Spouse Money Management

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amd7239
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Spouse Money Management

Post by amd7239 » Sun Sep 24, 2017 7:57 am

hey Bogleheads,

What money management system do you use with your significant other (or have you heard of any good ones)? I am a saver and my gf (of 2 years) is a spender who makes very little working part time a a college student. I make about 15x what she makes in a week. My take home pay = $35k/year, her take home pay = $2500/year.
We need a system.

I have heard of a system where you put all required expenses together and contribute an equal percentage of your incomes towards that. (If I make 15x as much, I pay 15x what she pays into the "required expenses" pot). The remaining is discretionary. If I'm a saver (high earner = saver) and she's a spender (low earner = spender), I save my remaining income and she spends hers. This is a fantastic system if not for one fatal flaw: Somebody has to draw the line between what is "necessary" and what is "discretionary". And if you disagree (she may "need" a new wardrobe of work clothes / blouses), the system doesn't work.

Whenever I talk to co workers about the system above, they say it won't work because she will not see us as "equal partners". Most of them say the only solution is to put all your money together, forget about who's income is who's, and agree on a budget. The problem with this is that agreeing on a spending budget long term is impossible if one is a spender and one is a saver. Sure, the saver may agree to what the spender wants to spend for the first year. But inevitably, the spender will want more as lifestyle creep and the Hedonic Treadmill (http://happierhuman.com/hedonic-treadmill/) set in. At a certain point, the spending starts to cut into the spender's goal savings rate. That's when conflict sets in. This might not happen if she respects your savings goals, but if she is not on board with the idea of financial independence or is poor at delaying gratification, it will happen.

Another problem with both of these is that there's no incentive for the low earner to not go crazy with spending. Subsidies lead to spending increases.

Any comments on this or other systems you use / have heard of?

Also any book recommendations on the topic would be great.
Last edited by amd7239 on Sun Sep 24, 2017 8:29 am, edited 2 times in total.

student
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Re: Spouse Money Management

Post by student » Sun Sep 24, 2017 8:26 am

amd7239 wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 7:57 am
What money management system do you use with your significant other (or have you heard of any good ones)? I am a spender and my gf (of 2 years) is a spender who makes very little working part time a a college student. I make about 15x what she makes in a week. My take home pay = $35k/year, her take home pay = $2500/year.
We need a system.
I assume you meant you are a saver. Perhaps look at it from another angle. Rather than finding what is necessary, put aside money that you want to save first (retirement, house etc), the rest can be spent as you please.

amd7239
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Re: Spouse Money Management

Post by amd7239 » Sun Sep 24, 2017 8:36 am

student wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 8:26 am
amd7239 wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 7:57 am
What money management system do you use with your significant other (or have you heard of any good ones)? I am a spender and my gf (of 2 years) is a spender who makes very little working part time a a college student. I make about 15x what she makes in a week. My take home pay = $35k/year, her take home pay = $2500/year.
We need a system.
I assume you meant you are a saver. Perhaps look at it from another angle. Rather than finding what is necessary, put aside money that you want to save first (retirement, house etc), the rest can be spent as you please.
Thanks for your post!

Yes, I meant I am a saver.

I already have enough saved for a house. We aren't talking about spending our savings, just our income. We disagree on how much to save for retirement, so this really comes down to how much we spend - that affects savings rate which affects retirement savings. She has no savings rate goals. She believes that after you spend "what you need to" on necessities and spend "a little" on discretionary, you should save the rest. The problem is she puts no values or caps on these ideas and so I know lifestyle creep will set in.

randomguy
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Re: Spouse Money Management

Post by randomguy » Sun Sep 24, 2017 8:41 am

amd7239 wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 7:57 am


Another problem with both of these is that there's no incentive for the low earner to not go crazy with spending. Subsidies lead to spending increases.

Any comments on this or other systems you use / have heard of?

Also any book recommendations on the topic would be great.
There are zillions of systems out there that work but they all depend on both parties buying into them. That being said your system has a ton of flaws. You are worried about subsidizing her. She willl wonder why she has 2k to spend while you have 10k. Not surprised that you think it is fantastic:)

With a GF, do you actually have any shared expenses? Why would you be subsidizing her housing, clothes, cars,....? The only thing I can see splitting are entertainment expenses where the two of you are doing something and you want to do something that the other person can't afford.

runner540
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Re: Spouse Money Management

Post by runner540 » Sun Sep 24, 2017 8:47 am

amd7239 wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 8:36 am
student wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 8:26 am
amd7239 wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 7:57 am
What money management system do you use with your significant other (or have you heard of any good ones)? I am a spender and my gf (of 2 years) is a spender who makes very little working part time a a college student. I make about 15x what she makes in a week. My take home pay = $35k/year, her take home pay = $2500/year.
We need a system.
I assume you meant you are a saver. Perhaps look at it from another angle. Rather than finding what is necessary, put aside money that you want to save first (retirement, house etc), the rest can be spent as you please.
Thanks for your post!

Yes, I meant I am a saver.

