Play Money for Spouse....

Non-investing personal finance issues including insurance, credit, real estate, taxes, employment and legal issues such as trusts and wills
User avatar
Topic Author
gasdoc
Posts: 1990
Joined: Mon Nov 03, 2014 8:26 am

Play Money for Spouse....

Post by gasdoc »

First, let me say that I realize I am in delicate territory, but I thought I might get ideas from members of the Bogleheads community (married and divorced :confused ). DW is frustrated because, as a much smaller wage earner, she doesn't feel "entitled" to spend money on herself (this is her complaint, not mine!!!). She wants ME to give HER a set amount of cash each month that she can feel free to spend on herself as she wishes, guilt-free. I believe she intends to use this money for nails, haircuts, lunches with friends, things she wants from Amazon that are not needs, etc. Currently, I download daily transactions into Quicken, and she wants this to be a monthly ATM withdrawal that I don't see (and critique- though again, I don't think I do this anyway!!!). Any ideas? I believe she is thinking in the $400-$500 dollars per month range.

On the other hand, DW works an irregular schedule as a nurse on a PRN, or "as needed" basis, and makes her own schedule. Her monthly income averages about $1000 per month, but it varies tremendously. Our only child just graduated from high school, so DW might be able to increase her income (if properly incentivized to do so.). Do you see where I am going with this? Should I suggest that she keep half of every dollar she makes for herself, with the remainder going into the family account? Thoughts?

I am expecting some very interesting posts on this.... :shock:
User avatar
knpstr
Posts: 2890
Joined: Thu Nov 20, 2014 8:57 pm
Location: Michigan

Re: Play Money for Spouse....

Post by knpstr »

With your presumed finances why not simply say to her she should spend everything she makes on herself?

or does she already do this and she is wanting money above this amount?
Last edited by knpstr on Sun May 28, 2017 4:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking. -Marcus Aurelius
livesoft
Posts: 73338
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:00 pm

Re: Play Money for Spouse....

Post by livesoft »

I've posted this before: When we were first married we made a budget or I should say my spouse made a budget. To arrive at dollar amounts she used past spending patterns. She took what she spent on clothes in the previous 3 months, divided by 3 and came up with her clothes budget of $300 a month. She took what I spent on clothes in the previous 3 months, divided by 3 and came up with what she would allow me to spend on clothes: $0 a month.

In the end, we gave each of us an "allowance" to spend any which way we wanted. The amount was enough to cover all routine personal needs with some extra, but not enough to go out and buy a new stereo or a nice bike or new suit every month. One could save the extra over a few months and buy those things though.

This worked for us and also eliminated the dreaded "Miscellaneous" budget category which is the Black Hole of budgets. There were no arguments about buying gifts, spending a fortune on shoes, sports equipment, eating out with friends, spa treatments, etc.

OTOH, when I mention this to people, they are appalled at getting an "Allowance" like they were in 3rd grade or something. "It's my money and I should be able to spend whatever I want, whenever I want" was a typical reaction.

My allowance was $300 a month back in the early 1980s. Nowadays we don't have a budget, but we do ask about spending more than about $500 on any one item; below that amount anything goes. I would think that $300 would be too low nowadays, so why not $1500?
Last edited by livesoft on Sun May 28, 2017 4:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Wiki This signature message sponsored by sscritic: Learn to fish.
Ostentatious
Posts: 266
Joined: Fri Aug 15, 2014 6:34 pm

Re: Play Money for Spouse....

Post by Ostentatious »

Bump. Want to know what others think also.
jebmke
Posts: 11410
Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 2:44 pm
Location: Delmarva Peninsula

Re: Play Money for Spouse....

Post by jebmke »

Maybe the answer is to stop tracking every little expenditure.

I have three expense categories. Capital (large items like home improvements, car ...), income taxes, everything else. I can make the monthly entries in my spreadsheet in about 60 seconds.
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.
mortfree
Posts: 2401
Joined: Mon Sep 12, 2016 7:06 pm

Re: Play Money for Spouse....

Post by mortfree »

She opens her own checking account.

Her paycheck gets deposited there.

You come to an agreement on what she will transfer to the family account.

The rest is hers to spend (or save?).
User avatar
Doom&Gloom
Posts: 3580
Joined: Thu May 08, 2014 3:36 pm

Re: Play Money for Spouse....

Post by Doom&Gloom »

So you've been married 18+ years and this is just now coming up?

