Splitting bank accounts for an unusual reason? - Talk About Marriage
Financial Problems in Marriage When financial times are tough, it adds to the stress we deal with on a daily basis. This section is for talking about how financial problems affect our relationships and ways to cope.

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post #1 of 54 (permalink) Old 07-12-2016, 12:44 PM Thread Starter
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Splitting bank accounts for an unusual reason?

Some 30 years ago, the common wisdom for handling spending issues was:

* Create 3 bank accounts. Yours, mine and ours. "Our" account is for utility bills, mortgage, insurance, and all those other baseline bills that just gotta get paid. "Yours" is your money to spend as you wish, mine obviously the same. Pay no attention to who earns the money, but make sure appropriate amounts get into every account.

The problem this was intended to solve was when couples argued over buying something expensive. She wanted it, he didn't, what to do? Well, with separate accounts, she can spend her money and she has to think about what she won't spend, in order to afford it.

But, maybe 5-10 years later, the advice was reversed. Someone had studied couples who followed this advice, and it turned out that it began an emotional ride toward making all decisions separately and doing everything separately and soon enough, they wondered why they were married.

============

Well, I have a different dilemma.

We have no spending or income problem. None at all. We're not wealthy, but we've been careful enough with spending all our lives that we're set for life, even if it's long and even if there are health issues.

But my wife seems totally possessed by the dollar - or in fear of it? She pores over entering receipts into the money software, and she pores over reports and she's frantic...somehow, even though we've had several financial advisors tell us "you could have quit working 10 years ago", she's in constant fear that we missed something and we will suddenly go broke. She fears this about everything - can't go for a walk in the forest because there might be bad guys out there with guns.

Where it gets me involved is that she comes to me and says she's in fear that we're spending too much, which is her way of telling me to stop spending. I don't spend much. After assuring her that I understand how scary money can be, and if we are spending too much, it's good that she's got this fear - I do the emotional support stuff. Then I ask her how she knows we're spending too much and she changes the subject. She won't show me bank statements, she won't list for me what the spending target was supposed to be (without a target, how do you know you missed it) she won't show me the software. I have access to all the accounts and software, but what I don't know is what she claimed the spending limits should have been. She seems utterly in despair unless she sees evidence that I spend 10-15 hours once a month looking at the software - but then when I say it looks fine to me, she says "You missed something". She has often said "when I was single, this never happened." and other stuff that seems to say that she believes I'm the money problem.

Here's my thought...I know there are downsides. And maybe my hoped-for benefit won't work. But I want to hear opinions/alternatives, etc.

I actually propose splitting the bank accounts. Our funding is from various investment accounts...periodically she transfers money from them into our primary savings and from there trickles it into checking about monthly.

I would propose two checking accounts - hers and mine. I would propose that she distribute the funds to each account, with me only receiving 20% of the amount that she puts into her own account.

I would tell her "now you don't have to worry about my spending. I can only spend from my account, and if I hit the limit, I'm done."

What I hope to get out of this is that the insistence that I spend large amounts of time studying all this - and her continued claims that I'm the problem - would then end. Since my behavior has now been "controlled" by how much she puts into my account, there's no longer a reason to believe I'm causing the problem.

FWIW, I have looked at spending versus time...our advisor has actually given us a typical annual spend recommendation...we can go up or down 20% and he says no problem. Right now we're 5% above, and all the added spending is her spending. I don't want to pin blame, but if she can clearly see that she's the one with variable spending then maybe she can see that she doesn't need my permission/consultation or anything, to resolve the problem.


And FWIW, we've been in counseling a year, and the very first topic was "wife's anxiety about money"...brought up by the wife. There seemed to be some progress but then the wife said "I don't want to go any more". We go once every few months and that's about that. I see the counselor quite a bit more often, working on ADHD related stuff mainly, but also asking for and receiving coaching on ways to be more supportive of my wife.

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post #2 of 54 (permalink) Old 07-12-2016, 12:56 PM
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Re: Splitting bank accounts for an unusual reason?

I might be completely off the mark, but have you run a credit report to make sure she doesn't have any secret accounts or debts that you don't know about?
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post #3 of 54 (permalink) Old 07-12-2016, 01:08 PM
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Re: Splitting bank accounts for an unusual reason?

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I might be completely off the mark, but have you run a credit report to make sure she doesn't have any secret accounts or debts that you don't know about?
I was about to ask the same thing. Her anxiety may be driven by spending/debt she knows about but you aren't aware of.
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post #4 of 54 (permalink) Old 07-12-2016, 01:11 PM
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Re: Splitting bank accounts for an unusual reason?

