Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Spousal Allowance

I read this interesting article on the change of the average Japanese man's spending money, but I think even more interesting is the concept of having spending money to begin with.

Japan is still really "traditional" in that a lot of the men work, and the wives stay home and cook, clean, take care of the kids. But the odd thing is that the woman is in charge of the finances that her husband brings home. And then she gives him an allowance to do whatever he wants, whether it be eating out, bar hopping, etc.!

This fascinates me, and in some ways I think it's good. For example, my mother doesn't work, and she has been the stay-at-home-mom for most my life. She doesn't touch the family finances, bills, whatever - at all. And she knows little about taxes and credit rates and the like. Completely dependent on my dad's monetary decisions. I think if she had the Japanese-wife responsibility of money, she'd understand things better and be able to take care of herself if the need ever presented.

Sak's parents both work, though his mom handles all the finances. She's very meticulous too - even saves all her receipts! I tried to get into this habit, but it proved too overwhelming so I only save receipts for bigger purchases now.

Sak and I do not really share finances yet. Not in a legal sense anyway. We both have our own accounts, though we know each others passwords and readily share our information with each other. We take turns paying rent each month. Sak pays for our auto/rental insurance, and I pay all the utility bills. It works for us right now, and I don't really feel like it is "his" and "my" money - rather it is both our money, just in different places. It probably also helps that our salaries are nearly identical.

I assume we'll make a joint account someday, to save up for a house down payment or something. Perhaps this will happen once I finish changing my name.

But wouldn't it be funny if we gave our husbands an allowance anyway? Sak would probably love that, actually. He can obviously do what he wants with his money now, but I know we both feel guilty about frivolous spending without first seeing if the other half is in agreement. I think he'd spend a purely-at-his-discretion allowance on videogames or computer parts. And if I had an allowance I'd buy weird things off the internet or more graphic tees.

Oh wait - I already do that. Oops.
(source) Why yes, I bought this super cute shirt without consulting anyone.

What do you think about giving your hubby (or yourself) an allowance? Is it too demeaning and child-like, or is it a great way to make "sticking to the budget" more straight-forward and easy?


  1. We share all money (including bonuses, reimbursement, commission) and each get $100 a week each to spend however we want. We have access to all accounts except those two, so that money is really ours. $100 is actually a TON to spend in a week (mostly spent on lunch with friends, drinks at the bar, a cute pair of shoes) so we both end up saving a lot. I'm saving towards a fun trip and he is saving for a roomba. I love the way we split our money. It makes us work as a team, and we are BOTH educated on all the family finances.

    I'd suggest reading "Smart Women Finish Rich" http://www.finishrich.com/books/women_brandhome.php as if something happened to Sak - do you know where the money is stored or have the legal right to settle his finances or pay off debts?

    Sorry, single mom mentality here - I just think its important to plan for the worst so you're prepared for everything!

  2. good idea gator! I know where his money is, but i don't know about all the legal stuff! i looked up your book rec and apparently it's at my library! will have to check it out :)

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. That's an interesting concept! I think maybe it depends on whether the husband is a saver or spender? Or maybe it's suppose to curb the "I made it, so I can spend it"-ness?

    I think allowances are good cause it allows you to save instead of just buying whatever you feel like. It's a discipline. :]

    I also think woman (and all people in general) should know about finance stuff "just in case."

  5. I heart Woot too... Yes I am shamelessly reading your archives and making random comments. :) Matt and I just joined accounts- I totally got irritated this weekend when he suggested that I not spend $$$$ on camera accessories all in one day, but i am getting used to it. I gave him crap for buying legos so I guess it is fair.

  6. I'm so late in this, but I'm catching up on your old posts. =)

    Todd and I work at the same computer company (for the same # of years), and I make a *little* more than him only because I started in CA and he started here in AZ. We also each have a house, car, etc., so things were already kinda balanced. But when we started merging stuff, opening joint accounts, etc., I admit it was a little tough for me to swallow -- I've been independent (and even supported an ex-boyfriend) for 30 years! (I talk about my issues pre-wedding here: http://tooterfish.blogspot.com/2010/03/marriage-and-money.html and post-wedding here: http://tooterfish.blogspot.com/2010/08/revisiting-our-budget.html) But it has gotten easier, and now, almost 6 months later, we're in a routine.

    We can access all of each other's accounts, but rarely need to. We still get our paychecks to our own accounts, but we have auto-transfers set up to put money into our joint account, all but $100 per paycheck. (I wish we were like Hannah and got $100/week! =)) We also have auto-transfers set up to take money out and put it into our main savings account, which we're trying to boost up before we really start hitting the rest of our (minor) debts harder. We use percentages to determine how much of our paycheck we put into our joint savings account.

    We also put money into a "spending" account, which builds up slower, but it's for near-term fun, so that we're not JUST saving without any rewards. Like, we just saved enough to take a week long trip to Disneyworld in May! But we're not allowed to touch that "spending" account until it reaches a certain amount.

    I pay all the bills, because he's bad about it and ends up with NSFs and stuff. But a lot of times, he'll sit with me at the computer to see what I do and how, and to be my number cruncher, so I feel comfortable that if he ever needed to do it, he could manage.


Your thoughts - go!