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Introduction   ::   Your History   ::   Debt   ::   Expectations   ::   Budget   ::   Credit   ::   Money  ::   Resources

Money, Manipulation, & Power

"Riches do not consist in the possession of treasures but in the use made of them."
- Napoleon Bonaparte

Discussion: Variations in Money Management

In some marriages, one partner may use money as a tool to gain power over the other partner. If the controlling partner is the sole-earner or they earn the most in a two-earner marriage, the controlling partner may feel that they have the "right" to say how the money is spent. One partner may also use money in a power ploy by overspending, leaving the couple continuously struggling to pay all the bills that come in.

Controlling the household money has to do with deciding what issues are priorities as well as who will establish them. In any relationship, the possibility always exists that whoever has control may try to satisfy his or her own needs and wants before considering the needs and wants of their partner. Finances work best when both partners consider themselves equals in decision-making.

One way of dealing with issues of financial control and dominance is to set up clear rules about how money is handled. In addition to agreeing on goals and establishing a spending plan, this may mean having two or three separate checking accounts rather than pooling income where everything goes into one account.

Even in the absence of a power conflict, keeping some money separate often helps partners retain a healthy sense of self-direction. Some couples put an equal amount of their money into a joint checking account to cover household expenses. The remainder of their earnings are saved in individual accounts or spent as each sees fit. This way each partner has some money to call his/or her own that they can manage without answering to the other spouse.

Some couples, especially those where there is a gap in earning power, each spouse contributes a percentage of his or her income to cover household expenses. Savings are either kept separate or pooled. This way both partners are contributing to household expenses while retaining some independent control.

"Pooler" couples combine all their income to use for both household and personal expenses. However, the spouse with the lesser income may not feel he or she has much say about how their joint money is spent. Both spouses may feel obligated to discuss each and every purchase with each other, and neither has an independent "allowance" to spend as they wish.

Variations of all these systems are possible, of course. For example, a "pooler" couple could use one checkbook, but each person carries a "wild check" for emergencies. A proportional share couple may divide household expenses into categories: one spouse pays the mortgage and insurance while the other pays for groceries and all utilities.

Discussion: Managing Money Management

Partners usually discover early on in a marriage who can balance the checkbook efficiently. However, it is not a good idea to make that a lifetime occupation. Rotate financial jobs occasionally. If one partner always writes the checks for the bills, the other partner may lose touch with what is going on with their finances. It is important that the bill-paying partner inform his or her partner where the records are and how they are organized. Some couples use a six-months-on and six-months-off system. One couple changes roles every year-she takes care of maintaining the family car and he pays the bills and balances the checkbook. The next year they reverse.

A regular schedule of tackling money tasks is critical to good money management. It can be as basic as setting aside a couple of hours at the end of each month to balance the checkbook, pay bills, file papers, and evaluate your spending plan. If you have a computerized money management software program it will probably take less then one hour. Set aside one place where receipts, bills, cancelled checks, etc. have a "home." It can be a file cabinet, a cardboard box, an expandable plastic folder or one desk drawer. Office supply stores have a variety of items that can be purchased inexpensively and will organize your paperwork handsomely.

If one management system does not work, try to analyze why and change it. Then try again. Both partners need to be involved in developing a workable system. If they are not, the system will likely break down since they do not have a commitment to making it work.

Copyright 2008, by the Contributing Authors. Cite/attribute Resource . admin. (2005, November 28). Finances. Retrieved January 08, 2011, from Free Online Course Materials — USU OpenCourseWare Web site: http://ocw.usu.edu/Family__Consumer____Human_Development/Marriage___Family_Relationships/Finances_12.html. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License Creative Commons License