How Do You Make Your Household Budget Fair and Feminist?


Fun money isn’t so fun when you’re fighting about it

by Maddie Eisenhart, Chief Revenue Officer

YNAB budget app on a cell phone surrounded by money and items from a woman's purse

With so many of my friends and family getting married right now, I find myself having a lot of the same conversations with relative frequency. Wedding planning is the worst. My family is being ridiculous. But the one that makes me go 😬 almost every time is when we start talking about married finances. Because this is where I feel like our generation may have gotten some things very, very wrong.

Did Our Generation Get It Twisted?

I got married roughly a decade before most of my friend group, so Michael and I have had a long time to work through the mess of our money issues. But before we got to the good place we’re in now, it was… rough (you can read all about that joyous time right here and here). Our problems stemmed largely from the same kind of mental sabotage I see my friends doing now. The examples go something like this:

  • My partner makes more money than I do, so I don’t really have a right to ask for what I need out of our budget.
  • We’ve kept our finances separate until now, so we might as well keep them that way forever.
  • My personal upkeep costs more, so it doesn’t make sense for my partner to have to shoulder that burden.
  • The only way for things to be fair is to split them 50/50, down the middle.

The problem with this kind of thinking is it can quickly create an unbalanced power dynamic in your marriage. Because here are the facts. We live in a patriarchal society. On average, women make less money than men. And our stuff costs more. Which means that “fair” in finances for women often means quiet martyrdom.

For example, I have a friend who splits things right down the middle with her partner, so when his income covers a big expense like a new car or home renovations, it gets treated almost like a gift. I have another friend who makes less than her partner does, but manages the bulk of housework (including managing their Airbnb), and still beats herself up over pulling her weight financially. And there’s the other friend, who makes secret purchases behind her partner’s back, because she doesn’t want to have to deal with the confrontation of talking about it first.

Then there is the me from a few years ago. I am the keeper of the calendar, the buyer of holiday gifts, and the maker of vet appointments (this comic is basically my life). But for whatever reason (Michael’s older, he makes more money, maybe just plain old fashioned internalized self-doubt), I had made Michael the boss of our money. Which meant that in our house, the self-sabotage went something like: I need to buy XYZ thing, but I don’t really have the authority to make that decision. (I know, I’m cringing just reading it, and I lived it.)

We Tried To Make It Fair

Getting out of this behavior pattern took a bunch of therapy and setting up a household budget with YNAB (aka You Need a Budget, the budgeting app we swear by). And while the therapy was important for identifying the root cause of our issues, setting up a budget was fundamental in working out the logistics of what made things “fair” in our household. Because as it turns out, what we had considered “fair” was actually tipped firmly in the direction of my partner ending up with more discretionary income. And it wasn’t until we started going through the YNAB method (a four-step process that helps you get real with your spending, while also making sure you have flexibility in your budget) that we realized this.

For example, the second rule of the YNAB method is that you have to embrace your “true expenses.” Aka anything you’re spending throughout the year needs to get budgeted somewhere. So when we were putting together the household budget, my haircuts were, well, a capital-c conversation. Did it go in our essentials category? Or was it “fun money?” I mean, getting my haircut is a good time, I won’t pretend it’s not (my stylist is legit). But it’s not really frivolous spending. I work on the Internet and regularly attend events where style is as important as substance. And much has been written about how much women spend in our patriarchal society just to keep up appearances. In one month, I might spend on hair, hair color, manicure, pedicure, and eyebrow wax (just to name the basics). While in the same month, my partner gets a free haircut from yours truly and calls it good. So how then, do we sort that in the budget?

So it’s no surprise that much of our budget inflation comes from me. There is a documented tax that comes with being a woman. (Even our razors cost more, just for being pink.) And if you’re a femme human with a non-femme partner (or, you know, are married to a man) that can mean a lot of justifying your spend. In fact, this came up in our last open thread about budgeting. As one reader noted:

YNAB has saved us from the slippery slope of money stress, which was a looming thing when we got married and still had separate finances. Now that I’m fluent in YNAB, it’s starting to show some of my hangups around money as a lens on fairness: why do we have a coffee line item if only my husband drinks coffee? Am I being selfish by allocating money to gifts when they’re all for my friends and family and not his (#lovelanguage)? Should I get more fun money than he does because I actually spend it, and being a female human seems inherently more expensive than being a male human? My husband doesn’t care if I reign over the budget with a free hand, so I have to answer these questions myself, but dang they’re prickly.

And this is where the crux of our modern money problems come from. Because the personal is political. So while we want to be good people who value fairness in our marriages, we’re trying to do it in a system that is inherently unequal. And if we don’t compensate for that imbalance, one person is always going to get more than their fair share.

Happy, Healthy, And Whole

So with this in mind, we have adjusted our definition of fairness thusly: What makes us happy, healthy, and whole?

One of the things I like best about the YNAB method is that you can’t pretend expenses don’t exist. You can’t act surprised when the bill comes around for your oil change if it’s happening every six months. And in our household, we’ve expanded that theory to mean, “Don’t fight who you are,” and, “Don’t fight the realities of society, your life, or your job.” Aka don’t make your life harder out of some arbitrary desire to keep things even-steven.

For example, this year we have made the following decisions: my bridesmaid dresses (for the zillion weddings I’m in) all got their own line item that doesn’t come out of my fun money. Michael got a little extra cash to work on his truck, which needed some very important improvements (power windows, yay). And we made the mutual decision to budget for regular babysitting, so that I can keep going to events after work, and he isn’t stuck commuting an hour after work to pick up the baby from daycare (that one was a win for the both of us). Of course, Michael and I have lived with a whole host of different income levels over the years and are currently in a spot with a bit more discretionary income, but the fundamentals of this conversation would have saved us so much time and stress in our past life, with much less money.

“FairNess” Is A Trap

The most important part of the happy, healthy, and whole model is graded on a curve. Because anyone who’s been in a relationship for more than five minutes knows that splitting everything in a perfectly even way is a trap that leads to all kinds of fights. People have different needs! You shouldn’t not be meeting them just because the math doesn’t square up. Not to mention, as I like to point out (mostly to myself when I’m backsliding into the bad place), just because two people make different salaries doesn’t mean that one works harder than the other. And if we gave out salaries for emotional labor, you and I would probably both be rich.

But sometimes, it can take a little longer to reach that realization when you’re talking about money. Because money is emotional. Pretty much all of us come to our relationships with some kind of value system around money.

So Yeah, You Actually Do Need A Budget

And that’s why, when said friends start talking to me about their money problems, one of the first things I do is recommend setting up a budget, and then I suggest YNAB to make that process a lot easier. (You can ask my family, who I’m pretty sure are tired of hearing me tell them that, no, they really do need a budget.)

Because setting up a budget helps take things out of the emotional place and sets it squarely in the logistical place. And when you’re in a logical place, it’s a lot easier to tackle the big picture challenge of making sure that everyone is being taken care of according to their needs. If at the end of the day I end up taking up more of the budget than Michael does, so be it (if I have to suffer the lady tax, we both do).

And who knows. Maybe if enough of us fight for egalitarian budgets, we can demonstrate to society—one partner at a time—just how unfair the female tax really is (I won’t even get started on wage inequality). That would really make me happy, healthy, and whole.

I want to know from you guys, though. How do you decide what’s fair in your marriage? do you feel like your budget reflects your values?

🎉 Coming soon: YNAB just launched a brand-new version of their budgeting app that is even more intuitive. (it’s basically the YNAB we’ve all been waiting for.) So if you’ve been wondering if ynab could work for you, stay tuned next month for all the info. 🎉

 💸Or go try it out for free for 34 days right here.💸

This post was sponsored by You Need a Budget. YNAB is a powerful yet flexible budgeting tool that has radically changed the way we approach our married money. YNAB helped us get out of $30,000 in debt, and allowed us to prioritize our finances in a way we never could before. With YNAB, we budget our expenditures in advance, so we’re able to see at a glance what kind of money we have for incidentals and make plans for a safety net. Aka fewer fights and freak-outs. YNAB lets you manage your finances from your computer or your phone, plus they’ve synced up with over twelve thousand banks (including our tiny Maine credit union), making it easy to track real-time updates in your budget. Click here to learn more about YNAB and access your free 34-day trial.

Maddie Eisenhart

Maddie is APW’s Chief Revenue Officer. She’s been writing stories about boys, crushes, and relationships since she was old enough to form shapes into words, but received her formal training (and a BS) from NYU in Entertainment and Mass Media in 2008. She now spends a significant amount of time thinking about trends on the internet and whether flower crowns will be out next year. A Maine native, Maddie currently lives on a pony farm in the Bay Area with her husband, Michael and their mastiff puppy. Current hair color: Purple(ish).

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  • SarahRose472

    If anyone here thinks YNAB sounds interesting but thinks their partner might not like it, hit me up with questions, because I’ve been there.

    I love YNAB so much. I’m barely exaggerating to say that it gives me not only peace of mind, but like, joy, to know that everything is accounted for and planned. I even like the chore of tracking and filling things in. And alas, my partner does not share this viewpoint. He’s not opposed to having the big picture conversations and planning, but he HATES feeling like he is hemmed in in what he can do/spend money on and that he needs to be constantly thinking about whether one purchase on a given day is “ok.” In other words, he is really on board for the line-items for hair cuts or coffee.

    So we’ve settled on a compromise where I manage YNAB behind the scenes, keeping track of our bigger monthly and irregular expenses, we have occasional conversations about priorities, and we have one checking account where I dump an amount of money from our paychecks that covers our monthly variable spending (food, household stuff, gas, and discretionary spending) and we’re both just allowed to spend as needed/desired from that, until it’s out. (For YNAB people: it’s basically treating this account as one big, unrefined master category, but somehow he feels better about having to look at the balance there than in YNAB). And then with the rest of the budget, which I manage, I can be as granular as I want.

    It’s not as neat and tidy as I would personally prefer it to be, but feelings about money are hard and this was a way we found that we can both accept that minimizes the different types of money-anxiety we each are prone to.

    • Amandalikeshummus

      We aren’t there yet, not being married or combining finances; but I have a feeling we’ll be a lot like you. I already use that other app (herb that makes your breath smell nice), and I really like it! It’s sort of like a game to fit everything into a budget category. I really like being able to spend the money but feel frugal at the same time. I’ve always enjoyed personal finances, though.

      The enjoying something useful factor is something that complicates feminism, at least it does for me. Cooking often comes into this category as well. Okay, I’m doing more of the useful thing; but it also relaxes and empowers me. Forcing equality here wouldn’t make anyone happy; so I think the general solution is that everyone who has a son should teach him how fun cooking and detailed-oriented budgeting is.

    • Rose

      This may be us, imminently. We just moved for my new job, and my wife is still looking, but one thing we’ve agreed on is that we really do need to be better about budgeting. But when we tried the trial for YNAB, she didn’t care for it much. I’m going to push trying it again for a bit longer, though, because I think it may work better for us than some of the other options, and we need something.

      • Eenie

        It took my husband over six months to see the value in it. It may be one of those things that you commit to for a longer time period because you need to use something and change is hard. Having one income was what motivated my husband to use it to ensure all our bills would be paid.

    • BSM

      We do the same dump of money into one checking account that we use for all day to day expenses! We call it our “Life” account. The amount is based on a pretty granular budget we keep in a spreadsheet that we revisit periodically to make sure it still reflects real life (we don’t use YNAB, but I think we use the general principles). We draw on it until it runs out and replenish it on paydays.

  • Ooh, I love budget discussions.

    I’m the bringer home of bacon in our relationship, earning almost double my OH (this will change after he finishes his PhD, but knowing the sector he hopes to work in the odds of me remaining the higher earner are, well, high). When we first moved in together we were on the same wage, so we set up a joint account for fixed expenses, put an equal amount in each month, and figured flexible expenses would look after themselves. It’s worked better than it has any right to, but I feel guilty now because his idea of fairness is that we still put the same amount in, since I have the pink tax to pay anyway. And, i mean, the pink tax is bad, but it’s not having £500 a month more to play with than him bad. He sees all of the money as joint, and therefore it doesn’t matter, but isn’t interested in having everything go into the same account. I’m not a massive fan of one account – I like the security of having my wage going into my account with my linked savings etc – but I think it would take some of the guilt away. We’re going to have to revisit things when his PhD is over, because there’ll be a gap of indeterminate length before he starts earning, and there’s no need for him to dip into his savings when I earn enough to cover most of his expenses, but I have a strong suspicion that’s not the direction the conversation is going to end up taking.

    • Not Sarah

      We had a pretty similar system for a while! We put the same amount into a joint account for our household budget each month. I was living off of savings for a bit and we eventually reached a point where I would run out of liquid savings within 5 months, so at that point, we adjusted how we were putting money into the joint account. For us, it required both a) showing my charts of when I was going to run out of liquid savings and b) my partner being okay with covering the expenses. (I was uncomfortable asking him to cover more of the expenses and he didn’t want to offend me by asking, so it took some vulnerable conversation to get this sorted out!)

  • theteenygirl

    When FH and I started living together, we kept separate finances but a spreadsheet of all expenses that we shared – food, rent, hydro, internet/cable, dinners out, things we bought that we wanted to split, etc. we colour coded it so we knew who paid for it, and then we had two columns to keep track of who owed the other person what. Since I paid for most of the big expenses (rent, etc) we netted out at the end of the month what FH owed me and he wrote a cheque. Sounds a bit neurotic, but I was obsessed with being fair and proving that I could pay my own way.

