I read a Yahoo article recently that struck me the wrong way. I’m sure the author meant it to be a positive piece to encourage people, but that’s not how I took it. In the article, the wife says that she had kept a secret savings account from her husband and that she’s glad she did. That savings account allowed them to survive the recent recession. She was afraid that he would dip into the account for purchases that weren’t emergencies. They have since gotten on the same page financially, but why the need to hide it in the first place? Did she not feel that her husband would respect her decision to have an emergency fund? Had they not even discussed that it should be a priority? Did they even discuss what their priorities were?
Personal finances are not something that should be kept a secret between spouses. There needs to be open dialogue about what the goals are, how money is being spent and what changes, if any, need to be made. Within my house, my wife and both agree on our monthly budget and how we allocate our savings. We review it periodically together to see if any adjustments need to be made. Adjustments usually come when there is a change in cash flow, e.g. a bonus or a salary increase. After that, it’s then my responsibility to keep track of everything to make sure that we staying on plan. I communicate how we are comparing monthly with our actual spending to our budgeted spending. We cannot set goals and stick to a plan if we both don’t agree on the plan. Communication is the key because you might have to discuss competing priorities. Since money is usually a finite resource for most people, sacrifices will have to be made. Not every goal will have 100% funding and the ability to communicate and compromise is what will resolve the differences.
That doesn’t mean we can’t keep something secret from each other. The secrets only occur with our fun (allowance) money. We each have a set amount of money each month that we are allowed to spend on whatever we want be that practicing basic blackjack strategy online or restocking scrap-booking supplies. Whatever we want.
If we don’t spend it, we still get to keep it. Which is why my wife was surprised the other day when I said I would be buying a new TV in a couple of months. Since the TV is a “want” and not a “need”, it needs to come from my allowance and not the family budget. I have been saving for quite a few months and almost have enough now to buy it, but my wife had no idea. This also allows one of us to save money and surprise the other unexpectedly if we want. Since, neither of us checks in on the other’s individual account, there is no danger of blowing a surprise.
I’m glad the author and her husband finally got on the same page when it came to saving and budgeting. Their spending habits still raise some red flags based just upon the information in the post, but there isn’t enough information to draw any conclusions. At least they have begun discussing their goals and both appear to be on the same page.