Dealing with family finances can be hard, no matter what philosophy of money you fall into: keeping things in one pot or keeping things separate. The bottom line is that everyone will have fears about money – not having enough, not doing the right thing for saving for retirement, or maybe how to raise a family on a budget.
For my wife, her biggest money fear is not knowing. We fall into the philosophy of having a shared pot for everything. Both our paychecks go into one checking account, and we pay all of our bills from it. We also share two credit cards, so we can maximize rewards. That’s where we do all of our spending.
However, because of the simple logistics of processing bill payments, sometimes one or the other just handles it. But then the real questions comes up – was it handled? How much do we have left? Do you have a scheduled payment that I don’t know about, so we really don’t have $X in our checking account?
That’s a valid fear. Here is what we’re doing about it.
Where Her Money Fear Comes From
Getting married is great, but it is also tough when it comes to money. We were both two single people who managed our castles just fine. We didn’t need help, and we had full control. We both admit that we’re pretty Type-A, so giving up control is hard. Even though we both trust each other 100%, it’s still hard.
My wife’s fear comes from a self-admitted place of not having control. For example, before Christmas, when our spending was probably at it’s peak getting ready for family dinners and buying gifts, she was very stressed because she didn’t see every single transaction each day – I was spending too. It was hard for her.
While I don’t get to the same place, I can relate to when she spends and I don’t know where the money is going as well.
Solutions for Overcoming My Wife’s Biggest Money Fear
Since overcoming my wife’s biggest money fear was the most important challenge in our marriage, here are some of the solutions that we’ve put into place that have been working well for us. While they may not work for everyone, they have helped eliminate 90% of the fear.
Shared and Agreed Upon Organization
The first thing is coming up with a shared and agreed upon system for keeping everything financial organized. A huge part of fear comes from just not knowing. So make sure that you both put into place a system where you will know.
For us, we rely on two key systems:
For Quicken, we have all of our accounts synced so that in one update, either of us can get a clear picture of where we stand financially. Quicken is great for our household finances because it will pull from all of our accounts, and show all of our recent transactions. Plus, it has a lot of great reports that either of us can view, so we can really get a clear picture of our spending.
HomeFile is our way of organizing all of our records and financial documents. It’s basically a filing system, that has tabs and organization for everything you need for your records. For my wife, I wanted to make it easy for her to find anything, say insurance papers or auto records, should anything happen. With the HomeFile system, we can both easily file everything, and find records as needed.
Now, neither of us must depend on the other to handle financial stuff. This relieves some of the fear and stress around our finances.
Open Accounts and Passwords
With trust and transparency, it is important that we both have access to each other’s accounts. When we got married, we gave each other Power of Attorney for Finances for all of our accounts, and we also gave each other access to our passwords. Sometimes, you can’t always see pending transactions in Quicken, or investments take several days to post and update. As such, we have a list of all our accounts – even our not shared ones like IRAs, with passwords, so we can both access them as needed. This eliminates any fear of manipulating Quicken numbers or deleting transactions. If either of us wants to, we can always go and look online for ourselves.
Clear Understand of Expectations
Finally, we both have setup clear expectations for handling money with each other. For example, we’ve agreed that we can buy food and lunch whenever we want – no need to discuss anything with each other about that type of spending. However, we’ve set limits on buying things for the house – like furniture or electronics – unless we both agree on it and setup a plan for action.
The bottom line is that we both have solid expectations for each other when it comes to spending money, and so we know what is good and bad to do.
Remember, at the end of the day, a happy wife is a happy life. As such, it is essential that we work to solve my wife’s biggest money fear and make sure she is comfortable with the family finances at all times – whether she physically pays the bills or not. Sitting up and wondering or worrying is not healthy, and doesn’t make for a good relationship. This is what worked for us, what has worked for you?
How have you overcome family money fears?