    Now that we have JUST joined our finances, that spreadsheet with expenses was a LIFESAVER to show us what our true expenses are for our joint budget. If anyone is thinking about budgeting but not ready to make the plunge, I urge you to just WRITE DOWN WHAT YOU SPEND.

    Also S/O to everyone on APW who have commented on the budgeting threads, you have been so helpful in deciding what kind of budgeting and spending system FH and I have put in place. Thanks!

    • penguin

      How did you go about changing your finances? We’re getting married this fall, and right now our finances are like yours when they were separate. I use YNAB for my personal budgeting, and he occasionally checks the balance of his accounts and it just works out (this drives me nuts). How do you go about making a joint budget? I think he’d be happy to let me manage the money, and on one hand I know I would like that, but I’m nervous that I’ll turn into the nagging harpy stereotype and I’ll be anxious having to share money. We make roughly the same amount (within a couple thousand at least).

      • Lisa

        We went from split finances when we lived together to joint when we got married. This was important to me because I wanted to feel like we were a team working towards the same goals and to make sure there were no surprises in how much money was being earned or spent.

        We had a big budget summit when we first got YNAB two years ago where we hashed out what we thought were reasonable amounts to spend on each category. We continued to have budget meetings for the first few months to determine how much of our spending was necessary, whether we should create new categories, and, if we needed to add to a category, where that money needed to come from. After several months of this, we have a pretty set pattern of spending that rolls over each month, which means we don’t need to have those budget meetings as often. In the meantime, I’m the keeper of the budget, but if either of us has a money topic to bring to the table, we can re-open the discussion at anytime.

        • AP

          This has been our experience as well, almost word-for-word. The only difference is that neither of us is a keeper of the budget, we sort of both informally check in with it every week or so and update as needed.

      • Rose

        I got nervous about that too–less about being worried about nagging, and more about just being super anxious (and probably getting passive aggressive about it). Part of our solution was to have semi-separate accounts. I know that people have strong feelings about this in both directions, but overall it’s worked well for us. I think (two years in now) that we may need to shift how much money goes where, but overall it’s been a lot easier for us to have a certain amount of money go into a shared account out of which comes joint/shared expenses, and then each of us have a personal checking account too. If your partner was into checking numbers in YNAB, you could do that with just a set budget, but if he won’t want to check, then just having a set pool of money in a separate “just for him to spend for fun” account might work out.

      • Amy March

        I’m not a budgeter and would resist hard tracking every expense, but I’d be totally down for talking about what we want to spend, paying fixed costs first, contributing to savings first etc. I feel like if you both want to make it work, and you’re both willing to make some changes, there’s actually a lot of room between checking balances occasionally and tracking every detail.

      • Abby

        I think for a lot of people “budget” is synonymous with “belt-tightening” and therefore sounds scary. But if you guys are pretty much doing fine financially, making a budget is pretty simple– as @theteenygirl:disqus suggests, just write down what you spend and categorize it (if your husband uses plastic, it should be pretty easy to export his line items to excel, even if he’s not actively tracking). Then add up the line items to see a breakdown of what percentages of your gross are going to which categories every month, and talk big-picture about whether those percentages reflect where you want your money to be going.

        If when you look at your spending patterns you see (as we did) that you’re spending a way bigger percentage of your discretionary income on, say, takeout than aligns with your values, you can try to rein that in, but be realistic about what that’s going to look like and maybe give yourself more of a cushion in the initial budget while you work on cutting back–make it gradual, and it’s more likely to work in the long run. Once the big picture looks about right, then you just discuss which accounts each of those categories should be coming from and allocate your funds accordingly (i.e. rent/mortgage, utilities, groceries etc. come out of a joint account that needs x in it per month because that’s what you spend in those categories).

        How this looks for us is we have a joint checking that we put proportional amounts into, have auto-savings deductions from, and a joint credit card that all joint expenses go on that we pay off from the joint checking every month (yay points!) We each get the same amount of spending money in our individual accounts (I spend very little on pink tax items, and he often just puts his extra $ into our joint savings, so that part evens out).

        It will take a weekend or so of wrangling to get everything set up, but once it’s done, you can pretty much continue the way you’ve been going– you can check everything regularly for peace of mind, he can spend and occasionally check, and you can address any red flags/inequities as they arise. Don’t panic – if things are generally functioning now, you probably won’t have to nag too much, and sharing might be less stressful than you think.

        • theteenygirl

          It’s kind of like how for a lot of people “diet” means “not eating/enjoying food” but.. I’m constantly on a diet! A healthy eating diet!

          • Lexipedia

            This is FI’s slam-on-the-breaks moment when I say “household budget”

      • theteenygirl

        So it was interesting.. my parents have totally separate accounts and always have. His parents only have one joint account, and always have. Neither of us was super comfortable with either of these options so we had a few chats about it, brainstorming ideas of what we felt would work for us, and what our biggest concerns were. Mine were that if he wants to buy new golf clubs I don’t want it to affect my Sephora habit, and I didn’t want to give up control of all my money. His was that he didn’t want to be stuck to a hard and fast budget every month.

        What we ended up doing was adding him to my current bank account that has my savings accounts, RRSP contributions (Canada 401k), and credit card. He kept his American account with some money in it for when we’re visiting. Then we each opened a no fees bank account that has just our name on it for our “allowance”. So our paycheques go into the joint account and at the end of each month there’s a recurring transfer to each of our allowance accounts with a predetermined amount of money based on our income. I was actually the one that proposed that our allowance be a percentage of what we make, not of our income as a whole, despite everything else being based on a percentage of our total income. Not because of fairness, but because I wanted to feel that more of my money is going to savings rather than allowance, because that’s important to me.

        The way our budget breaks out is loose, not line by line like YNAB because FH really really didn’t want to be held to that level of budgeting. I disagree, but.. compromise. So 15% of our take home goes to retirement savings, 15% goes to emergency and travel savings (30% total goes to savings overall), 46% goes to hard routine expenses, 3% goes to unexpected expenses, 11% goes to FH allowance, 8% goes to my allowance.
        And within that 46% we have another column that breaks down exact budgeting, like: rent, hydro, internet/tv, prescriptions, groceries, eating out, entertainment, alcohol, metro passes, car rentals, insurance.

        Hope that helps!

        • emmers

          I feel like this is eventually going to be us. Currently we do separate accounts, and we each pay different bill, so our leftover fun money ends up being roughly the same. But I think a joint account for shared expenses will be key.

          This was super helpful, because as I was reading others’ comments, I was thinking how I just cannot see my husband using YNAB. I use a similar budgeting app, but I can’t see us doing it as shared. He keeps an excel spreadsheet that works for him.

          Anyways, thanks for the idea!

          • theteenygirl

            No problem! We went the % of income route which we’re hoping will give us flexibility but still keep us on track.

          • Not Sarah

            Agreed on my partner would never use YNAB – we are happy with a pretty loose budget that we mostly follow and then look at patterns of particular categories since we do track our spending. The main purpose behind our budget was to figure out an amount to put into the joint checking account each month.

    • Jan

      I have a friend who is getting ready to merge finances with her boyfriend and they had a similar system to you, except they paid each other for everything using Venmo. So she just went through a few months of transactions to get a good sense of which line items cost them what, and it was super helpful! Venmo was a nice little way of tracking things without realizing it.

      • penguin

        Yep we use Google Wallet, it’s great.

    • Mer

      I’m with you here. I have kept a spreadsheet of every single purchase/ expense I’ve had since late 2009, when I got my first real job after graduating college.

      Want to know how much I spent on groceries in 2012? Got it. How about my utility costs in 2015? Give me one second. Car repairs over the last 7 years? I can compile that.

      Now that I live with my fiance, I’ve kept up my spreadsheets and we also go back and forth at the end of every month. When we get married we’ll fully combine and probably make a new budget. I fully intend on reference these spreadsheets for that new budget when the time comes.

    • Not Sarah

      We did such a similar system when we first started living together!! It was so helpful for then making a joint budget after we got married. We forgot several things that we had not considered shared before we got married but realistically do after getting married: homeowners insurance (I had been paying it and he had been paying renter’s insurance), parking, and toiletries. Our 2018 budget is going to be so much more robust!

  • Yay! YNAB!

    When I met my partner (future spouse?) our salary ratio was 70:30 (i..e they made MORE THAN 2x as much as me, even though I had a better than average job myself.) and now due to promotions and some life choices it’s closer to 60:40 which feels a lot better for me, and I’d love to to be equal, but that wasn’t going ot happen.

    I’ve been a super budget tracker since I graduated with a mountain of student debt and worked hard to pay it off in 6 years. They graduated with no debt and bought a house when they were 24. Very different money histories. I’ve had to work to save/pay off debt as much as possible, and because of their income it’s never been an issue to have enough money or save enough. Very fortunate for them, but doesn’t make YNAB seem necessary.

    The fix for now: after YEARS of splitting things 50/50 where my disposable income after bills was ~$700 and theirs was ~ $3000+ my quest for proportional contributions won out – we started thinking about our household as a communist state (in a good way) where all the money is pooled and everyone gets what they need. Previously my partner made the case that 50/50 was a more feminist concept where one person wasn’t ‘relying’ on the income of the other, but thinking about us as an egalitarian unit working together made more sense to both of us rather than thinking we were in traditional roles. Do I spend more on cheese and gifts? Sure. Does he spend more on beer and tools, you bet! We decided to just call it even and not worry about it.

    YNAB: So I still track all of my finances in YNAB in one budget, and then each month I have “shared” as an expense which is the % of our income we both put into our shared account each paycheque and it goes off my personal YNAB budget. 2nd step, I have a “shared” budget where I account for their money coming in, all our bills, our shared account, shared savings and shared credit card. There I can keep track of the household. Once a month I show them the budget and we talk about where we spent a lot or a little and what will be coming up. Mini money talk. I think it aligns with our values because there are a few things like local food we will shell out for, but we are in agreement about the other areas where we don’t want to spend a lot. WE’ve had many, many money conversations over the past 5 years and have aligned our priorities.

    Working well so far and when we get married next year I don’t think it will change dramatically, but when we have kids it will probably get more ‘mixey.’ I like how it is now because i get to invest my savings the way I want and there’s still some autonomy about buying clothes, yoga etc.

    • Her Lindsayship

      Cheese and gifts is such an important spending category.

  • Lisa

    You all know how much I love money and finances by now, and YNAB was such a big part of spurring that interest. My husband couldn’t care less about the budget or what it says. I do most of the work of putting together our monthly spending, but when it comes time to make decisions about goals and dreams, YNAB has helped to initiate those conversations and force us to think about what’s important to us.

    One of the things that was important to me is that I not shoulder the pink tax alone. My husband didn’t really care where and how I spent the money, but I felt it was necessary to have a conversation about why I was spending the way I was and what we should consider a joint expense versus what was something I was purchasing to make myself happy. I didn’t want to make unilateral decisions about the budget and then have him come back to me later, questioning why I was the one always using up the money in the toiletries category.

    I am glad that my husband never begrudges me these purchases and actively encourages me to take care of myself. It also helped us open more lines of communication to discuss needs he has and how those should fit into the budget as well. I recommend budgeting to everyone I know because it’s not only a way to figure out how to save money–it’s the beginning of a conversation about needs, wants, and priorities, which are the foundation of our lives.

    • Her Lindsayship

      So well put, Lisa! I love that you made it a priority to make sure your husband understood the ‘pink tax’ – looking back on my financial relationship with my now-husband, I realize that I came into it with a lot of guilt around spending. On top of spending more on grooming, clothes, and toiletries than he does, I came with a lot of student debt while he had several years of good savings and a higher paycheck. But luckily for me, he totally had the ‘marriage as mini-socialism’ mindset from the get-go. He gently showed me that like Maddie said above, “just because two people make different salaries doesn’t mean that one works harder than the other,” and that as long as we both contributed to our family’s wellbeing, we both deserved to have our needs met.

      Man, it was like free therapy. And I think if I had had a partner who didn’t have such a mindset, I would’ve driven us into a seriously off-balance agreement. I mean, if different folks manage their money differently and are happy with it, that’s great, but for me, I’m so glad to have that guilt relieved and to feel like we are truly equal partners. Admittedly it also helps to know that if something happened, I still make enough to be able to care of myself, and for me that’s probably always going to be important, but I also am able to think of us as a unit working together toward shared goals.

    • Not Sarah

      No matter how we set up contributions to the joint account, I’m so glad we have made most of the pink tax household spending. We’re actively working on talking through this and this year has been such a learning experience on these things. We forgot to put shampoo in our original household budget, for example. We’ve both been tracking our personal spending extra carefully this year and have been regularly re-evaluating what is considered personal vs household. It’s an ongoing discussion!

  • Jess

    Timely as always, APW! I posted in HH last week about our Financial Kick-Off Meeting, and one of the major points we came across was that We Need A Budget!

    We’re comfortable financially, in that we are consistently making more than we’re spending, have minimal debt (I’m paying off a car), R has a great investment set-up, and we have a healthy cushion of savings to fall back on for the worst. We also make roughly similar amounts. Our spending occurs separately,

    But, as we look to maximize our investments (aka My Investments which = 0) and buy a house and plan for kids, we have no real idea of what we can actually afford.

    At our next Financial Meeting, I’m bringing YNAB up as an option.

  • Anon

    Honestly, YNAB didn’t really work for us, but that’s because our issues are more abstract than it’s equipped to handle.