I already have enough saved for a house. We aren't talking about spending our savings, just our income. We disagree on how much to save for retirement, so this really comes down to how much we spend - that affects savings rate which affects retirement savings. She has no savings rate goals. She believes that after you spend "what you need to" on necessities and spend "a little" on discretionary, you should save the rest. The problem is she puts no values or caps on these ideas and so I know lifestyle creep will set in.
Tough situation - I don't have any good advice. As randomguy said, there are lots of systems/trackers that will work, but none of them will suddenly make you and your GF financially compatible. $2500/year is not enough to live on - mathematically, if she lives alone someone will be helping her with living costs if not you (parents, government, etc.), or she will work more. Lots of couples have unequal earnings but are equal members in a true partnership of life. Doesn't sound like you two are committed to that.

amd7239
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Re: Spouse Money Management

Post by amd7239 » Sun Sep 24, 2017 8:51 am

randomguy wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 8:41 am
amd7239 wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 7:57 am


Another problem with both of these is that there's no incentive for the low earner to not go crazy with spending. Subsidies lead to spending increases.

Any comments on this or other systems you use / have heard of?

Also any book recommendations on the topic would be great.
There are zillions of systems out there that work but they all depend on both parties buying into them. That being said your system has a ton of flaws. You are worried about subsidizing her. She willl wonder why she has 2k to spend while you have 10k. Not surprised that you think it is fantastic:)

With a GF, do you actually have any shared expenses? Why would you be subsidizing her housing, clothes, cars,....? The only thing I can see splitting are entertainment expenses where the two of you are doing something and you want to do something that the other person can't afford.
I am only subsidizing her essential expenses like food and train tickets to get to work

amd7239
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Re: Spouse Money Management

Post by amd7239 » Sun Sep 24, 2017 8:53 am

runner540 wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 8:47 am
amd7239 wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 8:36 am
student wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 8:26 am
amd7239 wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 7:57 am
What money management system do you use with your significant other (or have you heard of any good ones)? I am a spender and my gf (of 2 years) is a spender who makes very little working part time a a college student. I make about 15x what she makes in a week. My take home pay = $35k/year, her take home pay = $2500/year.
We need a system.
I assume you meant you are a saver. Perhaps look at it from another angle. Rather than finding what is necessary, put aside money that you want to save first (retirement, house etc), the rest can be spent as you please.
Thanks for your post!

Yes, I meant I am a saver.

I already have enough saved for a house. We aren't talking about spending our savings, just our income. We disagree on how much to save for retirement, so this really comes down to how much we spend - that affects savings rate which affects retirement savings. She has no savings rate goals. She believes that after you spend "what you need to" on necessities and spend "a little" on discretionary, you should save the rest. The problem is she puts no values or caps on these ideas and so I know lifestyle creep will set in.
Tough situation - I don't have any good advice. As randomguy said, there are lots of systems/trackers that will work, but none of them will suddenly make you and your GF financially compatible. $2500/year is not enough to live on - mathematically, if she lives alone someone will be helping her with living costs if not you (parents, government, etc.), or she will work more. Lots of couples have unequal earnings but are equal members in a true partnership of life. Doesn't sound like you two are committed to that.
I would like to know how those couples do it. But I don't know how achievable it is if your financial goals are different. Two people can have disparate incomes but the same goal in both will try to save money. But when you have different goals how can you avoid conflict?

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midareff
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Re: Spouse Money Management

Post by midareff » Sun Sep 24, 2017 9:11 am

With her take home pay at $2500 a year, that's $50 a week. Clothes, cosmetics, undergarments, books and a couple of lunches out. Whose money is she spending to be a spender?

amd7239
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Re: Spouse Money Management

Post by amd7239 » Sun Sep 24, 2017 9:31 am

midareff wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 9:11 am
With her take home pay at $2500 a year, that's $50 a week. Clothes, cosmetics, undergarments, books and a couple of lunches out. Whose money is she spending to be a spender?
She doesn't just use her income, she uses mine too. I subsidize her essential expenses and even give her $20 a month for discretionary spending. She saves nothing that's left over.

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Ged
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Re: Spouse Money Management

Post by Ged » Sun Sep 24, 2017 9:45 am

This is why it's important to save via an automatic payroll deduction system. Once you do that the remainder is available for spending by both of you and you can divide it according to some agreement, ideally a budget.

The other observation is that any attitude on your part to classify your spouse as a 'spender' is going to meet with all sorts on negative reaction. You are in this together as life partners. You need to share both the good and the bad. She is going to school for a bunch of reasons - part of which will hopefully result in increased lifetime income once she graduates. This is a form of saving too - she is increasing her human capital through education.

Finally I'd like to say that lifestyle creep is not necessarily a bad thing. Your long term financial plan is in place to hopefully finance lifestyle creep but in an organized rather than a haphazard uncontrolled way.

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Sandtrap
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Re: Spouse Money Management

Post by Sandtrap » Sun Sep 24, 2017 10:05 am

amd7239 wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 8:36 am
student wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 8:26 am
amd7239 wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 7:57 am
What money management system do you use with your significant other (or have you heard of any good ones)? I am a spender and my gf (of 2 years) is a spender who makes very little working part time a a college student. I make about 15x what she makes in a week. My take home pay = $35k/year, her take home pay = $2500/year.
We need a system.
I assume you meant you are a saver. Perhaps look at it from another angle. Rather than finding what is necessary, put aside money that you want to save first (retirement, house etc), the rest can be spent as you please.
Thanks for your post!

