest of the three for simple spending aggregation and goal tracking.
Last edited by Tamarind on Tue Jul 02, 2019 1:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Vanguard Fan 1367
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Re: how do couples work together on home finance

Post by Vanguard Fan 1367 » Tue Jul 02, 2019 1:58 pm

I am more interested in financial matters than my wife. Thankfully she is pretty frugal so she gets along with me well that way. We don't spend a lot of time with budgeting. When we did budget it seemed like the spending allowed was more than we actually did so me as the saver liked life better without the budget. (She is a saver too).

Mike Scott
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Re: how do couples work together on home finance

Post by Mike Scott » Tue Jul 02, 2019 2:21 pm

My wife has the same access that I have to all of our financial records, accounts and written plans. I don't think she has looked at them in 30+ years. I do ask her to balance our primary/hub bank account each month. This provides a check on my record keeping and calculator skills as well as an overview of all of the transactions for the month. She will sometimes ask about something that catches her attention. We talk about the "big stuff" such as health insurance and new cars etc as needed.

Shallowpockets
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Re: how do couples work together on home finance

Post by Shallowpockets » Tue Jul 02, 2019 2:31 pm

OP. Sounds like you want him involved and he does not. Why don't you collate all the things you are financially interested in on your own and present it to him. The end results. If you spend on the kids you probably know more about it than him. Get your results and bring him into the game. If he still doesn't seem interested, then continue to do it yourself. Financial knowledge is power. Take that power.
Of course this could be a simple manifestation of the male/female relationship in general whereby "both of us being involved" is very important as a concept. Very important. Trumps the actual problem.
I think he told you what he wants and you should then just take over and do what you want.

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Re: how do couples work together on home finance

Post by Sandtrap » Tue Jul 02, 2019 2:56 pm

Maybe an example to learn from or emulate.
Or, perhaps non actionable information.

DW and I are both retired business people.
DW is an outstanding accountant and book keeper, and tax prep.
There are certain things we both excel at.
And, our core financial strategies are the same.
So, there's not much to talk about.

j
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deikel
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Re: how do couples work together on home finance

Post by deikel » Tue Jul 02, 2019 3:36 pm

We talk about big pictures items once a year for about 45 min, real finance planning, investing, 20k foot view down to the details

We chat maybe once a month if there is deviation from a rough plan made long before and detailed in the yearly discussion - 10 min

I nag whenever I see spending items on our credit cards that seem beyond reasonable (to me) and I do so until I get smacked on the head at which point its time to back off

We are not super frugal, but also don't shovel money out the window

One does the finance stuff, the other does other things - all in moderation - works for us
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delamer
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Re: how do couples work together on home finance

Post by delamer » Tue Jul 02, 2019 3:46 pm

The danger is that you make unilateral decisions about spending on the kids (or some other budget category) due to your husband’s lack of interest and then he comes back and blames you when he decides you’ve spent too much.

In your position, I’d make it clear to my husband that you will only take on the responsibility if he agrees not to second guess you.

And if he refuses to get involved in finances, then he should be responsible for another significant activity — like laundry or grocery shopping.

I’d prefer that my husband have more involvement with our finances, but overall the various chores/household-running activities are balanced.

Good luck.

nick evets
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Re: how do couples work together on home finance

Post by nick evets » Tue Jul 02, 2019 3:57 pm

Hard to 'force' the partner to be interested in something he or she inherently doesn't care about. And going right from 0 to 60 ? (nothing to weekly 30 min sessions??).

Are there core financial issues you'd like help with, or joint decision-making to mutually solve, and/or are you also annoyed because you feel your partner has been derelict in responsibility? Assuming it's NOT the latter, the suggestion -- as others have made -- to do as much upfront work as possible is a good one. "Dear, I'm concerned because we don't have a monthly budget: I've gone through our spending for the last 3 months, and came up with two plans...." Etc.