It seems like a fair request to me--and it appears that it does to you as well--and the only issue is negotiating an amount? From what you have posted, I would simply ask her what she has in mind, and if it is within the range you are ok with, agree to it and let that be the end of it.

Personally, I would not even attempt to tie it to her work hours or income. That opens up a nasty can of worms of potential resentment. That is a tactic more suitable for teenagers than a spouse [assuming your income is as healthy as your screen-name implies]. If she has been working prn for a while, it seems "wrong" to suddenly tie her spending "allowance" to her work hours/income. This does not seem like a wise battle to choose; this one seems simple enough to solve with a quick nod :beer

Just my 2c. YMMV.
User avatar
packet
Posts: 837
Joined: Sun Nov 23, 2014 11:23 am
Location: The pub

Re: Play Money for Spouse....

Post by packet »

What's your monthly discretionary (purely on yourself) look like? She should get the same, no?

Or, perhaps, point to your total discretionary amount and say, "go for it... just give me a heads up if you go way over half..."

In my humble opinion, she should already have the ATM card and the "right" to use it. Kinda sounds like this is more of a communication and perception issue than financial. Stay honest, transparent, and very communicative... and the rest will take care of itself.

:beer,Cheers,
packet

PS,
She should have a 50% say in what that total discretionary amount is (after bills and savings etc.) as well.
Last edited by packet on Sun May 28, 2017 4:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
First round’s on me.
delamer
Posts: 10519
Joined: Tue Feb 08, 2011 6:13 pm

Re: Play Money for Spouse....

Post by delamer »

You should have a mutually agreed-upon budget based on your total family income. Her income and your income belong to both of you; it doesn't matter who earns it. One budget item should be $500 (or whatever) a month that she can spend how she chooses, if that fits into your agreed-upon budget.

If $500 will interfere with your personal budget priorities, then you should negotiate the amount with her. It is reasonable to ask her which items she will cover with the $500 so you don't budget separately for those.
User avatar
BL
Posts: 9520
Joined: Sun Mar 01, 2009 2:28 pm

Re: Play Money for Spouse....

Post by BL »

I agree with OP's spouse completely. Set up an automatic amount that she can spend without you commenting or agreeing on the items spent, also do it for yourself. Why not double her suggested amount and let her be pleasantly surprised?

Have you figured out the taxes and other costs (time, shortcuts with eating out, paid housekeeper, other shopping, etc.) that her added income would incur? Sometimes it is surprisingly little gain if you are a high earner and she is a moderate earner, if you figure the added income over your income.
avalpert
Posts: 6313
Joined: Sat Mar 22, 2008 4:58 pm

Re: Play Money for Spouse....

Post by avalpert »

I'm going to suggest this really isn't about the money or a specific amount at all. This is about her perception of how you perceive her spending habits (whether accurate or not).

I would suggest, unless you have legitimate concerns regarding her ability for self control or you are financially very fragile, rather than 'give' her a dollar amount she can spend, have her use her own credit card and you agree not to look at the individual transactions. My thought is if you give her a dollar number, and even more so if you tie it to her earnings, you are not only not going to address the underlying issue you will exacerbate it.
User avatar
Mlm
Posts: 485
Joined: Sat Apr 09, 2016 6:00 pm

Re: Play Money for Spouse....

Post by Mlm »

Ask her how much she thinks she will need and what things it will cover so that you can revise the family budget accordingly. Then hand over the cash with a smile. Done :D
blueman457
Posts: 462
Joined: Sun Jul 26, 2015 12:19 pm

Re: Play Money for Spouse....

Post by blueman457 »

We started separate "play money" checking accounts early in our marriage. Probably 18 months in, not 18 years!

$50/month each in our personal checking accounts. It could be used for personal expenses, clothes, dining out with friends, etc... no questions asked. It allowed my wife to "save" up for bigger purchases, and track her own expenditures. My wife was much happier with this set up.

Over the years, amount has increased and despite our differences in income we have kept it equal. $500/month sounds reasonable to keep your wife happy.

Blue Man
awval999
Posts: 1185
Joined: Fri Apr 08, 2011 10:17 pm

Re: Play Money for Spouse....

Post by awval999 »

knpstr wrote:With your presumed finances why not simply say to her she should spend everything she makes on herself?

or does she already do this and she is wanting money above this amount?
This.

Completely reasonable for you to say she can spend the $1000/month on her self.
User avatar
climber2020
Posts: 1505
Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2012 8:06 pm

Re: Play Money for Spouse....