Yes, I meant I am a saver.

I already have enough saved for a house. We aren't talking about spending our savings, just our income. We disagree on how much to save for retirement, so this really comes down to how much we spend - that affects savings rate which affects retirement savings. She has no savings rate goals. She believes that after you spend "what you need to" on necessities and spend "a little" on discretionary, you should save the rest. The problem is she puts no values or caps on these ideas and so I know lifestyle creep will set in.
This can be a marital deal breaker. Imagine the same scenario with a home, greater assets, children, etc. Sometimes 30 years later one may still be facing the same issues. Not a problem for the spender, only the saver.
It's not just money management.
Deep thoughts ahead.

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midareff
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Re: Spouse Money Management

Post by midareff » Sun Sep 24, 2017 10:10 am

amd7239 wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 9:31 am
midareff wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 9:11 am
With her take home pay at $2500 a year, that's $50 a week. Clothes, cosmetics, undergarments, books and a couple of lunches out. Whose money is she spending to be a spender?
She doesn't just use her income, she uses mine too. I subsidize her essential expenses and even give her $20 a month for discretionary spending. She saves nothing that's left over.
Can you give me an idea of how much it costs you to subsidize her essential expenses? BTW, I have (in the past) dated ladies who $20 a month didn't cover lipstick.

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HueyLD
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Re: Spouse Money Management

Post by HueyLD » Sun Sep 24, 2017 10:12 am

Ged wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 9:45 am
This is why it's important to save via an automatic payroll deduction system. Once you do that the remainder is available for spending by both of you and you can divide it according to some agreement, ideally a budget.

The other observation is that any attitude on your part to classify your spouse as a 'spender' is going to meet with all sorts on negative reaction. You are in this together as life partners. You need to share both the good and the bad. She is going to school for a bunch of reasons - part of which will hopefully result in increased lifetime income once she graduates. This is a form of saving too - she is increasing her human capital through education.

Finally I'd like to say that lifestyle creep is not necessarily a bad thing. Your long term financial plan is in place to hopefully finance lifestyle creep but in an organized rather than a haphazard uncontrolled way.
+1.

aristotelian
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Re: Spouse Money Management

Post by aristotelian » Sun Sep 24, 2017 10:13 am

So she is a spender, but she is OK with you putting her on a budget and spending up to her allowance? That is weird but I could see it working.

randomguy
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Re: Spouse Money Management

Post by randomguy » Sun Sep 24, 2017 10:28 am

midareff wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 10:10 am
amd7239 wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 9:31 am
midareff wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 9:11 am
With her take home pay at $2500 a year, that's $50 a week. Clothes, cosmetics, undergarments, books and a couple of lunches out. Whose money is she spending to be a spender?
She doesn't just use her income, she uses mine too. I subsidize her essential expenses and even give her $20 a month for discretionary spending. She saves nothing that's left over.
Can you give me an idea of how much it costs you to subsidize her essential expenses? BTW, I have (in the past) dated ladies who $20 a month didn't cover lipstick.
Part of me thinks this is a troll post because of that comment.:) Assuming every essential life expense (housing, food, basic clothes, medical, hair cuts, razers.....) who the heck thinks giving someone 240/year is some huge subsidy that will enable them to save much of anything. Heck if the GF isn't running up large credit card debts I would consider her as a saver:). Seriously saving 1300 bucks now (50% savings rate:)) is a poor decision versus spending it on things that improve your life. When her income goes up 10x in 3-4 years, it will be easy to save an extra 1300 to make up for lost time. Call it income smoothing if it makes you feel better.

Dottie57
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Re: Spouse Money Management

Post by Dottie57 » Sun Sep 24, 2017 10:32 am

What would girlfriend do if she didn't have OP.? I am assuming she lives with OP. Is there some real reason why she is not working/making more ? If not married with kids, I would not want to be subsidizing someone to the extent that OP is doing.

dbr
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Re: Spouse Money Management

Post by dbr » Sun Sep 24, 2017 10:54 am

Anything like this that rises to the level of needing a system means this couple is not compatible.

2stepsbehind
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Re: Spouse Money Management

Post by 2stepsbehind » Sun Sep 24, 2017 10:59 am

Not exactly what you asked, but I think you guys should wait until you are a bit more equally yoked to combine finances in the way you are envisioning it. I'd imagine it would be extremely difficult for a relationship to thrive/survive where one is perceived as largely subsidizing the other without that other taking on the bulk of household activities/disability/or a perceived payout down the line. Particularly given you aren't making that much money and the funds over which the gf has access are rather limited, your savings goals are likely unrealistic at this stage. You contribute to your retirement. Don't give your gf access to your money and then she can't overspend it.