As a data-point, which I doubt will help: my wife and I don't have children, and are strong believers in the "his/hers/mutual" 3-bucket system. We each have our own accounts, and proportionate share of the bills, but also jointly fund a mutual account for spending on repairs, home improvements, vacations, etc. We talk as needed specifically about a financial issue or change, but it's not scheduled.

decapod10
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Re: how do couples work together on home finance

Post by decapod10 » Tue Jul 02, 2019 4:07 pm

I think it just depends on a couple things:

1. Is your system now working, or do you feel there is a problem with your budget?

2. Do you feel like you're overwhelmed with managing the finances and want him to help?

I would say if that you don't find it difficult, and you're not going over budget, then I don't see any pressing need to force him to be involved. However, if there is some problem with your current situation (budgeting problem, or you feel you need more help with managing the finances), then it's probably worth figuring out a way to help him pitch in. It may be helpful to explicitly say to him "our finances are a mess and I need your input to fix it" or "I'm too overwhelmed managing the finances and need help."

In our situation, I basically manage 99% of the finances. I track all of our expenses monthly by going through our credit cards and banking accounts, and also keeping track of how much money we currently have and making sure our buckets are being filled appropriately (I make sure we have enough to pay for property taxes in the fall, that we are saving enough cash to pay back a loan we will need to pay in a few years, things like that).

My wife likes to see our savings go up, and she also wants to know if we can save up enough for a housing project, but otherwise she doesn't really care more than that. Big purchases we discuss, otherwise we pretty much spend whatever we want, and I will say something to her only if things are going off track (we are not particularly frugal, especially by BH standards). Also I will let her know how much we've saved for the home improvement project. I apply for credit cards to maximize our cash back, she refuses to take part in that. I'm perfectly fine managing everything, but I can understand not everyone would be.

MiddleOfTheRoad
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Re: how do couples work together on home finance

Post by MiddleOfTheRoad » Tue Jul 02, 2019 4:30 pm

I am the CFO, my wife is the CEO. I take care of the details and cash flow etc. She gets to approve the big decisions and strategies on a high level. After hanging out for 20 years, she trusts me not to siphon money off somewhere. I prepare a yearly “state of the household” report. :P

dcdowden
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Re: how do couples work together on home finance

Post by dcdowden » Tue Jul 02, 2019 4:52 pm

When we married 43 years ago, we had very similar salaries and very little in assets. Once a month we would sit down together, pay the bills, and track changes in our net worth. At first we included credit card receipts (paper of course) as liabilities and cash in our pockets as assets. Over the years, our roles evolved to the point that my wife is the primary bill payer (although most of that is auto pay now) and I am the primary manager of our investments. We still update our net worth monthly, although that is very simple using Personal Capital or Fidelity Full View. Swings in our net worth now tend to be driven more by changes in the stock market, so about once a year we summarize our expenses (from PC) and compare year over year spending trends to see whether we want to make any changes. We discuss all major financial decisions (house upgrades, major vacations, cars, major gifts, etc.) and it is very useful to have the data (net worth and expense summaries and trends) to help us come to a joint decision. I'm sure everyone has to figure out what works for them, but it sure helps that we both tend to be somewhat frugal, and we have always viewed our finances as a full partnership. So it's fine by me to have each partner focus on different elements according to their interests and abilities. Of course, there could be major problems if neither partner has the ability or interest to manage their finances, or if one spouse is a total spendthrift and the other wants to be very frugal.

jerryk68
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Re: how do couples work together on home finance

Post by jerryk68 » Tue Jul 02, 2019 5:00 pm

MiddleOfTheRoad wrote:
Tue Jul 02, 2019 4:30 pm
I am the CFO, my wife is the CEO. I take care of the details and cash flow etc. She gets to approve the big decisions and strategies on a high level. After hanging out for 20 years, she trusts me not to siphon money off somewhere. I prepare a yearly “state of the household” report. :P
+1
I usually give a very brief "state of the economy" on a very periodic basis. Some people love to spend and others, like me, could care less. I just make sure the spending is kept in check.

Capsu78
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Re: how do couples work together on home finance

Post by Capsu78 » Tue Jul 02, 2019 6:37 pm

I sat my new bride down 35 years ago and explained to her the relationship between the Pilot and Co-Pilot in terms of decision making. She listened intently and considered the merits of my presentation and said "OK"
She then said "...now it's my turn... You may be the pilot, but consider me "Air Traffic Control" and if I tell you to go circle over Iowa corn fields before landing at ORD, I don't expect to ask twice".
Message received since 1984!