Post by climber2020 »

Seems pretty simple: she can work more shifts and spend the extra income on herself.

She's a nurse and making an average of $12,000 a year, which means she's not working much. Now that your only kid is soon to be out of the house, what's stopping her from working a little more? That would easily bring in the $500 a month that she's wanting.
John Laurens
Posts: 437
Joined: Mon Nov 14, 2016 7:31 pm

Re: Play Money for Spouse....

Post by John Laurens »

1. You Pay 100% of the taxes on her income
2. She spends 50% however she wants
3. She puts 50% in a separate vacation fund for the two of you guys to use throughout the year.
4. Everybody wins.

Regards,
John
Bfwolf
Posts: 2050
Joined: Thu Oct 14, 2010 11:19 am

Re: Play Money for Spouse....

Post by Bfwolf »

I'm going to assume based on your username, being an empty nester, and the tone of your post that you're not exactly hurting for money. And that while her working more and earning more money would be great, you are not in dire need of an incentive plan for her to earn more money.

If that's the case, why tie her spending to how much she earns? I think that potentially creates animosity: i.e. if she earns X and is allowed to spend X/2 on whatever she wants then naturally since you earn 10X you can spend 10X/2 on whatever YOU want. I know that's not what you're thinking, but it's what that sort of system implies.

Ask her what she thinks the right number is, and then funnel that much money into her personal checking account every month. It's that easy.
AZAttorney11
Posts: 758
Joined: Wed Jan 21, 2015 12:12 pm

Re: Play Money for Spouse....

Post by AZAttorney11 »

My wife and I buy whatever we want, when we want. But we're mostly modest spenders (we spend far less than we could with our incomes). We save a substantial amount (in dollars and as a percentage of our gross income) and spend the rest. We align on larger purchases (e.g., I'm not coming home with a new flat screen TV, she's not coming home with a new $5,000 hand bag, etc.) I don't care what she spends or where. She's happy and the accounts continue to grow each month.

I know this is anti-Boglehead to many, but we save a substantial amount and spend the rest freely without tracking each and every dollar. It's nice.

OP, why don't you tell your wife to just spend what she wants? What's $500 a month for a gas doc? I imagine you make that in an hour or two. Keep Mrs. Gasdoc happy.
User avatar
steadyeddy
Posts: 756
Joined: Tue Mar 31, 2009 5:01 pm
Location: The Alps of the Midwest

Re: Play Money for Spouse....

Post by steadyeddy »

She thinks you are controlling and/or judging her spending. You do not believe this is true. That is a serious disconnect.

A fun money budget might be a good logistical solution, but you need to address the feelings apart from any financial action items.
Johnny Thinwallet
Posts: 142
Joined: Wed Nov 21, 2012 6:07 pm

Re: Play Money for Spouse....

Post by Johnny Thinwallet »

When my wife and I got married three years ago, we moved our accounts to the same financial institutions. We merged our checking into one checking account, but we kept our "pre-marriage" savings accounts separate. We also created a third savings account, a brand new joint savings that started at $0 when we got married.

Anyway, after we got married we agreed that any type of fun, spend-on-yourself guilt-free type of expense would come from those individual savings accounts that we each already had established. And we would also fund $100 from each pay check into those accounts to help keep them from being depleted over time. We each get paid 24 times so the end result is those accounts get $200 per month, or $2400 each year.

My wife spends roughly $1500 per year on herself, and I spend around $500 per year on myself. The end result is the balances of those individual accounts actually grows each year since neither of us ever exceed the $2400 in annual deposits. We'll probably agree to tap into that money for larger purchases down the road (home, car, etc.) since the balances are in the low five figures.

Every marriage is different though. What works for one may not work for the other. So far this set up seems to work fairly well for us.
AnilG
Posts: 63
Joined: Wed Sep 09, 2015 1:41 am

Re: Play Money for Spouse....

Post by AnilG »

Without your complete financial picture and goals, it is difficult to make suggestion. Is her income significant to achieving your basic goals? If there are any areas of shortfall in meeting collective goals, discuss that with your wife and have her come up with an amount that she wants to contribute from her income. If not, then let her spend her income excluding taxes whatever way she wants. Empower her with relevant information/facts and let her decide for marital bliss.