Billionaire
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Re: Spouse Money Management

Post by Billionaire » Sun Sep 24, 2017 11:07 am

It's not fair to compare this to a spousal situation. Any reason why she doesn't live with her folks/family? If she nets $2500.00 per year, I'd guess her gross is around $4,000.00, if that. Under the circumstances, I think you should foot the bill for all the expenses, except for maybe an incidental amount that she contributes towards food.

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FuyuKei
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Re: Spouse Money Management

Post by FuyuKei » Sun Sep 24, 2017 11:46 am

$20 discretionary/ month? You want her to save something out of that? I'm not surprised if she is spending that. It's generous to give her the money, don't get me wrong, but overall it's very easy to spend $20 in a month. That is not a lot of money.

It doesn't sound like she has room to save right now. That's not surprising for a student, but the point of going to school is she will get a higher income later.

Still, she should be relying on loans/grants/family I would think. What would she do without you supporting her?

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Cobra Commander
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Re: Spouse Money Management

Post by Cobra Commander » Sun Sep 24, 2017 11:58 am

She should be covering her hopefully modest living expenses with student loans. I can see food being a joint expense you both contribute too because presumably youre eating the same meal.

delamer
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Re: Spouse Money Management

Post by delamer » Sun Sep 24, 2017 12:04 pm

dbr wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 10:54 am
Anything like this that rises to the level of needing a system means this couple is not compatible.
Yup. It wouldn't matter if she made as much as you do. The issue is not finding a system because no system will get around the basic incompatibility on this issue. It is just compounded by the the income disparity. It isn't much of a partnership when you see yourself as "giving" her money. Either you are in this together or you are not.

You have to either accept that her other good qualities outweigh this difference and be prepared to have finances as an area of disagreement for the remainder of your relationship or you have to make the decision to end it.

amd7239
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Re: Spouse Money Management

Post by amd7239 » Sun Sep 24, 2017 12:34 pm

midareff wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 10:10 am
amd7239 wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 9:31 am
midareff wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 9:11 am
With her take home pay at $2500 a year, that's $50 a week. Clothes, cosmetics, undergarments, books and a couple of lunches out. Whose money is she spending to be a spender?
She doesn't just use her income, she uses mine too. I subsidize her essential expenses and even give her $20 a month for discretionary spending. She saves nothing that's left over.
Can you give me an idea of how much it costs you to subsidize her essential expenses? BTW, I have (in the past) dated ladies who $20 a month didn't cover lipstick.
About $300/month for "essential" expenses (she considers certain face and body creams "essential" for her skins health and I couldn't argue that. See why I'm worried?)

Keep in mind that she lives with her parents so that doesn't include rent.

amd7239
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Re: Spouse Money Management

Post by amd7239 » Sun Sep 24, 2017 12:39 pm

Dottie57 wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 10:32 am
What would girlfriend do if she didn't have OP.? I am assuming she lives with OP. Is there some real reason why she is not working/making more ? If not married with kids, I would not want to be subsidizing someone to the extent that OP is doing.
We are not married and don't have kids. She is a college student so that's why she doesn't make much. I did it because I saw her struggling financially and wanted to help.

amd7239
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Re: Spouse Money Management

Post by amd7239 » Sun Sep 24, 2017 12:42 pm

dbr wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 10:54 am
Anything like this that rises to the level of needing a system means this couple is not compatible.
I thought this was a common problem for couples and they usually figure it out. Can you elaborate?

Minty
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Re: Spouse Money Management

Post by Minty » Sun Sep 24, 2017 12:46 pm

I think we need more information. You are not married, engaged, or living together, she's living with her parents. So I am confused about why you should join finances or be responsible for each other's expenses. This is a common issue for married/otherwise permanent couples, but not, as I understand it, for folks who are dating. [Edited to add: If these are gifts, give her however much you want, and let her do whatever she wants with it.]
Core Four with nominal bonds and TIPS.

amd7239
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Re: Spouse Money Management

Post by amd7239 » Sun Sep 24, 2017 12:50 pm

Minty wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 12:46 pm
I think we need more information. You are not married, engaged, or living together, she's living with her parents. So I am confused about why you should join finances or be responsible for each other's expenses. This is a common issue for married/otherwise permanent couples, but not, as I understand it, for folks who are dating. [Edited to add: If these are gifts, give her however much you want, and let her do whatever she wants with it.]
These are not shared expenses, it's just that she doesn't have enough to cover her current expenses. I started giving her money because I saw her struggling financially and wanted to help like I said before.

Dottie57
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Re: Spouse Money Management

Post by Dottie57 » Sun Sep 24, 2017 12:51 pm

Minty wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 12:46 pm
I think we need more information. You are not married, engaged, or living together, she's living with her parents. So I am confused about why you should join finances or be responsible for each other's expenses. This is a common issue for married/otherwise permanent couples, but not, as I understand it, for folks who are dating. [Edited to add: If these are gifts, give her however much you want, and let her do whatever she wants with it.]
Agree here.

amd7239
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Re: Spouse Money Management

Post by amd7239 » Sun Sep 24, 2017 12:52 pm

delamer wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 12:04 pm
dbr wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 10:54 am
Anything like this that rises to the level of needing a system means this couple is not compatible.
Yup. It wouldn't matter if she made as much as you do. The issue is not finding a system because no system will get around the basic incompatibility on this issue. It is just compounded by the the income disparity. It isn't much of a partnership when you see yourself as "giving" her money. Either you are in this together or you are not.

