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Who controls the money in your relationship?

Ramit Sethi

Indian culture is patriarchal in most ways. Yet interestingly, women control the money. Men come home from work and hand their paychecks to the mother of the house. And since multiple generations usually live in one house, the mother has impressive power and collects multiple paychecks, doling out money where appropriate.

That’s why I love this email I received from IWT reader Maria B.:

Hi Ramit,

As I was reading the Money Diaries, I noticed that in those authored by men in relationships, the women seemed to be in charge of the budget (even when money seemed to be a point of tension).

I know that this is the case in my family (my mother, my sister and I are all in charge of our respective family budgets), as well as with several of my friends (not supposition – I’ve seen the spreadsheets).

I admit that my sample is limited (and biased), but I am curious how this affects the highly-gendered anxiety/confidence levels that you reported in your email earlier this week. How much anxiety is a result of  knowing the actual numbers (i.e. creating the budget and tracking spending) vs. trusting that everything is being taken care of. I am also quite curious about finances in relationships – how is money handled, how perceptions shift, how to keep everyone on the same page, etc. I am doubt that there is a simple answer, but it would be interesting to study.

What do you think?

If you’re MARRIED, who handles the money — day-to-day finances and large purchases/investments?

If you’re UNMARRIED, how did your parents handle it? What worked and didn’t work?

Leave your comments below. As usual, I read every one.

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  1. avatar

    I’m married, I control the money, and I definitely worry more about it. Part of this is cultural, though – I’m American, my husband’s Brazilian, and he has a “don’t worry, things will always work out” attitude about life in general. I think part of it is also because my income fluctuates from month to month (I freelance) while my husband’s stays the same.

  2. avatar

    In my marriage i manage the finances. I cover just about all aspects of it. From setting the budget to spending to planning for the future. I try and try and try to make it a more joint venture. We track our budgeting and spending through Mint so either of us can look at it at any time. My wife will, instead of looking, wait for me to get home to ask if we can afford to spend money on something. Even on smaller purchases. We plan some personal spending money every month and she will still wait to ask before using it.

    In her family growing up and now her Mother controlled the finances. In my growing up years my dad managed budgets and finances. He has worked for banks for most of his working career.

  3. avatar

    I handle the vast majority of our finances. My wife always complained that we didn’t eat out enough so I’ve made her start tracking her expenses and cover the eating out. I cover everything else and handle the investing and planning as well. I work in the financial industry though and our incomes are very skewed (140k/yr to 30k/yr).

    Each of our parents are split. Her Dad manages their money. My mom handles most of the budgeting.

  4. avatar

    Married. I handle all the money. I recently discovered that my husband, while he knows his annual salary, has no idea what the bimonthly take-home is. He just hands me a pay stub in a closed envelope. It’s my “job” to manage the house, which includes figuring out what to spend in food, clothing, etc. He asks me if we have money to, say, go out to dinner and accepts my answer. We discuss general ideas like, “Right now we are trying to finish our 2012 Roth IRA contribution,” but execution is entirely up to me.

    The in-laws marriage works the same way. My FIL earns all the income, my MIL manages all the money. This seems normal for Asian cultures. (Chinese in-laws.) In my parents’ marriage, my father handles all the money, both the accounting for their businesses and the household expenditures, but he and my mother fight a lot about money.

  5. avatar

    I’m married and I handle the day to day finances. We review all of our accounts each month and track our progress for our yearly goals, which we created together.

  6. avatar

    I’m married and I control the finances in our marriage. Growing up, my dad was in charge of all the finances. In my husband’s family, his mom is in charge of it. When we married, my husband expected that I would control the finances since he grew up with a woman controlling the finances. I had no issue with this because I like to know where everything goes and wouldn’t be comfortable with someone else handling it.

  7. avatar

    Married. Live in Australia. I handle the money 100% (I’m the male BTW).

    My father also always handled the money and so I think I naturally just expected that I too would handle it all. All our friends I’m 98% sure the males also handle the expenses.

    That said I’d be 100% happy to share the money handling with my wife 🙂 She has just as many Engineering degree’s as me (better in fact as she scored “first class honours” on hers) and I’m sure she’d do just as good a job. The thing is, she doesn’t care really and I enjoy doing it all so she rarely touches it. I always keep her informed and answer any questions and make changes if she feels something is wrong/missing. So in that regard I guess you could say we’re BOTH in control, I just do all the heavy lifting 😉

  8. avatar
    Eric S. Mueller

    I’m married and I handle the finances. My wife handled them for several years, then passed them back to me (long story). I do all the day to day, planning, and major decisions.

  9. avatar

    I’m married. We basically both handle the finances.

    We do a yours/mine/ours system for bills. We each have our own accounts plus a joint account for joint expenses. We make just about the same amount so all the joint expenses are split down the middle.

    As to who physically pays the bills, it’s mostly done by my husband- because he’s likes to track all the minutiae of the credit card bill and such. I am happy to track expenses automatically in Mint, but he for some reason lives in fear that Kohl’s will overcharge him for the pants he just bought, so he checks every bill. Drives me batty, so I let him do it.

    We sit down and do a budget review together every month.

  10. avatar

    I (wife) handle the day to day money in our house. For larger expenses (home improvements, cars, etc) we make decisions together. Also, we each have some monthly discretionary money of our own that we spend on whatever we want without consulting each other, which gives us flexibility without compromising our budget.

  11. avatar
    Bobby V. Berry, Jr.

    My wife and I discuss all the finances and major purchases.

  12. avatar

    Married. Live in Canada. And my husband and I discuss the expenses together. I manage the household and business expenses, but the budgets are set together after discussing what our priorities are. Investments as well are done jointly. I deal with the securities , but comodities and real estate are jointly managed.

  13. avatar

    My dad makes and handles all the money and I believe he sets the budget, also. Otherwise, my mother would spend money as soon as it got in her hands. For a time, she was employed and would do just that with her paycheck.

    I think this system worked for them. Not so sure if it would work for me. I don’t like being completely in the dark about money.

  14. avatar
    Mark C

    My wife tracks the budget and income and together we make large purchases. I have a full time job and freelance work, my wife is a stay at home mom. So, she has the time to stay on top of income and expenses for our family of seven.

  15. avatar

    I (the husband) take care of 90% of the finances in the house including retirement, investments, and day-to-day bill paying and tracking. Once a month we sit down to talk about what we have coming in the next month and what we plan on spending, how our retirement/savings are doing and if we need to change anything.

    For the most part we talk about pretty much all non-essential purchases and trust each other’s judgement. However a large purchase for us is anything over $50 and we pretty much talk it out ahead of time.

    There was a time several years ago where we switched roles for ~2months because I felt I was too obsessed with our money or lack thereof and she wanted to see what I did. She said it was a good experience to understand what all goes into our finances and it was certainly beneficial in that she now knows where to look for everything and I have a secure place in which to store our our account info in the event that I suddenly die.

  16. avatar

    I’m married and I (husband) handle the finances by automating just about everything. My wife isn’t interested in our month-to-month finances because we live well below our means. She hasn’t gotten involved in our finances because I setup the automation (bill pays and transfers) without her. Now there’s a large barrier to entry for her to get involved. We have different banks for different accounts – checking/savings in one, mortgage at another, car loan at another, investments, IRA, 401Ks all in different places. Just starting to get involved is intimidating just figuring out each bank, account, website, user name, password, etc…

    Your automation systems are wonderful for putting your finances on auto-pilot but in our case it does create an intimidating system to an outsider.

  17. avatar

    I’m married. My wife is a stay at home mom, and she handles all the finances. My paycheck is direct-deposited into a shared account, and she divides it between savings, checking, college savings, and retirement. I don’t have a budget, but I only spend money on lunches and possibly one night out per month with friends, so I’m not worried about my spending habits.

  18. avatar
    Joshua Romero


    To all the Women handling there budget out there!!!!!!


    She has terrible habits with finances. She never writes anything down and always does it in her head.She also constantly uses the fact that she has kids as an excuse that she is broke. I tried to explain to her that she is living outside her means. I took time and made her a spending plan for a whole year and she refuses to follow it. We just got into a huge fight about this. She gets mad at me and says that I just want to control her as I think to myself, Yes there is nothing I want more than to do my finances and your as you treat me like I’m Hitler or something.

    My email is attached someone please help me.

  19. avatar
    James Jones

    I am single.

    In my family it was a little complicated. On paper my father managed the money. However, because he didn’t manage it very well/attentively it was more realistically managed by my mother.

    On a side note, when I think on this I believe this is why I have the script of being pretty fastidious about money and very focused on having separate finances when I am involved with someone.

  20. avatar

    Married. Husband and I handle finances/budget jointly…I’m responsible for long-range items (retirement, major targeted savings for house, car, emergency fund, annual goals, etc.) and he handles short-range items like monthly bills. We have a monthly “meeting” to go over budget and spending for the past month and priorities for the next month. We also have our own discretionary spending accounts that we deposit roughly 5% of our income into and spend however we wish throughout the month.

  21. avatar

    My parents have always had separate bank accounts and split the bills. My dad makes significantly more than my mom and is also the spender in the relationship, although I think he is a conscious spender. My parents have different priorities- my dad likes to eat out my mom and I would be happy with rice and beans every night. My dad isn’t a big traveler or vacationer but he loves living on the gulf coast and we have had a variety of boats my whole life to enjoy it.

    I don’t think this is a solution I would opt for- when I was growing up and my sister and I had school or sports expenses typically one parent would pay for one child and one for the other and my sister and i both knew my mom made less so you feel guiltier for that!

    The double edged sword is my mom likes my dad paying for things she would never “splurge” on like a nice meal out, on the negative side my dad will just show up at the house with a new boat or having bought my mom a different car. Thankfully they are both fiscally responsible just in different ways and they really invest in their quality of life (renovating their home, buying nice bikes and paddleboards for their outdoor excursions, building a greenhouse in the backyard) which I admire. So even if their money is separate the things they leverage it towards are the same.

  22. avatar

    We are married, we agree on savings targets and allocations, and make major purchase decisions together. We pool our income together, and take draws as needed.

    I am the husband, a CPA and have managed Quicken, paying bills and making deposits since we have been together for several years. I give her quarterly Quicken financial statements and we review them together.

    We have found it better for one person to manage the accounting aspects, and to decide together how to allocate our resources.

  23. avatar

    I’m married. For the first 15 years of our marriage I worked part time and took care of the house and all the finances. In the last 5 years I’ve gone back to work full time and somewhere along the way my dear husband took over the finances. He is doing a great job at it and I love the break. We still discuss all of our spending and saving plans but I don’t miss watching the bank balance and paying the bills.

  24. avatar

    I’m a woman married to a man, and like probably 99% of your commenters are going to say, I handle the money. By that I mean tracking, compilation of the paperwork, making sure things like taxes and retirement contributions are done on time, and renewing insurances and staying on top of returns and things. My husband is well aware of where we have our money though and (not to the dollar but closely) how much is in various categories of accounts and has the passwords socked away in case I’m hit by a bus tomorrow. We both have our own chequing accounts and don’t budget beyond ensuring various contributions go to savings/retirement every month. We both research big purchases and holidays and things depending what they are. Our only debt is the mortgage, so our finances are “easy” to a degree.

    I’m not losing any sleep over it as it’s not my business, but can’t fathom those relationships where one partner has essentially no clue what’s going on in this day and age (and those relationships do exist). Money management is a life skill up there with being able to drive and to feed and clean yourself in my opinion and nobody should opt out because they “don’t care”. Dangerous stuff.

  25. avatar

    I’m married, and I manage almost everything with the money. My husband and I each get personal spending money of $20 a month, which is good for him (as a spender) because it’s small enough for him to keep track of in his head, and it’s money he can spend on whatever he wants (usually Taco Bell). We use and he will sometimes check it to make sure he will be under budget for buying groceries, since he does about half the grocery shopping. I check our credit reports, pay our credit card bill, track information for taxes… that sort of thing. I think it basically comes down to who has the more organized brain. For example, I would get along well with Elizabeth Esther’s husband, whereas she is just like my husband.

  26. avatar

    Married. I handle reconciling accounts and paying bills. We both manage our credit cards (pay balance twice a month)… and we discuss major purchases. I’m hispanic, my husband is american. My parents have their own checking accounts. We have a joint account that I mostly manage, and my dad thought that was strange. His parents share a joint checking account, but his mom mostly manages it.

    With technology these days it is easier for both spouses to look at accounts daily. We each have access to all accounts, so we can both see whats going on. I guess you could say we both manage the finances, but I do the planning for bills and expenses on a month to month basis.

  27. avatar

    It makes sense that whoever posts here will be the one who manages the money. 🙂

    We split it according to our talents. I’m the big-picture, long-term thinker, and my interest goes in fits and spurts. I handle the investments and retirement funds. My husband is far more detail-oriented and can remember to check things daily, weekly, or monthly as necessary. He pays the bills and makes sure there is always money in the right accounts.

    Neither of us would have been happy with the other totally controlling the finances, but we didn’t want to keep separate finances either (a personal choice that was important to us – don’t criticize me for it, and I won’t criticize you for doing it differently). This has worked beautifully and we feel like a team managing our money.

    My Dad manages their finances and gives my Mom money for groceries every month. I’m dreading what happens when he’s gone and my Mom has no clue about any of it. I expect it will end up being me handling it.