My wife volunteers at a senior facility who offered her to come and do paid work on-call basis. Guess where her income goes from that work. She contributes 100% of her income to 401k offered by the senior facility. Her thought was that she doesn't need that money. She is pretty frugal. Other than basic hair, cosmetics and clothes needs, she doesn't spend much money.
Katietsu
Posts: 3985
Joined: Sun Sep 22, 2013 1:48 am

Re: Play Money for Spouse....

Post by Katietsu »

It is delicate to answer this question. Based on this post and on the previous post regarding your daughter providing online access to her college accounts, it seems that your family may think that you are a bit too hovering. The same comment or behavior that you mean to be helpful is possibly being received as that of an over involved spouse/parent. I suspect that your wife has asked you to come up with a number because she does not want to have to justify or even discuss the number for the "allowance" nor the purchases made with it.
I think your wife knows you well. I think she wants some breathing room and knows that it might be hard for you. Her suggested approach is designed to get her the space she needs in a way that makes is easier for you to give it.

Please give a lot of thought to the route of giving her a percentage of her earnings. That might be a reasonable decision for some couples but the way you presented it comes across in a way that just emphasizes the emotions behind the original request.
2stepsbehind
Posts: 894
Joined: Wed Jun 20, 2007 10:03 am

Re: Play Money for Spouse....

Post by 2stepsbehind »

Katietsu wrote:It is delicate to answer this question. Based on this post and on the previous post regarding your daughter providing online access to her college accounts, it seems that your family may think that you are a bit too hovering. The same comment or behavior that you mean to be helpful is possibly being received as that of an over involved spouse/parent. I suspect that your wife has asked you to come up with a number because she does not want to have to justify or even discuss the number for the "allowance" nor the purchases made with it.
I think your wife knows you well. I think she wants some breathing room and knows that it might be hard for you. Her suggested approach is designed to get her the space she needs in a way that makes is easier for you to give it.

Please give a lot of thought to the route of giving her a percentage of her earnings. That might be a reasonable decision for some couples but the way you presented it comes across in a way that just emphasizes the emotions behind the original request.
I second everything in this post
HornedToad
Posts: 1033
Joined: Wed May 21, 2008 12:36 am

Re: Play Money for Spouse....

Post by HornedToad »

We do His, Hers and Ours. We each get $200/mo into our individual accounts that are completely individual and then everything else into joint. Also if individual gets relatively high we either buy a larger purchase or just move some into Joint. We probably blur the line between individual and joint a fair amount so that's why $200/mo works for us, otherwise my wife might need $500+/mo and I'd still be fine at $200/mo since Kindle books are cheap.

From Quicken perspective, just don't track her individual checking account and credit card.
User avatar
Kenkat
Posts: 6669
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 11:18 am
Location: Cincinnati, OH

Re: Play Money for Spouse....

Post by Kenkat »

If you believe she is thinking $400-500 a month, and you can afford it, why not say "how about $500 a month? This could be in cash, off the books / budget at a detail level. Take $500 a month for yourself as well, then there's really no guilt on anyone's part. If you don't need $500 a month, stick it in an account and let it pile up.
User avatar
Topic Author
gasdoc
Posts: 1990
Joined: Mon Nov 03, 2014 8:26 am

Re: Play Money for Spouse....

Post by gasdoc »

knpstr wrote:With your presumed finances why not simply say to her she should spend everything she makes on herself?

or does she already do this and she is wanting money above this amount?
DW is reasonably frugal, and wants to contribute to the family situation. She would not want to spend the entire income. Thanks.

gasdoc.
User avatar
Topic Author
gasdoc
Posts: 1990
Joined: Mon Nov 03, 2014 8:26 am

Re: Play Money for Spouse....

Post by gasdoc »

livesoft wrote:I've posted this before: When we were first married we made a budget or I should say my spouse made a budget. To arrive at dollar amounts she used past spending patterns. She took what she spent on clothes in the previous 3 months, divided by 3 and came up with her clothes budget of $300 a month. She took what I spent on clothes in the previous 3 months, divided by 3 and came up with what she would allow me to spend on clothes: $0 a month.

In the end, we gave each of us an "allowance" to spend any which way we wanted. The amount was enough to cover all routine personal needs with some extra, but not enough to go out and buy a new stereo or a nice bike or new suit every month. One could save the extra over a few months and buy those things though.

This worked for us and also eliminated the dreaded "Miscellaneous" budget category which is the Black Hole of budgets. There were no arguments about buying gifts, spending a fortune on shoes, sports equipment, eating out with friends, spa treatments, etc.