You have to either accept that her other good qualities outweigh this difference and be prepared to have finances as an area of disagreement for the remainder of your relationship or you have to make the decision to end it.
It sounds like you would suggest simply putting our incomes together and splitting it 50/50 / deciding collectively what to do with it?

delamer
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Re: Spouse Money Management

Post by delamer » Sun Sep 24, 2017 12:54 pm

amd7239 wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 12:42 pm
dbr wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 10:54 am
Anything like this that rises to the level of needing a system means this couple is not compatible.
I thought this was a common problem for couples and they usually figure it out. Can you elaborate?
I don't understand why are are making so much of this. You don't live together and you feel sorry for her, and you want to give her spending money? OK, but why are you even thinking about a "system" for managing your joint income? You don't have joint expenses. Do what you want with your money and don't try to manage her.

Based in personal observations, the problem for a lot of couples is that they don't "figure it out." The differences between the spender and the saver become more of a problem as their financial responsibilities grow with kids, mortgages, retirement funds, etc.

With only a couple exceptions, of the relationships that I am aware of that have ended or have survived but are very strained, financial compatibility was the major issue or one of the top two issues. Note that I am not talking about lack of income or a disparity in income, but more basic disagreements of how the money should be spent and saved.

delamer
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Re: Spouse Money Management

Post by delamer » Sun Sep 24, 2017 12:57 pm

amd7239 wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 12:52 pm
delamer wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 12:04 pm
dbr wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 10:54 am
Anything like this that rises to the level of needing a system means this couple is not compatible.
Yup. It wouldn't matter if she made as much as you do. The issue is not finding a system because no system will get around the basic incompatibility on this issue. It is just compounded by the the income disparity. It isn't much of a partnership when you see yourself as "giving" her money. Either you are in this together or you are not.

You have to either accept that her other good qualities outweigh this difference and be prepared to have finances as an area of disagreement for the remainder of your relationship or you have to make the decision to end it.
It sounds like you would suggest simply putting our incomes together and splitting it 50/50 / deciding collectively what to do with it?
Please see my response immediately above. I'd assumed that you two were living together because it just doesn't make sense that two independent people with no joint expenses would need a system for managing their joint income.

amd7239
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Re: Spouse Money Management

Post by amd7239 » Sun Sep 24, 2017 12:59 pm

delamer wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 12:54 pm
amd7239 wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 12:42 pm
dbr wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 10:54 am
Anything like this that rises to the level of needing a system means this couple is not compatible.
I thought this was a common problem for couples and they usually figure it out. Can you elaborate?
I don't understand why are are making so much of this. You don't live together and you feel sorry for her, and you want to give her spending money? OK, but why are you even thinking about a "system" for managing your joint income? You don't have joint expenses. Do what you want with your money and don't try to manage her.

Based in personal observations, the problem for a lot of couples is that they don't "figure it out." The differences between the spender and the saver become more of a problem as their financial responsibilities grow with kids, mortgages, retirement funds, etc.

With only a couple exceptions, of the relationships that I am aware of that have ended or have survived but are very strained, financial compatibility was the major issue or one of the top two issues. Note that I am not talking about lack of income or a disparity in income, but more basic disagreements of how the money should be spent and saved.

What you mentioned is exactly why I want to come up with a system that we agree on now rather than later - you're right that I don't need one now, but that's not the point.If we can't figure out a system now, things will only get worse because money will be tighter and expenses will be higher. If I can start the system now on small shared expenses such as going out to chipotle (for which I foot the bill right now) it would be a step in the right direction because groceries, mortgage, etc. are another (much larger) shared expense. Yes, that will be a big leap, but a significantly smaller leap than going from no system to figuring out how to split the mortgage.
If she can't agree to that system or any other, it will be a long term problem.


If we can't agree on any system, I don't think we should get married. But that's why I'm working so hard to try to figure a system out.

delamer
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Re: Spouse Money Management

Post by delamer » Sun Sep 24, 2017 1:14 pm

amd7239 wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 12:59 pm
delamer wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 12:54 pm
amd7239 wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 12:42 pm
dbr wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 10:54 am
Anything like this that rises to the level of needing a system means this couple is not compatible.
I thought this was a common problem for couples and they usually figure it out. Can you elaborate?
I don't understand why are are making so much of this. You don't live together and you feel sorry for her, and you want to give her spending money? OK, but why are you even thinking about a "system" for managing your joint income? You don't have joint expenses. Do what you want with your money and don't try to manage her.

Based in personal observations, the problem for a lot of couples is that they don't "figure it out." The differences between the spender and the saver become more of a problem as their financial responsibilities grow with kids, mortgages, retirement funds, etc.

With only a couple exceptions, of the relationships that I am aware of that have ended or have survived but are very strained, financial compatibility was the major issue or one of the top two issues. Note that I am not talking about lack of income or a disparity in income, but more basic disagreements of how the money should be spent and saved.