  28. avatar

    Run. Run fast, and run far.

  29. avatar

    I’m the husband. We have separate finances, and each do whatever we want to with our money. Prenup ensures this holds if, God forbid, we divorce. We split shared expenses, plan vacations together, and deviate from equal expenses on a case-by-case basis and for gifts. She generally accepts my input on investing issues, because I have more interest there – but she is quite capable on her own. We both want control over our finances, and this gives us that control and–I think–keeps the incentives right and limits arguments. I think that we both have a good awareness of each others financial position.

    No house or kids, either of which will require a big conversation.

    Parents – mine seem to handle their money separately, hers have different roles; he does house, she does maintaining the household.

  30. avatar
    Jim E.

    Been married 8 years and basically my wife brought the spreadsheet to the relationship and we both fill it out. She physically pays most of the bills because she had billpay set up before I did. As we’ve moved and with new offers some of those have switched back and forth. We both know generally whats going on and we both talk about major purchases (basically anything over $100) at least in general before they are done.
    For example Hockey dues come up for the season they are $450. I know she knows how much it costs and that it will be due eventually. For this I don’t have to tell her I’m paying them on a certain date, but I need to tell her she will see it hit the budget that month.
    Major long term stuff regarding investments. We have an idea of how much we want to have saved by certain years.Or our job prospects and children. We’ve actually had a discussion about me going to some kind of stay at home role if it will help her get tenure, my career prospects are just as good as hers and we could both muddle through life without it, but there’s a very real sense that with it we could “beat the game”.
    We both feel very strongly that all of these financial decisions indicate who’s in control of the finances and for the most part we think our family goals are more in charge than any one person.

    Growing up though was different, I honestly don’t know who controlled my families as my mom and dad both blame each other for losing all the money. In her family her dad tracked everything but her mom worried about it.

  31. avatar

    My wife handles most of the finances. That is, she pays the bills. We usually get together about once every 6 months to set up a plan and try to automate everything we can. What we can’t automate, she takes care of. I’m usually in charge of filing info and some other things.

    I think it works pretty well. My wife is concerned that I wouldn’t know what to do if she gets sick/is in an accident, but I am sure I can figure it out (we only have about 5 bills that cannot be auto paid). I think having one person in charge of payment keeps us from assuming the other person will pay the bill. As long as we are both in charge of the large decisions and structure (accounts, credit cards, loans to pay, IRAs) there is no problem with one person taking a lead on the actual payments.

  32. avatar

    Oh, if we’re tracking the background thing, we’re both immigrants – I’m from Europe, he’s from South Asia.

  33. avatar
    Ramit Sethi

    Read Chap 9 of my book. I have a word-for-word script you can use. It’s girlfriend- and boyfriend-tested.

  34. avatar
    Ramit Sethi

    Great point in your first sentence

  35. avatar

    I am married, and my husband and I have separate accounts. He controls his personal bills and most of the major house bills, and I take care of the children and the groceries, plus any personal expenses such as the gas I use and my cell phone. We do often fight about money, but it seems that we both have very different ideas of how to budget. In my family, my mother controlled the finances and my dad was happy to oblige. We are hispanic. In his household, my FIL gives my MIL a certain amount to live off of every month, and it is her job to stay within that budget. He invested their money and had the last word on all major purchases. They are Albertan ranchers.

  36. avatar

    I’ve been married less than a year and have lived with my wife for 3 years. My wife monitors the finances constantly (which are all automated anyway) and probably thinks she’s in charge of the finances. The truth is that we’ve set up a system, adapted from my single days, and stick to it. We each have our own checking, savings, and credit card accounts, and also a set of shared checking, savings, and credit card accounts. We are both automated to transfer a set amount of our paychecks (a ratio of each income) every month to our shared checking account, to pay rent and bills and we keep the rest to buy clothes, gifts, etc. My wife makes tons of small financial decisions – groceries, toiletries, etc. – and I generally make the larger ones – car, electronics, etc. She usually takes charge on travel, though I find the plane tickets and hotels. We budget together, but it’s not something we fret about day-to-day. The automation keeps us covered and let’s us worry about hundreds of other things beside money.

    I have no idea how my parents handled money at all. We were never allowed to talk about it, and who knows if my parents even did. In my marriage, we talk about what we’re saving for all the time, and because we know that there is money growing, it’s not a miserable experience.

  37. avatar
    Ryan Lee Waldron

    I’m noticing a trend here. It isn’t the always the man, and it isn’t always the woman. The person who controls the finances is the one who reads I Will Teach You to Be Rich.

    I control the vast bulk of the finances. My wife gets 30% of her paycheck deposited into a her personal bank account. the rest all goes into various accounts that either I control, or we have joint control over (She never even bother to look at those accounts).

    This is typical of most Uptown New Orleans families, where the women spend their time and effort arranging social gatherings and volunteering for the junior league. In exchange for the effort of handling the finances, the men get to spend some of the money on the social clubs (Lunch Clubs and Carnival Krewes) without getting hassled if the bill at the club bar comes out a tad higher one month than most.

  38. avatar
    Nathalie Lussier

    I’m engaged to be married this summer, and have been with my guy for many years. We each take care of our own finances, and we have agreements in place for joint things like rent, utilities, etc.

    Since I’m an entrepreneur I track everything I do in minute detail, and every time I’ve tried to get my guy to track his spending it lasts for a little while and then fizzles out. I’m also usually in charge of filing taxes, and setting a budget at the start of the year. I am interested to see how things might change once we tie the knot.

    I like having our separate accounts and being a little more independent when it comes to our finances.

  39. avatar

    We are married and agree that he will tackle world hunger and I will take care of the household stuff. Done!

  40. avatar

    I’m not married anymore, but when I was, my wife handled finances at first. Midway through our marriage, she got a job that necessitated a lot of travel, making it less convenient for her to manage the finances; at that point, I started handling them entirely.

    I never realized it until typing out this message now, but it was always the lower money earner who managed the joint finances. I wonder if that’s just coincidence, or if there is something more to it.

  41. avatar

    Joshua, I don’t see your email. Off hand I see one problem at the outset. You made a plan for her. Ask her how she would like to solve her problem, offer to help her and be calm and non judgemental. If you are obviously frustrated by her behavior she will take it negatively and retreat. Maybe help her brainstorm or start with tracking. Some people like being victims though, men or women. You may have to decide if you wanna live with that behavior or not.

    Anyway, my dad handled the money because he was a single parent. when he got married again they both handled the money. We never really talked about it in my family though.

    When I was married we both dealt with finances. I made less, so I paid the utilities and gave my husband money to cover part of the mortgage. As long is a beach covered our respective responsibilities, we could spend the rest are we wanted. This eventually broke down because he quit his job, was unsuccessful starting a business, and he refused to sell the house or move to reduce expenses. I was so frustrateed I was not able to have a reasonable conversation with him about it. When we did talk about it, it was more of that we don’t have enough money gripe fest rather than how to solve the problem. I ended up trying to make it obvious by giving him 100% responsibility over the bills and make him pay for everything, but that didn’t help either. Needless to say this didn’t last.

    Right now I automate my expenses. A check is automatically mailed to cover my rent every month and every other bill is automatically paid by credit card. I have the credit cards I don’t use much on autopay, and the big one on manual pay to look at it. I’ll have a conversation up front next time about finances.

  42. avatar

    I am in a long term same sex relationship (10 years now), so essentially married. We handle our finances separately and love that arrangement. We can always talk out what the fair thing to do is. My partner owns a multi-family and I pay him market rent for my share of the apartment that we live in. As an indicator of how separately we handle money, my favorite money thing that we do is that when we are going to drive somewhere a reasonable distance away and we could take either of our cars we have an impromptu auction to decide who should drive. We take turns bidding like so:
    A: “I’ll drive if you pay half the costs at 50 cents per mile”
    B: “I’ll drive if you pay half the costs at 46 cents per mile”
    A: “42”
    B: “Done!”
    If the trip was 100 miles total then B will owe A 100*0.5*$0.42 = $21. So the trip cost B $21 and cost A depreciation, maintenance, and repairs on his car amounting to a bit less than $21 and the difference he gets as a bonus for actually doing the driving.
    We both quite enjoy that process probably because it’s unusual and because nobody is ever unhappy with the situation afterwards. If I didn’t feel like driving I’d accept a higher bid from him and he gets reimbursed more for his trouble. It also encourages us to use his more efficient Corolla.

  43. avatar

    I actually worry about this a LOT. My husband trusts me completely, which is charming, but he has no idea about the financial particulars of our life. I keep meaning to make an “In the event of my death…” letter, but he honestly doesn’t even know which bank account our money is in. I’m worried about what would happen to him if I got his by a bus this afternoon.

  44. avatar

    I’m married and my husband and I have separate accounts so we basically each manage our own – except that I know my husband doesn’t pay any attention to his accounts so I check them. While discussing your book the other day I asked him what his take home pay is and he didn’t know (though I had an idea). He is against automating even his credit card payment because he wants to know how much it is even though he usually just puts gas on it. I am trying to get him to put into practice the stuff in your book, but it’s going to take some work on my part. He needs everything to be automated because he doesn’t pay any attention to where his money goes. We make enough money that this is not a problem right now, but it’s definitely not going to make us rich.
    As for my parents I honestly don’t know who manages the money but I do know that both my mom and step mom have their own accounts. Bringing up how our parents manage money seems to be right on the mark – from the comments most of us expect things to be done the way were with our parents (even if we didn’t realize it).

  45. avatar

    This is very similar to my history, except my husband (I’m female) took over the paperwork (well, electronic work, for the most part) when I decided to dedicate more time to becoming a professional writer. We both work full time.

    He’s been doing that part for several years now, but we discuss where our finances stand every time he does the bills, every time we decide how to allocate savings or bonuses, and every time we consider a large purchase. We also both let each other know any time we buy anything, and often check in with each other first to evaluate whether it’s a worthwhile purchase and/or give the other partner the option of a veto or delay.

    We both save receipts and enter them obsessively into Quicken, because we learned early on that otherwise we’d be over-drawn all the time. At some point we might switch roles again, like if he went back to school and had less spare time than me.

  46. avatar
    Chris C

    I am “married” in a same-sex relationship. I handle all of the finances. I grew up in a single mother household and even after remarrying, my mom handles all the finances. My partner’s father handled the finances in her family until her parents divorce several years ago.

    I grew up in low income bracket and money has thus been a primary focus for my entire life while my girlfriend was raised with more and thinks about it less. Actually, she hates to talk about money so we have 5 minute weekly updates where I tell her where we are financially and all of my concerns and she offers solutions if she has any in mind but mostly just agrees to whatever plan I may have devised. All of our income goes to a shared checking account and automatically pays our bills, funds our savings, etc from there.

    Until last year, we maintained mostly separate accounts and she paid half of all the household expenses to me. For spending money, etc, we each had a week since we both get paid biweekly but on opposite weeks. On her week, she would pay for groceries and activities and on my week, I would pay. This became impractical for a myriad of reasons, but mainly because we would argue over who paid for what for the kid. Now everything goes in to one pot and everyone gets an allowance from that. Kid and parents included.

  47. avatar

    I was just about to say what Kirsten did… I’d imagine that most of the people reading personal finance sites would be managing the money in their relationship.

    My husband and I tend to our own worlds, financially speaking. I manage the household expenses and he manages the occasional large purchase (because he likes doing the research more than I do!) and the investing. Because we make about the same amount of money, it’s not a big deal to have our finances split a bit. There’s none of the animosity that could arise if one spouse made significantly more than the other. Besides, most of our finances are automated anyway, so there’s really very little work on either of our parts!

  48. avatar

    I’m married. I make most of the money (twice as much as my wife). I watch and manage the money. We both control the money. We COMMUNICATE about what and when we are spending money and both agree on using money for a given purpose before spending it. Okay, sometimes I don’t… but I make more of it? What’s “funny” her income goes into her personal checking account that I don’t have access too (these are accounts she had before we were married). Most of my money goes into an account that was solely mine and setup before we were married… except I added her to the account so she has access to it.

  49. avatar

    29 and Married. I’ve handled our finances since we moved in together, about a year before we got married. We had just purchased a house, and during the process, we found out that my husband’s credit score wasn’t where he thought it was. Why was that? Oh, because he was notorious for paying things late, as in a day or two, but that still showed up on the credit reports because he made a habit of it. Right before we closed on the house, I made him change his direct deposit to “my account”, which is now “our account”. I pay all the bills, and handle the day to day stuff. I just didn’t trust him to not pay things late, so I took over everything for us.

    I drew up our budget, but we went over it together to make sure we were on the same page. We know what our goals are for the next year, 5 years, 10 years, so it makes the budgeting a little easier when you see your goals becoming reality. We are on a strict debt payoff plan now (2 cars, 3 student loans and 2 credit cards – from putting a new roof & windows in as we couldn’t get a home equity loan since the house/mortgage is underwater right now). We reevaluate the debt payment plan & budget each time there’s a bonus or raise or change in our circumstances that would warrant a revisit.

    It works for us most of the time, but sometimes it’s stressful to me because he really has no clue what’s going on with our money at times, even though he has the access to log in and see where everything sits at the moment. Sometimes I feel like I bear all the stress associated with our debt & the burden of an underwater mortgage while he’s able to go along blissfully until I remind him of where we are.