OTOH, when I mention this to people, they are appalled at getting an "Allowance" like they were in 3rd grade or something. "It's my money and I should be able to spend whatever I want, whenever I want" was a typical reaction.

My allowance was $300 a month back in the early 1980s. Nowadays we don't have a budget, but we do ask about spending more than about $500 on any one item; below that amount anything goes. I would think that $300 would be too low nowadays, so why not $1500?
Thanks,
For the first 20+ years of marriage, we have not had a budget. It is only recently that she wants a set amount that she can spend on things that are purely play or pampering her or whatever. I see no problem, but she wants me to come up with the amount. I think we are settling on $500.

gasdoc
User avatar
Topic Author
gasdoc
Posts: 1990
Joined: Mon Nov 03, 2014 8:26 am

Re: Play Money for Spouse....

Post by gasdoc »

mortfree wrote:She opens her own checking account.

Her paycheck gets deposited there.

You come to an agreement on what she will transfer to the family account.

The rest is hers to spend (or save?).
Thanks. That's what I was thinking. But she doesn't want an account to worry about, and she tells me she doesn't even want the amounts she doesn't spend to carry over. She just wants to start off with a certain amount at the beginning of the month. Just a few minutes ago, she said $500 sounds reasonable as a ceiling, not necessarily a minimum to spend.

gasdoc
User avatar
Topic Author
gasdoc
Posts: 1990
Joined: Mon Nov 03, 2014 8:26 am

Re: Play Money for Spouse....

Post by gasdoc »

Doom&Gloom wrote:So you've been married 18+ years and this is just now coming up?

It seems like a fair request to me--and it appears that it does to you as well--and the only issue is negotiating an amount? From what you have posted, I would simply ask her what she has in mind, and if it is within the range you are ok with, agree to it and let that be the end of it.

Personally, I would not even attempt to tie it to her work hours or income. That opens up a nasty can of worms of potential resentment. That is a tactic more suitable for teenagers than a spouse [assuming your income is as healthy as your screen-name implies]. If she has been working prn for a while, it seems "wrong" to suddenly tie her spending "allowance" to her work hours/income. This does not seem like a wise battle to choose; this one seems simple enough to solve with a quick nod :beer

Just my 2c. YMMV.
Thanks. Yea. I think you are right about that.

gasdoc
User avatar
Topic Author
gasdoc
Posts: 1990
Joined: Mon Nov 03, 2014 8:26 am

Re: Play Money for Spouse....

Post by gasdoc »

BL wrote:I agree with OP's spouse completely. Set up an automatic amount that she can spend without you commenting or agreeing on the items spent, also do it for yourself. Why not double her suggested amount and let her be pleasantly surprised?

Have you figured out the taxes and other costs (time, shortcuts with eating out, paid housekeeper, other shopping, etc.) that her added income would incur? Sometimes it is surprisingly little gain if you are a high earner and she is a moderate earner, if you figure the added income over your income.
Thanks. I am guessing you are a DW also! I think giving her the upper amount she is asking for simply to "throw away" is enough. :happy

gasdoc
User avatar
Topic Author
gasdoc
Posts: 1990
Joined: Mon Nov 03, 2014 8:26 am

Re: Play Money for Spouse....

Post by gasdoc »

Mlm wrote:Ask her how much she thinks she will need and what things it will cover so that you can revise the family budget accordingly. Then hand over the cash with a smile. Done :D
Thanks. I'll have to work on the smile!!! :happy

gasdoc
User avatar
Topic Author
gasdoc
Posts: 1990
Joined: Mon Nov 03, 2014 8:26 am

Re: Play Money for Spouse....

Post by gasdoc »

blueman457 wrote:We started separate "play money" checking accounts early in our marriage. Probably 18 months in, not 18 years!

$50/month each in our personal checking accounts. It could be used for personal expenses, clothes, dining out with friends, etc... no questions asked. It allowed my wife to "save" up for bigger purchases, and track her own expenditures. My wife was much happier with this set up.

Over the years, amount has increased and despite our differences in income we have kept it equal. $500/month sounds reasonable to keep your wife happy.

Blue Man
Thanks. Yes, $500 per month is a small price to pay. A separate apartment alone costs three times that amount.... :oops:

gasdoc
User avatar
Topic Author
gasdoc
Posts: 1990
Joined: Mon Nov 03, 2014 8:26 am

Re: Play Money for Spouse....

