Do you know what your partner spends money on?

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stoptothink
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Re: Do you know what your partner spends money on?

Post by stoptothink » Mon Sep 30, 2019 9:38 am

All the credit cards are my accounts (she had a bankruptcy before we met), so I pretty much know everything she charges to our joint accounts. She doesn't like this at all. She has a small side hustle which brings in $200-$400/month; all the funds go into a personal account and we agreed that how she spends it is none of my business. Based upon our closet, I have a good idea of where most of it goes, but it is not my concern. When those funds run dry she thinks she is tricky and will go out (shopping, eating) with her friends and have them pay and then she Venmos them. I find it hilarious that she doesn't think I know what she is doing, although I have made comments about her "Venmo laundering" a few times when I notice almost daily Venmo debits in our joint account.

She has ~$500/month in totally discretionary spending, I don't come remotely close to that for an entire year. It bugs me a bit that she really likes to shop, but she makes nearly as much as I do and we are hitting all our financial goals so it hasn't been an issue for a while.

finfire
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Re: Do you know what your partner spends money on?

Post by finfire » Mon Sep 30, 2019 10:12 am

Don't go there. It will sound controlling however you put it.

I trust my other half to spend reasonably. If you can't do that, time for a chat.

Budgeting? Just ask every month for credit card balances and if it's high have a quick discussion.

Glockenspiel
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Re: Do you know what your partner spends money on?

Post by Glockenspiel » Mon Sep 30, 2019 10:20 am

Generally yes I know what we both spend money on. We’re both fairly frugal and don’t spend much beyond what we need. All our accounts are combined except for credit cards. But we both have each other’s logins. Every two weeks we update a spreadsheet with balances, assets, and debts.

MarkBarb
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Re: Do you know what your partner spends money on?

Post by MarkBarb » Mon Sep 30, 2019 10:22 am

Just because you have different cards doesn't mean that you cannot access each other's accounts. All of our expenditures funnel into Quicken, but any tracking software would accomplish the same thing.

That said, just seeing the expenses doesn't tell the whole story. I frequently have to ask my wife about charges. If a $100 charge appears for an unknown merchant, I need to know that it wasn't fraud (we've had an issue with that in the past) and how to categorize the charge.

stoptothink
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Re: Do you know what your partner spends money on?

Post by stoptothink » Mon Sep 30, 2019 10:24 am

MarkBarb wrote:
Mon Sep 30, 2019 10:22 am
That said, just seeing the expenses doesn't tell the whole story. I frequently have to ask my wife about charges. If a $100 charge appears for an unknown merchant, I need to know that it wasn't fraud (we've had an issue with that in the past) and how to categorize the charge.
We've had fraudulent charges more times than I can count, so I am checking our accounts at least weekly. She doesn't like it because she feels it is me checking up on her spending. Was quite an issue in years past.

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RickBoglehead
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Re: Do you know what your partner spends money on?

Post by RickBoglehead » Mon Sep 30, 2019 10:28 am

I know exactly every penny. Literally, down to an error of well under $10.00 per year. We charge everything possible, and get receipts for all cash payments. Everything is in Quicken. I also proof-read receipts and catch something probably monthly.

Last week spouse bought 2 items we don't usually buy, I found both at a store that I suspected would be cheaper, while on a trip (i.e. did not make a special trip), and saved 19.5% on one of the items and 32.5% on the other (neither was high dollar).

My spouse has no issue with this, I do all the money-side and she's fine with that, over 40 years.

She has no interest in knowing the details, but every purchase I make she knows about.

Years ago a guy I worked with complained that his wife spent too much. When he complained to her, she said "go make more". That's incompatibility right there.

He took away credit cards, she got new ones issued. He closed them, she opened private store cards. He closed those, she paid cash by withdrawing it at the bank...

Of course he complained, yet stopped and bought takeout (or they went out) 5 of 7 nights. He also picked up 4 or 5 videos every weekend at Blockbuster.

I'd argue that an incompatibility on spending is a major incompatibility.
Last edited by RickBoglehead on Thu Oct 03, 2019 2:07 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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carolinaman
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Re: Do you know what your partner spends money on?