MarkBarb
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Re: how do couples work together on home finance

Post by MarkBarb » Tue Jul 02, 2019 6:41 pm

I'm the finance guy at our house. As with many above, my wife pays no attention to the finances other than our discussing major purchases before making them. I do sit down with her once a year for an annual review. Every couple is different and has to sort out what works for them.

stoptothink
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Re: how do couples work together on home finance

Post by stoptothink » Tue Jul 02, 2019 7:05 pm

MarkBarb wrote:
Tue Jul 02, 2019 6:41 pm
I'm the finance guy at our house. As with many above, my wife pays no attention to the finances other than our discussing major purchases before making them. I do sit down with her once a year for an annual review. Every couple is different and has to sort out what works for them.
Same for us (seems like this is the theme). I provide her a detailed update quarterly and she knows exactly where to find all the information at any time, but she has spent about 5 seconds looking at it during the entirety of our marriage. She also doesn't give two stinks about what something costs and I am the king of budget shopping, so (after years of trial and error), she's got in the habit (usually) of sending me links of things we need (mostly, that she wants) and I'll quickly figure out the most cost-effective method to procure it. The concept of money never crosses her mind, which works out fine because I have a (probably unhealthy) preoccupation with it.

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Re: how do couples work together on home finance

Post by Trader Joe » Tue Jul 02, 2019 7:13 pm

omega wrote:
Tue Jul 02, 2019 10:17 am
Hello All,

My husband and I frequently visit bogleheads forums and have found very useful information here.

I am in a situation for a while now and would like to hear about how other couples handle their finances together. Do you both sit together on a regular basis and go over some/any numbers..

I keep insisting that my husband and I need to sit together for 30 minutes a week to see how much we are spending/saving, basically anything finance related since we have not done anything of this kind together in the last 11 years.

My husband is of the opinion that since I am the one who spends on the kids activities, I have to calculate how much I spend on them without him being involved. This frustrates me since I believe we should be doing this together.

I am going to have him read this topic and would love to hear how the couples on this forum handle this process.

Thanks
My spouse and I are different in this area. This is okay. She is not at all interested in the details of our income, our expenses, a budget, etc. This is okay. No problem at all. The only thing that she is interested in is our bottom line (our net worth). So, on the 1st of every month I calculate and provide our net worth and I leave it on her desk to review when she can. Dialogue may occur, or it may not. This is okay for us. Best of luck.

tesuzuki2002
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Re: how do couples work together on home finance

Post by tesuzuki2002 » Tue Jul 02, 2019 7:24 pm

Capsu78 wrote:
Tue Jul 02, 2019 6:37 pm
I sat my new bride down 35 years ago and explained to her the relationship between the Pilot and Co-Pilot in terms of decision making. She listened intently and considered the merits of my presentation and said "OK"
She then said "...now it's my turn... You may be the pilot, but consider me "Air Traffic Control" and if I tell you to go circle over Iowa corn fields before landing at ORD, I don't expect to ask twice".
Message received since 1984!
LOVE IT!!

chemix42
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Re: how do couples work together on home finance

Post by chemix42 » Tue Jul 02, 2019 7:32 pm

My wife and I are pretty similar in terms of financial goals and views on spending, but she doesn’t really like dealing with the numbers like I do. I do pretty much all the day to day finance stuff (investing, budgeting, etc), and every couple months or so she’ll sit sit down with me and we’ll go through our finances in Personal Capital and look at the major items in our budget. It’s not a scheduled thing— it just happens periodically when we both have time.

ladycat
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Re: how do couples work together on home finance

Post by ladycat » Tue Jul 02, 2019 8:33 pm

omega wrote:
Tue Jul 02, 2019 10:17 am
Hello All,

My husband and I frequently visit bogleheads forums and have found very useful information here.

I am in a situation for a while now and would like to hear about how other couples handle their finances together. Do you both sit together on a regular basis and go over some/any numbers..