    Short version: I make very little money, but have inherited a sizeable chunk, so my savings plan right now is just to not spend that money and let it grow. Meanwhile my partner makes a lot of money, but (despite being very frugal) has been able to save much less, because of family obligations. So what we’ve been doing is having him take out what he needs to for savings and family, and then dividing the household expenses proportionally after that, tweaking the numbers so that we both get a similar amount left over for ourselves. Which all works well, but means he is pretty much subsidizing my life. So then does that mean we should own my inherited money jointly? Because I’m concerned that that would leave me really vulnerable if we ever get divorced. But it doesn’t seem fair for me to keep my financial strength to myself while taking advantage of his. But then also there’s no guarantee that this current income ratio will continue forever.

    We’re thinking through whether we should do a prenup right now, and I’m really torn about it. Because it’s all very well to say that it’s more expensive to be a woman, etc., but I chose a career that wasn’t that lucrative because I had family money, and he chose a more lucrative one because he didn’t. And now I’m just not sure what is fair.

  • Anon

    Thanks to APW, I feel very comfortable bringing up gender issues in our budgeting, and my partner will accept what I say on that subject. But something that I really worry about is that, in our relationship, class issues cut the opposite way (I have family money, he has family debt). And he isn’t nearly as comfortable talking about class as I am about gender. So I do worry that I’m being the loudest voice in the room, when in fact gender isn’t really the most important factor in our financial situation (although it is a factor). But then I’m not always able (or willing) to do his emotional work for him in terms of raising the class stuff.

    • Eenie

      This is really tough. I have no good answers. I’m curious how the class issues come up in your financial discussions – does he view debt differently than you do? Does he make spending decisions differently than you do?

      • Anon

        For the most part, we’re on the same (relatively frugal) page, but there are some differences in how we view money and things. For example: I’m much more interested in buying nice things for our home than he is. That has elements of individual preference (I like home design), but is primarily bound up in both gender and class: as a woman who is currently underemployed, my sense of my adulthood is way more bound up in our home than his is. But also, I have a sense of what an “adult” home looks like that is totally class-based–his parents are adults, but they have never had and will never have a West Elm coffee table (or whatever). But we talk about the first part of this more than we talk about the second part, because I do 90% of the articulating of dynamics in our conversations, and I can’t always see the class stuff.

        • Call Me Penny

          I’m not in the exact same position, but have Benin experiencing something similar in reverse. My husband and I come from broadly similar backgrounds, but my father died when he was 40 leaving my mum with three young daughters to raise on her own. The decisions she made about how to spend her money were a lot different than those of my husband’s parents, and it’s only now that I’m realising how much that has played into my own views on money and purchases, particularly when it comes to our home. I don’t have much advice only to say I’m with you, and the emotional work is hard

    • Not Sarah

      I found this book to be really fascinating and perhaps you would as well: https://www.amazon.com/Power-Past-Understanding-Cross-Class-Marriages/dp/0199364435

      We’ve had those issues a bit, though much of them have been squashed by the fact that by the time we married, we were now in a more similar class to each other. The parental relationships are definitely still there though!

  • Jan

    In my previous marriage I was an avid budgeter, down to the last purchase, out of pure necessity. If I didn’t track things carefully and set hard rules about what we (read: he) could spend, we consistently found ourselves in the red. So, when we got divorced and I started making my own money and was suddenly living comfortably, I stopped budgeting. I was just so tired of living in a state of constant anxiety over money, and I was so happy to feel like I could breathe for the first time in my adult life. I gave myself a set amount of discretionary money outside of my regular expenses, and that’s how I went about my life.

    Now that I’ve merged finances with my partner, though, things are a bit more complex. We don’t really have a budget, so much as a clear idea of how much we have going out for bills and regular expense categories (groceries, gas). We each have personal discretionary accounts and while we try to keep that spending at a particular limit, neither of us begrudges the other if they go over because, well, we’re okay financially! So we don’t save as much this month, who cares? And that is all well and good– I’m happy that we don’t really argue about money, that we prioritize similar things, that he agrees that my my makeup and more expensive toiletries are necessary and should come out of our household account, etc. But at the end of the day, we should be saving more for a house and kids down the line, and that’s not going to happen if we keep nickel and diming ourselves. Like, perhaps we DO need to hold each other more accountable. Maybe I’m getting a bit too loosey-goosey about what is a “necessary” purchase just because I know he won’t get mad at me.

    So, I sense that we’ll have a conversation soon about needing to shift perspectives a bit and develop a stricter budget. Perhaps we’ll give YNAB a try. It might be a little too involved for us, but the part of my brain that loves to organize might fall in love with it. ::shrug::

  • “I Don’t Knowww, Margo!”

    We need to sit down and actually go over our budget. We split wedding/house/groceries/bills/restaurant costs down the middle, since we make approximately the same amount. However, since he has student loans and a much higher car/insurance payment, he has way less fun money than I do. I’ve always been a saver and tend to spend my money on a few trips related to my hobby each year, rather than on little things.

    It feels OK right now, but sometimes I feel like I think of my savings as ours- like, I’m not going to NOT have him come along on a vacation. And then I feel guilty because he has student loans and I don’t.

    We’ve been talking for awhile about each putting one paycheck a month into a shared account, and then pay all shared expenses out of that. I also might try harder to have us throw extra money at our mortgage each month, since paying toward the principal makes the interest go down drastically, and so far, we’ve knocked seven months off our mortgage.

    • Her Lindsayship

      My husband and I just started using a different money management tool called Personal Capital. We literally just started this week so I can’t very well speak to its long-term functionality, but we chose it over YNAB because it doesn’t just help you track spending – it tracks your retirement funds, investments, mortgage, and loans too. And we have all of those things, so the bigger picture is just way more useful for us. We want to make sure we’re on track with what we’re putting away for retirement, and if we’re not, we have the rest of the cards in front of us with this one tool so it’s easier to say where we should make changes. Maybe YNAB does that stuff too, but my impression is that it’s more focused on tracking spending.

      Anyway, since you mentioned the student loans + mortgage situation, I thought this might be interesting to you too. It might be one of those things that’s best if you also merge other parts of your financial lives, which we did during our engagement and for us it felt awesome. Best of luck!

      • “I Don’t Knowww, Margo!”

        Ooh, thanks for the rec! That kind of thing is more what I’m focusing on! Our goal is to save enough to enjoy our retirement. This seems like it’ll be really helpful.

        • AtHomeInWA

          The one function in Mint that I LOVE is the “Net value over time” graph. Sure, my savings account hasn’t really increased in value in the last three years, but by calculating in reduced debt you still get to watch your net value line go up over time. It might be helpful for you guys to think of your financial package that way.

          Of course, that was back before I started grad school. My feelings about the net value function have changed in recent years…

          • emmers

            Can mint be shared? Like can both partners access the same account independently thru apps? And does it sync with your accounts, or do you enter transactions individually?

          • AtHomeInWA

            I made an account with all of our joint accounts (not married, have separate accounts for almost everything, but working that direction) and gave him the password. I’m pretty sure he has checked it zero times, but technically it is “shared”?

          • Lisa

            Just a note that YNAB reports do the same thing (show net worth over time), and it is so calming to see that number go up over time (even with major shocks like weddings and student debt). I check it without any real need, just to see where we are at.

    • jem

      The student loan thing is so tricky. I have none (thanks, mom!), but he had to put himself through college and now law school. We’re taking out the minimum in loans to send him to school now but it just sucks and makes the equality thing feel more complicated.

    • Not Sarah

      We finally started a “combined net worth” spreadsheet to help with seeing our savings as ours. I can’t tell you how it’s going since we only started it this month, but I envision it being really helpful! It has columns for each month and then row sections for Checking, Savings, HSA, Pre-tax investments, Roth investments, taxable investments, and property. Each row section has a line for His, Hers, and Community, as applicable. Then there’s a summary for each row section, a summary row section and diffs by month, YTD, since marriage, etc.

      We use Personal Capital for tracking spending, but we don’t like the calls their investment advisers do as we don’t agree with their investment philosophy. We have pretty similar investment strategies anyway so this high level overview seemed right up our alley to start seeing our net worths as combined, aka it’s silly for me to sell investments when I don’t have income and his income can cover our household needs.

  • lamarsh

    We just combined budgets/accounts this summer after we got married. We had been splitting things in a whole host of different ways before we got married, so it’s nice to finally be on the same page. I make almost 2.5 times more than my husband does, but I also have pretty significant student loan payments (like, right now, almost half my take home pay is going toward debt). My husband has been very excited about the budget and has already made some big behavioral changes (like suggesting we cook at home more, spending less money going out for lunch at work and taking leftovers instead, etc.).

    I used YNAB for about two years before we got married whereas my now-husband never really got into it. This meant that he joined my YNAB account last month (and connected all his accounts and credit cards) so we could budget together. I am having some FEELINGS about this. For one, he had $8000 worth of credit card debt when we got married that he had not told me about (I knew about other CC debt that he fully repaid by the time we got married, but this new debt had accumulated about three months before our wedding). Fortunately, we had enough to pay this off due to the fact that we over-saved for our wedding combined with our wedding gifts, but I am so frustrated by the fact that we were about to start our lives with a nice nest egg and this debt basically wiped it out. (I am also upset that he didn’t tell me about his as it was happening, because we could have made some adjustments to our lifestyle, but I just didn’t know we needed to do this.)

    For this, and other reasons, I have watched my “age of money” number drop from 60+ days to 36 days in the last month. I’m trying to balance this frustration/sadness with some understanding since I am sure he was living outside his means to match my lifestyle and hopefully this will resolve now that we’ve combined all our accounts and budgets and we can plan accordingly, together. That is all to say, I thought we were in a really good place about money before getting married (we had multiple discussions about the budget and saving for our wedding and we don’t fight about money at all), so I think the surprise of all of this made it even more difficult.

    • Cellistec

      What’s the age of money number? I feel like I should recognize this but somehow…nope.

      • lamarsh

        Short answer: when you pay for something, how long was the money that you used to pay for it in your account, using a first in, first out method. Longer explanation: http://docs.youneedabudget.com/article/199-aging-your-money

        It’s YNAB’s updated way of thinking about budgeting for your next month’s expenses with this month’s income (if you used YNAB4). I read somewhere that it should be around 60 days.

        • Cellistec

          Interesting! I’d never heard of this before after all. I’ll keep an eye out for it in the app. Thanks!

    • Not Sarah

      Oh gosh, the partner’s secret credit card debt would really stress me out and upset me too! I’m glad you guys have talked about it and hopefully combining and the behavioural changes he’s showing now will help things going forward. But oof! What a start to a marriage.

  • Kaitlyn

    We’re starting to dip our toe in the water of truly combining finances with our first joint CC (trying to get those points for the honeymoon flights!). We’ve lived together for two years and at first, we kept a spreadsheet of each expense and who paid what etc. etc. We’ve eventually given up on that. There’s a few things I’m in charge of and just pay (gas, electric) and he pays the cable/internet. I mainly cover the Target bill cuz I have a Red card. He ends up shouldering a lot of the expenses, which I feel bad about but 1. he does make more than me 2. doesn’t have any debt (while I do and am paying it) and 3. when I have expressed concern, he pointed out that I spend hours planning our vacations, remembering birthdays, etc. so it kinda evens out.

    We’re planning on pooling our money once we’re married and figuring out how much we spend on bills (rent, cable, etc.), then putting money aside for eating out, some for saving, and then an equal “fun fund”. I think the fun fund is where we’re going to have the most conversations because of what Maddie brought up above: goes getting my eyebrows waxed count as fun? What about my workout classes? Luckily, we have like 7 months to go, but I’m feeling comfortable with our talks so far.

    • AtHomeInWA

      Getting one’s eyebrows waxed NEVER counts as fun. If he doesn’t believe you, make him try it once.

    • SS Express

      This is pretty much how my husband and I structure our finances – we believe our money belongs equally to both of us, so why should one person have less fun money than the other? For us, gym memberships and exercise classes are a “family bucks” expense, as are haircuts, but I pay for all my other grooming activities out of my personal account. In my case grooming is really more of a hobby than something I feel I “need” to do though, if that’s not the case for you I would consider it a joint expense.

  • Mary Jo TC

    My husband and I use YNAB and it’s mostly good, although I have to bug him to categorize his expenditures every week. We currently do an equal split of ‘fun money’ while covering ‘pink tax’ items in my ‘fun money’ envelope. And yet, he’s the one who’s more likely to run out of ‘fun money’ at the end of the month. Maybe I’m just low-maintenance? Or his hobbies are extra expensive? I think as long as our spending follows that pattern, I’d have a hard time making the argument that ‘pink tax’ items should be a joint expense.

    As a side note, I have made the argument to him that he should feel ok spending good money on products for his hair because he’s self-conscious about slowly going bald. I told him how much I spend on my hair and that if it would make him feel better to do something about losing his hair then he should. So kind of equalizing the pink tax by encouraging my husband to spend money on his appearance like I do.

    • AtHomeInWA

      Shout out about encouraging the men in our lives to look pretty!

      Mr. Dude: “You’re so pretty. I’m a fat slob.”
      Me: *huge sigh* “Do you have any idea how much work I put into being pretty?” (Cuz I don’t have energy to deal with the “fat slob” conversation today)
      Dude: “You’re always beautiful. It’s so easy for women to be pretty. Men have to have abs.”
      Me: (so there is this thing called the “pink tax’…) “I’d settle for clothes that fit and a twice-weekly shave….”

      In his defense, I work with lawyers and he works as an industrial mechanic. So while I see clients all day and can keep my work clothes clean, he sees other industrial mechanic dudes and will inevitably ruin anything he wears to work.