  50. avatar

    Even just having the list of accounts and passwords on a spreadsheet is a start I reckon, Meg, though it’s hard to figure out a secure place to keep them. I saw it when my a family member got seriously ill (when still quite strong and young) and his wife had to take over the money in their household. It was such a mess, she had his healthcare to worry about and other family members had to be drafted in to go through paperwork, we still didn’t know if we caught it all and at a minimum bills were definitely paid late. I immediately tightened up our record keeping after seeing that and would hate to see anyone else go through it.

  51. avatar

    I should add, we both are “in charge” of certain bills/payments though. She covers childcare, car insurance, her student loans. My income covers (and I ensure payment of) just about everything else: mortgage, food, my student loans, car loans, etc.

  52. avatar

    I manage the money. My wife has no interest in it. We live in Australia. I grew up in England, my father managed the money too. I actually thought it was odd when a Chinese girlfriend (from PRC) told me that if we got married she wanted to manage the money because women always did this in China (she claimed – not the case in my wife’s family also from PRC). This is certainly not the default setting in Jewish culture (my main cultural background).

  53. avatar

    Married, Female………keep our finances separate and independent.
    That suits me very well.

  54. avatar

    Hi Ramit & blog community – firstly, Ramit, I have to say that I’m a long-time fan and that I’ve benefited from your advice in regards to automating my finances since 2009 (thanks!).

    I’m writing because I was struck by the structure of your question, namely about asking whether it’s the man or woman who is in charge of finances. It was notable to me because it seemed to not be as inclusive as it could be of learning possibilities that could be garnered from asking the question to be inclusive of same-sex couples. This isn’t an “omg, I’m so offended and feel so invisibilized & oppressed by your use of the gender binary in your question” post; it’s actually just a post to say that I think the information you’ll get & the lessons that you might learn from asking the question in a different way might be interesting. Thinking about how gender/patriarchy/social-norms apply to opposite sex couples is really interesting; it’s also interesting to see how queer folks handle these same issues (where & how do gender/patriarchy/social-norms come into play for them? are there pitfalls they avoid better? are there new complexities that come into play?) Just some food for thought.

    For what it’s worth, in my same-sex relationship of 4 years** with my girlfriend, I mostly am in charge of our finances. She finds learning about personal finance stuff painfully dry… alternatively, I read this stuff for fun! What’s terrific is that although she doesn’t want to put in the time to learn about all the nuances, she’s very willing to have conversations about & is open to my suggestions & advice. We occasionally sit down together and have a formal conversation (3 times a year, or so) and figure out/update our spending plan (a’ la IWTYTBR). We include our fixed expenses, then our emergency fund savings & our retirement fund contributions, an eventual wedding, a down payment, philanthropy, and then we build a plan for what our guilt-free spending will be (both for what we’ll spend separately on ourselves from our own accounts, and then how we’ll divide our shared guilt-free spending. Since I make significantly more money than her, I pay a higher percentage of our going-out-together funds. This might not work for everyone, but it works for us). While I want to actively engage in our account balances & like to check in on progress multiple times/month, she prefers to just check occasionally or just wait until our conversations together.

    As far as how gender impacts our relationship, I’m butch & she’s femme (for those to whom those terms are unfamiliar, think Ellen & Portia). This means that in many ways I have masculine-gender privilege, and together we’ve talked through what it means in our relationship. When we were first together my sometimes-tending-towards-bossy-masculinity would come out in finance conversations & she felt I was condescending to her. I’ve done work to make sure I approach the conversations in a better way than that. Also, I work in a finance job at a large, well-funded university – and she works as a teacher. We’ve talked about how gender impacts the jobs themselves – given that teaching is still often considered “women’s work” and their salaries are low (not an accident, in our worldview) we decided together that because of this I should pay a greater percentage towards our guilt-free spending when we go out together.

    **We’re not (yet) married, and a part of this is because although we live in MA where same-sex marriage is legal, since DOMA makes it illegal at the federal level we’d have to file taxes as married in MA, but separately (as single) on the federal level… thus losing money! Also, we get screwed in regards to how health benefits work (if she were to be on my benefits, it’s taxable!): from GLAD’s website (, “Employers may provide tax-free health benefits to their employees’ different-sex spouses. However, DOMA prevents recognition of
    marriages by same-sex couples for federal tax purposes. Therefore, if a
    same-sex spouse receives health benefits through the partner’s
    employer-sponsored plan, the fair market value of those benefits is
    treated as income to the employee and subject to federal income tax.”

    *I know there’s more to this history of men/women teaching, but I’m going off of this article ( “men make up only 18.3 percent of elementary and middle school teachers and 2.3 percent of preschool and kindergarten instructors”

  55. avatar

    Married. I make $120,000 salary + variable independent consulting income. Wife makes $40,000.
    I manage the long-term investments, retirement accounts, and planning (ie setting budgets, auto-transfers to various savings accounts, student loans, etc).
    My wife handles the execution. I have no idea who we have to pay for power/water/rent/etc and prefer it that way. I only care about the numbers.
    We have never had the slightest argument about money – probably because neither of us spends money on anything unless it is functional, necessary, and painfully important.

  56. avatar

    Married female….I handle paying the bills + shopping and will give general direction regarding retirement investments. BUT, we consult regarding larger purchases and in the end manage our own retirement accounts. It just seems I’m the one more comfortable handling the details (he also hates making phone calls for some reason so I make appointments for everyone in the house as well). We both review the credit card bills and other items as they come in so are aware of where the money is going.

  57. avatar
    Stacy McKenna

    When I was married, it was joint budgeting, but I usually handled the day-to-day payment of bills/recording of receipts/reconciling of statements. I hate dealing with insurance of any sort, though (real mental block) so he always handled management of homeowner’s/car insurance policies and I just paid the bill.

    Currently, I have a live in BF who makes much more than I do. We have separate accounts. To a degree we have separate finances and separate budgets. That said, he’s very concerned that the rent he pays me cover what I need it to cover for me/the kid. He also is covering all of my food and gas. Recently, he had me take over management of his receipts/reconciliations because he was awful at the daily record keeping but he likes having the online balances accurate even for things that haven’t cleared yet. Lucky for him, my personality lends itself to meticulous data entry habits. So, I don’t really dictate anything regarding his budget, just as he doesn’t tell me how to spend my money (even when it comes from him) but we’re also both concerned about making sure we’re helping rather than hindering each other with financial goals and needs.

  58. avatar
    Ramit Sethi

    Appreciate your comment and especially how you delivered it. I was actually just having a similar conversation with one of my readers who made the same point via email. They suggested I title this post, “Who is better at controlling money: Men or Women?” which makes it subtly different. I’ll try to be more aware of this in future posts as I always want to be as inclusive as possible.

  59. avatar

    Interesting situation.
    I am married and control the finances. All aspects of it. Paying bills, investments, budget, etc. The interesting, or maybe not so interesting thing of it is, she makes twice as much money as i do. What may be even more interesting is that her line of work is accounting! I am not a control freak or anything. When we got married it just sort of worked out that way because i wanted to be proactive with our finances and it just stuck that way. She is curious and always asks me and we discuss it all the time which is good.

    As far as parents, I don’t really know who handles the finances with her parents. In my family, it was my mother, the stay at home mom, that took care of all the finances. My father would work 60 plus a week, and my mother would pick up any odd job around and babysit for a little extra.

    Its interesting to read about everyone’s situation.

  60. avatar
    Jessica H

    I’m in a relationship and a complete control freak about my money; I can’t imagine giving up complete control of my assets haha My boyfriend and I discuss money sometimes (we’re both fairly frugal), but I’m not going to give away all the details unless it gets more serious. I don’t think I’d stick too long with someone who wasn’t also mindful of their finances.

  61. avatar

    First of all, if she won’t change if she doesn’t want to. Second, it seems she has some serious personal things to work out. These are things that will seriously hurt the relationship and I’d be surprised if the control thing doesn’t show up other places for her. I can’t imagine she’s a great parent if she’s stuck in this pre-teen “control issues” stage. Sadly, there isn’t anything you can do about this. There are many ways for HER to acquire some maturity and health, but that is all up to HER. Are there substance or other abuse issues also around her – maybe she’s not the abuser, but typical with that attitude. This is a long way of saying you should maybe wish her well and move on since there are serious emotional health issues at work here. Feel free to show her this. I’ve been through a lot of stuff myself, and after all that money spent, I can see the signs. Good luck to you both.

  62. avatar

    I’m a woman married to a man. We recently opened a joint account to be used for our rent cheques (Canadian giveaway!) and savings for our downpayment. We manage all other saving separately (he keeps it all in a savings account, I have retirement accounts, etc). We split all other bills equally, even though I outearn him because I pay for disability insurance, and also because we split everything equally when I was in grad school and he was working, as we weren’t married at that time… Basically to help me make up for lost saving time. However, this is us without kids. Once kids are here I could see this changing as our expenses become increasingly more joint, and I suspect I will manage it. He gets very emotional and frustrated when dealing with money. It doesn’t help that neither of us earn very much!

  63. avatar

    I handle the tasks of the our finances yet any purchases over $100 my husband and I talk about first. We each are spenders in our own way depending on what it is we’re talking about buying. We just each get our play money toward those things and the rest goes to household and savings.

  64. avatar

    I’m married and I do the gruntwork on balancing the checkbook and recordkeeping, but I would say our financial decisions are made jointly. We consult at least once a month on setting priorities. We decided together how much of the income we want to allocate to different categories, and we each have taken over different aspects of spending that we gravitate towards – for example, I do the clothes shopping, and my husband buys the car maintenance and household/yard project purchases. He does ask me what we have saved up when he is ready to do a project because I like reading spreadsheets and he does not. If something comes up that we do not specifically have $$ saved up for, we consult about where to draw it from. I think he worries about money more regularly, because he operates on a scarcity mentality and I keep reassuring him things are going according to plan. I have major freak-outs occasionally when things did not go according to plan, and he calms me down. So he worries more chronically and I worry more acutely. Really, we balance each other well.

  65. avatar

    I handle the money! I’m an Accountant and my husband is a musician. He is good at budgeting his money, but not so much with planning. The industry he’s in is pretty much famine or feast, so I get why he’s not much of a planner type. It would drive me crazy to be paid on commission which is why I’ve always had steady jobs – because I like to plan. We’ve set a budget for our fixed expenses with my steady income and we’ve deemed his income to fund our savings/spending account. At the moment it’s working great!

  66. avatar

    We got married a year and a half ago and have been living together for over 3 years and we both control the finances. He pays for the mortgage and utilities (But I see all of the bills) and I manage the household payments like groceries, veterinarian trips, household goods, gifts, as well as my car payment. When it comes to large purchases we discuss it and we have a budget that we’ve set out. We always put away for savings first. Both of us lived under our means and on our own for several years before we met so we both have a difficult time throwing all of our money into one giant joint account (we have one and use it, but for large joint purchases, vacations, etc). Plus, I don’t want him getting upset with me when he sees the statement and saw that I spend $200 on a pair of shoes and vice versa with him spending $500 on a tool. We don’t argue about money and are very open with each other about our finances. It just works better for us to keep a lot of it separate.

  67. avatar

    We have been married for 13 years. For the past 15 years I have handled our finances after the first year of my husband trying and botching the job. I learned on the job, made some mistakes, but nothing large like he had done that first painful year. Slowly but surely I got us out of debt, paid off our large pool of credit card and student debt, and we are left now with just our mortgage. (And sadly, I recently agreed to a new car purchase, so we have car payments again for the first time in over 10 years).

    I am the primary researcher of all large purchases, but we agree together when anything large is decided upon (car/house). Typically though, my husband just agrees with whatever I recommend. He seems content with this lifestyle and he never loses sleep over bills or how to manage savings.

    I grew up poor and like to know exactly where we stand at any given moment, it makes me feel safe to know what my cushion is if things went badly.

  68. avatar

    I think that’s a very interesting point. Several other commenters have pointed out that the spouse with the less time-consuming job (or less away-from home job) tracked the finances, however the decisions were made. Specialization of roles = leveraging time.

  69. avatar

    In my marriage, I control the budget/expenses/etc. I usually set up everything and track it (with Mint) and my wife will ask how we’re doing or if we can spend money on something.

  70. avatar

    I’m unmarried, and my parents are in the “unusual” situation where mom makes a significant income and dad is the stay-at-home caretaker of 5. My mother doesn’t have anywhere near the time needed to keep up with our family’s finances so dad takes care of everything.

    An interesting side note that I presume influenced how they came to this arrangement is that my father used to work for a bank and has a masters degree in international finance. I’ve never asked but I’m curious how they ultimately decided who’s career and life goals fit better into the roles they’ve taken.

  71. avatar

    Married. I had heard an NPR article describing how in eastern cultures women control the money, so I figure that if it worked for half the world, then it might work for us too. Long term and large purchases we plan together and my wife keeps me informed on the rest of our day to day finances. My wife wife likes doing it and I eliminated as a distraction during work. Win-win.

