Thursday, January 12, 2017

Hypothetical Questions: How much can you spend without asking your spouse?

You can do whatever you want, as long as you agree.

Welcome to Hypothetical Questions, where Nut and Bagel scour the forums of the internet for quandaries at the intersection of personal finance and relationships. Today's question comes to this: when you have joint finances, at what point do you consult your partner to agree about spending?

Frugal Bagel
Here's the situation. It's a husband and wife with joined finances. Wife (OP) makes 1/2 what the husband makes; husband is in charge of finances; wife gets a lecture every time she spends more than $50 but the husband loaned $500 to a family member without asking her. She's like, just because I make less, should I have less say?

Practical Cranberry Nut Roll
so you're in charge of your family's finances, right?

Frugal Bagel
yeah
I mean I'm the one who obsessively checks and categorizes everything
we each have our own money to spend however we want

Practical Cranberry Nut Roll
under what circumstances could you see yourself giving/loaning $500 without running it by your wife?

Frugal Bagel
I could not see myself doing that

Practical Cranberry Nut Roll
yeah me neither
not with the joint account
but i also can't imagine NOT having my own money
maybe you can?
if you didn't have your own fun money
everything is in one pool

Frugal Bagel
we need our own fun money
if we didn't have it, we'd HAVE to run everything by each other
the point of it is "a set amount of money you don't need to run by each other"
so without it, you are always in conference about every spend
I guess if I saved up $500 out of my fun money for the purpose of lending a family member, I technically wouldn't have to tell her but feel like I still would? for something like that?
but she definitely has the same right to spend her own fun money on whatever she wants. I guess the real problem in the letter is the double standard.

Practical Cranberry Nut Roll
yes, but also i feel like a lack of treating her as a fellow human?
the double standard is one piece of evidence for that
but also the fact that he feels like he can just spend $500 of their joint funds is another

Frugal Bagel
yeah, it's like he thinks of all the money as his
even if she makes half of what he does, she contributes 1/3, which is not nothing. and even if she didn't earn any money at all, they're still a family who have made an agreement to share money and make decisions together. it's not just a guy with a hanger-on.

Practical Cranberry Nut Roll
i think $500 is a big enough amount of money (though maybe that's personal) that if you don't consult your partner about it, why bother having a financial partner?

Frugal Bagel
yeah, I feel like $500 passes pretty much anyone's test of "how much do I spend before I ask my partner about it"

Practical Cranberry Nut Roll
i would think so also

Frugal Bagel
it also says he recently got a bonus of the same amount, so maybe he feels like he "replaced" the money?
but it's still money they could have spent another way
you still have to explicitly make an agreement ahead of time with your partner that you will spend windfalls individually, or whatever

Practical Cranberry Nut Roll
right, and if it's fun money that he wants to spend however he wants, then she should get an equal amount
but that clearly won't work since she gets lectured for spending $50
maybe he thinks it's not spending since he's sure he'll get it back?

Frugal Bagel
ohh maybe
but yeah they should still agree on loaning
realistically, he may not get it back (depending on the situation with the family member)
I mean, you can have any agreement you want, but you need to agree on it
The bottom line, as usual, the Need for Mutual Communication and Respect

Practical Cranberry Nut Roll
Just once, I'd like the bottom line to be the mutual need for SNAKES!

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