Post by carolinaman » Mon Sep 30, 2019 10:43 am

I manage our finances but my wife has free rein over her spending. I think she spends too much on clothes and stuff but I gave up trying to manage that years ago. We can afford it and marital bliss is much more important.

batpot
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Re: Do you know what your partner spends money on?

Post by batpot » Mon Sep 30, 2019 10:59 am

I see the boxes that come in, but that's about it. And there are lots of shoes. :?

We have a joint checking account and joint credit cards for all the shared spending (food, mortgage, utilities, etc), but discretionary spending is separate.

DaftInvestor
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Re: Do you know what your partner spends money on?

Post by DaftInvestor » Mon Sep 30, 2019 11:54 am

We have joint accounts on everything. Back when we tracked spending (eventually we came to the conclusion it was a waste of time) we were using Quicken so all of our income and expenses where in one place with lots of great reporting, etc.

I used to make the joke that we work well together with money. I put all the money into the accounts and my spouse takes all the money out :)
Of course for us this was by design - my spouse was a stay-at-home-spouse so did all the shopping with me earning the income.

Regarding discussions on being "controlling" - we simply never got into comparisons of things like who was spending more or less on entertainment, etc. Like others - we focused more on saving goals and trimming costs here and there versus making it into a contest of who spends less money - that's where others I know have gotten into trouble. You might be edging into this territory based upon the title of your thread. Make sure your spouse knows you want to track spending for planning purposes (e.g. - if you have kids you want to see which expenses will go away when they get older, you want to understand which expenses you will still have when you retire) and NOT for some type of corrective action nor to compare spending habits.

soccerrules
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Re: Do you know what your partner spends money on?

Post by soccerrules » Mon Sep 30, 2019 12:45 pm

Backdrop
we got married right out of college and grew up with single income parents and the husband handled the money. That was what was modeled for us. (not right or wrong, just what we knew)

We did start from the beginning by having 1 checking account and 1 credit card account. We are in this together, so we do it together.
We didn't really budget too tightly and for the most part discussed larger purchases beforehand. I have been the primary breadwinner for almost 30 years and sole earner for 15 of those, and I handled the finances and provided updates. I know my spouse at times has felt devalued, underappreciated because they did not earn as much to the "cause". I did my best to make this a non-issue - we are a Team. Spouse also stayed home and raised the kids - Team!

Now we are both working again and although i earn substantially more, my spouse contributes 50% of our yearly savings and her effort makes it all work to meet OUR goals.

I would suggest in your situation, sit down and either discuss having 1 credit card account or agree to a budget amount to be spent by each, essentially like an allowance. You could also put all essentials on a shared card (utilities, eating out together, shared gifts, household items) and then a reduced allowance amount each can spend on your personal card.
Sit down and talk it through, it may take some time. Best of luck.
Don't let your outflow exceed your income or your upkeep will be your downfall.

Arlington2019
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Re: Do you know what your partner spends money on?

Post by Arlington2019 » Thu Oct 03, 2019 10:27 am

As a result of previous divorces on both sides, my wife and I maintain separate bank accounts. We have a mutual savings/checking/credit card account with a local credit union that we use to pay household expenses. We both contribute to that joint account an equal amount every month. Beyond that, we use our separate personal accounts for our own purposes. I don't question her purchases and she does not question mine since it is the separate money of the person. This works well for us.

trueblueky
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Re: Do you know what your partner spends money on?

Post by trueblueky » Thu Oct 03, 2019 1:55 pm

Lafder wrote:
Sun Sep 29, 2019 11:46 am
Consider switching to a joint credit card so you can both look at it, or ask to see spouse's statements to help budget.

But, does it matter what they are spending it on?

We have joint cards so I can see my husband's charges since I pay the bills. He could log in and see mine but I think he never does. (We use a password program he has access to).

We have an old "rule" of discussing purchases over 200$ and we generally stick with that even if it is informing the other, not asking permission. "Hey, by the way I am buying/ordering a xxxxdollar abc". Sometimes on bigger purchases, which to me over 200 still fits, it can help to weigh pros and cons by talking about it.