      • Cellistec

        This conversation. +1000

      • Lisa

        My husband also trashes anything he wears to work because of his job, but over the past decade he’s really changed his habits (with my encouragement) so that his work clothes are just that – for work, and he has other clothing for when he isn’t at work. Even casual clothing is differentiated from work clothing. It’s been a slow process, but it’s really helped him feel better about himself and start caring about his style more.

      • SS Express

        This this this this this. I put more time and money into Maximising Hotness than almost anything else, largely because our society is structured in such a way that if I don’t I’ll have a much harder time. I am not interested in hearing anyone whine about how “lucky” I am!

    • CMT

      When you have a student loan forgiven do you have to pay a bunch of taxes on that?

      • Mary Jo TC

        Maybe. I think some people get a big tax bill when they have a big student loan forgiven all at once and they’re also in a higher tax bracket. But this one was only $2500, so I’m not worried about it. Either way, it’s better to pay taxes on $2500 income than to pay $2500 to the loan company.

      • lamarsh

        It depends why it was forgiven, so obviously confirm, but when my husband’s dad died, all the student loans (of his children) that were in his name were forgiven and they did not have to pay taxes. Shortly before he died, he had been diagnosed with a disability and if they got the loans forgiven because he had a disability (which they were in the process of doing when he died), they would have had to pay taxes on something like $90K in loans. It was incredibly complicated, is mostly my recollection.

    • La’Marisa-Andrea

      I went into my husband’s wallet recently for something and discovered that it was falling apart. RAGE. Why are you walking around with this wallet that’s practically in shreds? I eventually just got him one. But he will not buy himself clothes, shoes, etc until they’re falling apart. Me, on other hand, am currently on Nordstrom looking for a new pair of shoes I don’t need. It’s frustrating but I handle the money so I actually started a fund just for him so whenever he wants to buy something like sneakers or whatever, he has more than enough.

  • Sarah E

    In terms of fairness, we do budget exactly the same amount of fun money for each of us, which usually isn’t a problem.

    While I don’t have an internet job where style reigns supreme, my chosen industry is craft beer. I’m still wrestling with how to account for happy hours, tastings, brewery visits, etc, which really are professional development for me. Tough when the analogous expenses for my partner are printing research posters and buying pens and notebooks. All made more difficult by my current unemployment. Professional development is still necessary so I can hopefully get a job, but our spending needs to be stricter while we’re on one income only. .

    YNAB did make our latest decision to hold off on a new car purchase more straightforward. We could easily see what we had saved up so far, and what we had available for monthly payments. All that boiled down to: stretch ourselves thin to pay the bank and have a loan over our heads, or stretch ourselves thin saving more judiciously, and have that money in our account until we need it.

  • K. is skittish about disqus

    Oh god, personal upkeep. I feel so much weirder about paying for personal upkeep ever since we decided I’ll be staying home with the baby more indefinitely than originally planned (so I guess I’m a stay at home mom? Idk, I definitely haven’t embraced that label yet.) Overall, it’s something I have to get over and recognize as a shift in circumstances rather than identity, but the “non-contribution” by capitalistic standards is harder for me to grapple with than I thought it would be. It’s almost like if I go get my hair done, I’m suddenly a Real Housewife or something.

    This kind of stuff runs deeper than you think! Good timing for this article.

  • Katharine Parker

    This is reminding me that my husband and I need to open a joint checking account.

  • Jessica

    I was the manager of most finances (all the utility and phone bills are in my name, I made sure the mortgage money was in the bank, set up YNAB4 for the two of us, spurred on conversations about the budget, etc). My ex was skeptical at first and then really liked it.

    We can look back now and see where the inequality in the relationship happened. All my haircuts, clothing, skin care and whatnot came from my fun money, and his fun money was spent on eating out. At one point I suggested that he get more money in his fun money budget because he ate out so much (but he did not say anything about me getting more for my basic appearance upkeep…), and his categories always went over budget even with the larger allowance.

    I just signed up for the new YNAB app and LOVE IT. I like that it connects to my bank accounts, that I can deposit money and assign it to different categories, that it doesn’t give me a bright red line when I go over budget, and that it is more flexible. I also love that my ex doesn’t have access to it at all, so he can’t see where my extra income from renters or AirBnb is. My only complaint about it so far is that there is a few days lag on the transactions, so I’ll know in my head that I spent $40 on groceries on Sunday, but it won’t show up until Tuesday or Wednesday. That doesn’t seem like a big deal, but does matter when looking at next month’s budget.

    • lamarsh

      Agreed on the lag. I usually just categorize items as they auto-update, but during the last week of the month, I try to enter them when I make the purchase, so I don’t forget about them when budgeting for the upcoming month.

    • flashphase

      I enter in the transactions and then YNAB automatically matches it when the transaction comes through my accounts.

      • Jessica

        oooh, I didn’t realize it would do that. I have more video tutorials to watch. Thanks!

  • jem

    OH BOY IS THIS TIMELY. We tried YNAB about six months ago and totally floundered, but we’re about to give it another shot.

    I’m the sole breadwinner right now because my (brand new!) husband is in school and I feel SO MUCH guilt about spending… mostly because budgeting just isn’t something I grew up thinking about.

    Any tips on how to make YNAB stick this time? I think my downfall last time was seeing where I was wasting money made me feel super ashamed/embarrassed/frustrated.

    • Jessica

      The new app is better–no red lines, can check it on your phone with real-time updates because it connects to your bank accounts.

      The guilt about wasting money and feeling ashamed is not unusual. I don’t have any articles to link to about how to overcome those feelings, but I would guess they are easy to find because it is so common.

    • Eenie

      Did you have too many categories? Keeping it more general (monthly bills, annual bills, savings, and other) may help.

      • Eenie

        And for the shame part – I think being more realistic helps. Track expenses for a month and then budget based off what you’re actually spending. Decide if that’s how you want to choose to spend your money, and change the things where you aren’t happy with the expenses. After the initial time period(for me), YNAB creates less shame because if it’s budgeted I can buy it. If it’s not, I either need to move money around or not spend the money. It’s much less emotional that what I was doing before.

        • AP

          I agree with this approach. When we first started YNAB, we made a point to stay really neutral about our expenses. They weren’t good or bad, they just “were.” So we gave ourselves amounts in our fun categories that were pretty realistic based on our expense history for the first few months. After we got the hang of tracking our spending and reconciling our budget every month, that’s when we started fine-tuning the categories. An example of where we got hung up: I originally budgeted $400 a month for groceries, kind of arbitrarily, thinking that $100/week for two people was reasonable. And then of course we went over almost every month. I really struggled with increasing the budget for groceries based on this idea I had of what we “should” be spending, and it started giving me a lot of anxiety trying to find deals, make cheaper meals, just to fit in this arbitrary budget. After I finally let go and increased our monthly grocery budget to $600 to accurately reflect our spending with a little bit of a cushion, it got SO much better. I stopped freaking out about our grocery spending, we cut a little from our restaurant spending to help make up for it and allowed ourselves to get nicer groceries to make more “fun” meals at home. We rarely go over our grocery budget these days. I just had to reframe my values around grocery spending. We don’t spend “too much,” we spend what we spend.

      • penguin

        Personally I like having more categories, because then I can see where the money is going. I have a few larger categories (not sure of the term YNAB actually uses) like “Annual Bills”, “Monthly Bills”, but then I have specific categories under each (Auto maintenance is an annual bill, phone bill is a monthly, etc). That helps me because then I see that it’s not that I’m spending too much on food in general, it’s that I’m eating out way more than I planned on. We’ve decided to just let that go from now until the wedding, and we can go back to packing lunches after that.

        • Eenie

          Oh I agree, every bill has a category in my budget. I remember it being easier having more encompassing categories at the start – food was just food/anything we bought at the grocery store. Kind of the training wheels to get you on board. It’s easier to break the category apart into little pieces if you think it’s too much money. We did this with food when I was unemployed.

      • jem

        Possibly– maybe I will try being more vague this go around. Thanks!

    • CMT

      I’ve had to try MULTIPLE times to get YNAB to stick. And I’m still not confident that this will be the time that I stick with it. I think the key for me was deliberately letting go of the guilt. I *am* getting better at this stuff, it’s just not happening overnight and that’s okay.

  • Sarah Jane

    We joined our finances when we got married, and have been using YNAB for the past few months. It’s been a lifesaver – when we remember to enter our expenses on the handy dandy app. I’m the manager of finances and all things cash related. We had some conversations when we first got married about how we wanted to spend our money – I make more money, but I pay all of the insurance, so his ‘take home’ paycheck is actually much larger than mine. We had to spend some time deciding how detailed we wanted YNAB to be, and what really counted as an important expense.
    The thing that helped us the most was to stop thinking of expenses as ‘yours vs mine’. Re haircuts – we both get our hair cut ever six weeks, and while his cost $15, mine cost $60. So instead of me getting less fun money/whatever, we just made a line for haircuts and throw $75 in it as needed. If I need new shoes for work, we have a line called ‘clothes’ that gets funded as needed. That way, I’m not losing fun money just because women’s shoes cost more than men’s.
    Also, regarding true expenses – I’m the only coffee drinker in the house, and buying coffee beans usually costs me $40 a month. We decided that since that’s a necessity to getting me out of the house on time and not stopping by starbucks, that should count as groceries, not personal money.
    After we allocate for all of the stuff, like mortgage, haircuts, and groceries, we put a certain amount in savings and split the remainder as real ‘fun money’.

    • AP

      The way you budget haircuts is the way we do gym memberships. His is $25/month to a basic gym, and mine is $75 a month to a yoga studio. We have a combined “fitness” category that’s $100/month. The only caveat we have is I try to go to yoga at least once a week to make the monthly membership worth it, which I’m usually pretty good about.

      • Sarah Jane

        We do the same thing! Sometimes the only reason I go to the gym each week is because I’ve already put the money away to pay for the membership lol

  • AP

    This is timely, because my husband and I have a YNAB experiment going right now. We’re using it to see if we truly can live on just my income, so that he can quit his (chaotic, high-pressure, travel-heavy) job sometime next year after the baby comes. So starting this month, while he is still working, we’re categorizing all his income as savings, while mine goes into the “income” category to be assigned to all our other spending categories. Already we can clearly see that without his income, our retirement savings will have to go on hold, vacations and bigger expenses will be way less frequent or very carefully budgeted, and he will eventually have to find another source of income or our savings will take a hit. But all our living expenses and even day-to-day discretionary spending is covered by my salary. I’m really hoping this experiment will give us concrete data to help us navigate the conversations (fights, if I’m being honest) we’ve been having lately about how his work situation is becoming untenable. We always get stuck at “What am I supposed to do- quit my job? Then what?” So hopefully, we can find some answers to that question and get out of this stuck place we’ve been in for a while.

    • Lisa

      That sounds like a really difficult situation and a good experiment for you two to try. Can he find a way to leverage his skills into part-time work or a side hustle that he can start now but grow once he quits his job?

      • AP

        Yeah, this is where we are- trying to figure out what he can do that would be less demanding so he can actually have a home life. Unfortunately, his chosen field (hydrography/ocean seafloor mapping) is turning out to be incredible demanding with no respect for family life, or any obligations outside of work, honestly. All his coworkers are either young and single, old and divorced, or have stay at home wives.

        This is another way I see inequity showing up in relationships. A lot of women are socialized to choose flexible, lower-paying careers that can accommodate a future family (me.) My husband wasn’t thinking about that at all when he chose his field; he picked it for the money and travel opportunities that were exciting to him at the time. I also think he had a lot of unchecked assumptions about having a wife at home taking care of kids/running the house (his mom stayed home.)

        So what do you do when you realize your career field isn’t working out, but your degree is highly specialized and all your sunk costs are for nothing? He’s looking into some side gigs, like getting his real estate license. He’s also a super hard-working hustling type with a lot of concrete skills, so I’m not really worried that we’d be hurting for money. A lot of our fear and frustration has to do with the unknowns of what life with a baby will be like. That and we haven’t had two consecutive days to just be together since May. (Also- hormones. Not gonna lie.)

        • Lisa

          Wow, that sounds so hard. I totally hear you on the socialization of career choices for women vs. men; I wish we focused as much on teaching children to think of what their ideal life/day would look like and drill down on that instead of only playing to people’s strengths.

          I understand your husband’s struggle because I, too, am doing nothing remotely related to the field I studied and spent so much time cultivating. It’s been to realize that one of my primary identifiers for so long (opera singer) is now not the biggest thing in my life. In fact, it’s one of the smallest pieces right now. There is a big shift in thinking about one’s self, identity, and priorities that come with a major career change.

          Is he open to teaching or something similar? It sounds like his background would lend itself well to high school or even higher education instruction if your husband is interested in pursuing that.

          • AP

            “I wish we focused as much on teaching children to think of what their ideal life/day would look like”

            Same!!

            Re: teaching. He’s actually been approached by our local university in need of teachers in the program where he got his degree. The hours and lifestyle would be perfect, but he’s unfortunately way too introverted and a terrible teacher. So that’s out ;p

        • I think it is really interesting how people are socialized towards careers. My husband (and his brothers) all went into college and career choices thinking specifically of a career that would be able to pay them enough to support a family. I have also heard this concern from many of my (male) graduate school friends–even my most immature friend from our cohort expressed concern about his ability to support a family when choosing certain careers. I’ve always been concerned about being able to support myself regarding career choice, but honestly, it wasn’t until the last couple years that I’ve thought about the need to support more than myself. Many of my female friends did not think about the need to support a family when choosing careers (and many of my female relatives honestly didn’t even really think about the need to support themselves–but there’s definitely some class stuff in there esp. compared to my husband’s family as well).