  72. avatar

    Married woman, but not for the first time, and money is handled VERY differently this time around! We’ve studied Dave Ramsey and tweaked his program a bit – enough to stay with the program and still get results, just not as strictly or quickly as he recommends. My husband is self employed and I’m not, so when we decided to get married we sat down and made a list of expenses, then decided who would pay what, and it was amazing how evenly it came out. We review that list from time to time but it hasn’t changed very much in 16 years. We have his/hers/house accounts, with the house account being mostly for fun. Each of us makes very few purchases that the other doesn’t know about, not to get permission but just for information. I pay most of my bills online and my husband pays most of his by check

  73. avatar

    I’m married, my wife handles all the money, she takes the paycheck and give me some pocket money if i deserved it. When I was single obviously I handle my own money and I think I was prety good at it (as in tight) but she is better and is one thing less to worry about for me (selfish?) I think women are better are this kind of stuff providing they are not shopaholics. My mother used to be in charge of the finances also.

  74. avatar

    Wow. Glad to read the comments here. Married. Thought I was “saddled” with managing the finances and thought my husband ought to. Now I see that there are a variety of ways to handle finances in a family and I am glad to do it.

  75. avatar

    Unmarried: my dad handles the money and yells at my mom (but not me) whenever she or I spend anything over whatever his threshold is for getting irritated (it depends on how he feels). He also uses money/favor to try to ‘buy’ affection.

  76. avatar

    I’m married, and we do it by committee, really. We negotiated who would pick up each bill – gas, electric, insurance, etc. The one who makes the most spends the most. We make large purchases together and make sure we’re both pulling the boat in the same direction overall. The funny thing is, both of us came to this because of our parents’ horrible money relationships. His mother let his father control the money and resented him for doing a bad job, while my mother controlled the money and my father managed it. Basically this means we both came from households where both parents resented eachother for spending money in ways they didn’t agree or approve of. So we both prefer to start from a position of agreement and go from there, including making sure we both have our own money that the other has no influence over.

  77. avatar

    I earn 80% or so of the household income, manage 100% although the vast majority is automated and I don’t spend much time on it. My wife is uninterested in how much money well make, our station in life etc yet she worries much more about money than I do. I on the other hand am more interested in both saving and earning clipping coupons and taking side jobs. Both of us spend money as we please but we don’t spend much.

  78. avatar

    I am single and I control my money. I was in a relationship for 3 years where we lived together, but he didn’t have income to speak of so I still controlled the money and paid the bills. I’m not 100% sure what happens with my parents, but this is what I suspect:

    My dad makes a lot more than my stepmother. I believe they keep separate checking accounts and have divided up bills accordingly. However, since he makes so much more, he is basically controlling the finances and her income pays for a few things plus her personal expenses. I think. But I would expect that my dad controls the money or mostly controls the money because when my mom died, she left a LOT of debt that he didn’t know about, so I think he is a bit paranoid (not necessarily irrationally so) about something like that happening again.

  79. avatar
    Hungry Hippo

    I am a married woman in my mid-20s; my hubby is in his early 30s. I have always controlled the money, as well as paperwork: taxes, immigration, health cards, etc. I handle everything from setting up bank accounts (“Just sign here, babe”), arranging auto-pays for savings, paying bills, reviewing budget and spending… everything! My husband doesn’t want to know the details: they stress him out, the system seems complicated to him (it’s not, he’s just never really used traditional banks), and he trusts and expects me to handle it. I’m happy to do it, but it would be nice if we could discuss a bit more. I try to discuss “my” big purchases with him (i.e. Ramit’s productivity course), but he generally tells me to do what I want.

    For the first 2 years of our marriage, I was the sole earner due to his immigration situation. Since he started working, I set up his bank accounts (he used to just keep his money in Western Union… until a house fire destroyed all the paperwork and he lost tens of thousands of $$ as he could not prove it was his). These accounts include chequeing, where his paycheque is direct deposited, as well as a few savings accounts that are automatically paid into each pay period. Once our emergency fund is fully funded, I will set up a retirement fund for him. Each pay period, he withdraws a chunk of cash and gives it to me for expenses: part of it goes into our safe for cash-on-hand, and the rest is deposited into my acct to pay bills. We don’t have a shared acct because he is American and I am Canadian: we live in Canada, but the IRS could tax anything in a joint account so we just don’t do it–ugh, American double taxation raises my hackles, but that’s another topic for another day. We keep cash available (approx $100/week), so that can be grabbed if going out with friends, but we are homebodies so it’s most often used for groceries or pet food.

    He does tend to give extravagant gifts (in my opinion), and I found myself resenting it. He would want to buy a $250 gift for a friend’s bday present, but I don’t even spend that much on my family members. Now that he has income, I set up a savings account for this (paid directly from his chequeing), so the money is already set aside and there are no hard feelings when he wants to buy gifts.

    My parents, who have been married for 30 years and both work, share the finances. However, there are some interesting details: the house is in my mother’s name (purchased when us kids were 1-4 years old; in her name so she would have a home for the kids in case of divorce); they have a joint account for bills, but my dad gives her cash from his own account for groceries/general spending; my dad files the taxes, but both pay bills and balance the chequebook.

  80. avatar
    Michael Chermside

    I’m married. For the first quite a few years, my wife and I kept separate budgets and handled our money separately (splitting bills mostly). Eventually, when we switched to having only one income, we kept a single set of finances. I (the husband) have handled it since then.

  81. avatar

    Married. I am female, and I am the sole provider. We have always kept joint finances. My husband is responsible for the day-to-day bill-paying stuff and the vast majority of the shopping. I am responsible for the strategic oversight and long-term planning. Basically, we do what we are each good at. It has been a struggle of many years to get to this point; for a long time he excluded me from the finances with psychological tactics (passive-aggressiveness, anger, etc.). I will no longer stand for that, because when we are not both involved, our finances suffer. He really just doesn’t have the strategic mind for this stuff–for example, he was paying extra on our low-interest auto loan (with a higher balance) rather than our high-interest credit card (which has a lower balance). That makes no sense in any kind of strategy. He also has no concept of what it will take for me to retire someday. For my own good, I now insist on being involved–even though he still says things to me, sometimes, which are both unkind and subtly designed to make me back off. Money is power, of course. Tools like make it easier for me to be strategically involved, and most of our bills are on auto-pay of some kind.

  82. avatar
    Poor to Rich a Day at a Time

    My husband works, I manage all aspects of finances from budgets, to bills to investments to increasing income streams to cutting expenses and self-reliant living skills. At the same time it is kind of a whole family affair as I discuss openly all aspects of finances in our day to day lives. As a homeschooling mom I even have the kids create different life scenario budgets along with our actual household budget. My 14 year old son now wants to start investing and learning about investing after I introduced him to it. For large purchases, I find quiet time to talk to hubby where we come to a mutual agreement.

  83. avatar

    I am not MARRIED (by choice), but have been with my partner long enough that I feel like I can comment as a married women. Interestingly enough I was explaining our budget and finances to my boyfriend yesterday and he just about had a melt down… What’s the big deal! He say’s, “I don’t want to know about it, I just want to make the money.” So, I am the one who gets to manage our finances. Some women would think being in control of the money is great, but that also means dealing with the stress of managing a tight budget at times.

    My parents on the other hand are the complete opposite. Both of my parents have always worked, but my dad manages all the bills. My mother, sadly, wouldn’t know where to begin. Mike’s parents seem to have some what of a joint effort when it comes to managing finances.
    To each their own. Whatever works for your relationship.

  84. avatar
    Poor to Rich a Day at a Time

    I should add at times when things are tight, it puts a huge burden on me as my husbands motto is ” you will figure it out!” This comes from a history of me always figuring out yet the stress for me to do so is incredibly high at times.

  85. avatar
    Dan B

    Married, male

    I make 3x what my wife does. When we moved in together, I made a spreadsheet with all of the bills. I moved bills around such that the ones I pay are the same percentage of my income as the ones she pays are of hers. IE I have the mortgage and she has groceries, etc.

    I also take care of all the savings, investing, retirement management, and large purchases.

  86. avatar
    Gordon Worley

    That’s great! I love when micro economics can work cleanly even when it comes to “personal” matters.

  87. avatar

    Ironically (or not so much so) my wife controls all our daily spending. I only really come into play in the largest of investment or purchases. 🙂

  88. avatar
    Chris Parsons

    I handle the money in my wife & I’s marriage. My dad handles the money in his marriage. My wife’s mom handles the money in her parent’s marriage, but her Dad makes all the big money decisions.

    In all of the cases, ‘handling the money’ just means keeping track of the bank account. The other person still spends freely out of the accounts. And both people pay bills – although the wife in each relationship handles 75% of bill paying.

  89. avatar

    Great topic to discuss Ramit. My wife’s family is pretty wealthy, whereas I come from a modest background and a single parent household. Because of this, I tend to be the more money conscious one. Unfortunately, her family thinks she is the more money conscious of the two of us, so they funnel money to her and tell her to keep it a secret from me.
    I took major offense to that, but there is nothing I can do. So while she has more money coming in from her job and family, I am the one planning and paying all of the bills. I took the initiative and bought your book, and am currently reading it.
    The goal is to save and spend in a manner that’s more fitting to the lifestyle we want to lead. Once we purchase our home, an effort that I am spearheading, it will be known that I’m the guy that runs the finances in the household.

  90. avatar

    I’ve been married for 20 years and I’ve been the one in charge of the money the whole time. When I first got married, I was working and my husband was still in school. In the space of a month, he finished school, I left work, we had our first child, and he started work, while I became a stay-at-home mom. But I still was in charge of the money. Over the years, I’ve worked to educate myself about finances, and have tried to get him interested too. But he really prefers that I handle it. We make the large purchase decisions together. But the investment accounts and the stress that go with them? They’re all mine. This is the exact opposite of the model in my house growing up; my father did all the finances and my mother did not learn to manage her money until he died suddenly.

  91. avatar

    Married, male and I set and plan the spending. We both work full time but right now she is making more money. In my parent’s relationship, my mother controlled and kept the budget.

  92. avatar

    I’m married. We have each had our turns handling the money; usually when one or the other thinks they can do a better job, ha. That was the earlier years in our marriage. My husband has been in charge of the money for a couple years now and I must admit that I love it. Whenever I was “doing” the money I was so stressed out all the time. I had a tendency to cut us too close on discretionary spending money and no one was happy with that. I was a bit overzealous with paying bills, if there is such a thing. He seems to be able to handle financial stress better than I do. For me, the “out of sight, out of mind” concept is at play. I fully trust him with it because he’s mature enough to know that his decisions affect the whole family.

    We are a single-income family; I’m the one that earns the money. I don’t really have time to handle the money. I think it is important for him to be involved with it. I’m hoping he feels some sense of control of it since I’m in complete control of earning the money. I think that balance is important. We do discuss how we spend the money, most of the time, but he ultimately executes our/his decisions. I feel like he respects the money I earn and that he spends it respectfully.

    Well played, Ramit. Using the word “control” in the context of a romantic relationship is bound to invoke some strong feelings/opinions, even if it is just about money.

  93. avatar
    Jess H.

    Woman married to a man here. Both in our mid-thirties, together 15+ years.

    I’m in charge of budgeting, automating, managing our long-term and “splurge” savings, and paying bills. We handle taxes together, and he deals with our investments / retirement funds. In practice, this means I do most of the work, which is part of our larger deal about household responsibilities. (He never has to pay a bill; I never have to clean a bathroom.)

    I am definitely the leader about finances – setting savings targets, deciding how much we’re putting into our investments, etc. I was the one who bought & read IWTYTBR, and insisted we automate, etcetera. My one big area of weakness is strategic long-term planning (retirement, investments, etc.). I find it really stressful. Fortunately he doesn’t mind taking over that area of our financial lives. I tell him what’s important to me to achieve, strategically, and he tells me whether we’re on track; I don’t want to know details unless I have to, though I do have a file with all our accounts and information in case I ever need it.

    We’ve set up our finances such that we have quite a lot of autonomy in day-to-day financial decisions. All our money goes into a joint account, from which we pay all household bills (rent, groceries, phone, automatic savings, etc. etc.). Each of us gets spending money automatically transferred into our personal bank accounts at the beginning of the month. We can do anything we want with that money, no questions asked, but we can’t take out more from the joint account without prior agreement.

    When it comes to big financial decisions, we collaborate. Usually, he researches what things cost, while I figure out what we can afford. Then we see whether we can go ahead, or whether we’ll have to adjust either our finances or our expectations.

  94. avatar

    Married, Male, I control the finances. My wife doesn’t seem to care very much about the day to day, as long as our net worth is increasing (though she wouldn’t use the term net worth). Actually, sometimes I wish she wanted to be involved more, if only so it would feel more democratic, and so I would feel confident in her ability to take over if something happened to me.

    But that’s not actually the interesting thing I have to say.

    While I’m sure gender dynamics are at play, I think the fact that so many men and so many women control the finances proves that it’s not the dominant dynamic. I think the dominant dynamic is that most people are either nerds or free spirits, and either natural savers or natural spenders. (I’m borrowing this idea from Dave Ramsey, who says both dumb and smart things – I think this is one of the smart ones.) I happen to be the nerd/natural spender, and my wife is the free spirit/natural saver. The funny thing is that it seems like opposite personality types seem to attract each other in lots of cases.

    The reason I throw in the “natural” in front of saver and spender is that these tendencies can be overcome. My nerdiness at some point caused me to realize that spending more than I make is dumb, and I was able to use my nerdy tendencies to train myself to save. My wife has learned over time that we can save aggressively, meet those goals, and then spend what’s left on things that matter to us without feeling guilty. It’s been a fortunate path for both of us, that’s led to both increasing net worth and lots of fun stuff (mostly travel, our biggest fun expense).

