Sunday, July 10, 2011

A Few Budgetary Restrictions

"We didn't overspend our budget.  The allocation simply fell short of the expenditure."
~ Kieth Davis
"I have to do the money stuff tonight." 
This is Bob's way of telling me to run for cover, because he's going to do the bills.
"Awwww, really?"
"Yes, it's been forever, and it's going to be a mess."

Honest to God, hubby and I do not fight about money. But that's because, until recently, one of us didn't give a damn about how we spent our money anyway. We do disagree periodically. Then I give in because I honestly know he's right and we don't need to take an Ikea field trip and buy a big boxy wall unit for the toys.

We recently switched from a money management system we'd used since we got married, to a newer, fairer, (we hope) more savings-friendly strategy:

Old system: 
Bob did the budget, deciding what we spent on everything in every category, but getting my input for things like birthday gifts and "extra" stuff. (Dining out, Dunkin Donuts, collections for causes at school, etc.) I seldom carried cash, but rather swiped "the black card" for every purchase. We racked up points, and he paid the card off every month when he paid the other bills.  I would, monthly or so, get in trouble for overspending on things... like birthday gifts and "extra stuff".  I stayed in trouble for 5 minutes, long enough for him to say something like,
"Next month we really need to stick to the budget, ok?" 
"Ok, you're right, I'm sorry."

Pros: I get off scott-free for most stupid purchases, Bob handles the aftermath and makes our household budget work by sheer spreadsheet magic.

Cons:  I get off scott-free for most stupid purchases, Bob handles the aftermath and makes our household budget work by sheer spreadsheet magic. But when I'm honest with myself, how immature of me! How reckless! And while I'm not a vocal feminist, geez, girl, take some responsibility, half of it IS your money! 

New system: 
He figured out what it takes to pay the bills, put food on the table and gas in the cars, and a set amount we divide up pretty evenly. He still does the bills, but I'm learning. We each have our own checking account, with an "orange card".  We get "paid" from our joint backing account twice a month.
He pays for the dog's vet  bills and medicine, the upkeep of the house (but not the prettification), his own upkeep, etc. So no more buying him clothes when I think he looks ratty...
I pay for the kids' stuff, activities, and prettification/organization/random other stuff for the house.  And now my coffee habit is my own problem. We treat for dinner out, depending on who has how much money left.

Pros: Responsibility for one's own purchasing action! Plus, I am going to do the bills more. We swear. More importantly, when there is no more money in said checking account, there is No. More. Money. Till payday.

Cons: I pretty much see that whole last sentence as one big CON, especially the "No. More. Money." part.

But again, I'm learning:

Yesterday I was embarking on a kid-related house prettification project. I needed items from Walmart and in the 20 items or less checkout, my orange card got declined! Trying to perform inscrutable math in my head while holding up line, I could not figure out why my account had no money left. I had tons of money in there this morning! Ok, not tons, but enough for a minor trip to Walmart, right?
Oh wait, I did go to the post office.  And Fashion bug (store closing sale in July = I have blouses for school in September! Smart purchases in the long run). And Dunkin Donuts. And how much was I spending at this checkout lane?
Ditz.  I'm a big, irresponsible ditz, and if I knew me, I'd tell me that I need to start acting like an adult and not a 14 year-old who got a Visa Prepaid card from Grandma.

So, I actually had the lovely experience of asking the Walmart cashier to take a few things off the order.
How dignified.  This time, the transaction ran through effortlessly.
When I got home I checked my balance online and found that I had indeed had enough money to make the original purchase, and then some.
What the what? 

"You probably entered the wrong pin number the first time."
*thinking back* 
"Oh yeah...I used the old pin from the old card."  

Hey married peoples,
I'm really wondering if this Yours, Mine, and Ours system is common.

Do you divide up, or run things separately?
Statistically, spending is a top cause for arguments among couples; 
What do you do, and is it working?

1 comment:

Lindsey said...

I do all the baking, honestly he has no idea what we have and don't have. I basically give him an allowance in cash for his fun stuff and then take what I want/need for myself. But the truth is even though I do the banking I am the one who wants to go out to eat, or buy things we don't need so he keeps me grounded by reminding me how much I am going to stress out when the money gets tight again. So all in all it works. When we lived in Japan we had cash jars that were for different types of expenses and once the jar was empty that was it until next pay day. We learned to budget pretty well like that and I keep saying we should go back to that system.

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