Tuesday, July 25, 2006

financial trust and marriages

Do you trust your spouse?
I'm not talking about marital fidelity - such as your spouse having a lover - rather I'm talking about financial trust.
Carrie Schwab wrote an article as part of a Schwab newsletter discussing when couples lose financial trust - it ignited my curiosity.
I remember catching a Dr. Phil episode in a dentist's waiting room where a woman was addicted to buying children's clothes and in the process blew out her limits on credit cards. She would hide the charges and even the clothing - all would be peaceful until her husband tried to use a credit card and learned that it had reached it's limit. This apparently happened repeatedly. They certainly did not have financial trust in their marriage.

Do you have financial trust in your marriage?
Are your accounts shared / joint or separate?

Is there such a thing as too much trust?

In my marriage everything is shared and joint. We have a high degree of financial trust. My wife has no interest in accounting, so I tally the numbers and share the results with her, occassionally or by need. She in turn is consistent with her spending and we discuss any large changes in either spending or income. More or less things balance out with a high degree of trust.

Our biggest challenge is not trust, but my wife's disinterest in finances in general. We exercise only 50% of our intellectual ability on solving financial problems.

Do any of you have a dissinterested spouse?
How does it affect your finances and decisions?
Have you discovered a way to pragmatically involve your spouse?

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this issue.



2million said...

Interesting. No spouse yet but my girlfriend and I have discussed this many times. I am not sure how we will handle this when we get married.

How do you handle purchases - for instance do you discuss purchases over a certain amount before you buy them? im wondering if we would set a limit of some amount like $75 or something so that we would both be aware of finanical activity.

I feel like I handle my own finances pretty well - once someone gets in the mix that may be a whole different story - I don't like suprises when it comes to money :-)

makingourway said...


I think sharing everything equally is a best approach, if you have any doubts create a sharing plan - say every year 10% of private assets convert to joint assets.

My wife and I generally consult each other on purchase over $300, though if we had agreed to a different number, I'm sure we would abide by it.

I recommend analyzing your typical purchases and setting a threshhold number that represents the highest 10-25%, depending upon your relationship.

It's much easier to track finances in quicken if you set up joint operating accounts and track all expenses through those accounts. Bottom line, if you keep money separate, each of you should contribute a certain amount of money each month to a joint operating account that you use for all (or limited to joint) expenditures.

I hope these ideas help.


Karla (ThreadBndr) said...

Jumping on this post late, but feeling the need to vent a bit. Actully, my late husband and I had a very rough time finding a money style that suited us both. It COULD have been a situation of very poor money trust, but we did manage to avoid that somehow.

He was a 'spender' - if he had funds available, cash or credit, they were spent. I am a 'saver' - uncomfortable with debt, needing a cash cushion. We did resolve the inevitable conflict - I balanced the joint check book. We each direct deposited a proportional percent of our take home pay and I paid all household expenses from that. We also both had our 401(k)funds deposited into savings direct from our respective pay checks.

My income funded the "stash" (ie emergency fund) and the "vacation" fund and the "kid wants to go to camp" fund and the investments (at that point mostly ESSP). His side was the "let's go to the movies" or "ICE CREAM!" fund. (And he bought a US Savings Bond every check via autodraft.)

Since we both had control over a distinct part of the discressionary money, there were fewer conflicts over that spending. We muddled along quite well (for over 20 years!) until his final illness and the year's worth of medical bills that rather upset the apple cart.

The one grace for us was that we could talk about money. Those conversations didn't always lead to the solution that was optimal for our net worth, but they did always lead to a compromise that I could live with. Communication is THE key.