          • JLily

            Yep! I always thought I would need to make enough money to support MYSELF but did not expand that to include a husband, or even kids really. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized that (and repositioned my thinking).

          • Yeah, I knew I could support myself when choosing grad school. And now, we have our joint family situation, so choosing what path I will head down after graduation still doesn’t need to be as concerned with finances (so like, I could definitely pursue a post-doc/academia without worrying about money) because my husband makes enough money to help with that extra money kids cost (and we started dating so young he was really always in the financial picture once I started formally planning it.

        • ART

          Gosh, I’m tempted to ask where you guys live – your husband’s field sounds like it could translate to other oceanographic stuff some of my coworkers do with a little investment (but it’s not my field so I may not know what I’m talking about!)…but I hear you on not having time together. My husband is in the entertainment field and it looks “flexible” from the outside, but it’s really not, because someone else is scheduling the shows and you just have to be there. It’s just that it’s not 9 to 5, so there’s some potential room in there for him to be with the kid while I do my office job. He has a half-time salaried job, and the other “half” (more like another full-time job) is running his own business. We are working toward a financial management system that assumes his salaried position goes away, because that seems likely for various reasons in the near future. I think we will be fine, it’s just going to force us to change the way we do our savings. It’s so automatic now, but if all our savings come out of his somewhat seasonal, gig-based business income, I’m afraid we’ll be faced with more choices (put this in savings, or pay for kid’s XYZ?) and not save as much.

          • AP

            We’re in the Southeast and most of his work is in the Gulf of Mexico, although he’s been sent to Greenland on just a few day’s notice, so there really is no normal for us. Right now we’re lucky- we have enough income to cover our living expenses as well as put away for retirement, so retirement (and saving for kid’s college) is going to be sacrificed in the short term if he leaves his job. Also his job covers our healthcare, so figuring out health insurance is going to be a nightmare…

          • ART

            Yeah, I am totally the one with the straight job that provides our health insurance, and probably will be for the foreseeable future, so luckily I’m pretty happy in it because ugh!

        • Amandalikeshummus

          Re: STEM fields and lack of respect for family obligations. There’s a lot of talk about how this effects women in those fields; but not so much about the partners of the men in them. I’m not in STEM, but my partner’s science academia job certainly affects my home life balance as well.

    • AtHomeInWA

      “We’ve been having lately about how his work situation is becoming untenable. We always get stuck at “What am I supposed to do- quit my job? Then what?”

      No wisdom to offer, just chiming in to say you’re not alone.

      Mr. Dude’s job is killing him. It is too many weekends, too little support, bad hours, and it is really just sucking the life force out of him. It also have great benefits and generous pay and is the only reason I’m not taking out WAY more in student loans right now because he is able to cover both of our living expenses. But as soon as I graduate and get a job, he’s off the breadwinner hook. I’m / We’re in the process of trying to build a plan for him to begin a second career that, even if it doesn’t bring him joy, doesn’t suck all the joy out of his life.

      • AP

        Yeah, we’ve come to the point where the money is just. not. worth it. We currently have a 3-5 year plan that would allow him to quit once we have x dollars saved, but what’s the point if our marriage/his health/our general well-being can’t make it until then? Something’s gotta give.

        • AtHomeInWA

          We’re 12 months out from being able to pull the plug. We can suck it up for 12 months. If it was 3-5 years out, I’d be on team Somethings Gotta Give.

    • Jess

      Oh, this is a good experiment! Filing away for future use. Having the data to guide an argument can sometimes be really helpful – like “Here’s the reality of what our lives would be like. What can we accept vs what can we not accept?”

      • AtHomeInWA

        I pushed my Dude to do this. He was stressed about money and about the idea of leaving his soul-sucking, high-paying job. So I asked him how much money we actually spend on living expenses, including a mortgage.

        Half. Fully 1/2 of his income is not necessary to make ends meet. That information calmed down several conversations.

    • BSM

      Oy, that’s so tough, but kudos to you guys for figuring out a safe way to experiment with how you could make a healthier arrangement work. We’re tentatively planning on selling everything and getting out of the rat race (and the US) in the next couple years, so I imagine some kind of test like this will be in the works for us soon.

      Please do report back on your findings!

  • Lexipedia

    I’ve been trying to make YNAB work, but since we haven’t joined our finances yet (we plan to after our wedding next spring) it’s been hard. Like, we don’t consistently divide line items into who pays for them, and so my individual budget isn’t really reflective of our spending patterns. I talked to FI about joint budgeting and he had a pretty negative reaction which I think stems from his historical financial privilege – i.e. expensive college and grad school was fully paid for by family or scholarships, he never had a part-time job in high school, his first job out of school paid well – so he has never really experienced the concept of “not enough money” to do the things he wants. He also, pretty irresponsibly, keeps all of his paychecks in a checking account, so he’s used to seeing that as a big number vs. split between checking and savings. So, when I brought up joint budgeting he was pretty apprehensive that I was suggesting that we cut back on our standard of living and give up the things we enjoy like travel, good food, experiences, etc. that we do now.

    We are working on the idea that budgeting doesn’t mean hardship, and also that planned savings is really important if we ever want to move to the even higher COL city that is our eventual goal. It’s good to see that everyone’s partners weren’t exactly on the same page.

    • theteenygirl

      Ughhh my dad used to keep all his money in one chequing account because he liked to see the big number. It took me YEARS to convince him (as a teenager nonetheless!) to INVEST. THAT. SHIT.

    • With my partner, the stick worked better than the carrot on the checking account thing – sure, interest rates are low and putting it in a savings account feels like unnecessary effort, but imagine if someone stole your bank card and blew the whole lot on a downpayment for a yacht. At least in a savings account, your making life harder for thieves and Identity fraudsters.

      • Amy March

        I mean, if they did that my bank would just replace it. I don’t actually think keeping money in checking is irresponsible at all. And my debit card can also draw from my savings account using the same card and the same pin so really no difference at all.

        • Lexipedia

          Sorry, I wasn’t really talking about checking vs. savings, more checking vs. investment of some kind.

        • In theory, the bank just replaces it, but it’s been my experience that first they insist you spent it, then they insist you were negligent with the card and let someone else spend it, then they hem and haw, and then, finally, they replace it several months later. If your rent comes out of that account, you’re going to really struggle to keep your head about water until the bank reimburses you.

          Keeping savings in a separate account with a separate form of access (most UK saving accounts don’t come with a card at all and need to be accessed online, by telephone or in branch, for security reasons) just gives you a little more peace of mind. If you use the YNAB method of keeping a month’s wages in hand, keeping those wages in a separate account means you can’t dip into them “accidentally” (drunk MsSolo does not always make wise financial choices, you know?) and you’ve got a buffer to keep you going while any breach to your checking account is sorted out.

      • ART

        One caution that doesn’t apply to that many people, but is worth noting, is that if you have a business checking/savings account they sometimes don’t come with the same consumer protections as personal accounts (apparently it’s up to the bank, unlike for personal accounts which have some legal protections that don’t apply to business accounts, even for sole proprietors). So for anyone that does have business accounts, it’s worth finding out about that.

    • AtHomeInWA

      Maybe try what others were discussing above? Start with just tracking for a few months and when you can actually point to what amounts are being spent, saved, invested and for what, start having conversations about whether those numbers are what you want them to be?

      I find that I want to have ALL OF THE CONVERSATIONS RIGHT NOW!!!!!! And the dude needs a little more time to catch up.

      • Lexipedia

        Haha, I did this with a conversation about saving for a down payment.

        It basically went from “I did all the research and the place we want to move to basically requires us to buy a house because of the rental sitch” to “OMG housing there is expensive and unaffordable” to “here is my plan” to “yay this is achievable!”

        FI got stuck on the second step and freaked out that we’re doomed.

        • AtHomeInWA

          This is my whole life.

          Actually, it is my WHOLE. LIFE., but I already used caps in this conversation and didn’t want to be ….that person….

        • emmers

          Ha! I also got stuck on the freaked out/doomed stage of housing, where my partner was like, no we should really buy now because this is a super good deal. I’m glad I listened to him, but those were some intense conversations.

  • Eh

    Budgeting discussions on APW always come at the most appropriate times in my life. My bank was sold to another bank and they tell me it’s not going to change anything but it might just be the kick in the butt I need to finally combine our finances (currently we have separate and joint accounts, and we have the bill payments split up between us based on share of income). So despite them saying that we won’t notice any changes, there is a big change for me because there won’t be a bank machine near my house or near my work anymore. The bank that we have our joint account with has branches close to my house and my work (both are actually closer than the machines for my current bank). The work to switch all my auto-payments is why I haven’t done it in the past, but the inconvenience of not being able to walk to a bank while on lunch or at home (since we only have one car) is going to be a much larger pain.

    • theteenygirl

      We just got hit with that too for FH’s “allowance” account – we’re with one of the big 5 for our joint account but we each have a no fees account for allowance so we can use our debit cards without fees. I’m with the other no fees bank, I’m impressed so far.

      • Eh

        My husband is with a one of the big 5 for his main account and our joint is a no fee account with the other bank. I am happy with the other no fee bank so my plan is just to move everything to them. I really should convince my husband to switch his main account to a no fee account (it hurts me that he pays monthly service fees).

        • theteenygirl

          Monthly service fees are so annoying.. the joint account is $10.95/mo now as long as we don’t go over like, 15 transactions a month! I can’t get myself to get rid of the account completely though. I mean, I still have cable too haha.

          • Eh

            hahaha we don’t have cable

  • Pingback: How Do You Make Your Household Budget Fair and Feminist? | Wedding Warriors TC | Wedding Planner | Kennewick, Richland, Pasco()

  • Violet

    The thing is: where’s the line between the pink tax and discretionary spending? I think the line is different for everyone. Yes, as a woman I need bras where my male partner does not. But I certainly don’t *need* as many adorable sport bras as I own. Somewhere along the way I crossed the line.
    I’m more or less fine with our semi-combined and semi-separate set-up. Some days I feel like I’m getting the better end of the bargain, like when I hear how much money he puts aside for a house I’ll eventually get to live in. Other days I don’t know whether to put products that I sorta need as a woman but also sorta don’t on the joint card, so I either do or don’t, depending on my mood. I guess if money were a problem we’d need a better plan. But for now our mishmash of being generally financially secure and trusting each other’s judgment not to take advantage of the other person is working. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it I guess?

    • Mrrpaderp

      Actually I think this is the most important thing – “trusting each other’s judgment not to take advantage of the other person”

      If my partner doesn’t trust my judgment then there’s a bigger problem than whether a cut & color really needs to cost $180. I am a responsible adult and I will not be shamed about my spending.

      • Jessica

        *slow clap of agreement*

      • jem

        Soooo i never thought of it this way and this just clicked everything into place– thanks!!!

      • Violet

        That’s pretty much where I’m at with it. I wouldn’t have married the guy if I didn’t implicitly trust him and if I didn’t feel that he implicitly trusts me. The money decisions we make are an extension of that.

      • Jan

        For some people I think it’s less about trusting their partner’s judgment and knowing that you don’t yet think about money and spending in the same way. That sort of alignment can take years to develop and strict parameters can help keep things from festering in the interim.

        • Violet

          I’m impressed by anyone who can view money and spending/saving as dispassionately as this. I don’t mean that snarkily; I mean genuinely impressed. I personally wouldn’t feel comfortable entering into a legal agreement with someone hoping that over the course of many years, I’d eventually accept their way of handling money (or that they’d change). I’d need to be comfortable upfront about the big picture views and choices they make about money. Yes, things change and need to be adjusted over time, but I need that baseline level of trust that my spouse wouldn’t make decisions drastically differently than I would. Not because my way is “right,” but because it’s how I choose to live my life, so I think it follows pretty naturally that I want a partner who wants to live according to the same broad outlines.
          I personally know many couples where one partner is more spendy and the other more save-y. And they TOTALLY make it work. But it is a lot of work, and something both people have to be comfortable working on.

          • Jan

            Yeah, I personally tend to fall into your category on this one, but I think that’s because I got burned hard before; in another life, another marriage, I was not like you at all. But, it makes sense. Money handling is like every other thing you have to figure out and adjust to/with in a relationship– how to do the dishes, how clean to keep your house, etc. People have different money habits and perspectives and you have to find a new perspective and new habits that fit your combined life. And that takes time for people who aren’t naturally aligned.

          • Violet

            Exactly. I rationally see how it’s no different than all the other things one has to work out in a partnership. It’s the emotional aspects of money that can make it very hard for some people, and I’m including myself in that category. I’d never spiral into a panic if my partner weren’t to clean the bathroom when he said he would. But if he told me he’d pay the rent and then didn’t… cue massive anxiety/fear/mistrust.

    • Not Sarah

      We have been discussing this a lot this year! (the line between the pink tax and discretionary spending) We’ve been doing a lot of thinking on this. My partner has commented that the vast majority of my “personal” spending is actually needs, so we’ll see how this ends up unfolding. (We moved the shampoo and conditioner into the household budget already, but bras and running shoes are also up for debate at some point.)

      • Lisa

        We put most things into more general categories – shampoo & conditioner go into household goods, haircuts (for me) and a razor subscription (for him) go into grooming, and bras go into my clothing category. Things like manicures come out of my personal spending money, but I don’t work in a profession which demands that level of feminine detail.