I manage all of our household budgeting & expenses. My husband and I go over things whenever I realize something significant has occurred. That means I prepare the information, then let him know what's going on or what I think we need to do. It's along the lines of "The property taxes went up $800 this year so we can either do A or B. Do you have a preference?" Mid-year, I make sure we're reasonably close our expected spending and discuss if need be. Again, that's something like "We're spending more than I expected on X because of whatever reasons. What do you want to do about it (increase budget, spend less, etc)?" At the end of the year I repeat the process and make adjustments or suggestions for the following year. We have a flexible budget, so the discussions occur when we're talking about missing a target by $500 or more.

I keep insisting that my husband and I need to sit together for 30 minutes a week to see how much we are spending/saving, basically anything finance related since we have not done anything of this kind together in the last 11 years.

11 years... If your finances have been sorted out for this long, insisting on a 30 minute weekly meeting seems odd. If you're trying to get your finances on track, then it's important to figure out how to tackle this in a manner that works for both of you. Since our finances our stable, my husband and I talk for maybe 10 minutes when an issue comes up. I enjoy tracking our expenses, but I'd find a weekly 30 minute meeting dreadful. My husband would think I've lost my marbles, and I can't imagine he'd oblige.

My husband is of the opinion that since I am the one who spends on the kids activities, I have to calculate how much I spend on them without him being involved. This frustrates me since I believe we should be doing this together.

My husband doesn't care how much we spend on most things, as long as the money is managed properly. If a lightening bolt strikes him and he wants to know how much we're spending on something, I can pull up the information very quickly.

I am going to have him read this topic and would love to hear how the couples on this forum handle this process.

Maybe he would prefer Cliff notes. :wink:
Thanks

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scubadiver
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Re: how do couples work together on home finance

Post by scubadiver » Tue Jul 02, 2019 8:45 pm

We are a single income household. We discuss all unusual expenditures (anything not groceries, gas or a utility bill). If for example I'm buying a new pair of sneakers, my wife generally knows about it before I get them. The same is true if she is buying something.

I handle all of our finances. Investments, bills, everything. We have two joint credit cards which my wife uses for all purchases outside the occasional cash purchase. Periodically, I will give her updates on our financial health. If I think we're spending too much money, I talk with her about it.

My wife manages our household, to include buying groceries, planning kids activities, doctors visits, everything. She keeps me up to speed regarding potential upcoming expenses.

We had a little friction concerning expenses a few years ago. I think we have since developed a very healthy communication and have enough appreciation for the other person's perspective that we are naturally gravitating towards middle ground on most potential areas of disagreement these days.

My wife knows what accounts we have and where to get credentials to access those accounts should something happen to me. I've come to accept that the rewards points we accumulate on our primary credit card are the private personal slush fund of my wife and oldest daughter. Ditto for proceeds from unused household items sold on craigslist.

This has worked well for us. YMMV.

Scubadiver
Last edited by scubadiver on Tue Jul 02, 2019 8:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

stoptothink
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Re: how do couples work together on home finance

Post by stoptothink » Tue Jul 02, 2019 8:53 pm

scubadiver wrote:
Tue Jul 02, 2019 8:45 pm
I've come to accept that the rewards points we accumulate on our primary credit card are the private personal slush fund of my wife and oldest daughter.
Ha ha. No matter how many times I joke about her "laundering money through venmo", she still doesn't seem to understand that I know she uses it for purchases that she thinks I wouldn't approve of. Easily $200/month in venmo debits that aren't accounted for. I have learned to just accept that she really likes clothes and she buys gifts for EVERYBODY, but I get an irrational kick out of her continuing to think she's sneaky about it.

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scubadiver
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Re: how do couples work together on home finance

Post by scubadiver » Tue Jul 02, 2019 9:02 pm

stoptothink wrote:
Tue Jul 02, 2019 8:53 pm
scubadiver wrote:
Tue Jul 02, 2019 8:45 pm
I've come to accept that the rewards points we accumulate on our primary credit card are the private personal slush fund of my wife and oldest daughter.
Ha ha. No matter how many times I joke about her "laundering money through venmo", she still doesn't seem to understand that I know she uses it for purchases that she thinks I wouldn't approve of. Easily $200/month in venmo debits that aren't accounted for. I have learned to just accept that she really likes clothes and she buys gifts for EVERYBODY, but I get an irrational kick out of her continuing to think she's sneaky about it.
Last summer my wife bought a $600 family pool pass. Paid for in cash. I have no idea where that money came from, but she assures me that it was (1) legal and (2) did not violate the trust we have developed regarding finances and communication.

oxothuk
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Re: how do couples work together on home finance

Post by oxothuk » Tue Jul 02, 2019 10:09 pm

My wife does all of our routne money management and records it in Quicken. I can look it over whenever I want, but I rarely do.
I make most of the decisions about investment. My wife is fully informed but rarely objects.