Note for even more significant purchases such as 1000's on plumbing or heating repairs, I let him know, but he prefers I deal with and make those decisions.

It might be a good time to look at overall income, expenses, savings rates. You or spouse can still choose to spend vs save, but it can help to see it and see how much is being spent on each category.

My motto is, eat out more and it is less spent on groceries :)

Starbucks adds up, but may be a "necessity" for some. The same $ could buy a nice coffee maker.

It really depends on the budget and if the overall spending is within your means or not. Though as long as your are saving and not going into more debt, "within your means" is arguable since anything not spent could always be saved..................

lafder
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tesuzuki2002
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Re: Do you know what your partner spends money on?

Post by tesuzuki2002 » Thu Oct 03, 2019 2:02 pm

mptfan wrote:
Sun Sep 29, 2019 11:11 am
cncm wrote:
Sun Sep 29, 2019 11:08 am
It would really be helpful to have a holistic view across all the accounts but at the same time, I don't want to sound controlling when I ask to see my spouse's credit card statement.
Why don't you want to sound controlling? There's nothing wrong with one partner being in control of the finances.
As a couple operating as a business unit in addition to the relationship... The financial side of the relationship needs to have a controller.

If you are handling this job in your relationship then these are the inputs you need to do your job...

https://www.topaccountingdegrees.org/fa ... ccounting/

cashboy
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Re: Do you know what your partner spends money on?

Post by cashboy » Thu Oct 03, 2019 2:06 pm

cncm wrote:
Sun Sep 29, 2019 11:08 am

How have others handled this issue?
we have separate checking accounts and separate credit cards in our own names. we then have one joint checking account in both our names that we each deposit money in to pay joint expenses (ex: electricity). we were thinking of a joint credit card account but we never had the need to do so.

so, each of us meet our joint obligations (by depositing in the joint account) and then we could do what we wanted with the rest of our money.

this has worked out extremely well for 30+ years. it allowed us to easily budget joint expenses and individual expenses.
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dknightd
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Re: Do you know what your partner spends money on?

Post by dknightd » Thu Oct 03, 2019 2:08 pm

cncm wrote:
Sun Sep 29, 2019 11:08 am
For those who do joint finances with their spouse - how do you go about budgeting and tracking your finances? Right now, my spouse and I each deposit our paychecks to the same checking account and pay our separate credit card bills from that account. The problem is, no one really knows what the other is spending money on and it's hard to budget. I have no idea if we're spending X on dining out or 2X...I only see what's charged to my card. Some months, our credit card bills are huge but it's hard to pin down why that is. It would really be helpful to have a holistic view across all the accounts but at the same time, I don't want to sound controlling when I ask to see my spouse's credit card statement.

How have others handled this issue?

Talk to each other. As long as you are both saving for the future, who cares how today's money is spent. As long as you are both within reason.

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llama
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Re: Do you know what your partner spends money on?

Post by llama » Thu Oct 03, 2019 6:24 pm

I handle all bill payment/major purchases for the household and track every penny in YNAB. Spouse gets a large "allowance" (the word sounds condescending but I can't think of a better one) that is not part of the YNAB budget and is a black box to me. The system works. :happy

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FelixTheCat
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Re: Do you know what your partner spends money on?

Post by FelixTheCat » Thu Oct 03, 2019 6:38 pm

Get YNAB. You can budget on your phone, web, etc. and see what the other is doing. https://www.youneedabudget.com/
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mptfan
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Re: Do you know what your partner spends money on?

Post by mptfan » Fri Oct 04, 2019 6:03 am

llama wrote:
Thu Oct 03, 2019 6:24 pm
Spouse gets a large "allowance" (the word sounds condescending but I can't think of a better one) that is not part of the YNAB budget and is a black box to me. The system works. :happy
That word does not sound condescending to me, I don't see anything wrong with giving your spouse an allowance.

winterfan
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Re: Do you know what your partner spends money on?