My W and I always had 3 accounts. We each had our own bank account and we had a joint account. Each month we would figure out what our household expenses were, and whatever that was we would both pay in to the joint account to cover (on a pro rata basis). What was left in my account or hers was ours to spend as we please without any sort of restrictions. I couldn't imagine doing things any other way TBH, always worked for us and we never fought over money.
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post #5 of 54 (permalink) Old 07-12-2016, 01:19 PM
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Re: Splitting bank accounts for an unusual reason?

This anxiety about money could be explained by debt you don't know about, but I'd have thought that would come up somewhere between counseling, the financial advisers, and going over the budget when you talk privately. So, hmmmm.

You also mention she fears going out into the woods for walks or whatever because there may be bad guys.

Has she seen a professional to be evaluated for mental illness related to anxiety and/or paranoia? If she can't point to the money and say "There! That's where the spending is off!" because there is actually no problem and she has other fears and anxieties that are also groundless, I'd start wondering if she is at the beginning stages of mental illness or if a previously unnoticed and undiagnosed mental illness is worsening.
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post #6 of 54 (permalink) Old 07-12-2016, 01:27 PM
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Re: Splitting bank accounts for an unusual reason?

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post #7 of 54 (permalink) Old 07-12-2016, 01:29 PM
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Re: Splitting bank accounts for an unusual reason?

If you decide to each get an account for your extra spending, I'd strongly suggest that even if you don't spend as much as she does, make sure she puts the same amount of money into each of your accounts every month. You are entitled to the same amount as she gets, even if you choose not to spend it.

You might have an urge to buy something expensive that she doesn't approve of, and if you have your own cash, you will be able to do it. On the other hand, if you don't spend the money, you can show her your bank account balance at any time, to show her that you are not a big spender.

Her makeup, hair, nails, clothes, hobbies, cigarettes, special after dinner drinks, expensive annuals for the garden that you don't think are a necessity, etc. should all come out of her account. Your haircuts, clothes, hobbies, cigars, motorcycle clothes, sports game tickets, favorite cognac, etc. should come out of your account.

Imagine if in 2 years she is telling you that you are a big spender and you show her your account balance and ask to see hers, with her knowing that both of you started out with the same amount of $.

It will take a few conversations for the two of you to decide and agree on what is not "essential spending" and on how much each of you should get each month. She will probably get upset if you tell her that if she spends $250 on her hair and nails that you should also get $250 to spend the way you want.

Since you have an ample budget, give each other a generous amount, but you should both get the same amount.

Since she is pushing you, and accusing you, this is a necessity, and is fair.
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post #8 of 54 (permalink) Old 07-12-2016, 01:32 PM
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Re: Splitting bank accounts for an unusual reason?

Has anything happened in your lives that may have caused her to feel unsafe? Infidelity, illness, a death in the family, the crazy things going on in the country, etc. can make a person feel unsafe in general. Does she have any friends or hobbies to take her mind off things? How long has she been fearful?
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post #9 of 54 (permalink) Old 07-12-2016, 01:33 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Splitting bank accounts for an unusual reason?

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Originally Posted by Bananapeel View Post
I might be completely off the mark, but have you run a credit report to make sure she doesn't have any secret accounts or debts that you don't know about?
I don't have to. She's so - connected? - with money that SHE runs them monthly - paying for it...and shows them to me with tips on how to get the credit score higher. Why would people who don't use credit need it higher?

When CostCo switched from AMEX to MasterCard recently, she pored over articles, made phone calls, spent most of two days making SURE this would not ding our credit scores. Our numbers are almost off the charts, both over 850.
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post #10 of 54 (permalink) Old 07-12-2016, 01:33 PM
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Re: Splitting bank accounts for an unusual reason?

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Originally Posted by IMFarAboveRubies View Post
If you decide to each get an account for your extra spending, I'd strongly suggest that even if you don't spend as much as she does, make sure she puts the same amount of money into each of your accounts every month. You are entitled to the same amount as she gets, even if you choose not to spend it.
See, I prefer to do the pro rata approach. If I make more then my W, it means I contribute more to the budget / house. Of course, it will also depend on how much more one makes over another, but I don't think it necessary for each to get the same exact amount. Of course, everyone will differ.

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post #11 of 54 (permalink) Old 07-12-2016, 01:35 PM
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Re: Splitting bank accounts for an unusual reason?

