The office is a bit slow today, so my coworkers got into a big conversation about marriage (I think it may have started with Tiger Woods). That morphed into a conversation about family finances, and it was very eye opening.
One coworker thinks that when a couple gets married, each person should put a percentage of their income into the family accounts and then keep the rest for their own use. (He did admit that if one person is a high paid exec and the other person is a teacher or in some other profession where they’re making less, then that situation changes.) I’m a fan of that idea.
One coworker said that everything should be combined, no exceptions. I see the value in this, but I do think that in a relationship, couples need their own money. A few years back, my dad started getting an “allowance.” He knew that he was allowed to spend from the family fund, but felt guilty taking money from the family to buy something for himself. Now he has his own money, which makes him happy.
One coworker was raised that the husband pays for everything. That makes sense – if the wife is a stay-at-home mother. But this coworker (a female) thinks that the husband should always be the breadwinner for the family, no matter how much the wife makes. I thought that was fairly ridiculous and unfair.
Two coworkers then started debating the percentage idea as if they were married to each other (with no kids). What then qualifies as a family expense and what is a personal expense. If the husband wants a new tv that the whole family will use, is that out of his money or the family money? His reaction was that if it was out of his money then she wasn’t allowed to use it and he was taking the power cord with him when he left. I’m pretty sure he was joking, but it did open up some of the conflicts that could come up with separating finances. What about vacations? She said that if it was his idea to go on vacation, he should pay and he laughed. Clearly these two people should never get married.
It was interesting to hear these coworkers debate about finances and to see just how different everyone’s views are.