I think there should be a test before you get married to see if you and your guy are compatible when it comes to money issues. Right before they issue you a marriage license, you have to pass this test. “Sorry, you guys got a 70%, it doesn’t look good for you, move on and meet someone else.”
I told you in my Science of Sex post http://dontwearsweats.com/the-science-of-sex/ that I was always taught by my mother that money and sex end most marriages. Damn it, she is right again.
So let’s talk money. Now I wouldn’t say that Scott and I fight a lot specifically about money. But sometimes we will fight about something random when it is really about money. He will start lecturing me about coffee grounds in the sink, which I regularly leave, and then ten minutes later, he will scream out of nowhere, “Stop spending so much!”
Money fights will lead to other fights. This is a guarantee. So what can we do to try to avoid these elevated discussions?
Now, I admire some of the tricks us women use to hide certain monetary transactions. Some pull the old Grocery Store Sting. This is when a woman goes grocery shopping and charges American Express or Visa gift cards or even a department store card on their food bill. Her husband probably will not notice, but if he does notice a high grocery bill, she will say, “I know, the kids are eating us out of house and home.”
Then there is old split up a purchase on more then one credit card. I am guilty of this and have had Scott convinced that I got a designer dress for about forty dollars.
But I declare, this has to stop! Money talks with your mate are imperative. With our parent’s generation, the women were clueless about where the money was, how much they had, and how to get to it if there was an emergency. I have heard stories where these women still don’t know how to use an ATM, or how to pay a bill. That is scary. Today, although I know of some households where women take control of the finances, in the majority of homes, I think that the man still holds most of the financial knowledge.
The first step to empowering yourself about your family’s finances is to tell your guy that you want to know everything about how your household runs financially. Whether you bring home part of the income, or work at home and are slowly embezzling funds, you have a right to know what is going on financially in your house. Your man may be resistant and tell you not to worry about it. You tell him that if you don’t know what you can spend, you will get that pretty purse that costs enough to feed a small country.
So once you guys are on the same page, it’s time to make a plan. And this is where the scary grown up shit starts. I hate acting like a grown up. I would like to act like my kids, who think $1000 a year could cover everything.
The most important step you can take is for you and your mate to write down every time either of you spend money. Do this for one whole month. This includes ATM withdrawals. This includes your Starbucks coffee runs. This includes the trendy neon shirt you bought on a whim last week. This includes writing down if you pay for a tampon out of one of those machines in a public restroom. I think this is the hardest thing to do. Not getting the tampon out of the machine, but seeing with your own eyes how much money you are actually spending.
It’s like writing down everything you eat for a day, and realizing, “I am a real fat ass.”
Sometimes I have gone to Target for one birthday present, and end up at the register with 10 clear plastic bins, picture frames, and some random picture of Paris. It’s like I took ecstasy and end up saying to the check out clerk ”How the hell did I get here?”
So after you have factored all of that, along with your monthly nut of bills, mortgage, insurance, etc, you and your guy need to sit down and make a budget. Allocate amounts in the various categories. You need to have serious back and forth about what you guys are spending and what you can spend. My friend does this with her husband and they know exactly what they have budgeted for every month. There are no surprises, no resentments.
So once in a while we have to do grown up stuff. But you will dodge many bullets if you talk about money honestly as a couple.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go to Publix for milk and a Bloomingdales card.
Jen Ross, Author, “Don’t Wear Sweats Or Your Husband Will Leave You”