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Money Matters

When we were newly married, Paul asked me if I would mind if he took care of paying all our bills. I literally said, “Oh thank God!” I felt relieved I wasn’t responsible for making sure our rent, utilities, and car payments were paid. I also felt secure knowing that part of our monthly income would be put aside as savings for retirement and buying a house.

It didn’t take long for us to realize our spending (and saving) habits were quite different. I grew more and more frustrated whenever Stephanie went “over budget” on groceries, gifts, and unexpected items like portraits of the children – which weren’t in the budget at all!

Over time I began to feel restricted when it came to spending money. I saw a budget as a set of guidelines that I “tried” to follow. For Paul, it was much more black and white. Our plan of managing money was causing friction between us. I felt more and more controlled and Paul became increasingly frustrated when we didn’t stick to our budget. Something had to change so we worked out a system that might seem a little unorthodox to some, but it has worked wonderfully for us.

Each year we re-evaluate our monthly budget together making sure to review our needs, wants and dreams. I take responsibility for certain areas of our budget, like the mortgage payment, auto and life insurance, entertainment, and savings. Stephanie takes responsibility for those areas that caused friction between us in the past – groceries, charity, and gifts. We each have a category for personal spending. We have separate (but joint) checking accounts from which we pay “our” respective bills. Our monthly income is split (proportionately) and deposited between these two joint accounts. If either of us goes over budget on something, we have to deal with the shortfall from our “own” checking account.

Once Paul and I made this change, I had the freedom to manage the categories I was responsible for the way I saw fit.  We now laugh at how different we are, but we don’t argue about money. We have found peace in this area of our relationship because we decided to make a change that took into account our strengths and celebrated our differences.  

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