Post by winterfan » Fri Oct 04, 2019 6:17 am

llama wrote:
Thu Oct 03, 2019 6:24 pm
I handle all bill payment/major purchases for the household and track every penny in YNAB. Spouse gets a large "allowance" (the word sounds condescending but I can't think of a better one) that is not part of the YNAB budget and is a black box to me. The system works. :happy
I just budget X amount every month for "husband's misc expenses." Almost all of our purchases are done with our debit card, so it's easy to track. I'm careful not to mention the amount of eating out he does at work, lol. Years ago, I used to try to micromanage expenses too much in order to get our savings rate up, but that wasn't really fun for me and I felt like a nag. He's generally frugal in all other parts of life, so it's better all around this way.

likegarden
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Re: Do you know what your partner spends money on?

Post by likegarden » Fri Oct 04, 2019 6:29 am

Yes, since we got married 48 years ago we have a single checking account. We have a single credit card account with two credit cards which have different numbers. We review our credit card purchases every month, also to find any we did not make. We do not have a strict budget, but know for the last 48 years what is permitted and what not.

22twain
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Re: Do you know what your partner spends money on?

Post by 22twain » Fri Oct 04, 2019 6:29 am

cashboy wrote:
Thu Oct 03, 2019 2:06 pm
[we have separate checking accounts and separate credit cards in our own names. we then have one joint checking account in both our names that we each deposit money in to pay joint expenses (ex: electricity). we were thinking of a joint credit card account but we never had the need to do so.

so, each of us meet our joint obligations (by depositing in the joint account) and then we could do what we wanted with the rest of our money.

this has worked out extremely well for 30+ years. it allowed us to easily budget joint expenses and individual expenses.
Same with us. We do have a joint credit card which gets paid out of the joint checking account.

We each know what the other has in our retirement accounts etc., and discuss RMDs, Social Security, and Medicare. We discuss major individual purchases like my new iPhone a few weeks ago. But we don't "sweat the small stuff."

It helps that we made similar incomes during our working careers, and neither of us is a big spender. In fact DW is more frugal than I am and has saved somewhat more than I did, but we each have "enough."
My investing princiPLEs do not include absolutely preserving princiPAL.

Mtangler25
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Re: Do you know what your partner spends money on?

Post by Mtangler25 » Fri Oct 04, 2019 4:49 pm

I recommend Dave Ramsey, you both should listen to his periodontal finance info, his company offers a budgeting app for free that you both can access. All about being on the same page telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went. The App is called Every Dollar

Silence Dogood
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Re: Do you know what your partner spends money on?

Post by Silence Dogood » Fri Oct 04, 2019 4:57 pm

goingup wrote:
Sun Sep 29, 2019 11:56 am
We have only joint credit cards and joint checking/saving accounts. Makes everything transparent. We have never budgeted. Found that tracking saving/investing allowed us to reach goals. I think because we had big savings goals the spending kind of took care of itself.
My spouse and I do the same.

We've never had any arguments about money.

Old Guy
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Re: Do you know what your partner spends money on?

Post by Old Guy » Fri Oct 04, 2019 5:45 pm

We do not budget. Joint credit cards. My wife does all the food shopping and buys whatever clothes she wants although she feels compelled to inform me. I buy whatever clothes I want. We both buy stuff when on sale. We do not track each other’s spending. Large purchases are jointly discussed. I pay the bills, track our money, and do the investments. We are not frugal but not wasteful.

My wife was a senior career federal employee in a funding agency. She’s not familiar with dollar amounts below seven figures.

We are enjoying the financial results of a combined 76 years of state and federal government employment, pensions, the real estate market in the DC area over a 30 year period, and careful investments.

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1789
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Re: Do you know what your partner spends money on?

Post by 1789 » Fri Oct 04, 2019 6:00 pm

Interesting. We only talk about money when it comes to buying big purchases like a car or a house of something like that. Or saving for college for our kid. We don't care and we are not interested in discussing money in general other than the big items i mentioned. I actually asked my wife to take care of all our finances, so i wouldn't bother spending my time. But she doesn't agree :annoyed . I hate that "B" word so no budgeting.
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Re: Do you know what your partner spends money on?

