Two adults one child’s recent post about getting her husband on board with a joint spending/retirement plan and the hiccups therein got me thinking. How does one communicate about money with one’s spouse? There seem to be so many different examples on the blogosphere, from couples who write personal finance blogs together and have money discussions and their joint views as a center to their relationship to couples who continually harbor resentment, keep score, hide, and fight about purchases. (The latter are somewhat difficult to read!)
#1: I think the way I communicate about money issues with my DH is probably not transferable to most people. When we got married, I basically told him, this is the way it is going to be because this is what we can afford and whenever we got a negative shock (“Wait, you have 10K in student loans that you didn’t know about?” “Wait, I have to pay capital gains taxes on stocks I didn’t know I owned that are now worthless because my father transferred them to me right before the company went bankrupt?”) I would freak out and cry a lot and he’d try to make me feel better. As we got into better financial situations we would discuss our goals with what we could do with our relaxed spending. So with him not worrying his pretty little head about money at first and then mainly only positive money interactions after, it hasn’t been an issue. We’d figure out how to solve problems by talking them through (like DH getting miserable because he either wants to spend all his money or none of his money and both states of the world are bad– solved by an allowance that allows him to spend all his money without hurting our finances).
These days money isn’t that big a deal and we have a lot of systems in place that set precedents for most spending. We still check with each other for big things and DH stays within his allowance for his fun money.
#2: We talk about things…. like, “Hey, just so you know, I’m thinking of spending money on X. Is that ok with you?” Before that (when we had a lot less money) we had really separate finances. We still do, to a large amount.
He does joint taxes for us both. We tell each other after we’ve made charitable contributions, usually. But mostly we’re responsible with our own stuff and have these systems with our joint stuff.
So that’s how we communicate about money. If applicable, how do you guys communicate with interested parties about money?