    I guess the most unfortunate folks out there must be the free spirit/natural spenders (and the people they’re married to). It seems like they would have a hard time (at least financially).

  95. avatar

    In our marriage I organize the money. I set up all the automatic savings payment withdrawals and I pay the bills. My husband’s paycheck is automatically deposited. Mine isn’t so I’m the one who does all the depositing as well if there are other checks to go in.

    We talk about where our money is going, he’s on all the accounts and any big purchasing decisions are handled by both of us. We have two credit cards that we use for day to day purchases, one that gives 6% rewards on groceries and one that gives 3% on gas. They’re both paid off every month.

    I wouldn’t say that I “control” the money since my husband has equal access, but I handle the day to day bookkeeping. I’m the CFO if you will. I enjoy doing it and he doesn’t care so much so I kind of fell into it. We have weekly or bi-weekly check ups and if there’s a big expense coming down the pipe, we discuss together how we’re going to pay for it and where we’re pulling the money from.

    We pooled our money as soon as we got married, many of our friends maintain separate checking accounts but we felt it was simpler to have everything in one pot. It’s worked out well so far.

  96. avatar

    In our marriage, I handle almost all of the financial operations, big and small. My husband takes care of the kids while I go to work. He does have his own savings and a monthly “paycheck” to spend as he pleases. Other than that, all of our bills are paid out of a joint account and joint credit cards which I fund with my paycheck.

    Before we married, my husband had a lot of stress around money, credit card debt, paying bills, etc. He says that he really appreciates the fact that I take care of it all and he doesn’t have to worry about it. He’s not a detail-oriented person as I am (he has other skills) and this is a pretty good fit for us.

    We do sit down about every six months to discuss our budget for the year and progress on our budget. When we have big financial decisions to make, we discuss them before I implement them. I do have a “Death Files” document that I update about once a year with all of our account numbers, quicken file, automatic payments, etc. so that if I were to disappear he wouldn’t be lost – at least he would know where to start and could hire someone if needed at that point.

  97. avatar

    Are you keeping score? At a glance it looks like about 50/50 to me, which suggests gender doesn’t have a big role to play in determining whether you are good with money. I would say the existence of your blog is evidence that people who manage their finances well are in the minority. Which means in any relationship it is fairly likely that only one (or neither) of the two people is good at or enjoys managing the money. I guess the people from relationships were both of them suck aren’t commenting. I’m not seeing too many replies that say they share the burden of money management (although there are a few…). My situation is like a lot of others out there. I handle the money. My wife would *like* to be more involved but when we try to discuss it she just freaks out – money scares her. She actually does make some money on the side, which she now keeps in a Paypal account so she can have a little practice. But ultimately, she is happy for me to talk care of the finances, and I have learned to be more understanding when she asks me if we can afford a $20 purchase, but then spends $100s at Target just picking up some ‘essentials’!!

  98. avatar
    Pat Franklin

    I am married and I handle the day to day finances. We used to trade back and forth but the last 20+ years I have done it. My husband has a consulting business and if he spends time on the finances a project suffers. I tell him how much I need each week to pay bills both personal and corporate. It seems to work.

  99. avatar
    Hungry Hippo

    That’s an interesting perspective–that handling the money entitles one to spend a bit more than budgeted. (Not saying that you are being unfair, it’s just something I hadn’t thought of.)

  100. avatar

    Thats awesome that you guys don’t argue about money. But you guys should try spending a bit on something fun- not just “functional, necessary, and painfully important”! Sounds like you guys are good at budgeting, so it could be fun to add in those things!

  101. avatar
    Sarah S

    I am married. Our money system is essentially Yours, Mine, Ours.

    We were together for seven years before marrying, so we have developed a unique system where we are both in charge of our “own” money and split joint ventures 50/50 (dining out, groceries, etc). When we married, we opened a joint chequing account that we each deposit into monthly and this covers any day-to-day shared expenses. Because I enjoy it, I control the budget for the joint expenses. We also have a joint savings account that we use for big purchases. We decide together when and how to use that money.

    How we individually spend or save any leftover money is still our own prerogative. This works very well for us as we generally have the same mindset towards our joint lifestyle and goals, but our incomes differ.

    Echoing what an earlier poster commented on, I tend to be the money nerd (as the numbers-minded scientist) while my husband is more laissez-faire (as the artsy free-spirit sound tech). I enjoy earning money and being busy. He’s happier working only when a gig truly interests him and the money associated is rarely his concern. Luckily for our wallets, we’re both natural savers.

  102. avatar

    Engaged, female. My fiance and I have had several conversations about our joint finances (to try and avoid marital doom). Our conclusion is that I am better at spending the money and he is better at keeping everything organized. I am a champ at automation and retirement saving, but not so good with keeping track of my everyday spending habits (occasional Target runs, groceries, gas, etc.). So at first we said he would do finances…
    Then he started talking about the “allowance” I would get for our weekly spending.
    Hell no.
    So we decided that we would have to have a joint effort. I spend more often, but I pay a majority of the bills and do most of the grocery shopping.
    We make the same amount of money, so we have been researching the best way to handle our accounts, credit cards, etc after marriage. We were thinking of keeping separate checking accounts and splitting bills 50/50.
    Ive read a few of the posts and would love any more tips the happily financially married folks have to offer!

  103. avatar
    Chris Hess

    I am married and my wife doesn’t like to budget so we came up with a compromise. Paychecks go into ING Direct and I’ve setup a bunch of automation to move into certain accounts. One of the automated transfers sends money to our credit union. This money is my wife’s. She uses it to buy anything she needs or wants. Food (including when we eat out), clothes, diapers, etc. I don’t even worry about the balance on that account.

    When we have larger purchases (something that doesn’t fit in our normal budgets) we save the money aside and make those purchase decisions together.

  104. avatar

    This is a nightmare for us, well for me. My husband and I always kept our accounts separate after accidently bouncing our first joint account as newlyweds. Generally my husband pays for his personal expenses, the mortgage and utilities, mowing service, expensive repairs, and now, grudgingly, our two kids’ preschool tuition. I generally pay for my personal expenses, groceries, misc. household maintenance expenses, and the kids’ day to day expenses. I have a small 401K account; he has all of our other investments.

    Managing expenses is really tough because he makes a lot more than I do. He used to make 2.5x what I make, but since I started working part time to spend more time caring for our young children he now makes about 9x more than I do. He still expects me to keep up with his preferred lifestyle, but doing so has been killing me financially for years and now I really, really struggle.

    He insisted on buying a large house that needs a lot of upkeep (he bought it without my seeing it first). Since he can quite easily afford the mortgage, he thinks it’s great. The day to day costs and chores have been tough for me for years, but now that I make so little, I can’t afford any help at all. At the end of the month I often have to ask him to stop on his way home for groceries because I simply don’t have enough money left to go to the store. He makes me beg for the kids’ tuition every month and always takes a few days to give me the check. If I really get desperate, he’ll give me some money for unexpected expenses but he always gets very mad.

    I’m not a spendthrift – hardly ever go on girls’ trips or buy the expensive clothes, shoes, handbags, etc. that many women like – but he thinks since I work at home that I shouldn’t have any personal expenses anymore. I’ve cut back on just about everything for myself, but my car still needs gas and repairs. Clothes and shoes do wear out – even if you just wear them at home. I have to get my hair cut at least once or twice a year and I seriously DO need to go out to coffee with my friends once in a while. And even though I’ve learned to do a lot of fixit chores instead of hiring a handyman and have become better at cooking more things from cheaper scratch ingredients, there are still household expenses to pay and groceries to buy.

    It’s hard for me not to feel frustrated and hurt over this situation. In the past year while I’ve been under massive stress and teetering on the edge of financial disaster, he’s had a fully-funded 401K, put away another 9K in automated mutual fund investments and added an extra 50K to his checking account. It’s hard not to feel jealous when I see $22 in my checking account and so much more in his.

    Sure, I should obviously get a better job and spend a lot more time earning money on the side. Many readers would probably say I’m clearly a burden and he should dump his lazy, under-earning ball and chain immediately. But for the next 2-3 years while my children need me, consulting 15 hours a week allows me to be there for them every day while keeping my skills sharp and earning a few thousand dollars a month. Committing these few years to helping them get a good start in life is actually important. I just wish it weren’t so hard financially.

  105. avatar

    And my parents…
    My mom handled day to day everything. My dad did all the investing. They saved like crazy. My dad has no clue how much my mom spends on groceries and my mom is completely oblivious to their retirement. My dad worked and my mom was a housewife for 25 years before going back to work. Now she keeps her ‘own money’ but still uses only my dads for their major/daily/monthly expenses. They taught me a lot of good habits (saving for the future). But because they made much more money than me I tend to have taste that is outside my means. Working on it though…
    I also try to be more involved than my mom was/is in investing for the future.

  106. avatar

    love the ‘death files’ idea. Morbid, but awesome.

  107. avatar

    Well, I’m not single, but I’m not into the relationship enough to talk finances yet.

    Growing up, I lived with my grandparents. Until today, they handle their personal finances separately (they both use Quicken to do this–yes, my grandparents who are 70+ can use quicken like pros). They do put together part of their incomes for the household stuff though. My grandmother, who worked in finance most of her life, is in control of the accounts and bills related to the house, and way back in their earlier years of marriage, the tuition fees were also a part of the joint account. But for any big purchases and plans, they both discuss it. Also, groceries were always separate between the two of them because problems arise when you have two people who love to eat and cook fighting over who can cook the last pack of fresh tuna for dinner, so to avoid conflict they have separate groceries to make sure they can both happily cook as they please and tracking their ingredients at their own leisurely pace.

    Right now, they’re semi-retired but still running our family’s advertising agency (grandfather as the chairman and grandmother as the VP of Finance). They’ve been happily married for 49 years and always have our whole family (their 7 kids and us 13 grandchildren) over for meals. I’m guessing my grandparents are doing something right.

    I hope my english is clear enough. Sorry I am Portuguese-Chinese.

  108. avatar

    I don’t think that you are a burden at all! He makes you beg for the kids’ tuition AND makes you wait for it? That’s abusive. The tone of your post is so defeated that it’s obvious that something is wrong. If he thinks that you shouldn’t have “personal expenses” like GAS or car expenses, your husband is out of touch with reality.

  109. avatar

    Your email is not attached. I did click on your name to get your website, but my comment here would have been private if your email address WAS available.

    “I took time and made her a spending plan for a whole year and she refuses to follow it. We just got into a huge fight about this. She gets mad at me and says that I just want to control her.”

    1) Take Ramit’s advice and read his scripts in the relationship part of his book. They are gentle and considerate ways to broach a delicate subject.

    2) As a woman, I see a major problem in your post: you made her spending plan. If you want her to follow a conscious spending plan (called a budget anywhere but IWT), then she needs to be the one to make it – by herself. She knows her own priorities and what she wants to spend money on better than her boyfriend would. I don’t blame her at all for not following YOUR plan for HER life.

    3) Kudos for caring about her and her money problems. Give her the tools (this site and/or Ramit’s book) and let her do it herself. Follow up with her if she does Ramit’s six week plan, but only once a week. If she feels like she’s in control, she won’t treat you like Hitler.

  110. avatar

    I’m married and handle our finances. We both pay bills out of a joint account, but I’m the one who keeps track of things and makes the long-term decisions. We discuss them, but he generally defers to me regarding investment-related decisions, etc.

  111. avatar

    You are far from a burden! You are raising his children and managing a household. If you can’t talk him into fully merging finances, can you set up an automatic transfer so that you don’t have to ask him for tuition money (and grocery money, etc.) every month? You should not have to be your husband to help support your (HIS) children.

  112. avatar

    The lack of unity and cooperation you describe is disturbing. When Ramit asked about who “controls” the money, I see that most people talk about “handling” or “managing” the money in a marriage. This is a serious case of one-sided control. Why are you trying NOT to feel frustrated and hurt? Where is the joint decisionmaking on how you rear your children and where/how you live? Why should a reduction in household income be a borne by YOU alone? You have to ASK him to spend HIS money to feed the family? The way you and your children are being treated is appalling. Please get marriage counselling, stat.

  113. avatar

    This sounds insane. I’m all for separate accounts where the couple is both happy with it, but one partner under severe stress and one coasting is madness. The begging for tuition sounds abusive, quite apart from the fact that these are expenses for his kids. Assuming you have communicated your unhappiness to the guy and he hasn’t changed, I’d be watching my back if I were you. Good luck.

  114. avatar

    I know some people do things differently, but to my mind, marriage means “mine” and “yours” becomes “ours”. Our home, our income, our checking, savings, etc. Our goals. This requires a high level of trust, communication, shared values, and willingness to be flexible/creative. One person may be the designated recordkeeper or check-writer, but the more you divide things up, the more you 1) keep score to see if things are really 50-50 2) can avoid communicating and 3) can avoid learning to compromise. Scorekeeping, division, avoiding communication, and refusing to compromise = bad mojo for marriage.

  115. avatar

    To Ellen – tain’t necessarily so that “mine” and “yours” staying that way lead to a bad marriage. My husband has been self-employed the whole time we’ve known each other, while I’ve always brought home a biweekly paycheck. Merging those 2 income streams is a recipe for disaster, as he always has to keep operating capital on hand but it doesn’t matter if my checking account gets down to $1.29 on Thursday when I know I’ll get paid on Friday. If we had merged our money and I’d cleaned out his operating capital even once, our marriage wouldn’t have lasted 16 days, let alone 16 years! I think what I’ve seen in these posts is that there are as many ways to handle the finances as there are people responding, and if you love each other, communicate well, and are willing to compromise when necessary, everything else will fall into place.