What you mentioned is exactly why I want to come up with a system that we agree on now rather than later - you're right that I don't need one now, but that's not the point.If we can't figure out a system now, things will only get worse because money will be tighter and expenses will be higher. If I can start the system now on small shared expenses such as going out to eat, it would be a step in the right direction. But if she can't agree to that system or any other, it will be a long term problem.


If we can't agree on any system, I don't think we should get married. But that's why I'm working so hard to try to figure a system out.
You said in your original post,

"The problem with this is that agreeing on a spending budget long term is impossible if one is a spender and one is a saver."

And you are absolutely right. The system isn't really the issue if you don't have common goals. You can combine everything or keep separate accounts or each get an allowance or not spend more than $100 without consulting each other or some combination of the above. But the system that you use can't overcome disagreements you have about saving versus spending.

One other caution-- even if you find a system that you both agree to for the smaller stuff now, what actually works when you are married with a mortgage and kids may not be the same system.

Good luck.

Rob Bertram
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Re: Spouse Money Management

Post by Rob Bertram » Sun Sep 24, 2017 1:22 pm

Let's be very clear about this as the thread title "Spouse" confuses the situation. She is your girlfriend and not your wife. And there is a reason for that. You haven't agreed on any long-term goals, dreams, or aspirations. Until that happens, you shouldn't be co-mingling expenses. If you are living together, then you should split living expenses down the middle (50/50) unless YOU want something nicer that she does not. I say this from experience as I have had several long-term girlfriends who lived off of my good will and (in retrospect) exploited it.

As other posters have said, she will not understand the value of a dollar if you pay for everything. If you subsidize her lifestyle, you will be enabling this "spender" behavior that you don't like. Instead, lead by example and split the costs 50/50. If you go out to dinner, she pays half. If you go out for entertainment, she pays half. She needs to pay for all of her clothes, phone, travel, and school expenses. You pay for your own work and travel expenses.

If you want to encourage certain behavior (like saving in an IRA), then specifically work out those details. But be direct about why you are doing it. When I was dating my wife who was a starving student at the time, I offered to reimburse her Roth IRA contributions. I also offered to match any student loan payments she made. Those were the only two places where I agreed to pay for her expenses. If she wanted a fancier phone, then she had to figure out how to pay for it.

dbr
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Re: Spouse Money Management

Post by dbr » Sun Sep 24, 2017 1:29 pm

amd7239 wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 12:42 pm
dbr wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 10:54 am
Anything like this that rises to the level of needing a system means this couple is not compatible.
I thought this was a common problem for couples and they usually figure it out. Can you elaborate?
Yes. My conclusion is in the part about needing a system. It may be a common problem. If it can be resolved by going along to get along, by people having feeling and intuition for what allows the other person to be comfortable and have their needs met, then it is fine. If a couple has to start making rules and along with that keeping score, then chances of success are not great.

JGoneRiding
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Re: Spouse Money Management

Post by JGoneRiding » Sun Sep 24, 2017 1:29 pm

If you were married i would agree with your coworkers but as two single people unless you signed on to help put her through college you should both be paying half of the nec expenses (rent, utilities, basic food) you should pay for upgrades--cable, internet, nicer apt, dinner out. She should pay all school expenses and personal wants. You don't make enough to support a non dependent. If she wants more she should earn more. I was a student for 8 years and never made less than 5k a year and paid my rent and needs myself.

amd7239
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Re: Spouse Money Management

Post by amd7239 » Sun Sep 24, 2017 1:38 pm

Rob Bertram wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 1:22 pm
Let's be very clear about this as the thread title "Spouse" confuses the situation. She is your girlfriend and not your wife. And there is a reason for that. You haven't agreed on any long-term goals, dreams, or aspirations. Until that happens, you shouldn't be co-mingling expenses. If you are living together, then you should split living expenses down the middle (50/50) unless YOU want something nicer that she does not. I say this from experience as I have had several long-term girlfriends who lived off of my good will and (in retrospect) exploited it.

As other posters have said, she will not understand the value of a dollar if you pay for everything. If you subsidize her lifestyle, you will be enabling this "spender" behavior that you don't like. Instead, lead by example and split the costs 50/50. If you go out to dinner, she pays half. If you go out for entertainment, she pays half. She needs to pay for all of her clothes, phone, travel, and school expenses. You pay for your own work and travel expenses.

If you want to encourage certain behavior (like saving in an IRA), then specifically work out those details. But be direct about why you are doing it. When I was dating my wife who was a starving student at the time, I offered to reimburse her Roth IRA contributions. I also offered to match any student loan payments she made. Those were the only two places where I agreed to pay for her expenses. If she wanted a fancier phone, then she had to figure out how to pay for it.

But how do I do that if she doesn't make enough to pay all her expenses? Let alone shared expenses. Was this something you faced with any of your previous girlfriends?

