Mom the “Money Manager”
Growing up my mother was always the designated money manager. I vividly recall watching her pull out the bill basket and sit at the kitchen table meticulously scrutinizing every statement and bill to make sure that each was correct. She laid out the calendar, pulled out her checkbook and carefully addressed each and every envelope (yes folks that those were the 90’s and people still paid their bills with actual paper checks via postal mail. Weird, right?).
My mother is naturally
neurotic very organized when it comes to her finances (guess I come by that rightfully?), so she was always the person who handled the family’s bills. To this day, my step-dad basically hands his check over to her and she carefully and responsibly pays the bills and gives him his “allowance” spending money. It’s an arrangement they’ve had for years and it seems to suit them well. Neither of them are frivolous spenders, and even if they wanted to be, there’s not a lot of things to spend money on in rural Maine.
Learning By Example
From an early age, I was taught that credit cards were dangerous and you have to be very careful when (and if) you use them. My mom had one credit card when I was growing up and she paid off the balance in full each month (another good practice that I’m proud to have learned from her).
She taught me that you only borrow money for necessities and “big ticket” items that you can’t afford to pay for in cash. Mortgages and cars were the only things my parents borrowed money to purchase. These days their mortgage is paid in full and they’ll likely be purchasing good used cars with cash. They’ve lived a simple and responsible lifestyle and as a result they’re debt free and saving for retirement.
Joint Finances are Scary
Since I turned 18, I’ve been responsible for my own bills and expenses. After 10 years of deciding how to spend and save my money on my own, I’m now living with my boyfriend. We bought a condo together and we’re making important decisions about our future financial lives together. It’s all wonderful, well except for the adjustments I’ve had to make in regards to how I think about managing money.
“All the sudden”, we have mutual bills and we have to trust that each of us will pay his/her “share.” Admittedly this arrangement was a little nerve racking for me at first because I’m a
bit of a control freak when it comes to money. It’s not that I don’t trust that he’ll pay his bills. I know he will because he’s very financially responsible. It’s just that I grew up in a household where my mother was in control of the finances and it was my assumption that in my adult financial life, I’d do the same (so interesting how we emulate what we see as children, right?).
It’s taken me a little while to get used to, but I actually really like it that bf and I jointly discuss finances. It’s clearly not a good thing for one partner to have sole knowledge and control of a couples’ finances (for so many reasons). Plus I like it that bf and I sit down monthly to talk about how we’re spending and saving our money. I think it’s a good exercise in trust and responsibility and keeps us both on the same financial page.
Who the “money manager” in your household?
Do you share responsibly for budgeting and bills, or is one partner the designated “bill payer?”