Post by gasdoc »

awval999 wrote:
knpstr wrote:With your presumed finances why not simply say to her she should spend everything she makes on herself?

or does she already do this and she is wanting money above this amount?
This.

Completely reasonable for you to say she can spend the $1000/month on her self.
Probably true. Thanks.

gasdoc
User avatar
Topic Author
gasdoc
Posts: 1990
Joined: Mon Nov 03, 2014 8:26 am

Re: Play Money for Spouse....

Post by gasdoc »

climber2020 wrote:Seems pretty simple: she can work more shifts and spend the extra income on herself.

She's a nurse and making an average of $12,000 a year, which means she's not working much. Now that your only kid is soon to be out of the house, what's stopping her from working a little more? That would easily bring in the $500 a month that she's wanting.
Thanks. That was my original thought. Maybe I'll ask her if SHE would like to tie the two together?

gasdoc
User avatar
SmileyFace
Posts: 5703
Joined: Wed Feb 19, 2014 10:11 am

Re: Play Money for Spouse....

Post by SmileyFace »

Are you going to have the same monthly "play money" allocation as her?
User avatar
Topic Author
gasdoc
Posts: 1990
Joined: Mon Nov 03, 2014 8:26 am

Re: Play Money for Spouse....

Post by gasdoc »

AZAttorney11 wrote:My wife and I buy whatever we want, when we want. But we're mostly modest spenders (we spend far less than we could with our incomes). We save a substantial amount (in dollars and as a percentage of our gross income) and spend the rest. We align on larger purchases (e.g., I'm not coming home with a new flat screen TV, she's not coming home with a new $5,000 hand bag, etc.) I don't care what she spends or where. She's happy and the accounts continue to grow each month.

I know this is anti-Boglehead to many, but we save a substantial amount and spend the rest freely without tracking each and every dollar. It's nice.

OP, why don't you tell your wife to just spend what she wants? What's $500 a month for a gas doc? I imagine you make that in an hour or two. Keep Mrs. Gasdoc happy.
Thanks. That is pretty much how it has been for the first 25 years. But now, she wants a set amount that she can spend without any guilt whatsoever. I guess that, to her, is a difference.

gasdoc
User avatar
Topic Author
gasdoc
Posts: 1990
Joined: Mon Nov 03, 2014 8:26 am

Re: Play Money for Spouse....

Post by gasdoc »

steadyeddy wrote:She thinks you are controlling and/or judging her spending. You do not believe this is true. That is a serious disconnect.

A fun money budget might be a good logistical solution, but you need to address the feelings apart from any financial action items.
Thanks. Are you a marriage counselor?!?!

gasdoc
User avatar
Topic Author
gasdoc
Posts: 1990
Joined: Mon Nov 03, 2014 8:26 am

Re: Play Money for Spouse....

Post by gasdoc »

AnilG wrote:Without your complete financial picture and goals, it is difficult to make suggestion. Is her income significant to achieving your basic goals? If there are any areas of shortfall in meeting collective goals, discuss that with your wife and have her come up with an amount that she wants to contribute from her income. If not, then let her spend her income excluding taxes whatever way she wants. Empower her with relevant information/facts and let her decide for marital bliss.

My wife volunteers at a senior facility who offered her to come and do paid work on-call basis. Guess where her income goes from that work. She contributes 100% of her income to 401k offered by the senior facility. Her thought was that she doesn't need that money. She is pretty frugal. Other than basic hair, cosmetics and clothes needs, she doesn't spend much money.
Thanks. My DW is similar to yours. She doesn't spend a lot. And she does contribute 50% of what she makes from the largest facility to her 401K.

gasdoc
User avatar
Topic Author
gasdoc
Posts: 1990
Joined: Mon Nov 03, 2014 8:26 am

Re: Play Money for Spouse....

Post by gasdoc »

Katietsu wrote:It is delicate to answer this question. Based on this post and on the previous post regarding your daughter providing online access to her college accounts, it seems that your family may think that you are a bit too hovering. The same comment or behavior that you mean to be helpful is possibly being received as that of an over involved spouse/parent. I suspect that your wife has asked you to come up with a number because she does not want to have to justify or even discuss the number for the "allowance" nor the purchases made with it.
I think your wife knows you well. I think she wants some breathing room and knows that it might be hard for you. Her suggested approach is designed to get her the space she needs in a way that makes is easier for you to give it.