      • Jan

        I think about this a lot, especially because I do nearly all of the shopping for our general household by myself, so this “what is/isn’t necessary” question is left almost entirely up to me. I try (“try” being the operative word here) to take it as literally as possible. Awesome shampoo and conditioner set that I want to buy and I am genuinely in need of shampoo? That’s a necessity. But if I have 2 other kinds that I can use up before buying more? Discretionary. For my makeup, I buy the basics that I use daily using our household account, and extras (most lipsticks, etc) with my personal account. It’s not perfect and it is suuuuper easy to justify to myself that I **need** a new pair of running pants even though I have three pairs already, but it’s an okay barometer.

        Having said all that, I still want to develop some better shared parameters and a more well-constructed budget, as mention earlier in the comments.

  • savannnah

    Our financial situation is in such (planned) upheaval right now that I’m tempted not to think about it until the dust settles- which is ya know not the thing to do. My fiance and I have for the last 3 years lived together and done the mine, his and ours accounts but with training wheels, which is to say the ‘ours’ account we split 40/60 (him/me per our income ratio) and only used it for reoccurring bills. Between his promotion which started in august to the time we move in Feb we’ll be making 60/40 him/me and then when we move we’ll be at 100/0 him/me until I find a new job. we are 2.5 weeks away from our wedding, so we have tabled most of our long term budgeting talks til we get through the end of September but I know we’ll have to have to continue our serious talks about how all of this is going to work. His promotion covers about 2/3rds of the income I’m losing but our cash flow is going to be very different as some of it will be given quarterly as commission and bonuses and the numbers will always be changing. The first thing we did was to open up a joint credit card so I won’t need him to transfer $$ into my account- but its going to be a long road.

    • Not Sarah

      Oh gosh. I feel you on this. We’ve gone from 53/47 in 2014 to 46/54 in 2015, 37/63 in 2016 and now 5/95 in 2017 and there are so many emotions around it. My partner also got a huge promotion in August while I’ve been in grad school this year making very little money. It’s really forced us to adjust how we look at things for sure and to look at them far more often than even when I was making 37%!

  • We do all joint budgeting, but don’t actually have joint accounts (until hopefully today if I get things done and open that Ally savings account). We iron out our new budget every year right after my husband gets his raise and figure out how we are reallocating things. He makes 3x as much as I do right now… hopefully that will even out a little bit once I get my PhD but I’m pretty sure he will always make more money than I do, because of fields of work. We get the same amount of discretionary money–$60 a month (does not include clothes or any hygiene items), although he spends his more frequently on things like sports and subscriptions to sports websites and I (theoretically) save mine up for things like trips to visit friends. I also let him talk me into cable, even though it is SO EXPENSIVE and have that be a line item rather than come out of individual discretionary funds–partially because he does definitely make so much more money.

    We are both generally pretty frugal/cheap people, but we generally work out our budget between me wanting to save more and him wanting to spend a little more because I’m around graduate students, and he thinks that as a manager in a public accounting firm we can probably afford to eat meat more than 1x a week (which is correct). But in general, my grad student life is helpful in avoiding lifestyle creep as he earns more money. But also, we are very comfortable financially, which really helps avoid a lot of the stress, I would think, in budgeting.

    We also have slightly different financial goals, where he would prefer to buy a house in the Midwest (which we totally could afford to do right now/immediately after school) and I would prefer to relocate back to CA and buy a house there, which is obviously considerably more money, which i think is also what pushes me towards being a little more of a saver.

    • I also feel like I should be investing more of my savings than I currently am, even though I know the reason we have such a big number in our savings account is because it’s a down payment savings that we want to access in 2ish years and so it doesn’t seem like it would make sense to invest it (and our financial advisor seems to agree with that statement, as well).

  • Anon

    As someone with an expensive hobby who is married to a much higher earner who has zero interest in said hobby (beyond appreciating that I appreciate it), the concept of “fairness” is one I can never settle on for my own relationship. It would feel wrong for him to essentially subsidize my hobby, particularly above a level I would be able to finance if I were on my own. On the other hand, if I were on my own, I would have somewhat more flexibility to shape my lifestyle in a way that allowed more involvement in the hobby. I happen to like our lifestyle though! So I can’t quite figure out if there’s a solution, or really even a problem.

    • Zoya

      Ha! I have similar struggles with allowing my spouse to subsidize activities (like conferences) that I wouldn’t be able to afford on my own. As I was reading your comment, I thought, “But isn’t that what marriage/partnership is for? If it won’t cause hardship, then isn’t it a good thing that your shared financial situation allows you to invest more deeply in things than you could on your own?”

      Oh, hello, lightbulb. Clearly this is a pep talk I need to give myself too…

      • Anon

        OP Anon here – yes, I do think that’s a good pep talk! But I find it deceptively hard to parse out for myself. It may not be a hardship, but it would definitely impact our joint savings rate and our goals such as paying extra to the mortgage. That may be a fine compromise in the end, but not necessarily one I feel right accepting. Also, we practice the part-joint, part separate method of shared finances in which we contribute proportionally to joint expenses and savings. So while this works great for us in all other ways, he would basically be writing me a check to subsidize my hobby. Just doesn’t feel right! To be honest, most of the time I am at peace with the general idea that we don’t make enough money to both live beneath our means and support my hobby. It’s just posts like these that remind me of it.

    • Pterodactyl111

      If you’re both content, then there’s no problem.

    • Not Sarah

      One idea we had around this was to go through the budget and consider how I would have made lifestyle decisions differently and where the inflation from his now-higher income is. Perhaps if you look at it that way, then it would not feel like he’s subsidizing your hobby so much.

  • Fiona

    I tried YNAB and it just wouldn’t sync with my accounts right. So it’s back to spreadsheets for me :( I really wanted it to work.

    • Cellistec

      We use the old version that doesn’t sync with our accounts because I prefer to input things by hand (cough*control freak*cough). It works because we both have the app on our phones so we can add transactions on the spot, and because I’m obsessive about reconciling them at least once a week. But if that’s too time-intensive (and it certainly can be), I can see how spreadsheets are more straightforward.

  • Call Me Penny

    We have a joint account that our rent and bills/groceries come out of, and that we use as a top up savings account since our ISAs are almost maxed out. Beyond that our accounts are totally separate, and we’ve got quite a haphazard approach – my husband makes three times what I do, so generally he’ll cover flights and big ticket items as and when they come up, and smaller things tend to just balance out. Our big focus at the moment is saving for a house so a good chunk of his salary is going towards savings. I’ve been trialling YNAB myself this month to see if I can get a handle on my own day to day spending, and while it might seem strange to go it alone with it, I’m seeing a difference already! I don’t have major debts but didn’t grow up with the healthiest attitude to budgeting and spending, so I’m excited to keep going along the path of improvement with that.

  • Lexipedia

    Would anyone be willing to describe their “fun money” process a little more? I like the idea, but I’m also not sure of what should be fun vs. necessary. For example, do clothes/makeup/hair go in the regular budget as necessities, or in “fun money” since I could probably spend less on them than I do? Drinks with friends? Coffee or work lunch? Basically, where do we draw the line?

    • Michael’s board games come out of his fun money. My frivolous trips to Jo-Ann’s because I decided to try out bedazzling this month come out of mine. Clothing..it’s a toss up. Maternity clothes, for example, came out of a join budget, because they were necessary. But a random Target spree because they just launched a new line? Fun money. It’s a bit of a honor’s system, and we’re usually having regular conversations as we go if we’re getting out of hand.

      • Cellistec

        Honor system +10000000. Transparency is great and all, but without trust it starts to feel like someone’s being the money police.

      • MC

        100% this. Honor system and conversations about what is fun money vs. what is necessary and/or beneficial to the household.

    • Eenie

      We have spending money and household money. Makeup , massages, fancy electronics, upgrades for the house, etc come out of these two categories for us. Food all comes out of our large food category – out with friends, lunch at work, or just the two of us. We have this subdivided a little bit.

      We don’t do his and hers spending money. We just have a general spending money pit of $300-500 a month depending on the month.

      • Cellistec

        So if one of you wants to make a large purchase out of the spending money, do you discuss it first to make sure it feels fair? Does one of you tend to spend more of the spending money, and if so, is the other partner ok with that?

        • Eenie

          Yup. For example, last month my husband wanted to get a desk, chair, and monitor for when he works from home. This ate up the allotted spending money plus some for the month. He asked me what made sense to spend, came up with a rough amount ($300), and then researched and bought the stuff.

          This month, he wanted new protein shake containers ($15). So he bought them. They arrived, and I told him that was a good idea since it’ll speed up his lunch prep in the morning.

          I don’t think we have an issue with an unfair amount of money being spent on either of us. And more regular stuff has its own budget items – he has x box live, I have some online subscriptions. The spending money is for the one off type stuff.

          We talk more about our expenses as a result. But I don’t mind.

        • flashphrase

          We tell each other if we buy something that’s more than $100 and is only for one of us (like “I placed a big order at Zara because I need a dress for that wedding but I’m planning to return most of it”). If it’s over $100 and involves both of us – like stuff for the home – then we discuss it. For us, this is one of those marital situations where fair is not 50/50, it’s everyone getting what they want. So fun money needs to be allocated equitably but not equally – the feeling of being able to get what we want/need is more important than having $200 each.

          • Cellistec

            So well said. Thanks!

      • BSM

        This is pretty much how we do it. Our budget itself is very granular, but then we group things into “Bills” and “Life” money, which are two separate checking accounts, and we pay for nearly all of our expenses out of those (“House” for our mortgage gets its own account and then we also have a slew of savings accounts).

        It probably works well for us because we both have similar metrics for distinguishing between wants and needs and a similar threshold for what’s a “reasonable” amount to spend on stuff. We do discuss pretty much every purchase we make, but I kind of prefer it that way.

        • Eenie

          We originally had his and hers spending money, but would always tell the other person that the expense should not come out of the personal fund but the joint fund because xyz reasons. We used a very small percentage of our personal fun money, so we decided to combine it into one big pot instead. It’s actually less stress!

    • lamarsh

      We just started, but for us, fun money is things we otherwise don’t need. Like an impulse plant purchase or a new pair of sunglasses. I would also categorize manicures and pedicures in this for me. When my husband goes to see a movie, he puts in it fun money. I like to think of it as things we like, but we can do without, which will look different for everyone. We also have separate categories for food bought at work, work clothes, beauty (haircuts, skin products, every day makeup), etc.

    • Mary Jo TC

      We do his, hers, and our fun money. We put all money that’s left after paying bills, setting money aside for periodic needs (ex. car maintenance), and savings in these 3 accounts, split evenly.

      I think what each couple considers ‘fun’ vs. ‘need’ is going to differ a lot, and it can change over time as well. It is an honor system and you have to trust each other to be reasonable, and also maybe renegotiate when needed.

      For us, eating out individually is individual fun money, eating out as a family is couple fun money. Clothes are individual fun money. Gifts for kids or other people are a special ‘gift’ category, but if it goes over, the overage comes from fun money. Gifts for each other come from our own fun money. Husband has a lunch allowance, and if he goes over, it comes from his fun money. I pay for makeup and hair in my fun money.

      We also have a rule that if one of us goes over on individual fun money, then that money is covered by joint fun money, but the other partner gets an equal amount of joint fun money in their fun money account. So if he goes -50 one month, then we raid the family fun money for 50 to cover him and give me 50 too just so we each have equal use of those joint funds.

      • Lisa

        Our household operates similarly in terms of keeping things equal if one person goes over, or if we need to play whack-a-mole and move fun money into another category. We have slightly different categories though:

        We have a quality of life master category, which includes:
        I appreciate husband fund – used by me for gifts, nice things for him
        I appreciate wife fund – same, but for him to spend on me
        Joint food, drink, and entertainment – used for concerts, movies, restaurants
        Husband’s spending money – usually spent on lunch with coworkers
        My spending money – usually spent on books for fun (not education)
        Health – dance classes, gym memberships, etc

        In our rainy day (or true expenses) master category, we have a bunch of things I won’t list, but pertinent to this conversation we have:
        Gifts and birthdays
        Christmas/Hanukkah
        Grooming – which includes haircuts and a razor subscription, but not manicures or make-up
        Bicycle maintenance – more of husband’s thing, but benefits us both
        Gardening – more of my thing, but benefits us both
        Husband’s clothing
        My clothing – we can spend the clothing budget on whatever we want (e.g. we’ve been buying fun new hats recently), but we know it has to cover everything from sports bras to shoes to winter coats to new cycling jerseys.

    • Jess

      We’re still in the trenches of figuring this stuff out, but for me my make-up is going to be fun money. I don’t wear it to work (maybe 1x/quarter?), only when we go out and I feel like it, so it really is a “fun” thing for me vs. a “need”.

      On the other hand, skin care stuff is going in with toothpaste, deodorant, and other “family standard hygiene” budget items.

      Food out together = joint entertainment budget. Food w/ friends or colleagues = fun money.

      Gifts will probably be mostly a joint thing because we aren’t big gift givers, so we tend to keep that inside the family.

      • Amy March

        One of my friends does Target as joint, Sephora as fun.

        • Jess

          Oh I like that!

    • We have individual fun money and joint fun money categories (eating out, entertainment, etc). Eating out or coffee with friends still goes into our eating out budget, even if just one of us goes. (Also so does my vending machine snacks). Clothes go into our joint clothes budget, generally, except for sports jerseys, which come out of my husband’s fun money. We have a separate line item for gifts (but also are not big gift-givers and this budget item has mostly been used to give other people wedding gifts).