Post by GlacierRunner » Fri Oct 04, 2019 6:30 pm

We set goals once a year in November. I set up the automatic withdrawals for our various saving and investing goals. We have shared savings/checking accounts and 3 credit cards: his, hers, and ours. I pay the credit cards each month and monitor the checking account for the infrequent debit charge. If a question arises regarding what a charge is for, I may preface it by saying that I am just verifying it's not a fraudulent charge. Whatever the answer is, no judgement, just categorize it. Spouse also keeps $40 in his wallet. He gets more when he needs it.

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Re: Do you know what your partner spends money on?

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Fri Oct 04, 2019 6:41 pm

One checking account, multiple credit cards. All funds go into the checking account, all bills are paid out of it, including cash spending. Certain places require cash like the barber and we tip with cash. We review the card statements as they arrive to confirm we did indeed make the purchase. Other than that, no, we don't keep track of spending. We do keep track that outflows do not exceed inflows on a regular habitual basis.
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Artful Dodger
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Re: Do you know what your partner spends money on?

Post by Artful Dodger » Fri Oct 04, 2019 8:06 pm

It's readily apparent who spends what in our family. I'm the main breadwinner, and control the joint account. My wife has a personal checking account which she uses infrequently. I'll transfer $300 or so into per month. We have a joint AA miles card, and she uses her card for the majority of her expenses, and the statement breaks down expenses between us. That's it. 100% transparency.

pennywise
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Re: Do you know what your partner spends money on?

Post by pennywise » Sat Oct 05, 2019 7:20 am

mbasherp wrote:
Sun Sep 29, 2019 1:04 pm
We keep one checking account and multiple joint credit cards, which are used for all joint things. 95% of spending is joint.

We also each have one credit card of our own
We use a variant of this, we have one joint checking/savings account which is what we refer to as the "house" account, house in the sense of the mutual financial entity not the roof over our heads

We also have one joint credit card. This is a USAA card that is my account; my husband is an authorized user. So we actually have 2 physical cards and the monthly bill is broken out by CC number. Everything that can be charged on a credit card that arises from our mutual life, which is 99% of all expenses, goes onto that card which is of course paid in full each month. I like to play the points game so we bill utilities, insurance, basically anything that can be charged is charged to the house credit card. I also have an airline affiliate credit card which I use for travel and as a back up card; he has no other credit cards.

So we pay the monthly joint CC bill from the house account. Since I handle the finances I review the monthly statement that shows me in detail what my spouse used his credit card to buy. Very occasionally I will see a surprise expense for more than my casual cut off point ie I notice it, which is a couple of hundred bucks. Invariably it's something he bought from the dive shop. OTOH he does not see my bills for the nasty Pilates habit I've acquired :D which costs quite a bit more.

So the long winded answer to the OP's question is: yes I know what my partner spends money on. He doesn't know what I spend money on, nor does he particularly care.

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scubadiver
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Re: Do you know what your partner spends money on?

Post by scubadiver » Sat Oct 05, 2019 1:45 pm

Short answer: yes.

Longer Answer: We have a single joint checking and savings account, along with a joint credit card, from which all of our day to day spending is managed. We have a second joint credit card that sees minimal usage. We have a joint brokerage account with Vanguard. The only individual accounts that we have are our IRAs, 401Ks and the 529 plans for the kids. Each spouse has access to the other's retirement accounts through use of shared log on credentials.

Bottom line, we have full financial transparency.

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TexasPE
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Re: Do you know what your partner spends money on?

Post by TexasPE » Sat Oct 05, 2019 2:46 pm

mptfan wrote:
Fri Oct 04, 2019 6:03 am
llama wrote:
Thu Oct 03, 2019 6:24 pm
Spouse gets a large "allowance" (the word sounds condescending but I can't think of a better one) that is not part of the YNAB budget and is a black box to me. The system works. :happy
That word does not sound condescending to me, I don't see anything wrong with giving your spouse an allowance.
+1

No household budget. She has always worked (now part-time), and we have always been careful with money. In addition to her paycheck, I give her X per month to cover groceries, her clothing, gas and incidentals. I married in my early 30s, so we were both accustomed to handling our own finances. We have a joint checking account to handle medical, drugs, travel, utilities, insurance and larger household purchases. Works for us!
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