Can you also elaborate on how you knew that they were exploiting you ( how do I find out if this is happening to me? )

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Cobra Commander
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Re: Spouse Money Management

Post by Cobra Commander » Sun Sep 24, 2017 1:45 pm

amd7239 wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 1:38 pm
Rob Bertram wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 1:22 pm
Let's be very clear about this as the thread title "Spouse" confuses the situation. She is your girlfriend and not your wife. And there is a reason for that. You haven't agreed on any long-term goals, dreams, or aspirations. Until that happens, you shouldn't be co-mingling expenses. If you are living together, then you should split living expenses down the middle (50/50) unless YOU want something nicer that she does not. I say this from experience as I have had several long-term girlfriends who lived off of my good will and (in retrospect) exploited it.

As other posters have said, she will not understand the value of a dollar if you pay for everything. If you subsidize her lifestyle, you will be enabling this "spender" behavior that you don't like. Instead, lead by example and split the costs 50/50. If you go out to dinner, she pays half. If you go out for entertainment, she pays half. She needs to pay for all of her clothes, phone, travel, and school expenses. You pay for your own work and travel expenses.

If you want to encourage certain behavior (like saving in an IRA), then specifically work out those details. But be direct about why you are doing it. When I was dating my wife who was a starving student at the time, I offered to reimburse her Roth IRA contributions. I also offered to match any student loan payments she made. Those were the only two places where I agreed to pay for her expenses. If she wanted a fancier phone, then she had to figure out how to pay for it.

But how do I do that if she doesn't make enough to pay all her expenses? Let alone shared expenses. Was this something you faced with any of your previous girlfriends?

Can you also elaborate on how you knew that they were exploiting you ( how do I find out if this is happening to me? )
She needs to take out loans to cover her expenses like many other students do. You said shes living at home so her expensed should be fairly low. Her loans and part time employment income is the budget she needs to live within.

I'm not sure dates (which I assume is what you mean by shared expenses) need to be split 50/50 but she should pay some of the time. Of course, if you want nicer dates and trips together than she can afford as a college student you might consider paying for a larger share of those trips or accept that vacations together will be fairly modest to nonexistent until she graduates and gets a job.

delamer
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Re: Spouse Money Management

Post by delamer » Sun Sep 24, 2017 1:48 pm

If you stopped helping with her expenses, do you think she'd break off the relationship?

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Mlm
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Re: Spouse Money Management

Post by Mlm » Sun Sep 24, 2017 1:56 pm

If she needs more money why isn't she working more hours?
Reality has a way of catching up with you

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Kenkat
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Re: Spouse Money Management

Post by Kenkat » Sun Sep 24, 2017 1:57 pm

What are her earning prospects when she gets out of college? Maybe she out earns you in the future and then what happens?

I think you are way too early in the game to worry about this. It seems like she spends a lot of her income because she doesn’t have much income. She’s going to school to better her situation; if you want to give her gifts to help her out, I’d just do that and don’t try to apply a system to what is right now a girlfriend / boyfriend situation.

If your relationship continues to progress and she gets out of school and gets a full time job, then you can see where you are at then. In 25+ years of being married, I’ve discovered that working out a compromise that everyone can live with is key. You’re going to have to give a little and so will she. Just ask my wife about the Great Budget Compromise of 1990...

amd7239
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Re: Spouse Money Management

Post by amd7239 » Sun Sep 24, 2017 2:06 pm

delamer wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 1:48 pm
If you stopped helping with her expenses, do you think she'd break off the relationship?
No. She would feel very hurt by it,but she wouldn't break things off. But I would just feel too guilty about it. loans for these expenses are a good idea actually. I'm considering it.i'm just trying to figure out how I would explain to her why I'm doing it without causing a big rift.
Last edited by amd7239 on Sun Sep 24, 2017 3:55 pm, edited 2 times in total.

amd7239
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Re: Spouse Money Management

Post by amd7239 » Sun Sep 24, 2017 2:09 pm

Mlm wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 1:56 pm
If she needs more money why isn't she working more hours?
She's working as many as she can. I think it would be self-destructive to work too much and grades suffer, especially if you fail a class and have to retake it and spend more Money.

John Laurens
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Re: Spouse Money Management

Post by John Laurens » Sun Sep 24, 2017 2:12 pm

You earn 15x more than her? I earn INFINITYx more than my spouse. We make it work. We are married though. Everything we have is “ours”.

I would be more concerned about you making 35k/year than her being in college working part time.


Regards,
John

runner540
Posts: 436
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Re: Spouse Money Management

Post by runner540 » Sun Sep 24, 2017 2:16 pm

delamer wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 12:57 pm
amd7239 wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 12:52 pm
delamer wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 12:04 pm
dbr wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 10:54 am
Anything like this that rises to the level of needing a system means this couple is not compatible.
Yup. It wouldn't matter if she made as much as you do. The issue is not finding a system because no system will get around the basic incompatibility on this issue. It is just compounded by the the income disparity. It isn't much of a partnership when you see yourself as "giving" her money. Either you are in this together or you are not.