      We budget the same amount per person (although as a compromise there are two categories of things that I let my husband put to the joint entertainment box even though I think they should go under his individual–football tickets to our alma mater and cable). Individual accounts are generally for things that you do alone or that the other person wouldn’t approve of spending money on. My husband uses him for sports, basically (trip to see basketball with his brothers, tickets to games that he goes to if I do not, websites that give him even more access to sport statistics. I mostly use mine for books, and as a result have a much larger balance built up (but I also plan to use it to go visit out-of-state friends). My husband has gone over his fun budget once–due to timing of a bunch of things, but because we go under budget with most of our categories–we have a gigantic grocery surplus right now–it was fine and built itself back up with his next paycheck.

    • Cellistec

      We’re still trying to figure this out too, and we end up editing categories several times a year to reflect what we actually spend. Right now we each have our own fun money category, in equal amounts, with the guideline that it’s for things we don’t do with/for each other. I use mine to replace my shoes, eat out with friends, buy snacks at work, etc. He uses his for bike gear and football cards, among other things. But we also have additional categories that are essentially fun money, yet deemed important enough that we don’t want them cannibalized by other charges: a coffee budget for him (I don’t drink coffee), a charity budget for me (he’s not philanthropic), an alcohol budget that we share because we usually drink together.

      My only complaint is that it’s too easy for us to blow through our fun money and then turn to our credit cards for other “wants.” On one hand, we could just increase our fun money allowances and decrease our credit card payments; on the other, all the money ultimately comes from the same pot, so maybe that level of tinkering doesn’t really matter.

      • emmers

        Thanks for this explanation. This is really helpful, especially the part about having additional line items, because some hobbies are more expensive, but still a priority.

    • BSM

      We have fully joint finances and no fun money allowance. Clothes, personal upkeep (haircuts/color, makeup [for me], razors, etc.), and weekly lunches all have their own line items for each of us. Coffee or drinks with friends would come out of our “eating out” budget.

      We actually had “fun money” as a line item in our budget but have never ended up devoting any $$ to it ¯_(ツ)_/¯

    • C

      So for us, the majority of our personal fun money spending is individual eating out and hobby/entertainment stuff (video games, dance classes, movies/theater, nail polish). Anything fun we do together comes out of the joint budget, as does anything that qualifies as personal maintenance, which for us would include haircuts, skincare/hair care, most clothes (I generally classify jewelry and handbags as personal), etc. Larger purchases like major electronics get discussed on a case by case basis and usually end up split between personal and joint money.

      We also accept that the lines aren’t absolute. We discuss it when it’s not obvious how to categorize something, and what comes out of joint vs. personal budgets has definitely changed over time.

    • E.

      I think others do it similarly but we each get $x each month that goes to our personal checking account and we get to spend it however we want, no questions asked. As far as what comes out of joint money and what comes out of fun money, that’s a constant conversation, but it mostly breaks down to needs vs. wants. Things we need (including haircuts, makeup, clothes, etc) are things we need in our society so that’s a joint expense. If there’s something special we want then it’s fun money. Same with work lunch. If we had food at home and decided to buy lunch, that’s fun money. If we didn’t have anything to bring, that’s a shared expense because you need lunch. Usually for entertainment stuff if we’re together we use joint money if we’re separate it’s fun money. But then there are things like we want to a baseball game together, but got food at different places. I thought “we’re out together, this is shared money” and my husband thought, “we’re buying food separately, this is fun money”. Hence the ongoing conversation…

      • Not Sarah

        Yes the food at different places thing has been a confusing point for us too!! We eventually concluded that all food except social food with only one spouse present is household spending. So like if I grab food out because we didn’t have something in the house then that’s household. But if I grab dinner and drinks with a friend, it’s personal spending. It’s taken us a long time to get past my (male) partner eating more food and then thinking he should buy the whole meal with his money… It’s definitely an ongoing conversation :)

    • SS Express

      Here’s how we do it: Haircuts are a need, but my other grooming expenses like nails and laser are fun because for me they’re a hobby that I could do without. Toiletries are a need, even my expensive face creams, because skincare isn’t something I’m especially into, I just have very picky skin and nothing else is suitable – but if I just feel like buying some fancy shower gel from Lush instead of using the cheap one we already have, that’s a fun purchase. Makeup comes out of my fun money (though once we are making a bit more I want to start buying the basics out of the joint account).

      We buy all our clothes with fun money, mostly just because that was easier for us than adding them to our household budget and decreasing our fun money accordingly – I think it works out well for us, because he needs fewer clothes but they are more expensive. Gifts for our families or for something like an engagement or
      housewarming are joint expenses, if I wanted to buy a girlfriend
      something for her birthday that would come out of fun money. Homewares generally come out of the joint account, even though it’s usually just me grabbing cute stuff from Target that we definitely don’t need – but I think we both benefit from a pleasant living environment.

      Coffee or lunch at work comes out of fun money, unless it’s an obligatory thing with colleagues, but if we buy groceries to make packed lunch that comes out of the joint account. Socialising separately is always fun money, going out together is generally out of the joint account – we budget for “dates”. Personal hobbies come out of fun money, like buying a game or a book or something, but my husband’s gym membership and Pilates class are a joint expense because him being healthy benefits us both. If he wanted to join a sports team just for fun with his friends, that would be a fun expense.

      Netflix is a joint expense but Stan comes out of my fun money because we really didn’t need a second subscription, I just got it to watch one particular show that I couldn’t live without! Our phone bills are a joint expense even though his was much higher than mine for a long time, but when he lost his brand new phone he had to replace it with his fun money. Similarly when I locked my keys in the house I paid for it with my fun money. Sometimes it’s not “fun” money so much as “our ability to pay off our mortgage shouldn’t be jeopardised by my stupidity/I’d rather just throw money at this and not have you yell at me for being irresponsible” money.

      That’s a long list but I hope it helps! P.S. for the joint expenses, we generally have agreed budgets and limits for them too – it’s not like we can empty the account as long as we’re spending in the appropriate categories.

  • Cellistec

    I was reading the comment Maddie excerpted from a past budgeting open thread and thought, “Wow, that sounds so much like us! Why DO we have a line item for just his coffee?!” And then went back and…it was my comment in the first place. High five, past self. Thanks APW for running with it.

    • Lisa

      I didn’t go back and check, but I was 99% certain it was you, too. ;)

  • JC

    I love YNAB with all my heart. We haven’t combined finances yet, but YNAB has helped me lay out my priorities and my spending habits, and I think it’s going to facilitate the types of conversations that Maddie is talking about. For now, I’m counting my wins that 1) He started tracking his spending on his own spreadsheet system and we talked about the percentages of each type of expenditure and 2) We looked into getting a new, potentially joint, credit card, and decided that our individual credit cards are actually saving us way more money right now.

    ALSO thanks to YNAB and a very timely bonus from my employer, we’re taking a trip to NYC in two weeks for my birthday, and I don’t have to worry about the cost at all. So today’s two posts are pretty spectacular for this girl.

  • laddibugg

    So, there’s conversation happening in a group I’m in on Facebook about windfalls/lump sums and how they should be divided and/or budgeted. Do you split it down the middle, does the person who earned it have more of a say, do you pay outstanding bills with it. If you have no outstanding bills do you factor it into the yearly/monthly budget?

    I’m not sure how I feel about how it should be split, but I *don’t* think it should be factored into the budget, especially if it’s a surprise windfall. Me and future hubby should probably talk about this…..Just wondering what others thought.

    • emmers

      We look at our needs, and allocate accordingly. We treat this as joint income. For example, my partner typically gets 2 bonuses a year, and I recently received a small car accident settlement. The car accident settlement we’re putting almost entirely towards some debt that we have. The other bonuses, we have typically been doing the same, but once we’re done with that debt, we’ll be doing things like paving our driveway, buying a hot tub, going to Australia together, and adding to retirement, that kind of thing.

      ETA– the one exception is birthday cash. If someone gives one of us $100 for our bday, that’s 100% our money.

    • Mrrpaderp

      Depends what it is. A bonus from work is different than an inheritance, in my mind. A bonus is salary and should be treated as a joint asset. An inheritance… isn’t. Particularly if it’s an inheritance of something like land/personal property. Like, if my partner even hinted that I should sell off grandma’s jewelry, we would not be OK.

      • Cellistec

        Interesting…I thought you were going to describe it the opposite way, that a bonus is earned by one person, who should have sole discretion over how it’s spent, while an inheritance is treated as joint income if it’s received when you’re already married (at least if you’re in a community property state). Both ways make sense to me! I guess it depends on how strongly the recipient of either windfall feels about how it’s spent.

        • Amy March

          I guess for me, I don’t see bonuses as a windfall. They’re a part of compensation, just not one that’s guaranteed.

        • AtHomeInWA

          Community property states are different, but generally inheritances to the individual (I leave X to Sally) is individual in CP states while earned income like salaries and bonuses are joint. If the inheritance is to the couple (I leave X to Sally and Samantha) then it is joint.

          • Cellistec

            Ah, good to know! Clear intention is everything, as with all estate planning.

          • AtHomeInWA

            Preach.

        • Mrrpaderp

          Salary is earned by one person too. I think that’s where a lot of people get hung up with sharing assets and expenses in the first place. *I* earned $X more than you so *I* should get nicer things than you. That doesn’t really work out in a marriage.

          Conceptually inheritance is different in part because there’s often an element of preserving the asset for future generations. It’s not really YOURS, you were entrusted to be a fiduciary, even if it wasn’t formally set up that way. There are different interests at play than if the asset were just yours to do with as you please, like with a bonus.

          • Cellistec

            Well said.

          • MC

            Your first paragraph is why we tend to look at all money as joint money – because it would feel shitty that the person who earned more got more, and especially if we try to factor in household labor and emotional labor like Maddie mentioned… then the relationship feels adversarial instead of like we’re on the same team.

    • Mary Jo TC

      Great question! We talk about it together and usually look at expenses coming up or debts we’d like to get rid of or projects we’d like to complete. For our most recent tax refund, we got $7000 and put aside about $2500 to pay off one of my student loans, and $2500 for house projects, The remainder was split between my hobby, his hobby, and Christmas presents. There have been times when my husband got a big commission check from work and insisted on spending half of it on a new computer or gaming system for himself and I sighed and said ok.

    • We don’t budget for bonuses or other windfalls, because we can’t predict them. Once we get them, we usually put windfalls towards mostly practical things, with a little bit towards fun. We tend to do something like 30% towards something fun (like put it in our vacation fund if we are planning a trip) and 70% towards our house fund/loan fund (once I’m out of school, we are going to have to start paying off my subsidized loans that are currently in interest-free deferral right now).

      • We’ve also always had equal say in what we do with the money (although we haven’t ever really disagreed).

    • Amy March

      I’d be on the side of we discuss it and decide what to do together as a team based on our circumstances at the time. It’s still money coming into the family, it’s still something we figure out together.

    • JC

      I have definitely asked this question before, and I appreciate you bringing it up in this conversation because it’s now in the context of joint decisions rather than just personal decisions. I’ve had to make choices about unexpected cash regarding savings/debt/fun money, but I frankly didn’t consult my partner on those choices. That wouldn’t be possible now, so we’d have to talk about the amount of money that was coming in and what needs were currently being unmet.

    • Lisa

      We put any windfall over about $400 toward joint long-term goals (e.g. house, car, big vacation, canoe) or retirement. Smaller windfalls usually go toward other savings, like a new piece of furniture or our hobbies. They don’t go toward general bills. Neither of us have large salaries, so windfalls can really help us chip away at a larger savings goal and get excited about continuing to work toward our shared future.

    • MC

      We just dealt with this because my husband is a teacher and he had a very part-time contracting job over the summer – like, he made maybe $1500 over 3 months. At first he felt like he should have that all for his fun money because he was the one that was choosing to make extra money, and that felt really unfair to me. I pointed out that when I got a raise from my job, I didn’t keep the extra money I was making for my fun money; I put it back into our budget so that we could do x (save more, spend more on restaurants, whatever). What it eventually came down to was that he didn’t want it to just go into savings, he wanted a little reward of sorts, but he didn’t care that much about getting to keep it all. We eventually decided to split it evenly between us to get new work clothes for the year and both had so much fun shopping for clothes slightly fancier than we’d normally buy! And now we both look so good and profesh.

      With large cash gifts from his grandparents, we usually split it between fun things (like vacation) and paying off our mortgage. But it’s always a conversation!

    • E.

      We just had to deal with this! My husband left his job at the end of June, took the summer off, and now is starting law school. When he got his sick leave paid out he wanted to keep it for fun money during law school, and I had been planning on using that pay out to help cover rent and moving expenses for the summer. I’m the keeper of the budget and I guess he forgot that we would still have to pay rent before we moved and my paycheck alone wouldn’t cover it? It is definitely an important conversation because we were both very surprised by the other’s perspective!

      • laddibugg

        The ‘forgetting rent still needs to be paid’ part sounds like my guy

    • rebecca

      Unexpected money automatically gets invested in index funds. We are verrrrrrrrrrrrry boring lol.

      • AP

        LOL this is us.

    • Lisa

      We don’t get bonuses at our jobs, but if we did, they’d be treated as normal compensation. We’re used to a level of flux in salary since my husband has a variable income. Any extra would be budgeted accordingly.

      If you’re discussing a monetary inheritance/windfall, we have sat down in the past and decided what common goal we want that money to go towards. (Husband’s grandmother gives a very generous amount to kids/grandkids each year that has to do with a trust from her ex-husband.) Usually we’ll give ourselves a small “fun money” bump for the month in which the windfall is received or purchase something extra for the both of us. Then we sit down and figure out which practical expenses or investments we want to cover. For a while, this was accelerating paying back my husband’s student loans. Now, this might come in the form of an investment or saving for a long-term goal.

