Marriage and money

After yesterday’s experience, today I prepared for the cold (it was even colder this morning, 5ºF!) I layered my gym clothes under my work clothes and added an extra wool pullover under my sweater. Thanks to this extra prep, I got out of the house late and nearly missed my train– but being just-in-time meant I didn’t really need it anyway, though it added some stress.

Today’s very quickly filling up with meetings so I was glad to be able to peel off a couple layers and get right to my workout and get that out of the way– a short 30 minute trot on the treadmill, 2.68mi. Someone had turned the TV in front of me to Fox News and watching that was like watching a whole ‘nother world.

For years now I’ve set aside a small pot of money to donate to a few causes that I feel strongly about. I kind of feel like it’s the least I can do. I was raised in a strict tithing (10% before taxes!), "if it doesn’t hurt you’re not giving enough" kind of family, and although I’m not religious now I still have that mindset– and frankly, I have more than I need and I feel like I could and should always be giving more.

Now, I asked my husband about this a month or so ago, thinking that he might like to also set aside some money for charity (the two of us together should be able to double it, right?) I found his answer to be shocking and disappointing: he wasn’t interested, he already has too much financial uncertainty (i.e. underwater condo) and didn’t feel like he should give. We haven’t really managed to merge our finances yet (and I’m not sure we ever will, at least until we own a home with both our names on the mortgage) so I’m still free to do my own thing.

This makes me a little bit grumpy; his financial uncertainty is my financial uncertainty (in my eyes, if maybe not in the eyes of the law? I dunno) and he certainly doesn’t hold back from ‘treating himself’ when he wants to, either. We definitely have some different ideas about the appropriate amount of frugality in our household…

It’s probably a good compromise though; he tempers my bleeding-heart, sell-everything-I-have-and-become-some-kind-of-atheist-nun tendencies, and I can encourage him to be more generous for causes he cares about. One thing on our to-do list is to put together a joint budget, so we can hash this out then.

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4 Responses to Marriage and money

  1. My fiance bought a house last year and I moved in with him. We share some of the bills but it took a while for him to see our money as pooled. By that I mean that if I ran out he wouldn’t let me go hungry… we live under the same roof! I have been thinking of making continuous donations to charities. In the past I have gave money in drips and drabs to random places. I just care too much about everything I can’t single out specific things. It stresses me out. Wanting to help stresses me out. That doesn’t even make sense!

    • G says:

      Yeah, we’re ‘pooled’ in the sense we’d support each other if needed, but our primary accounts are the separate ones and we both put an amount monthly into a joint account (wedding present money and other random common dollars goes in there too) and the bills are paid from that. It’s not quite the way I’d like it, but we both have many years of single living inertia to overcome.

      I know what you mean with wanting to help everyone and that being overwhelming! Maybe the answer is to adopt one issue as the primary one to support and do that richly, both with money and time? Then when other things come up, you can acknowledge that they’re important but they’re not “your” issue?

  2. Gingerzingi says:

    In recent years, I’ve chosen three causes to support with automatic deductions from my paycheck, and three with automatic charges to my credit card. I like that instead of having to decide on the spur of the moment whether to donate to a cause that pops up. You can think about it and prioritize, and do what you can, because it’s part of your monthly budget/spending.

    I don’t know what to say about merging finances. I was quite young when we married (22) and neither of us had a pot to piss in. Our finances were always merged, and there were few disagreements because there were no spending options – it was a matter of trying to meet basic living expenses. And we’ve gone through so many different eras of one of us being unemployed or underemployed, or one of us making much more money than the other, that it wouldn’t have worked for us to have separate finances. That’s us, though, and not a recommendation or advice.

    From the perspective of 35 years of marriage (yikes!) I think it’s less important that you agree on everything financial, than it is that you have a plan for how to deal with the disagreements.

    • G says:

      I do it with automatic deductions– it’s nice to think every year about what to give to. And in a way it makes my life a little less stressful around charitable giving– I have my “things” which makes it a little easier to say no to random solicitations.

      Thank you for the advice– we have a long ways to go! For now, at least, money isn’t a big stress for us and we can let it slide some. I probably won’t be saying that a year from now, when we’ve bought a house…

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