Why We Actually DO Need to Talk About Money

Why We Actually Do Need to Talk About Money | Houston Moms Blog

A few days ago I was scrolling through my feed, and I came across one of those memes that pokes fun at wives spending money. You know, like this::

Why We Actually Do Need to Talk About Money | Houston Moms Blog

As the holiday shopping increases, so have these memes. I feel like I am seeing them everywhere these days. And while I am sure they are “all in good fun”, to be honest, they bug me. They trigger all of my buttons of hetero-normative gender roles, husbands being “the head of the household”, and wives “doing as they are told.” Now, I want to clarify, if that’s how your relationship is structured, and you are both on board with it and like it, then you do you. But for me, that’s not how I roll. I am a feminist in an egalitarian, co parenting, equally-contributing team member type relationship, and that extends to our money. Notice the “our” I used back there. I know, I know, we aren’t supposed to talk about money; it’s not polite, or proper, or whatever BS we’ve been fed that also somehow applies to religion and politics and race and all of those other things we actually DO need to talk about, so humor me and let’s go down the money hole for a bit.

Why the Memes Bother Me

Why We Actually Do Need to Talk About Money | Houston Moms Blog

You might be thinking “Geez, lighten up! It’s just a meme”. And yes, in the grand scheme of things, this is small. But as I saw them over and over, I found myself being angry at the representation of these memes. They depict wives as frivolous spenders fixated on Starbucks and Target, who haven’t an ounce of self control and who have to hide their purchases in shame for fear of being reprimanded by their husbands. The husbands are painted as the masters of the credit card, keeper of the coins, the ones who are constantly trying to insist on responsible spending, but end up being defied and sneakily betrayed over and over by their wives, sweating over whether the next pumpkin spice latte may bankrupt their family. These caricatures of gender roles and marriage are simplistic, offensive, and mask the reality of what sharing finances in a partnership actually entails. And if this is what we are seeing every day as we spend hours on social media feeds, how is that affecting our relationship with money, and with our partners?

Behind the Curtain

When it comes to me and my husband, money is a shared burden. We are both responsible for our spending and saving. We hold each other accountable when we get off track, and talk about how to work toward our financial goals as a family. We are fortunate that we come from similar financial backgrounds and that we approach money in much the same way. I realize what works for us might not work for everyone, but in an effort to start the conversation, I want to share how we approach finances together. 

Being a Team

Team mentality is a staple of our marriage and family, and our attitude about money falls right in line with it. When my husband and I first married and were combining finances, we both brought in about the same amount of income. I think this starting off on even footing has been beneficial to us not being possessive of our incomes. We pool all of our money into one place, and then designate it for different things. When we have discussions, it is always about what WE want to do and how OUR money works. It belongs to us both. This has saved many a power struggle and hurt feelings in our relationship, even as my husband’s income became much higher than mine. We’ve successfully navigated moving cities, having a child, and buying a house with this approach, and I think it will continue to serve us well in years to come. 

Budgets are Life

We’ve had a budget from the start, and setting limits in terms of budgeting has worked well for us. We each have a savings account that is our personal “fun” money that we designate a monthly amount to. We agreed from the start that this money is for each of us to spend however we choose, and that the other can’t judge it. So if I want to buy yet another sweater at Old Navy or my husband is splurging on another video game, as long as we have the fun money for it…go crazy! While we may poke fun at each other for buying silly things, I cannot think of a time where either one of us has ever been upset about it.

Use Outside Tools

We have utilized You Need A Budget {YNAB} as our budget making tool since we got married. It serves us well in keeping track of our spending, tracking patterns, and allowing us to be flexible in saving up for things and making sure our money is working  intentionally for us. But it has also made our conversations around money tangible in a way that makes it way easier for us to talk about. Recently we had a discussion on categories where we kept overspending that we need to pay more attention to, and while it wasn’t fun, it wasn’t full of shame and blame. Seeing the information right in front of us separated it in a way where we could talk about it objectively. We also both have access to this program and our bank accounts, so we both have the ability to see all of our spending. This means there is no hiding of purchases, and no way to say you weren’t aware. 

Sharing the Burden

Most importantly, we share the financial responsibility for our family. Hetero-normative gender expectations dictate that men should be providing financially for their family while women care for the home and children. That’s not how it works for us. Just like we share parenting, chores, and other tasks, we share taking care of our finances. It’s a constant conversation, and an ever evolving project to manage. We both commit to keeping up with it and being responsible for our money. And while the specific tasks of this may shift, it’s never off of either of our plates. It’s just one more thing we tackle together, respecting each other enough to have the hard conversations, to follow through when we commit to a plan, and to own up to it when we slip up. For us, that’s marriage.  

What about you? How do you and your partner tackle finances? 

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