      If the inheritance/windfall was physical (land, jewelry, etc.), I assume that we’d have some kind of mutual discussion about what to do with it. My ILs joke about how their Bay Area house will be the kids’ inheritance, and my husband and I have talked through several scenarios of what we would want to do with that and how we would approach his sister about it. (Clearly she’d have thoughts of her own.) Even if the decision was to keep it, we consider holdings to be joint so it makes sense for our family that we would at least discuss the options together.

    • flashphase

      I like to earmark some for fun stuff – maybe 20% – and the rest towards savings/debt payoff goals. I find it depresses me when I don’t get to do something fun, and my partner is really good at making sure we celebrate/enjoy ourselves when good things happen :)

  • Margaret

    My partner and I maintain a very frugal lifestyle (we do our own haircuts, ride our bikes as much as possible, and typically choose hobbies that are free or low cost). However, I think the most helpful rule we’ve created for ourselves it to consult one another on purchases over $20. This prevents frivolous spending, but allows us to have a coffee with a friend here or there as needed. Some might view this as incredibly restrictive, but it works for us. Different strokes for different folks, as they say.

  • toomanybooks

    My wife and I are both (feminine) women who don’t have to consider gender differences when budgeting, AMA

  • Lisa

    I know the discussion gets into the nitty-gritty, which is awesome, but I just wanted to say that I love this post because of Maddie’s attitude toward shared finances and doing what is needed for each partner’s health and for the health of the relationship. My partner and I share our finances (and I totally understand if you don’t – different strokes for different folks). We entered into our relationship with different debts and savings, at various points we’ve made more or less than one another, but neither of us is keeping score, and that has been pivotal for us not just financially, but in thinking of ourselves as a team in it for the long haul. It’s just our money and we put it toward our needs and our future goals. Sometimes our needs include expensive bike repairs for the mental health of my partner. Sometimes they include costs associated with my PhD. Both of those things are investments in our future, keeping us healthy, happy, and furthering our dreams. No division or fairness needed. We do use YNAB and budget tightly, but we don’t budget to keep things fair, just to keep us moving forward.

  • E.

    Our budget is changing a lot right now because we just moved and my husband started law school so we’re down to one income. Our basic premise is the still the same though: Everything goes into one pot and we each get the same “fun money” each month in a personal account that we can spend no questions asked. What we use fun money vs shared money is a constant conversation, but usually all personal maintenance stuff is shared money and extra splurge things are fun money. If I need a pair of shoes for work, that’s shared money. If I see some cute shoes I really want, but don’t need, that’s fun money. Now I just need to figure out how much fun money we can afford with our new budget!

    • Yael

      We’re in a similar situation but even once we return to two incomes, I will likely out-earn A by quite a bit (he’s a teacher). We’ve been trying to come up with a way of dividing expenses/income that doesn’t result in dramatic retooling or dramatic discrepancies in fun money. I like your idea!

  • quiet000001

    I’ve found one benefit to budgeting and actually talking about ‘pink tax’ stuff is that it’s also given us some ideas of things to do together. Like my partner has expressed interest in taking massage classes (I have a chronic pain issue and massage can really help) and also in learning how to do a mani-pedi so we can have little at home ‘spa’ time and get some quality time together while I get my nail care taken care of. (I don’t get anything fancy done, though, I’m just awful at polishing my own nails even after many years of trying. So it’s well within reach to do that at home if he gets good at it.) (I have funky looking nails from psoriasis, so I feel much less self-conscious if they are painted.)

    It’s also helped encourage him to spend more money on self-care and to think about his self-care needs. (His haircuts cost more now, but he is much happier with them and they require less day to day styling work, which he super appreciates.)

    In general, though, we try to be honest about what the reason for an expense actually is, and not assume just because some people would consider it frivolous, it means it is. For example, our budget has an item for “Starbucks” for me, which is not fun money. I’m at home with my mom and my partner’s son most of the time, and having that budget item really encourages me to get out and go to a Starbucks (or elsewhere) just to get out of the house a bit and have a break. Otherwise I get caught up in things that need to be done around the house and eventually get super cranky and cabin-fever-y. Likewise nail care stuff is not fun money because I’d do it even if I didn’t enjoy it because of the nail funkiness.

    I guess basically for us, fun money is for things you COULD do without, but do because they are entertaining in some way. (Like I don’t need a subscription makeup and skincare sample box once a month, but it entertains me to get it in the mail and see what I got this time.) Stuff that is necessary to function ‘normally’ in our jobs/social circle probably isn’t fun money. (Although things can also be split between categories – if my SO is doing my nails for me regularly, then supplies for that aren’t fun money, but if I decide to go get a mani-pedi for fun, the difference between the cost of that and the cost of any items we’d be using anyway would be a fun money thing.)

    Another example would be dog stuff – we agree that the standard dog expenses are a family thing, but if I decided the dog needed another collar or a Halloween costume just because I found something cool, that could reasonably be a fun money thing.

    (My SO has plenty of his own projects and interests for his fun money, too. And there we do the same – if he is doing a project at home for fun that has some application towards his job even though it isn’t a work project, then some of the expense is fun money and some is sort of ‘professional development’ stuff.)

  • uggggh

    The fact that the conclusion this article came to was “stop feeling guilty about participating in beauty rituals designed by men to waste women’s time and prevent us from organizing, that we’ve been deliberately socialized into since birth” and not “you don’t have to waste your money on these things and if we all collectively stopped doing them and foisting them on our daughters, we’d all be better off” is pretty tragic, horrifying, and embarrassing.
    How much money would rich men lose if women stopped hating their natural bodies? (The answer is billions minimum, in case you were wondering. No wonder there is so much investment in making us do it).
    There’s also a difference between a “female” tax, which would incorporate things like menstrual products, and a “femme” tax. Femme is a lesbian specific term that describes a particular social and cultural experience. It is not a short form for “someone who wears lipstick”.
    I am so sick of non-lesbians appropriating our terminology and culture.

  • PCS2017

    Hmm, this “pink tax” discussion is interesting. I tend to think that most of the time participating in events and buying items that have a pink tax is a choice. Like, no one has to wear make-up, no one has to get waxed. Seriously, we really don’t have to. And the more people who don’t do it the more normal it will be to not do it.
    I’d say menstrual products are the only unavoidable pink tax (though I welcome differing opinions on this). But using a diva cup can definitely decrease the cost of it. And haircuts seem to have a pretty heavy pink tax, but maybe more women need to start getting buzz cuts and/or stop caring so much about what it looks like? I mean, I see a lot of guys with some seriously terrible haircuts, and it doesn’t seem to stop them from being happy and finding partners.
    I’m definitely not saying it’s all on us women, I totally recognize the patriarchy and societal expectations that influences our choices. But I think we could choose not to play along so willingly sometimes.

  • Rebecca

    We used excel to create a budget – all incomings, all regular outgoings, added a misc category and then worked out a savings target that left us enough to play with personally.
    In the early days we had some discussions about what counted as fun money, but now we just approach it as ‘this thing isn’t essential to maintaining myself.’ So haircuts are joint spending, my cleansers, moisturisers and basic makeup are joint spending (though if i want a fancy new metallic gold eyeliner, that’s on me).
    It helps that even though right now he’s making more than me, as soon as i finish my thesis I expect to walk into a job that pays more than our whole household income currently, so we don’t get ingrained habits around fairness.
    TL;DR: I’ve been reading APW for several years and we’ve successfully modeled joint finances that reflect that 😁😁

  • Staria

    Alright real talk. How does this work when you’re a woman, with a male partner, and YOU’RE the one who makes significantly more? (I work in a reasonably wellpaid industry, doing about 10 hours more a week; he works in a poorly paid industry. Both happen to fit with our particular skill sets.) I find this is is a big taboo to add to taboo money discussions. When we talk about a man who earns more and a woman who earns less, we push back and say she shouldn’t have to do the majority of the housework. My partner does do housework… but not nearly as much as I do… even after I got a cleaner… and I do all the thinking/organising/planning mental work. I know – talk to my partner… but he perceives that he does plenty. And he does. I just do more. I’d love to hear from other people in this situation and any conversation angles or other things that worked for you?

    • I’m in a similar situation, though we’re both in relatively low paid industries, so hiring a cleaner wouldn’t be an option for us. The main difference is that even though I have a higher paid office job, I have more free time than him, especially now he’s in the final year of his PhD. He’s usually still working when I get home (he’s usually still working all the time, unless we’re eating or out of the house) whereas having a clear divide between work and home gives me more free time.

      In terms of division of labour, I probably do more ‘big’ cleaning and he does more ‘maintenance’ cleaning. The housework I do is more visible, but actually I do short bursts of hard work at weekends (clean the bathroom / hoover the carpets / scrub the oven), and he does constant light work during the week, so it probably evens out (and if he didn’t make the bed / do the washing up / water the plants, I probably would notice very quickly!). In terms of organising, I do more joint stuff, but all his doctor/dentist/family are entirely on him.

      How does your spouse feel about being the lower earner? Is it a sensitive issue for him, or is he happy because he’s in an industry that fulfills him? If it’s a sensitive issue, it’s going to make any conversation about time management and division of labour more fraught, and it might be worth him tackling that first. If it’s not a sensitive issue, then you need to find a way to objectively determine how much work you’re both doing. Maybe do a chore swap for a week? Keep a chore diary each for a week (including things like booking appointments, deciding on dinner, checking the calendar for birthdays etc – all the emotional labour as well), then swap them and do each other’s chores and see how that works for you.

    • Amanda Smith

      It’s tough. I make almost double what my husband does right now. All of our benefits are from my job (to the point that we got married at a courthouse before our actual November wedding). I definitely do more cleaning than him but he also does things I hate doing- mowing the lawn, shoveling snow, litter box, and deep cleaning our bathroom. He’s also got the worse schedule (lots of nights/evenings sometimes followed by early mornings) and is dealing with depression (and the medications that go with it). What I’ve had to learn is that if I really want him to help me out with the cleaning, I have to ask. Maybe I shouldn’t have to but honestly it is easier for me to just say “hey can you deal with the dishes?” than to get worked up about it. He responds so well to be reminded/asked to do things and always gets them done. I do wish I didn’t have to. I do wish he’d make the bed and put the pillows back on the couch…but we all have our strengths.

      The money thing is easier. We just combined our checking accounts so that it was all in one pot. Once it hits that account the money becomes “ours”. Everything comes out of that account. We do use a budget (not YNAB, it didn’t work well for us) and we each get a bit of pocket money to spend on whatever. That part has worked really well for us. What I do struggle with is knowing how important my job is. I work at a college in a grant funded position so my job security isn’t as great as it could be. It stresses me out knowing that we need my job so much. I hate knowing that if we choose to have a child in the future, staying home isn’t an option for me. He works in hospitality so hopefully he can work to the General Management level and take some of the pressure off me eventually. This is the first time I’ve ever made more than him and I didn’t anticipate it adding so much pressure to my life.

    • quiet000001

      Try writing it down? What you do, what he does, how much time you spend. Maybe also a notation of stress level 1-10 or something. Get his input on the things he does. Sometimes having things written down makes it easier to see what is being done.

    • Anonymous Owl

      Hey from that boat! Over 7 years we’ve been sharing finances, my income has been up to 2-4x more. I also brought in 90% of our pre-marriage savings. We both work a lot, and also try to cram in hobbies and friends.

      Tactics-wise: When I get overwhelmed, phrasing things this way seems to work better for us because in his case, he cares about how I’m doing more than he cares about chores. (i.e. “I am so overwhelmed with the dog and the conference and the window repair, even though I agreed to take those on. Can you help me figure out where we go from here?” vs “Please call XYZ”) We also added a weekly house meeting to write down all the chores for the week and figure out any joint social commitments for the weekend. If we miss too many weeks, both of us get stressy and snappy. Choosing housing & car that we could afford on either salary alone relieves a *ton* of background stress.

      General Feelings about earning discrepancy: this was a big source of anxiety for me at first, especially since I gave up job options to move to his city (I did want to leave my previous city). But that forced me to seek less conventional work, which led to starting a company which went well for a few years, and that experience boosted my market salary and my happiness quite a lot. Occasionally we both express some dismay at the state of the world which overvalues my field and undervalues his. As years go by, including a year where I mooched on his health insurance, or took a month sabbatical, it increasingly feel more like a partnership than addition and subtraction.

      In general I’m *super* fortunate that my husband Adults on his own. I was attracted to him as a conversation partner, lover, and adventure pal, but his being an actual adult about chores, budgets,
      etc. on his own (including grad school, where responsible budgeting meant lots of rice and beans) and his support for my career made me 100x more comfortable about tying our lives together.

  • ??

    Does anyone know what happened to all the comments? The link says there are 200-something, but there are only 3. I skimmed through them the other day and people had such good ideas about budgeting.

    • quiet000001

      I can only see a few too. Weird.

    • There’s about a week’s worth missing – the last happy hour is all still there, but a lot of posts are missing comments between then and last friday.

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  • Amie Melnychuk

    My husband and I both see our paycheques going into one pool. There is no splitting one way or another, or 50/50. My pay money is our money and his is our money, too.

    All expenses that come out our house as seen as both of our expenses. Hobbies included. We trust each other not to go overboard when making hobbies purchases, and made it a rule to pass any purchase over 100$ by the other partner for a reality check before clicking “Add to Cart.”

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