She needs Zoloft. And it is very cheap. She has irrational fear, if your financial statements are accurate. It happens, especially as people get older. She has a fear of running out of money and being homeless. That is what needs to be addressed.
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post #12 of 54 (permalink) Old 07-12-2016, 01:37 PM
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Re: Splitting bank accounts for an unusual reason?

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See, I prefer to do the pro rata approach. If I make more then my W, it means I contribute more to the budget / house. Of course, it will also depend on how much more one makes over another, but I don't think it necessary for each to get the same exact amount. Of course, everyone will differ.
In our case I am a SAH homeschool mom. I do not make a salary, but I work my tail off taking care of our home, training our children, providing their education, social, and work activities. Should I get nothing? We have decided we should both get the same amount of money to spend (or save) any way we want.
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post #13 of 54 (permalink) Old 07-12-2016, 01:48 PM
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Re: Splitting bank accounts for an unusual reason?

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In our case I am a SAH homeschool mom. I do not make a salary, but I work my tail off taking care of our home, training our children, providing their education, social, and work activities. Should I get nothing? We have decided we should both get the same amount of money to spend (or save) any way we want.
No, reread what I posted. I said it depended on how much one makes over the other. The rationale being, once the amount made by one gets to be significantly over the other, then other arrangements should be made. However, when my W was working the pro rata method worked perfect for us.

My W is now a SAHM, she simply has an open checkbook
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post #14 of 54 (permalink) Old 07-12-2016, 01:54 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Splitting bank accounts for an unusual reason?

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If you decide to each get an account for your extra spending, I'd strongly suggest that even if you don't spend as much as she does, make sure she puts the same amount of money into each of your accounts every month. You are entitled to the same amount as she gets, even if you choose not to spend it.
Whatever I do, it has to work for her. She has some figure in mind of what she thinks is a reasonable spending cap. Our actual annual spend is about $30,000...seriously that is everything except health insurance. If I were to propose, say, $20k for me and $20k for her, she'd probably think it's a spending increase and go ballistic. But, she DOES spend more - not on anything extravagant. She likes to do the grocery shopping, she likes to be the one paying the utility bills, insurance, and she prefers to be the one engaging with anything dog-related. That's why she needs more...she prefers to be in charge of anything "us". So, my proposal would intend to keep the sum of the two accounts the same, but bias it toward her to recognize this "shared" stuff she would cover.

Quote:
Originally Posted by IMFarAboveRubies View Post

You might have an urge to buy something expensive that she doesn't approve of, and if you have your own cash, you will be able to do it. On the other hand, if you don't spend the money, you can show her your bank account balance at any time, to show her that you are not a big spender.
I haven't had such an urge in 20 years, so I don't see value in planning for it. My idea is to NEVER show her my bank account - not because I don't want her to see it, but because I'm sick and tired of spending this much time on MONEY. If she knows exactly how much she puts in my account, then she knows exactly the max I might be spending and she has no need to drain my time account for this. She can continue to burn more hours every week on money, but I want to be released from the burden so I can go work on projects and building the business.

Quote:
Originally Posted by IMFarAboveRubies View Post

Her makeup, hair, nails, clothes, hobbies, cigarettes, special after dinner drinks, expensive annuals for the garden that you don't think are a necessity, etc. should all come out of her account.
We are simple folk. Her quarterly haircuts are $15. She owns no cosmetics, trims her nails with no polish, doesn't drink or smoke (drinks only water), selects plants by taking cuttings from indigenous plants in public areas, wears t-shirts and jeans. Seriously, there are no luxuries - we spend so little that money really shouldn't even be a topic of conversation.

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Your haircuts, clothes, hobbies, cigars, motorcycle clothes, sports game tickets, favorite cognac, etc. should come out of your account.
I'm as simple as she is except that I do buy tools for projects. My haircuts are more often then hers and $8...she claims to like buying clothes for me, so I'd include that amount in her account...jeans and t-shirts and husky canvas stuff because we have land and I'm the one who takes the tools into the brambles and slashes them and occasionally gets into poison oak. I have one fun car and that's adequate, and it is new enough that it won't need replacing until I'm 80. I have never liked spectator anything so I don't do game tickets or concert tickets. I am in production, however, so I may be found at stadiums and concert venues, but I'm either on stage or operating the technical gear. However, I do enjoy beer, so that's my one regular luxury. Generally, the most fun in life, in my view, is being active outdoors. I love running.