Please give a lot of thought to the route of giving her a percentage of her earnings. That might be a reasonable decision for some couples but the way you presented it comes across in a way that just emphasizes the emotions behind the original request.
Thanks. It's oK with me. I am leaning toward doing whatever she might want.

gasdoc
User avatar
Topic Author
gasdoc
Posts: 1990
Joined: Mon Nov 03, 2014 8:26 am

Re: Play Money for Spouse....

Post by gasdoc »

Kenkat wrote:If you believe she is thinking $400-500 a month, and you can afford it, why not say "how about $500 a month? This could be in cash, off the books / budget at a detail level. Take $500 a month for yourself as well, then there's really no guilt on anyone's part. If you don't need $500 a month, stick it in an account and let it pile up.
Thanks. I really don't need a play account for myself, and would rather not mess with another account. Really- any stuff I would get for myself, she actually buys for me because she thinks I need it. An example might be, "I am getting tired of seeing you in that shirt!" I am pretty utilitarian. When I rarely do buy something, it is expensive, so I ask for it for Christmas- camera, car, etc.

gasdoc
bayview
Posts: 2266
Joined: Thu Aug 02, 2012 7:05 pm
Location: WNC

Re: Play Money for Spouse....

Post by bayview »

gasdoc wrote:
blueman457 wrote:We started separate "play money" checking accounts early in our marriage. Probably 18 months in, not 18 years!

$50/month each in our personal checking accounts. It could be used for personal expenses, clothes, dining out with friends, etc... no questions asked. It allowed my wife to "save" up for bigger purchases, and track her own expenditures. My wife was much happier with this set up.

Over the years, amount has increased and despite our differences in income we have kept it equal. $500/month sounds reasonable to keep your wife happy.

Blue Man
Thanks. Yes, $500 per month is a small price to pay. A separate apartment alone costs three times that amount.... :oops:

gasdoc
lol

I will only say that if you haven't been the stay-at-home parent, you don't "get" the 24/7 nature of it. Those who stay at home and keep things running are most certainly contributing (in a positive way) to the family economy.

If that isn't recognized or understood, it definitely leads to resentment.

* tiptoes away *

Sounds like you two have come to an agreement. :beer
The continuous execution of a sound strategy gives you the benefit of the strategy. That's what it's all about. --Rick Ferri
Isabelle77
Posts: 624
Joined: Thu Dec 17, 2015 1:43 pm

Re: Play Money for Spouse....

Post by Isabelle77 »

So I am a SAHM but handle our finances. My husband went through a period of feeling very much like your wife. We tried to set an allowance for both of us and he would still feel guilty about spending any money on himself. He was making an excellent income and I was totally confused. It turns out that he really didn't have any understanding of what our budget looked like, even though I felt like I was keeping him informed. I put the Mint app on his cell phone and he feels much more knowledgeable about what's going where. I also have made an effort to update him in writing rather than just showing him spreadsheets.

I have no idea how informed your wife is about your finances but in our situation it has helped him understand that he spend money on himself without endangering any of our goals.
Last edited by Isabelle77 on Sun May 28, 2017 7:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Topic Author
gasdoc
Posts: 1990
Joined: Mon Nov 03, 2014 8:26 am

Re: Play Money for Spouse....

Post by gasdoc »

DaftInvestor wrote:Are you going to have the same monthly "play money" allocation as her?
Thanks. I really have a fairly boring life. I work, clean the pool, do my other chores, and sleep. Its a little bit of an exaggeration, but I really don't need 'play money."

gasdoc
AlohaJoe
Posts: 5532
Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2007 2:00 pm
Location: Saigon, Vietnam

Re: Play Money for Spouse....

Post by AlohaJoe »

BL wrote:I agree with OP's spouse completely. Set up an automatic amount that she can spend without you commenting or agreeing on the items spent
This is how it works in my relationship, more or less. One wrinkle I would add is that it is a little tricky (but far from impossible) to adjust this amount over time.

Say you decide $500 is fine today. In 10 years $500 is actually only worth $300. Do you increase it by CPI every January 1st? That seems....crazy. But it does mean every year or two you need to think about what is still "fair" and adjust things. Similarly...say your income goes up (or your desire to save goes down or the stock market triples or whatever)...you need to have another conversation about whether it increases and by how much.

As I said...nothing impossible but you still need to learn how to communicate about money on a regular basis.