  116. avatar

    Married. We jointly manage our money, but only because I push my husband to be involved in the process. He’s not particularly interested, but I make twice what he does and feel it’s really important to have him involved in our financial decisions so that I don’t slip into , “I make the money, I make the decisions” mode. We both have money set aside each month for us to spend on US stuff (poker with the guys, mani/pedi date with the girls) but just about everything else gets dumped into the joint account. We review every month – because I think that’s important. He doesn’t think it’s that important, but does it anyway. Fortunately we’re both VERY anti-debt, otherwise I think it’d be a much trickier situation…

    In my family, my dad worked and mom didn’t, but she decided how the money was spent. Which is why we weren’t broke. In his family his mom got married and divorced the way most people date, so no one was really round long enough for there to be a man involved in the financial picture. But she also had a knack for climbing up the financial ladder with each successive marriage, so even though they started out near poverty level their situation was constantly improving. Ended up better off than my family (doctor married to a stay-at-home mom) by the last husband. I think that might be why his views on finances are so “it’ll all work out” – because it always did.

  117. avatar

    I am un-married but I witnessed the disaster having only one person in a couple take care of the finances. My parents were married for over 40 years and my father was an “entrepreneur” when they meet (I put that is quotations becasue he never made any money at it but he still thought of himself that way until he had to get a job when the kids started coming and he had o grow up). My mother was the daughter of a bank president so she was well versed in money and finances. When her parent died see was left a sizable inheritance and any ideas that my father had any financial control went out the window. They were then living very much off the inheritance that came from her side of the family and his small income as one of those guys on the airport runway with the orange cones did little to support a family.
    Many years went by and my mother started her own property management company and my father still worked in customer service. He would just hand her the checks he earned and she did everything from paying bills, managing their investments and teaching her daughters about money.
    My father never had any idea how much money there was nor did he care to. When I went away to college (I am the youngest) my father just stopped working, claiming he was too depressed to continue on. My mother did even more than before at that point and was the sole income too.
    I truly believe because he allowed himself to be completely disassociated from the finances he lost meaning in his life. He never knew how much or how little he contributed and so he just gave up. After an agonizing 10 years of this my mother gave up too. She worked her ass off and finally her heart stopped last year. She complained that it was all too much for her and she was right. I am not placing blame on either party, they somehow choose this situation to play out in their lives but unfortunately the lessons were not learned in this lifetime.
    The end result was me having to show my father how to use an ATM after my mother’s death, that was how little he knew. He is now alone without a clue living off SSI and ignoring the fact that their is still money in the bank under my mother’s name. He would have to face her death to face going to the bank and figuring out how to get it into his name.
    This is an extreme example of what happens when just one partner does the finances but honestly everyone should be involved. We can not define our self-worth with what is in the bank but having a working knowledge of your money and how to make it work for you is imperative and brings meaning and substance to your life. If you love your spouse you will get past your own fear and make a fair and equal partnership in all areas. Hope others have happier more uplifting stories.

  118. avatar

    Wow – that sounds really odd to me. I make significantly more than my husband, and that’s one of the big reasons I think it’s so important that we have a joint account. The bills are ours, not mine or his. (we do have smaller personal checking accounts for the bills that are very clearly individual expenses – gifts for each other, things that one person values but the other doesn’t, etc). I think about how I would want him to treat me and the money if the situation were reversed, and then do that. It’s worked out well for us.

    While I know some other couples where they each have their own account and pay bills separately, I don’t know any – at least none that are still married – where there wasn’t a lot of communication about it. And none of that communication equaled begging for money to take care of things that were very clearly for the family (groceries? tuition? how is that NOT part of his responsibility?).

    I know there’s always part of the story that no one knows about outside of the marriage, and maybe you cut back on your hours at work without discussing it with him (he doesn’t sound like he’s very easy to talk to…) and this is his way of “punishing” you for that decision. But even with that, I’m having a hard time thinking your husband is anything other than a selfish, condescending, jerk. Doesn’t sound like a very happy situation – for you, or him, or your kids. Might be stepping out of bounds here, but have you thought about counseling?

  119. avatar

    Married female and I control 100% of our finances. I do have a Death/Emergency file but I still worry because my husband has never really managed his own money. As far as he’s concerned the less responsibility the better – I literally hand him a cash budget every month and if he needs a credit card he asks me.

    I would welcome him being involved more but it’s not his style and I know I am better suited for it. Truth be told there are advantages to having all the power, but I keep him in the loop and happily answer any of his questions. It would be nice to share the burden of responsibility and stress though. I do my best but I don’t always know what I’m doing either. At least I got him to sign up for his 401k match!

  120. avatar

    Finances: I manage my own finances and am not married. With my last boyfriend, I was the main breadwinner & he just paid for the occasional dinner, one of the major reasons the shelf-life of the relationship was extremely short.
    My parents:
    My mother handles the day-to-day expenditures. She has free reign on credit card and spends as she pleases, but she’s tighter than a tick. My father handles the large purchases/investments and he’s also very careful and is interested in saving. He’s a good long-term investor.

  121. avatar

    I’m married and female.

    I’ve been handling 100% of our finances since the day we got married 4 years ago. Our money is completely combined. It’s never an issue for us, possibly because we’re DINK (dual income, no kids) engineers with equal paychecks, low expenses, and similar interests. When we make a large purchase (>~$150), we usually talk about it first. I deal with the 401k’s and IRA’s (we invest the max), pay all our bills, make insurance decisions, etc.

    The money stuff comes naturally to me, so our approach just makes sense for us. Once or twice a year, I’ll show him how much we have in each retirement account, the HSA, the 529 (it’s in his name but it’s for our future kids), and each savings account. He’s not particularly interested in other aspects of our finances, such as the details of our insurance policies or the asset allocations of our investments. And he loves that I do the taxes.

    Growing up, my father took care of all of the finances since my mother has absolutely no sense of money.

  122. avatar

    I’m married, and I control the money. That is to say, I manage the expenses, investments, large household purchases, etc. I seem to recall my mother handling things when I was a kid, but my wife is more of a “get a dollar, spend a dollar” kind of gal.

  123. avatar

    I’m married to a district manager at a large bank. Of course, everyone assumes he controls the money. Everyone also happens to be wrong. 🙂

    I like to joke that I’m both the saver and the spender in our household, so I need to keep a close eye on our accounts.

  124. avatar

    Ramit, I’m about to be married and only just moved in with my fiance. I’ve been getting your informative emails for a while now and plan on buying your book.
    We are getting married in 4 weeks – your book is a 6 week program.
    With all the related expenses of wedding planning – do you think we will succeed if we start your program now, or will we have a better shot by starting after the wedding??
    I’m not a money expert – I’m the creative type and I live pretty much at my means especially while planning this wedding. My guy is actually an MBA and entrepreneur but I think he’s too risky with money. So I want to get educated.
    What do you recommend?

  125. avatar

    I manage the money in our marriage. My husband is great at being frugal, never goes out for lunch or buys a latte, but he’s not great at earning more or thinking bigger than a monthly budget. So I’m the one focused on getting big raises, planning our kids’ college savings and our retirement. I also set up our cash flow automation, and pay most bills, choose what credit card works best for us, etc. We make big purchase decisions together, but I’m usually the one who pulls the trigger at final decision time.

  126. avatar

    I handle all aspects of our finances, including running retirement-savings scenarios and tracking our spending in Quicken, because I enjoy it more. My husband and I figure out our goals together, and I automate our savings to get us there. We’ve learned to live below our (remaining) means, so neither of us thinks much about spending on a day to day basis.

    In our mid-30s, we’ve paid off our mortgage and have healthy retirement accounts; we still get to travel and do the other things we value. So we have a good system. But I do worry that my husband wouldn’t know what to do if something happened to me. This is a good reminder to update my password list with better instructions.

  127. avatar

    Unmarried, but with shared control of my parents’ finances.

    Both my parents worked and both took turns in the responsibility of handling family finances. First my dad was in charge, but lost a lot of money in bad “investments” (ideas that went nowhere/possible scams), then my mom took charge and she was just as bad (buying stuff she can’t afford). They kept at this back and forth control until they separated when all the kids grew up. Money and a slew of other problems were reason behind the split.

    Strange thing is that they’re both well aware of how to take care of finances, but they can’t actually follow through on their own advice. My mom even studied to be an accountant, yet she can’t manage to pay her bills on time and live within her means.

    My siblings and I stepped in and setup autopay for everything possible, regularly check their bank accounts, and prevent them from making purchases they can’t afford.

  128. avatar

    I am married and my wife and I make all of the financial decisions mutually. Both of us know how much we owe, what we are bringing in, and what our bills for the month will be (note: we are both first born, type-A personalities).

    Interestingly, for both of us, our mothers are mainly in control of the finances. My mother (who is also very type-A) would always organize a discussion of finances with my father on their anniversary when they went away for a weekend every year. Then, they usually figured out their plan for the year ahead and tried to envision what their 5 year plan would be. However, the day-to-day and the month-to-month was all her.

  129. avatar

    My wife is a Type A personality in every aspect of her life except finances. While working through step one from IWT we discovered her student loans were 48k not the 26k that she told me. That was a real kick in the stomach. I have tried to handle our finances for the three years we have been married and I realized I don’t know what the hell I’m doing either that’s why I bought your book. It is helping thanks. What will be interesting though is in 15 mos when my wife graduates she will triple my salary so we will see if she wants to be more involved which I hope she does. Actually I hope everything is automated by then and we really dont have to do much at all.

  130. avatar
    Charles Manuel

    wife handles all the money.I get my allowance and so does she, but she does any day to day necessities. however, I set up our automated bill payments,and also I’m usually the one who “negotiates” lower interest rates on cards, lower cable bills etc. so a fair trade all in all.

  131. avatar
    Christine Rhee

    Hi Joshua,

    I handle the budget and my husband used to be similarly nutty about his finances.

    Just wanted to let you know that the experience of getting a nonsensical, emotionally out of scale response to a reasonable request based on reality (like living within your means) is indeed real and as “crazy” as it feels.

    Honestly, you can’t reason with her as she is right now because she probably has some unaddressed issues from her past that she is avoiding and/or she has a biological/nutritional deficiency that is interfering with her ability to cope with day to day life.

    I don’t know how committed your relationship is with your girlfriend, and ultimately, it’s up to you what you are willing to try or change. But if you’re in it for the long haul, I wanted to share some things that helped me and my husband.

    My husband used to overspend, didn’t budget, only minimally saving into retirement, and had no plans for his future career/income. We were losing money every year. The financial problems really forced the issue, but he had similar chaos going on his all other areas in his life.

    As you might guess, I handle the budget, retirement, savings, investments, the whole kit and caboodle now. And just in case you’re wondering, my husband is actually quite a brilliant scientist, PhD in Biology, undergraduate degree in Molecular and Cell Biology — nothing that should suggest that he lacks these problem solving skills.

    It took a few years of discovery for us (which is why this comment is so long — sorry!), but my husband had biological reasons for why he was making such poor reasons as well as psychological ones. We’re still fine tuning some things but we’ve made real grounds — he’s happier and we’re able to tackle some of our problems better. In case some of this helps you solve your problems faster, this is the full set of tools we ended up trying:
    1. Lots of self-help & psychotherapy books
    2. Couples therapy – to help/support the relationship and learn new approaches of communication
    3. Individual therapy – to help/support someone learn about themselves
    4. Explore brain health since “personality” problems can actually be biological/medical problems — In our case, we found out he has AD/HD. He may actually have hormone imbalances that can generate behavioral systems that look like ADHD, which we’re also exploring with our psychiatrist. The Amen Clinics ( has so far been the most thorough and accurate assessors of any mental health issue that takes into account biological as well as psychological reasons for people’s behavior. In our case, a brain scan showed us biologically what was going on vs what was learned behaviors.
    5. Proper nutrition/supplementation based on the brain scan, biological exploration

    In all honesty, learning about his brain’s needs and health requirements allowed us to give him proper nutrition/supplementation. This was the most important basic change that allowed the other psychological changes to happen.

    If you want to start with books because it’s cheaper/easier or if there are no biological reasons behind the inability to cope with day to day life:
    1. Dr. Daniel Amen’s books/lectures/PBS specials on the brain or health — The brain is just a body part, so if you starve your body part, it won’t do it’s job properly
    2. Pia Mellody’s Facing Codependency & Breaking Free: A Recovery Workbook to Change the Way You Love

    “Codependency” is basically a fancy word for “you didn’t get perfect parenting while you were growing up.” We all have gaps in how we were parented because people are human. For some people, the gaps are small enough that it doesn’t get in our way that much in day to day life. In my husbands case, he had bigger gaps that prevented him from dealing with the world as an adult because he lacked some functional problem solving skills, boundaries and sense of self necessary to solve any problem as an adult.

    The lack of these skills can show up as extremely “immature” emotional responses or approaches to situations in life. You end up regressing to the age that you last learned how to deal with that kind of challenge.

