Money in a Marriage: 4 Ways to Avoid the Argument

Share Button
A friend of mine once asked me the question, “How does your relationship work? Does Austin work and you two split the pay check while you stay at home working with the kids?” I gave a fairly short answer about the budget I set up but I’ve been thinking about the way people handle money in a marriage since. 
There are a lot of different ways that money can be handled. I’m sure it would vary greatly depending on the partnership. For instance, we have a very different arrangement now than we did before having children when I also worked. But it is important to be on the same page as your spouse as far as money is concerned. According to this CNBC article, money is one of the top argument causers in a marriage. That’s the reason it’s listed in this post I wrote about things to discuss before marrying someone.
So what are different arrangements that work for handling money in a marriage? Here are a few I thought of:

One Income

  • This is the method we use. In our home, we use my husband’s paycheck to pay for everything. It covers all of our needs and wants. In exchange, it is my job to use the money well (no splurges on $500 shoes for instance) and to take care of the children and home. Now for us, this doesn’t equal no household help from him. But it does mean that I carry the bulk of the load by cleaning and cooking and caring for children while he is at work. Once he comes home, we start sharing jobs. I also put a section in our budget to allot him a little “fun money” to spend on anything he wants. If he wants to go use it all on Mt. Dew, fine by me. If he wants to save it up for horse tack, whatever. It’s his. This keeps him from feeling like he is working all the time without getting to have any fun or freedom or anything for himself. Eventually, I added in a section for my to get a little “fun money” also but it’s a smaller amount…mostly because I HATE spending money.
  • Variations of this idea could include:
    • Splitting up household or childcare chores. Or perhaps one or the other. If keeping house equals having a full time job, then childcare would be even divided between you both. Or visa versa.
    • Finding small ways to either earn or save money that could then become your “fun money.” The more money you save at the grocery store or earn through online survey sites, the more you have to play with.

Two Incomes

There are three main ways that couples can work two incomes:
  • Everything is combined and divided, regardless of inequal sizes of paychecks. It all gets thrown into the household budget and used to cover all expenses, fun money, whatever. There is no smaller fund for you or your husband based on bringing home more or less. Everything is mutual.
  • You kind of live off your own income. This is basically works like it does before you got married but now you would likely split housing costs or divide them up and then use the rest of your paycheck however you want.
  • Or, this is the method we used when I also worked, you live off of one paycheck and save the entirety of the other. We used my husband’s paycheck exactly as we do now and mine got divided between a savings account and our investments. This ended up being a huge blessing to use when we decided to start ranching and were very poor and had a baby on the way. We used that saved up money to pay doctors and the hospital. Of course, this was before I knew how to budget and we weren’t nearly as good with our money. Looking back, we realize we could have lived off of my paycheck and saved his. Eh, you live, you learn!

    Stop arguing about money by using one of these strategies
    Stop arguing about money by using one of these strategies.

When both spouses work however, it is VERY important to discuss your roles in home care and child care. The situation will vary based on hours and days you work compared to your spouse but both of you need to agree on chores you will be responsible for. It isn’t fair for both spouses to work 40 hours per week for instance and the wife has to still be in charge of all cleaning, cooking, and child raising. This could easily lead to a cranky, burnt out wife. But in our case, I worked 40 hours a week or less while he usually worked well over 60. It often fell to whoever was the least tired to pick up some slack but I typically cooked dinner because I was home 2 hours earlier and could have it ready when he got home.

The important part of this is to talk to each other, preferably before you are angry and disgruntled by the way you handle money in a marriage. Because it’s not the same as handling money in a courtship or in a single life. Getting on the same page with your finances can not only save you arguments and anger but it can actually save your marriage. And for goodness sakes, start a budget! Then your money will always be accounted for, you will know where it’s going, and you will have the peace of mind of saving up towards goals and dreams.

Share Button

Leave a Reply