As part of our qualifying to marry at our dream venue, my fiancé and I were required to attend pre-marital counselling through the church that the venue is part of. We did so willingly, as our friends had been through it and spoke highly of the experience.
One the inevitable things that we spoke about during our session was finances. Specifically how we are planning on dealing with money as a couple and how that differs from how we deal with money as individuals.
Our finances are not currently combined, but since we became engaged, we have been taking small steps toward at least partial pooling of our money. At counselling, we discussed how we would manage discretionary spending.
The counsellor asked if we had ever considered an allowance. My knee jerk reaction was that I would never support an allowance for discretionary spending in my marriage. The counsellor found this interesting and dug a bit deeper.
She asked some questions to dig into why I was so resistant to the idea of an allowance. I’ve always felt that allowances are restricting, childish, and for people that couldn’t control their money.
The counsellor gently made me see another perspective when it comes to allowances.
Allowances Quell Resentments
Allowances, or having a certain amount of money that each member of a couple can spend with discretion, can help even out the playing field. Resentments can build up if one person is always spending more on things that they want to spend on than the other person, or if somebody’s hobby takes up a large portion of the discretionary spending budget.
Something that I love to do is travel, and my fiance isn’t as enthusiastic about it as I am. If we had allowances of say $300/month to save for something or spend, then it would give me $300/month to put away for travel, whereas he could spend his $300 on something he wants or likes to do.
They Get You on the Same Page
Another point that our counsellor brought up was that allowances can get you on the same page. Not all couples are on the same page financially. Some are made up of a saver and a spender, and while that partnership seems doomed on the face of it, with an allowance, that difference wouldn’t matter. If you, as the saver of the relationship, want to save yours for a rainy day, that’s completely fine. If he wants to spend his on coffees out and sporting event tickets, that’s fine too.
Allowances can allow for certain things rather than restrict them. Imagine that – they can actually live up to their name!
I never doubted that allowances were effective for controlling spending. Spending can get out of control quickly, especially without a budget, and allowances are a great way to establish the budget of spending money each month.
If you know that each member of the couple gets a $300/month allowance, then the discretionary budget is $600/month. Easy peasy!
No “One-Upping” Each Other
This again can go back to quelling resentment. On the show ‘Til Debt Do Us Part on Slice, I remember watching an episode wherein the couple were trying to always “one-up” each other. One would go to the spa, and the other would want to spend his share of the money to make it “fair” and go out and spend that amount. It was a never ending cycle. This is an unhealthy mindset, but on top of that, an expensive one!
We haven’t implemented the allowance system yet, and we probably won’t call them “allowances” when we do (because I’m not 13!), however, we are seriously considering using the allowance model to manage the discretionary budget in our marriage.