    Many books will try to build up your self-esteem, or assertiveness, or boundaries, etc and those are great for filling in specific gaps. But if your girlfriend’s problems go all the way back to self-destructive outcomes because of an inability to cope… that is more in the realm of codependency.

    I hope this helps and best of luck,

  132. avatar

    Thanks for the helpful suggestions. My husband’s not an evil person, just quite stingy and so self-centered that he probably doesn’t fully realize how hard he makes life for me. Thanks to Ramit’s excellent earning advice, I’ve recently nearly tripled my consulting rates and replaced a demanding client who regularly took 90-120 days to pay with a more reasonable one who pays promptly on the first of the month. Perhaps this means the next year will be a little easier than the last two?

  133. avatar

    Thanks for blogging about this topic; it’s a very interesting one. Of my parents, my father is the money-savvy one and the breadwinner. My mother trusts him with investing their savings in various accounts and with saving enough for my and my brother’s college education. Though my parents’ financial situation is very patriarchal, both parents have made it clear that they do not expect my financial situation to be as tradition as theirs if I ever marry. Currently, my father is teaching me to invest (something that he isn’t teaching my brother, who hasn’t shown interest in investing, which shows a pleasing amount of gender neutrality in the way my father treats my brother and me). One of the many benefits of young women such as myself learning to invest is that it helps to narrow the gender gaps for earnings and for household roles.

  134. avatar

    Married. We have separate accounts, but I handle the bills and he pays me toward them (or did, we currently live apart).

    This was for a practical reason more than a gendered one – as an immigrant, he didn’t qualify for a decent bank account with a debit card / ability to set up standing orders. Plus he intially had to spend three months unable to work. However, we tend to work out our budget together, and we make joint decisions on things that we both contribute to.

    Whatever he has left over is his though.

  135. avatar

    Married. I handle the money. My husband can do it, but he does not want to. When we get paid, we each take out a set amount of cash. That is the money that we can spend without discussing it with each other. Then I put money into savings for our various goals and I keep track of each goal with a spreadsheet. Then I pay the household bills. If there is any left over, I either put it in savings for misc future uses or we got out as a family for the evening. My husband has a pension fund at work to cover long term stuff and we both have 401Ks at work. We have one kid that is headed to college, so big bills are coming up soon!

  136. avatar

    Very simple answer. The couple (family, tribe, whatever the unit is) chooses the person who is trusted to be in charge of the budget. If it’s the woman, it’s her job to deal with her responsibility as wisely as possible, for the benefit of everyone. Same applies to the man, should he be the one.

    But… “should” is the wrong word, right Ramit? 🙂 In fact everyone IS in charge of handling their own money wisely, including small kids with their pocket money. The money-smartest person of the family is responsible not only for distributing the money but also for educating the rest of the family. The family is a unit.

  137. avatar

    I handle the money in our relationship. My wife doesn’t have much interest in this area and doesn’t mind me just handling it. We talk about major purchases and as I’m working more toward automating everything – we both get the email from Mint about where the budget stands for the month. We both get an allowance of money we can just spend on whatever – and not worry about. Works well for us…

  138. avatar

    My mum has always been in charge of the money in my family. My parents have only had joint bank accounts since they moved in together at age 18. Both were working full-time and while Mum had savings Dad only had $1.37 in his bank account despite being in the Navy and therefore not having to pay for food or accommodation. I think it naturally fell to Mum to be in charge as she was more sensible with money at that stage.

    Over the years, Mum has worked less than Dad to take care of three children, but any money either of them earned has always been for the whole family, rather than belonging to the person who earned it.

    Mum was and is still the one who does the budgets (usually in consultation with the family members who still live at home – money is talked about very openly in my family). While Dad does grocery shopping and so on, he often has to check with mum before he goes to see how much money he has to spend. Mum pays all the bills and does all the online banking – I’m not even sure that Dad can sign into their online bank accounts or knows how Mum has the Direct Debits for bills set up! Quite frankly, if Mum disappeared tomorrow, he would really struggle.

  139. avatar

    My boyfriend and I have been together for 7 years and have made about the same salary as engineers that whole time, until last year. We moved across the country and I took a $5K pay cut while he got a $30K raise. We still share rent and water equally, but the power, internet, and Netflix are all him. We each paid cash for our cars a couple of years ago, and each have our own cell phone and credit cards for discretionary spending. We buy some groceries together but mostly separate as I eat Paleo and he eats a Standard American Diet (i.e. Crap. I’m not paying for his industrial poisons, and he’s not paying for my “overpriced” grass-fed meat.). He tends to pay most often when we go out because half the time we’re with his work buddies, and he’s earning more anyway. I pay about once a month to keep things “fair”, but we don’t quantify what “fair” is, we just do what feels right.

    We’re saving for a house and hope to pay cash. We’re not sure we’ll get married – there seems to be little societal pressure to do so, and possible financial penalties. He’s been especially worried about the “marriage penalty” since we are both high-ish earners. Just today I created a fake return in Turbotax and re-did our 2011 taxes as “married filing jointly”. He was surprised to see that if we had itemized, we actually would have paid $300 less in taxes! If we had taken the standard deduction, we would have paid about $1000 more – not the $10,000 he thought we’d pay due to jumping up into the next tax bracket. He didn’t understand the math behind the progressive tax – not that he couldn’t if he wanted to, just that he’s not as interested as I am in money. We totally trust each other, though – I’m not sure every guy would just hand his tax return over to his girlfriend to play around with. He also sheepishly told me has also been late on our power bill and paid the wrong amount of rent once in the last year. I’ve never paid a bill late in my life, and calculate my net worth monthly.

    I think once we get our house, I’ll offer to take over bill-paying from a joint house account, and we’ll each maintain separate “his” and “hers” accounts for discretionary spending. He’s a natural saver and would like to retire a bit early, so we’ll definitely be making joint strategic decisions.

    I’m pretty sure my mom always handled the finances because she only worked part time and I recall a lot of trips to the bank with her when I was little. I also remember seeing her balance the checkbook at the kitchen table. My parents paid off their house a few years early and we never went on extravagant vacations or had new cars or crazy birthday parties with matching plates and ponies. I also never recall hearing my parents argue or even talk about money. They’ve been quiet good examples.

    My boyfriend’s parents have been retiring and un-retiring for a few years now, and he’s worried about their spendthrift ways. (They have to un-retire when they realize their lifestyle is outpacing their retirement income.) This has definitely made a big impression on him and he wants to avoid any such behavior himself.

    I’m happy that we’re on the same page about avoiding debt and saving for a wonderful future. We clearly have different levels of interest, but it works for us!

  140. avatar

    Both my parents managed the finances. Since both parents worked, they each has as much to say as the other.

  141. avatar

    For the first time this February my husband and I filed for our taxes together. That led to an argument of how the refund money would be split. Ultimately he had a great idea to put it all into a joint account used solely for bills. Previously I dealt with the bills asking him for his share whenever it was time to pay them. Besides groceries we have about $1000 shared bills each month. Now we each contribute only $250 to the shared account each month and the tax return takes care of the rest, until next year. I still primarily deal with the bills but there are a couple in his name he deals with. The best part is he deposits the money himself and I don’t have to take his money anymore. I don’t like being the bill collector.

  142. avatar

    I think the real point is that even if you make joint decisions about savings/investment and non-routine spending, one of you needs to take responsibility for day-to-day money management in the sense of checking that automated payments go through, there’s enough in the bank to pay off the credit cards in full each month, non-automated bills are paid, and that you don’t need to temporarily rein in discretionary spending because an unplanned expense has bitten deep into your balance, and so on. And to ensure that you’re living within your means!

    I used to play this role, but when my working hours blew out, my wife took it on. But our system means I can still tell you how much is in the checking account (within a few hundred dollars), and what non-automated bills are about to fall due.

  143. avatar

    Married, Female, No one was in charge of the money, what ever money we got was spent, I tried to use an envelope system to pay bills but it was impossible. We use only cash because our credit was poor plus most of our money coming in was cash.

    Now there is no money.

  144. avatar

    Married. We keep completely separate finances–checkbooks, savings, retirement, etc. We track all our expenses, but again, separately. He does his online, I do mine with paper, pencil, and simple brain power.

    I make decisions on all our large purchases, regardless of who is going to spend the money, because I can research and make a choice quickly. My husband would dither forever, and realizes he would, so he delegates choices to me (cars, investments, furniture, etc).

    We would pool our resources and do finances jointly, except our spending styles and decision making processes are so very different. What we value and are willing to spend money on differs so much, too, that it would be one battle after another. For example, he must have name brand-name foods and clothing, while I’m happy to try generics and off-brand stuff to get the best value, without losing quality. I must have pets to be happy and he couldn’t care less if there was another breathing being within miles (including me some days!)

    Does this mean our marriage is doomed? Well, it’s 24 years and counting, so perhaps not. We just found a style that works for us.

    BTW, Ramit, I made a terrible financial error this weekend. I went to the farmer’s market and bought some delicious Indian food from a vendor. I’ve made the food at home before, and it was even better than what I had made. I got to talking with the cook and asked if she was originally from India (she was). I slapped my forehead and said, “Ramit will kill me! I paid you the listed price and didn’t even try to dicker over it.” She laughed and said I’d quickly become poor if I moved to India. Sorry, Ramit.

    Oh, and don’t feel badly about the sports thing. The only sports I grew up understanding were the ones I did myself–Roman riding, curling, and dressage–and I was the “sports nut” of the family!

  145. avatar

    Wow Meg, you really inspired me. I am not married yet, but when I first read this article I got this sense of fear because the thought of trusting finances to my wife makes me very scared. Mostly I think because my mom is addicted to shopping and is always in debt so a part of me worries any girl I marry would be the same. But at the same time, while working full time it will be very difficult to plan the minutia of such things. It would be wonderful to have a wife with whom I can trust such work. Feminists might be furious to hear that “house things are your job” But if you were the one working and your husband stayed at home I’m sure that would be different, and its not that way. Regardless of what they say, I think that you have and are accomplishing something incredible and rare and very often overlooked in the modern age, namely, being a good housewife. Congratulations!

  146. avatar

    This is working for her on some level. If she doesn’t see it as a big enough problem, she won’t change. At the moment it seems you are the only one (of the two of you) who sees a problem. Needless to say, she finds that very annoying. You need to find a reason that makes sense to her, for her to want to change. If there is one.

  147. avatar
    Financial Advice for Young Professionals

    I’m not married yet but I will be controlling the money. I think it’s important to keep your significant other in the loop though. You may think you’re making all the right choices, but someone else could provide you an alternative view.

  148. avatar

    Married. I manage the savings, investments, and periodic bills (rent, utilities, loans, etc). Wife manages all the other purchases.

  149. avatar
    Simon @FinestFinances

    In my relationship, my girlfriend is controlling all of the bills, etc. But regarding buying home realted stuff, and bigger investements my voice is more important – I’m simply making better decisions and she knows it.

    P.S. Nice topic, really enjoying reading comments 🙂

  150. avatar

    Soooo… It sounds to me like if you read this blog, you manage most or all of the family’s finances regardless of whether you are man, woman, or wombat. Not really surprising, but it would be interesting to see what the responses would be from a wider sample of people.

    I currently live with my boyfriend but we each manage our own finances. I have no idea how much money he has, hopefully enough to cover his half of the rent. Part of this is because we have extremely variable income, he freelances as a web designer and is still working the kinks out of his client base and I work two jobs with variable hours. We keep a spreadsheet of joint costs like groceries and bills so they can be split down the middle.

    When my parents were together my mother handled most of the money, when they got divorced my father promptly got himself into debt despite making a very good salary. My parents are both remarried and I have no idea how they manage their money now.

    Trusting a significant other around money is definitely one of my biggest relationship hangups. Working on that is something I would like to do but at this point it is pretty far down my priorities list.

  151. avatar


    Married, I used to handle all of the expenses, but I thougth I would be a good Idea to share that responsability with my wife, I pay things like gas, electricity, mortage, she pays for mobile phones, retirement accounts, etc.

    In the beggining it was kind of touch and go but now its all good. I feel really blessed for so many things, but my wife specially.

    In my house hold my Mother used to handle all the expenses, in my wife’s home her mother also controlled the expenses.


  152. avatar

    Married: husband and I manage finances together. We have monthly discussions about money and our budget, any upcoming things we can foresee or if there is a big purchase one of us is thinking about making.

    We have a joint household account + mortgage, and then we have separate personal checking accounts. I’d say we’re on the same page with money because of Dave Ramsey’s financial peace course. We’re working now on paying off the mortgage (our last debt) and we’ve got a healthy emergency fund. Everything else is automated, so there’s not really much else to “control”.

  153. avatar

    I am married and as the wife, am definitely the CFO of our family. My husband did a decent job with his finances before we were married but since I have a Finance degree and work in Credit all day every day, and frankly, I just LOVE it, I handle our finances.

    My husband always knows about how much money is in our accounts and we go over the IRAs, savings accounts, etc. every couple months. For large purchases, we always discuss it first and then figure out which account it’s going to be paid from, so we are usually on the same page. Although now that a couple of our account balances are growing, my husband is tempted to spend-spend-spend! I just keep reminding him that “we are trying to get out of debt, not incur more”. (All we have is a mortgage but I would love to be rid of that too!)