You have to either accept that her other good qualities outweigh this difference and be prepared to have finances as an area of disagreement for the remainder of your relationship or you have to make the decision to end it.
It sounds like you would suggest simply putting our incomes together and splitting it 50/50 / deciding collectively what to do with it?
Please see my response immediately above. I'd assumed that you two were living together because it just doesn't make sense that two independent people with no joint expenses would need a system for managing their joint income.
+1. I thought you two had shared expenses. Since she is a student, working and living with
Her parents, there's no reason to be budgeting together. If I were hearing this from her side, I might see yellow flags that you are trying to control her through money. It's her money, and she has no financial obligations to you. You have none to her either. If she's getting a college degree, there's a good chance she'll outearn you soon.

dbr
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Re: Spouse Money Management

Post by dbr » Sun Sep 24, 2017 2:31 pm

runner540 wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 2:16 pm
delamer wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 12:57 pm
amd7239 wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 12:52 pm
delamer wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 12:04 pm
dbr wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 10:54 am
Anything like this that rises to the level of needing a system means this couple is not compatible.
Yup. It wouldn't matter if she made as much as you do. The issue is not finding a system because no system will get around the basic incompatibility on this issue. It is just compounded by the the income disparity. It isn't much of a partnership when you see yourself as "giving" her money. Either you are in this together or you are not.

You have to either accept that her other good qualities outweigh this difference and be prepared to have finances as an area of disagreement for the remainder of your relationship or you have to make the decision to end it.
It sounds like you would suggest simply putting our incomes together and splitting it 50/50 / deciding collectively what to do with it?
Please see my response immediately above. I'd assumed that you two were living together because it just doesn't make sense that two independent people with no joint expenses would need a system for managing their joint income.
+1. I thought you two had shared expenses. Since she is a student, working and living with
Her parents, there's no reason to be budgeting together. If I were hearing this from her side, I might see yellow flags that you are trying to control her through money. It's her money, and she has no financial obligations to you. You have none to her either. If she's getting a college degree, there's a good chance she'll outearn you soon.
The thread is titled "Spouse . . ." and I suppose it makes sense for the OP to be thinking about how this is going to work when they are married. Probably the best answer is when they are married it won't be the same situation. That doesn't mean there will not be a problem. Maybe now is the time to have a good conversation about the two people's vision of money management as a married couple, disregarding current details.

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Cobra Commander
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Re: Spouse Money Management

Post by Cobra Commander » Sun Sep 24, 2017 3:02 pm

John Laurens wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 2:12 pm
You earn 15x more than her? I earn INFINITYx more than my spouse. We make it work. We are married though. Everything we have is “ours”.

I would be more concerned about you making 35k/year than her being in college working part time.


Regards,
John
I thought OP said the $35k was take home which presumably includes some retirement savings and taxes so I would peg gross at around $50k-$60k.

dbr
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Re: Spouse Money Management

Post by dbr » Sun Sep 24, 2017 3:06 pm

Over 38 years of marriage my spouse and I earned quite different incomes. Mine wasn't always the larger, but most of the time it was. We never, ever needed a rule or discussion about now to divide up money. There was one exception to that. She got a small inheritance from her family and just for whatever reason we have kept that separate and sometimes she says she is "using" that money for something. I feel very, very lucky to have had four decades of not having to deal with such a thing.

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midareff
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Re: Spouse Money Management

Post by midareff » Sun Sep 24, 2017 3:13 pm

amd7239 wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 12:34 pm
midareff wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 10:10 am
amd7239 wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 9:31 am
midareff wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 9:11 am
With her take home pay at $2500 a year, that's $50 a week. Clothes, cosmetics, undergarments, books and a couple of lunches out. Whose money is she spending to be a spender?
She doesn't just use her income, she uses mine too. I subsidize her essential expenses and even give her $20 a month for discretionary spending. She saves nothing that's left over.
Can you give me an idea of how much it costs you to subsidize her essential expenses? BTW, I have (in the past) dated ladies who $20 a month didn't cover lipstick.
About $300/month for "essential" expenses (she considers certain face and body creams "essential" for her skins health and I couldn't argue that. See why I'm worried?)

Keep in mind that she lives with her parents so that doesn't include rent.
Sooo.. she lives with her parents and you give her $300 a month essentials + $20 a month discretionary while she is still in school and is a g/f...... so, this isn't even a g/f with the benefits you would have if she was living in and you have dating expenses to shoulder as well. I'm thinking, and sorry if this is offensive, that if you came up with a reason to stop paying her the $80 a week you do now in a couple of months (or even weeks) she would have replaced you with a new b/f. You might want to try that to see how loyal she is before the relationship goes any further.

BTW, I worked my way through college and didn't need a penny from my folks who were kind enough to foot the tuition 50+ years ago. I was probably making 50 of 60 bucks a week back then to cover my car, gas, dating and such. What you are so kindly doing is what we used to call Sugar Daddy lite.
Last edited by midareff on Sun Sep 24, 2017 3:25 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Leemiller
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Re: Spouse Money Management

Post by Leemiller » Sun Sep 24, 2017 3:24 pm

You've put yourself in a weird situation that is the problem. It is one thing to buy dinners, etc when you go out, another to give someone an allowance. A 50/50 split is weird when you make so much money but an allowance is weird too. It would even be fine to help with bigger expenses, like if her car broke down. Now you want to control how she spends the money, but if she was an independent, hard working type I don't think she'd be in a sugar daddy scenario.

Just please don't buy a house together until you are married whatever you do.

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