I've also found that it is one thing to say "spend $X regularly on whatever you want" and another for a person to actually do it. Habits can take a while to change. It took...a while for my partner to truly believe that we were still "safe" even if every last dollar from $X was spent every month.
User avatar
knpstr
Posts: 2890
Joined: Thu Nov 20, 2014 8:57 pm
Location: Michigan

Re: Play Money for Spouse....

Post by knpstr »

gasdoc wrote:
knpstr wrote:With your presumed finances why not simply say to her she should spend everything she makes on herself?

or does she already do this and she is wanting money above this amount?
DW is reasonably frugal, and wants to contribute to the family situation. She would not want to spend the entire income. Thanks.

gasdoc.
$12,000/yr is not a large sum, especially at your level. Even spending it all would be frugal.

I must admit this seems to be an odd request that she asks you how much she can spend, when her income is irrelevant for all practical purposes. That's why I'd tell her, she can spend all of it. She doesn't have to, but it is her choice. That is the amount you set for her. If she thinks it is too much she can donate, contribute to the family situation or whatever else. Or let her per her own whatever: health insurance, cell bill, gas, or all the groceries etc etc to contribute to the family and the rest is her play money.

I really don't think you should be setting any hard limits (within reason of course, same with your spending), I don't think that is healthy.
Of course, just my opinion.

I think she may get a kick out of keeping all her money even if she doesn't spend it monthly. Then she can say save up $8,000 of her own earned money and she takes you on a nice vacation. Talk about a family contribution!!
Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking. -Marcus Aurelius
runner540
Posts: 1326
Joined: Sun Feb 26, 2017 5:43 pm

Re: Play Money for Spouse....

Post by runner540 »

gasdoc wrote:
DaftInvestor wrote:Are you going to have the same monthly "play money" allocation as her?
Thanks. I really have a fairly boring life. I work, clean the pool, do my other chores, and sleep. Its a little bit of an exaggeration, but I really don't need 'play money."

gasdoc
I think the answer is obvious - since you play on the forum, you should donate your play money to Bogleheads :D
Dottie57
Posts: 9178
Joined: Thu May 19, 2016 5:43 pm
Location: Earth Northern Hemisphere

Re: Play Money for Spouse....

Post by Dottie57 »

This is so interesting. I never married so don't have this situation.

My parents seem to be quite different. My mom ran the house. Dad ran his veterinary business. Mm took care of the daily/monthly money. Dad handled the long term money. No fghts, but dinner time discussions. Neither bought anything big without consulting with the other. Both used money well. No credit card debt. The checking and savings accounts were considered the property of both.
HopeToGolf
Posts: 347
Joined: Fri Dec 24, 2010 4:04 pm

Re: Play Money for Spouse....

Post by HopeToGolf »

Gasdoc

Allowance is the answer.

After a number of years my wife (spender) and I (saver) came up with agreed amounts of allowance which give each of us the freedom to spend on anything we want. We have it deducted from our paychecks and deposited to separate accounts with the remaining amount of the paychecks (well over 95%) deposited to the joint account.

This is working masterfully for us and saved ridiculous conversations about handbags, expensive golf courses, shoes, fantasy football entry fees, etc.

The tough part was coming up with the initial amount.
DVMResident
Posts: 1488
Joined: Mon Aug 01, 2011 8:15 pm

Re: Play Money for Spouse....

Post by DVMResident »

gasdoc wrote:, and she wants this to be a monthly ATM withdrawal that I don't see (and critique- though again, I don't think I do this anyway!!!). Any ideas? I believe she is thinking in the $400-$500 dollars per month range.

Prepaid VISA cards that is automatically recharged works well if she wants the money from you. Also work well for the kid going to college.

Do you see where I am going with this? Should I suggest that she keep half of every dollar she makes for herself, with the remainder going into the family account? Thoughts?

She could just direct her salary on a separate "off radar" account. Psychology this is nice because (1) she directly earned the salary and (2) she's not accountable to anyone but herself for spending. Most employers allow you split your salary into multiple accounts. She shoulder a fixed amount for the family, e.g. $500/mo, and any thing extra goes into her side account.

Just a couple ideas here. Not firm suggestions.
LarryAllen
Posts: 1142
Joined: Fri Apr 22, 2016 9:41 am
Location: State of Confusion

Re: Play Money for Spouse....

Post by LarryAllen »

Just give her $500 (or whatever) a month that you don't track every last dime on. She might find that OCD type behavior annoying. I know my spouse feels that. Lol!
Post Reply