MMMT: Happy Wife Means Happy Life! A Tip on Managing Household Finances

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Monday Morning Miles Talk is a regular series that has some smaller, more quirky ideas to kick off the work week.  These are essentially random ideas that I wanted to share with you.  Here are the 4 most recent topics.

If you would like to read even more articles in the series you can click HERE.

How to Remove Fighting Over Money from your Marriage

Before you say it, I know that this isn’t a miles and points topic.  But our realm does deal heavily with finances and credit etc.  Plus this is my segment and I pretty much have carte blanche within it and this is what I wanted to write about. I believe this to be one of the most worthy topics I could speak on.

As we all know finances and money are one of the leading, if not number one, cause of tension in a relationship.  It is accountable for 35% of relationship strain according to an online Harris poll. Most of us in this hobby have a pretty good financial situation but that doesn’t mean there isn’t fighting over being thrifty or splurging etc.

Marriage Requires Work

My wife and I got married at 22 which comes with a whole bunch of issues.  Marriage is tough enough as it is but then you throw in the immaturity that you have at 22 makes it tough at times.  You still haven’t figured yourself out yet and you are thrown into close quarters with another person who is in the same boat.  It is tough and it takes some navigating to find calm waters.

At 22 we were financially independent for the first time and that comes with it’s own learning curve.  Throwing those two together made for an interesting adventure! Even if you meet later in life you are now set in your ways and this transition calls for an adjustment period.

It is true that opposites attract and usually there is one frugal member of a family and one spender in the family.  Up until you move in together it didn’t really matter since you had your own finances and you did what you want with YOUR money.  Now everything is splitsville and it takes a little while to come to terms with that.

Maybe one person is making purchases that the other person thinks are too extravagant or wasteful.  One person may have an expensive hobby (golf etc.) that the other gets resentful over.  Even if you aren’t struggling to pay the bills, money and the way you spend it, can cause problems.

The Fun Account Trick

After the first year or so we decided to come up with fun money accounts.  These are accounts that are entirely our own.  We can do what we please with them and the other person has no say in it.  These are also the accounts we use to buy gifts for each other etc. If she wants to get some Louboutin shoes while I go to a nice golf course then no one can complain!

We settled on ING checking accounts which have since been moved over to Capital One 360 accounts.  These are online checking accounts that sometimes come with a sign up bonus offer.  They also have savings accounts that earn a little under 1%, which is decent compared to most banks these days.

The nice thing about these accounts is they have overdraft coverage and they only charge you an interest rate on your overage.  No other fees etc.  This is beneficial in case there is something one of us wants to buy, or something we want to do, but don’t have all of the funds. We can dip into this reserve until the next payday comes and only pay a few cents for “borrowing” the money until then.  No need to pull from the combined accounts etc.

We have a predetermined amount go into each account every paycheck and that money is there to do whatever we like with it.  It cuts down on fighting about spending and allows each person to spend on themselves without guilt. It also allows us to pursue our hobbies without worrying about getting flack for it.

Bonus Tip

One other tip I wanted to offer, especially for any young readers out there.  Make sure to take full advantage of your retirement accounts at work.  You should always start with at least whatever the minimum is to get the company match.

If you get matched dollar for dollar up to 4% you should put at least that much towards your retirement account. It is like getting a 4% raise (more if you consider taxes). Every time you get a raise put a portion (we do half) of the raise into your retirement account.  If you get a 4% raise then boost your contribution from 5% to 7% etc.

By doing it this way you won’t feel the contribution increase since it comes at the time of your raise. Since the money is taken directly out of your check you won’t notice the difference.

Conclusion

Thank you for those of you who decided to stick with me through this.  I know it isn’t the normal topic of discussion when you are reading travel blogs but I thought it was an important one.  Everything kind of melds together in this hobby.  Miles and points can’t be harvested until the financial situation is all in the proper order.

Hopefully this tip helps some of you.  Does anyone else do something similar?  How do you manage finances in your household.


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9 COMMENTS

  1. I applaud you, Mark, for broaching a savings discipline. Many readers are instead more in a spending mode due to the accumulation nature of the travel rewards beast.

    A critical component to saving is dedicating resources regularly towards it. Whatever the person’s goal, be it a wedding, new home, etc, it helps tremendously to have accounts established for each objective and have money transferred monthly towards it from a checking account.

    Capital One 360 Savings Accounts are ideal for these purposes, because a person can open up to 25 of them with NO minimums or fees. Cap 1 pays a full 1% on any balance, and they can all be managed on one screen with 1 tax reporting. Very easy, and no other bank offers a system with so many accounts and functionality. It is all online, however, but is also why it’s free as well as super easy to open and manage.

    It’s hard to “bunch” financial goals into one account and then later expect to successfully apportion funds. Having separate accounts creates clarity, organization, and ultimately goal achievement. I would also like to add that, although not very exciting, an emergency reserve account should FIRST be established before saving for any other goals. So critical when one spouse loses a job, disability, aging parents, etc. Not having funds for necessary expenses causes a lot of the financial strains you speak of, and so cash reserves are a critical piece of any good plan.

    I think you could do a great follow-up article on how to get both spouses on board with rewards. Like everything else you mentioned, one partner is usually great at pulling out the right card for the appropriate spend and the other either thinks they’re compulsive or are simply not that interested.

    Nice job with going off the reservation, Mark. Sets you apart and shows you truly care about your readers. Blessings to you

    • Good point about easily setting up accounts. I love that feature and set up and close them on a regular basis to keep things dividend and goals clearly defined!

      My way to get my wife on board with rewards is to do it all for her pretty much lol.

  2. Forgot to also mention that funds in Capital 1 360 Savings (& Checking) online accounts can also be accessed at any of their brick & morter locations.

  3. You’re right to point out that each spouse needs a “fun budget” that they can spend without the other spouse giving them grief over it. Some may choose to spend here and there, while others will save up for something larger that they’ve been wanting.

    And especially when we’re talking about miles & points and credit cards… having open communication about money and how actions can either supercharge or derail rewards-earning is definitely key.

    • Thanks for the comment Lee, I agree 100%. Communication is key. It does seem like most of the fighting is over the small things. People usually agree on the big stuff. This hopefully eliminates the bickering on the stuff that is inconsequential in the grand scheme of things.

  4. Been married almost 32 years. I have never understood this concept of “different pots” for married couples, except maybe in odd circumstances like a complex family business.

    To me, what’s hers is mine and v.v.

    A couple days before the wedding, I said to her “Let’s discuss how we will handle finances. I propose we hold everything jointly and be careful and not hide anything from each other or go crazy. All earnings, investments, real estate, vehicles, investment income, inheritances in one pot. If one thinks the other is overstepping, we talk about it and resolve.“

    She said “OK.”

    No problems yet.

    At this point, 3/4 of our net worth is her retirement account, which we have always maxed out in stocks since she started working. By law, it’s hers alone and I suppose she could screw me. But I am not worried.

    • Marriage is definitely not a one size fits all type of scenario and it is great that you guys found what works for you. I think a lot of fights about money are over the little things and if each person has a little bit of their own to do whatever they like with it – hobbies, trips etc. then it lessens the arguing over it.

      Definitely not for everyone but I think it can help a lot of people out that are having issues fighting about discretionary spending.

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