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Originally Posted by IMFarAboveRubies View Post

Imagine if in 2 years she is telling you that you are a big spender and you show her your account balance and ask to see hers, with her knowing that both of you started out with the same amount of $.
Even better, if she tells me I'm a big spender, just ask her to look into her own account and tell me how much she has given me to spend.

I think it's even better for me to start with only 20% of what she starts with. She won't even SEE my stuff, if she thinks there's a spending problem, it's showing up in HER account, which she can handle without expecting me to put 10-15 hours into HER account this week.

Quote:
Originally Posted by IMFarAboveRubies View Post

It will take a few conversations for the two of you to decide and agree on what is not "essential spending" and on how much each of you should get each month.
Actually, the few times she's been able to keep herself in the conversation long enough for it to reach a conclusion, she has agreed that my spending is ALL "necessities", because mostly my spending is for tools, fuel, supplies, for house repairs, agreed-upon improvements to the acreage, a recent well pump repair, etc. Every time we've actually noted a bump in spending, it's always been in stuff she buys. So, I"m seeing this as a way for me to totally back out of the discussion.

Quote:
Originally Posted by IMFarAboveRubies View Post

She will probably get upset if you tell her that if she spends $250 on her hair and nails that you should also get $250 to spend the way you want.
Because that would be the opposite of trying to build a relatoinship. Claiming that "you spend X on yourself therefore I should too" is not a collaborative relationship, it's a competition. A sure start to divorce.

If there are overages, what I've seen are things like this: someone told her she should be doing this or that alternative treatment on the dog to improve the dog's coat and she just does it without thinking about how much it costs to go to a naturopathic vet for $110 a visit, weekly. Or when she reads some article saying humans NEED this or that supplement, so she just gets a bunch of it without realizing it's just calcium and magnesium, which she already takes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by IMFarAboveRubies View Post
Since you have an ample budget, give each other a generous amount, but you should both get the same amount.
As I said, this HAS to work for her, and an "ample" budget won't work for her. It has to be clear that my purpose is not to increase spending, but to give her MORE control - by giving me what will appear to be very little money, although it will, in fact, be more than I typically spend.


Quote:
Originally Posted by IMFarAboveRubies View Post

Since she is pushing you, and accusing you, this is a necessity, and is fair.
What she's pushing me to do is be more obsessive about money and tracking it than - honestly - anybody else does. Seriously, when we had our first visit to a marriage counselor and she told the counselor all the stuff she does to track spending, the counselor appeared in shock. "In 30 years of counseling, focusing on marital problems, I have never heard of anybody putting that much time and effort into tracking pennies" and my wife looked proud of herself.

My take on money since being young is to be frugal, have fun, and if I can be frugal most of my life, then I will reach a point where I never have to worry about money again - no tracking, just reconcile the checkbook monthly, no worries.

I want to get there.

I see this as maybe a way to get there. The wife can continue to be fearful and she can do anything she wants about it, but it's not my burden any more.
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post #15 of 54 (permalink) Old 07-12-2016, 01:59 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Splitting bank accounts for an unusual reason?

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This anxiety about money could be explained by debt you don't know about, but I'd have thought that would come up somewhere between counseling, the financial advisers, and going over the budget when you talk privately. So, hmmmm.

You also mention she fears going out into the woods for walks or whatever because there may be bad guys.

Has she seen a professional to be evaluated for mental illness related to anxiety and/or paranoia? If she can't point to the money and say "There! That's where the spending is off!" because there is actually no problem and she has other fears and anxieties that are also groundless, I'd start wondering if she is at the beginning stages of mental illness or if a previously unnoticed and undiagnosed mental illness is worsening.
Our counselor, in the private sessions with me, has advised me to check into how to get along with people with unusually high fears. It's also known as "catastrophizing". Fear-based people actually come across as very nice, because they carefully choose words to avoid upsetting people, and they never want to rock the boat. So, she's actually very sweet.

However, the level of fear she has seems to hinder any actual "living" because she can't go anywhere, etc. She claims she's happy that I'm in a band, but in the years I've been in this band, she has NEVER come to a performance! Wants me to record them so she can hear them later.

I brought up the subject with her once and said I wonder if it's possible to consider being less fearful and she claimed it's what's kept her alive and the world would be much better if more people were like her instead of being so goal-focused all the time.

The counselor attempted to address the issue, and my wife refused to see the counselor again for months....so it's not a topic she's willing to consider.
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