One of the biggest problems in relationships is money. It causes some of the most stress and is certainly the biggest reason people cite for getting a divorce. This is especially true if two people who are in a relationship disagree about money. They say opposites attract and that is certainly true regarding money. It is not a surprise when a spender and a saver get together. It is not a surprise when you have, to use Dave Ramsey’s terms, a “free-spirit” and a “nerd.” The free-spirit tends to be the one who doesn’t necessarily care about the numbers, while the nerd is all up in those numbers regarding finance.
Money problems are compounded when you have a lot of debt, whatever it may be. You feel like you can’t breathe. I can certainly admit that I feel that way sometimes when I see the mountain of student loan debt that we have to pay back it seems never-ending and daunting. So much so you want to throw up your hands and just not deal with it. The problem with that, of course, is that you don’t deal with the problem and it just becomes worse.
In the ROB household, we have different views on money. I am a planner. I always have been. I like to tick boxes, line things up and take them as they come. I want a plan and execute it. I am a financial nerd. The problem with that is that I don’t necessarily allow myself to enjoy money. I feel guilty when we go out to dinner or something because I think that money can used in other places.
Mrs. ROB is different. She isn’t a planner. She doesn’t necessarily worry about the numbers. That doesn’t mean she isn’t cognizant of what goes on in our financial lives, but it is something that is not of a primary concern of hers.
I will fully admit that we have fought about money. We still have some disagreements about money. My biggest problem is communicating about money. If something needs to be solved I want it done like now. And that doesn’t work when you have different viewpoints on money and different ways of dealing with a variety of issues. I struggle with how we try to achieve our goals (financial independence) while having some fun with money. I also don’t want to be a micro-manager because that would drive Mrs. ROB crazy. She might even say that I am a bit of micro manager. I try not to be. I am trying to be better.
Overcoming This Monetary Obstacle
So if we disagree about money then how do we deal with it in the ROB household? The truth is we have done this through trial and error. We have tried where she pays her bills and I pay mine. We have tried to totally integrate our finances, but I know Mrs. ROB felt that she couldn’t enjoy buying something she liked and I was stressed about paying off debt so I am sure I was difficult to live with.
After trying five or six items we finally agreed to something called the Yours, Mine, and Ours budget. Here is how it works for us. We have direct deposit for our paychecks, but we actually put them into separate checking accounts. Mrs. ROB has hers and I have mine.
Every paycheck we transfer money out of those accounts into a larger savings account that I use to pay bigger bills. The bills like the mortgage, car payment, student loans, and insurance our all automatic withdrawals. The utility bills and other items I will often actually put on my Fidelity Rewards credit card. At the end of the month, I take the money that we have transferred out and pay that credit card off.
Whatever money is left over in the two checking accounts is our money to spend for the month.
We determine what we put into that joint account based on two things. First, we add up all the bills for that particular month. Our monthly expenses, for the most part, are fairly fixed. We vary on our spending for food and entertainment, but it is pretty consistent at a particular number. We then contribute a percentage of our income to the account. The percentages add up to 100% of the bills, but the amounts we contribute do not. The amount we contribute is based upon our take home pay. So let’s say I bring home $2000 and Mrs. ROB brings home $1000. Based upon our bills we contribute a percentage of our take home pay to the OURS account. In our case it might be 2/3ds of my income and 1/3 of hers (that actually isn’t our percentages or how much money we bring home per month, it is just for illustration purposes) or if Mrs. ROB made more money (and sometimes does in a month) then she would contribute a greater percentage of her income (e.g. 55% vs 45% for me). Whatever is left over we keep for ourselves.
The advantages of the plan are that it gives us autonomy to do what we want the money. We shouldn’t feel guilty if we want to order take-out or get coffee or buy a new item.
Now I fully admit this is hard for me. I do feel guilty for spending some money. I actually put some of mine aside or what I have also done is increase my retirement contributions so that the money goes toward something what I consider to be more productive for our future. I do have to learn to enjoy money though.
If you are having money fights and money problems the Yours, Mine, and Ours budget might work for you. It hasn’t totally eliminated our money fights or issues, but it does give us a bit of autonomy to do what we want with our money.
The trick is, and this is hard for me I fully admit, to commit to the system and not judge the other person for whatever they use the money for. If you are going to create the system then stick with the system. We have been using it for about a year now. Again, it isn’t perfect, but it is so far working, for the most part, for us.