  154. avatar

    I have been married for 3+ years, but been in a relationship with my wife for 13. I handle nearly all financial matters, but anything major (which includes pretty much anything over $50 besides groceries) we discuss. My wife has no real interest in doing the day-to-day, but does want to be informed on what we are doing. I’m slightly OCD so the minutiae intrigures me, although I am starting to generalize a bit.

    I chose this one to respond to because both my wife and I agree that marred = yours, mine, ours. I understand that for many people, keeping separate finances works just fine, but to me that defeats the purpose of the marriage.

  155. avatar

    Happily married for eight years and I control the finances. My wife has little interest regarding finances but I make sure we discuss our budget and plans for our money.

  156. avatar

    I’m a woman in the US, married, we both work full time. I manage my personal finances, as well as our household finances, while my husband manages his personal finances. My parents both earned equally and my mother managed all of their money – this lead to a lot of angst over spending, so we use the ‘yours, mine, and ours’ spending model where we both contribute a set monthly amount to a group fund, and keep the rest. This works pretty well for us; all the spreadsheets are shared so he can see what we have at a given time and we discuss any purchases and long terms plans in advance – I am just the one who tracks it month to month. In his family, his father was the principal earner but his mother managed the funds. He never learned how to manage money, while my mom taught me the ropes (I also now work in finance), which is why I do the household finances but I have taught him some of the basics for managing his own money.

  157. avatar

    I’m married and I reluctantly took over the finances about 2.5 years ago.
    For 9 years, my wife “managed” all the bills. She had expensive taste and we were constantly broke. I was always aware of the problem, but didn’t know how to deal with it. As long as my debit card wasn’t declined at the pump or grocery store, I didn’t care enough to start a fight. We reached our low when I was forced to decide if it was worth another $35 overdraft just to buy my son a gift on his birthday. Then the credit card that was covering the overdrafts got maxed out ($4000 just in overdrafts!!) and we weren’t able to buy groceries or gas until payday a week later. I used vacation days just because I didn’t have gas to get to work. It was the most depressing point of my life.
    When we finally got fed up at just throwing money away, my wife told me to take over and I started to analyze our spending. I decided the first thing was to figure out what bills were necessary, automate those, and see where we were. Then, upon the recommendation of a friend who said it changed their life, I decided to try a cash budget for my wife. She agreed that she only wanted to deal with groceries, since she is the primary cook. We agreed on a weekly number that would work within our budget, and any money she has left over at the end of the week is hers to spend on whatever she wants. Now, she looks for bargains and ways to save money at the grocery store so that she can maximize her spending money, and I don’t have to worry as much about her overspending. It’s not a perfect system, but we’re slowly digging our way out of debt, and I actually enjoy managing the finances. I get a weird nerdy joy from projecting our budget for the next couple of months and seeing our accounts grow instead of shrink.

  158. avatar

    Travis, you just made a good point. My husband wouldn’t even know how to pay our rent if I suddenly died. I need to remedy this-most likely I’ll have to show a family member/close friend what to do because he still won’t care.

    I handle all of our finances, my husband obviously survived before me but I’m not sure how. He had no bank account, (He’s a bartender and makes most of his money in cash) cashed his checks at Wal-Mart, paid rent with money orders, I’m not sure how he paid electric/Cable/Internet etc. He has no debt or bills of any sort (of his own). I tried to check his credit report once and I couldn’t do it online, I have to send a written request-he’s never had any type of credit.

    I, on the other hand, have A LOT of student loans and medical debt (some of my medical was paid with a credit card too). I’m also anal retentive and an obsessive planner so it works fine that I am in charge of the finances (as this is also what I enjoy and do for a living). I’ve attempted to share the information with him but he’s basically told me “I don’t care, tell me when I need to worry.” When I talk to him about finances of any sort he gets a glazed look in his eyes….kind of how I do when he talks about sports.

    When we got married I added him to my bank account and got him a debit card, which he refuses to use. He pays for everything 100% in cash and in full. Our biggest purchase in 3 years was my car for $800. He doesn’t ever spend money and rarely asks for anything-so when he does I find a way to buy it for him (last thing he wanted was to build a new computer and still did it the most cost effective way he could and still has a bad ass computer).

    I think because I’m obsessive about paying bills and budgeting it works well for us. I listen to whatever input he has and it doesn’t bother me that he wants to have a very hands-off approach to our finances.

  159. avatar

    I would have to say finances can be intimidating when there are so many accounts involved. I make 25 different payments every month for our expenses. I’m scared to automate it all because I fear that I won’t have enough in the bank to cover a payment (even though I’ve never had a late bill before in my life). I’m trying to get out of the paycheck-to-paycheck rut, we recently had our savings drained and are trying to get back on top.

  160. avatar

    I have a much more time consuming job: 40+ hours-my husband only works part time.

  161. avatar

    I’m married and I have handled everything financial for the 32 years we’ve been together. My wife and I never fight over money, since we’re lucky enough to have both a good income *and* a lot of spending restraint; we haven’t had to budget in years. I use auto-pay for some bills, but managing investments and doing the taxes are major responsibilities

  162. avatar

    Absolutely right, it’s communication and compromise that make it work. My point was that some people use separate finances to avoid communicating & compromising. That is what is bad for a marriage.

  163. avatar

    Single, 28 yr old, female… so I handle everything financially and otherwise.
    Having raised me as a single-parent for a long time, my mom was used to taking care of everything herself. After she got remarried to my step-dad, she continued the managing of the financials. Like others have mentioned, I’m not sure my step-dad would have known who to pay the mortgage to, when it was due and how much. He’s the type of person that if someone else is taking care of it… he’s not going to bother. (which drives me insane, btw)
    I’ve been instilled with “don’t spend more than you have” from a very early age, thanks to my mom. And thanks to Ramit… I finally got my mom to automate almost all of her finances about a year ago.

  164. avatar

    Ramit has drawn attention to the parallel between personal finance and dieting before. This is probably how your girlfriend feels. If she asked you for help in the first place, you definitely should have made a plan for her. You cannot help people who have no desire to help themselves and in this case the OP is more knowledgeable about his specific circumstances than the person trying to change his habits.

  165. avatar
    juan david

    here in my country colombia men control the money we are the workers.

  166. avatar

    (Asian, Male)

    I’m married and we both handle the finances. In the end, we don’t have a strict budget for spending, but we do check-in with each other if the purchase is above $75. All repetitive monthly expenditures are paid by whomever can get to them first.

  167. avatar

    Married 15 years. Two young kids. One earner (husband). Together we make major decisions, set the budget, and discuss issues as they arise (which is constant). My husband handles the online banking, mint, bill payment, and reconciliation. I handle the medical/insurance reconciliation, which is as big a task because I have several chronic diseases. I am probably the more strategic planner. We each have an allowance, from which all optional purchases come. We have fallen into the pattern of his buying dinner out with his allowance and my buying the kids’ clothes, but the allowances are fluid. We are far behind where we hoped to be at this point, but we agree about all our major decisions, so we don’t argue much.

  168. avatar

    My Dad was the bigger earner, but Mom earned, as well. They decided $$ issues together, Dad paid the bills. Mom watched the spending, and when Dad took a job in another state and lived there a couple of months b4 the family moved, he spent in a week on groceries what Mom spent in a month for the 6 of us. In my marriage, b4 we married, my husband said it didn’t matter who paid, when I brought the subject up. A few years after marriage, in response to a conversation on where to spend the weekend, he said, “He who has the $$ makes the decisions.” Much to my dismay, I’ve found this to be true, and we have very different outlooks on $$ and responsibility. (While single, I always supported myself. In my marriage, sometimes I’ve put in time rather than $$, for example, house hunting. We’re both self-employed, so sometimes he’s made more and sometimes I have, though over the 15 years we’ve been married, he has made the greater income.) Our spending is very uneven, as I watch my budget and he just buys what he wants. That’s what Ramit suggests, rather than pinching pennies, which is my role. That is why I’m working to make a decent income, so I can do it, as well. (An example that sticks in my craw to this day is when I wasn’t going to the doc for preventive. I had $$ in the bank, but my income was way down, and I pull back spending early on in this situation. A family member spent $1,000 on emergency treatment for a dog that died, then asked my husband for $$ to pay the bill. He gave $500 for the dead dog while I wasn’t going to doc. [In addition, she later proceeded to get a couple of more dogs, having 3. Why she thinks it’s OK to get more dogs b4 paying that $$ back, I don’t know. Why she has 3 dogs if she can’t afford them, I don’t know.] Anyway, I think that is wrong, wrong, wrong in a marriage.) My husband won’t discuss $$, just wants to do what he wants to do. So, I must get back to making my own decent income (I do have $$ coming in from my work, but not enough to support myself. He does pay for stuff for me and us, but it’s on his terms, not necessarily what I need.)

  169. avatar

    My wife and I recently changed our spending habits in an effort to get out of debt. We have been trying for a few years to break into Real Estate investing, but our debt to income ratio has made it difficult to fund any opportunities. We used to split the bills. I make quite a bit more (although still a modest amount) for now as my wife is in grad school and doesn’t have many opportunities in her field of study with only a bachelor’s degree. For this reason, I was paying the majority of the bills and if one of us had extra money, that would be used for things like eating out. We did it this way for about four years, but I don’t feel it really worked. Know we have a budget in place. I have created the budget (I’m a type B personality and she’s type A), and she has made inputs and changes where she felt they were necessary. I pay all the bills (mostly for simplicity) and we each have our own “allowance” if you will for things like eating out for lunch or discretionary spending. We have a joint budget amount for nearly every area you could imagine. Eating our together, entertainment, clothes shopping (individual clothing allowances as women’s clothes are usually more expensive and I’m content with shopping at the thrift store) etc… She has very little involvement (by choice), but she does look over the budget once a month. I even throw in some curveballs (like $3000 for groceries) so I know she is actually looking at it. The only time this has been an issue is in the rare instance she spends money from the checking account because she “forgot.” We spend every dollar on paper (or excel really) before every cashing or depositing a check. This is the only thing that has every made us truly feel in control of our finances. We are paying of all consumer debt and saving money so that we never need a credit card again for emergencies or Christmas gifts. Finances are an even more common reason for divorce than infidelity, so I suggest everyone find something that works and do it. In a sense, she’s the president: I make most of the financial decisions, but she can suggest or veto.

  170. avatar

    Married. Husband has his accounts and I have mine, both make about the same amount. Hey pays set household bills, I am no privy to the amounts, his income and account balances. I pay set household bills and all expenses relating to our two children. I am handling my retirement savings separate since I am not involved in his financial situation.

  171. avatar

    This is my ex husband. He refused to have a joint account. But he had access to my account which he used for gas or fast food at times. He managed the bills money etc. My dad did so i didn’t think anything of it. But my ex put us in massive debt. We would borrow from my parents but he would go into more debt. Mostly expensive toys cars water craft etc. All to amuse himself. I never had money. I would pay for kids expenses food gas some bills etc. He would leave the kids and me alone a lot. One day 2 decades later he cheated and left us. Now he hands over support pay and i had to learn to manage money and i can. He refuses counsel therapy etc. It’s very sad i thought he loved me but only because i was enabling him. I pray you guys work this out before taking vows. Blessings

  172. avatar

    Wow your parents sound like my marriage. My ex did all this too..but used debt and we always were negative. Made money but spent 10x more than he made. He ended up leaving us because he couldn’t go into debt anymore after i lost my job.

  173. avatar

    How is your situation. My spouse was the same. He didn’t save though he just spent his money. He had control issues. He lived for his lifestyle not the family. I think he has Adhd and from what i studied and some therapy for me, he is narcissistic. My only advise is get a job to support yourself and not have to ask for money. This will hopefully eliminate stress. Although I’m not sure if you would be paying the tuition too. Best wishes

  174. avatar

    I must confess that over here in the United States it is very difficult to get a powerful spell caster that will be able to restore broken marriages or relationships, But through the help of the internet i was able to get in touch with this powerful spell caster called High priest tokubo after reading a lot of good reviews about him on the internet so i contact him through his details bellow And after i told him about my relationship stress then high priest tokubo told me to calm down that my lover will come back to apologies to me for leaving me, I never taught that this was going to be possible, Just within 48 hours that i contacted high priest tokubo my lover sent me and an sms text saying that i should forgive him and before i knew it he was already at my place begging me to accept him back. you can connect him on: (((( highpriesttokubo @ gmail . com ))))

  175. avatar

    I’m married and my wife handles the money. I’m the only earner, I make 1500 per month rent is only 200 with bills. I spend 5 per day 150 per month and we have no money. I’ve asked if we have saving she says yes but gets angry if I want to see and gets angry if I ask where she has spent the money. We don’t have kids

  176. avatar

    I am married for the past 4 years. In my marriage my husband controls all the finances…..I don’t even have a say and I am not even allowed to have my own credit card with me. Once i get the salary, I know how much i got that month and that it… I don’t know what happens to it. The only thing I know is that I am given 200 dollars to spend for the entire month. I have no idea what he does with the rest of the money. I have been asking him to save… but according to him there is nothing left at the end of the month because of me…….

  177. avatar

    I have been married for over 30 years and do not work outside the house. My husband has a lucrative business, but has always kept his business bank accounts separate from our personal joint accounts. When I/we need money to pay our personal bills, his business manager deposits money from the business accounts to our personal accounts. All money from his business go directly into the business account. The business manager has access to all accounts, but I do not. I am no longer comfortable with this arrangement. I would love to hear any thoughts and/or about this..