We have an understanding (not quantified) of what kind of expenses need prior consultation and which do not. This has worked for the first 40 years.

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Re: how do couples work together on home finance

Post by jlawrence01 » Wed Jul 03, 2019 12:07 am

Pre-retirement:

For 28 of the 30 years, I always handled all of the financial tracking and decision making but there were some very basic rules that we decided upon early:

1) We would use credit cards BUT they would be blenderized the first time that we did not have the money to pay the bill off at the end of the month.
2) We would live like our parents did - simple life style and a frugal approach to life so that we could retire comfortably.
3) We would sacrifice lifestyle to maximize our retirement savings.
4) All of our accounts would be joint (except where seperate accounts are required.
5) We would discuss all purchases over $100 within reason. For example, if I am going to buy an expensive pair of shoes, I let my wife know before I do it. That way, there are no surprises and no problems at the end of the month. Now, if the muffler needs to be replaced immediately or I need to head to urgent care, we just do it. That way, we both know what is going on.
6) When it comes to big purchases and significant decisions, NOTHING happens without a 2-0 vote. That leads to significant compromises at times. More often, it leads to better decisions than had we accepted the first alternatives.


After retirement:

1) All of the above.
2) We track expenses. This has been probably the best thing that we ever did in that we know where the money is going and it allows us to eliminate waster. It also allows us to feel a lot more comfortable spending money on the things where we choose to spend money.
3) We have a general budget that goes like this:

Normal spending $xx,xxxx
Special spending (home projects, new car, etc.) $x,xxx
Emergency trips home $x,xxx

We don't talk much about the budget unless we are getting off track. And I am certainly NOT going to do a line by line analysis that will drive my DW crazy.

4) Once a quarter, we look at our balance sheet. As my life expectancy is about 10 years and my DW predicts 35+ years, she is most concerned about that


I have shared this with my nephews and nieces. Some soak it up like a sponge. Others, well, think that it is too hard and they are "too young" to think about it.

dcabler
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Re: how do couples work together on home finance

Post by dcabler » Wed Jul 03, 2019 5:54 am

First, I'm still working. DW left the working world just before our nearly 18 year old daughter was born, except for an 18 month part time stint a couple of years ago. When she was working, we saved 100% of her income and lived off of mine.

We don't keep a budget nor do we sit down and discuss all expenditures. For about 10 months a few years ago, I was between jobs. At that time I put together a budget and tracked our spending. She wasn't interested and, in fact, merely going over what we spent relative to our budget caused her some amount of stress, especially when we were over budget. I continued to track until I was employed again, then stopped.

What we do.
- Twice a year I go over our savings and investment results. I have given her a copy of the IPS I created, which also contains detailed instructions of what we do, where the accounts are, and how I plan to withdraw once retired. I also have a "good enough" backup plan that I think she could follow in the event of my early demise.
- For any purchases of a reasonable amount, we consult with each other before making it. She's not a big spender at all.

That's about it - after being together for almost 30 years, we already know each others habits regarding money. Except for the occasional car repair, roof replacement, etc., there generally aren't any surprises at this point.

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Tamarind
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Re: how do couples work together on home finance

Post by Tamarind » Wed Jul 03, 2019 6:48 am

It's pretty clear from above posts that the way many Bogleheads manage to work together with their spouses on personal finance is "assortative mating". We like to marry other frugal people and develop mutual trust and shared goals. Also it's very common for one spouse to be intensely interested and the other supportive but otherwise indifferent to the details. We think it's important to keep our spouses informed but are ok with division of labor on finances.

OP, you've been together a long time without having regular finance sit-downs. What's making you want to change now? Are you (as a couple) having trouble sticking to your budget or meeting your financial goals? Do you feel like there's an imbalance in the division of labor between you? Or do you just wish he were more interested in finance topics?

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