An Allowance for Adults?!

May 3, 2018, by pathwise

For many couples, spending decisions can be a point of significant financial stress, as one member of the couple may judge the spending decisions of the other, especially when finances are otherwise tight. In fact, criticisms of how spouses spend money have long lingered in both literature (e.g., “in Madame Bovary, Emma kills herself when her secret debts, not her secret dalliances, are about to be discovered”) and in comedy (e.g., Henry Youngman’s joke “Someone stole all my credit cards, but I won’t be reporting it… the thief spends less than my wife did.”). And the judgmental nature of spending is exacerbated in society by the gender dynamics – where, right or wrong, the stereotype is that the men earn the money, and the women spend it. In addition, the reality is that we all come to the table with our own unique views about money, often shaped by our own “financial/money scripts” and early life money experiences. This is why we highly recommend coming up with a mutual agreeable monthly spending allowance, where both spouses each get $?/month to spend on whatever they want, no questions asked (and no judgment allowed!) from the other spouse. Great article from Slate magazine showing how a couple figured out what worked best for them in this area.