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Should You and Your Spouse Have Separate Accounts?

games Disagreements about how to handle the family finances is often sited as a leading cause of divorce. There seems to be an increasing number who are separating their finances so they don’t separate! This would have been unheard of just a generation or two ago.

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Opposites attract

In many relationships, there is a spender and a saver. Or sometimes you have two spenders who spend differently – one who frequently buys little incidentals that may add up to a lot of money over the course of the year and another one who can’t resist the major purchases.

Is it wrong?

While some people are finding separate accounts the way to go, others think that it’s just wrong. They believe that it’s a bad sign if a couple doesn’t co-mingle their funds.

Does that stem from a time when you had one wage-earner in the home?
Is it a control issue?
Perhaps it has to do with religious beliefs?
Or maybe it’s a trust issue?

We don’t know the answer, but we do know that many couples are making this work.

Why it works

We think keeping separate finances works for a number of reasons. Among them:

  • The saver isn’t frustrated by money being spent on things they think is unwise.

  • The spender doesn’t have to defer gratification so long that they just can’t stand it anymore. 

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How it works

We’ve seen a number of ways to do this. Here are two examples:

The Allocators. These couples begin by allocating who pays for what. It’s a negotiation process. If you choose this system, determine your respective spending priorities. Then, whenever possible, let each spouse pay for those things they feel are most important. Divvy up the basics however you see fit.

Once you’ve figured out who will pay for what, each spouse then gets to spend, save or invest however they want.

The Allowancers
. Okay, we struggled with a name for this group. That’s the best we could do!

Allowancers may maintain a joint account to pay mutual bills like the mortgage or the utility bills. Then they divvy up the excess as allowances.

But don’t forget to take out the trash or you may lose your allowance!

With their allowance, each spouse can save or spend however they want. One spouse may even save to spend … on that next major purchase.

A final thought

You may have heard us say this before, but our thought on this issue is this:

If it works for you and your family, it works.

It doesn’t matter what other people think or even say. What does matter is that you find a system that helps you keep your finances in order. After all, they are a key component to living out your bigg dreams!

How do you and your partner handle your finances? 

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When A Saver and a Spender Become a Couple

Help – My Spouse Spends Too Much!

(Image in today's post by hisks)

When A Saver and a Spender Become a Couple

opposites_attractWe’re told that opposites attract. We also hear that money is one of the most frequent things couples argue about.

In a lot of relationships, there’s a saver and a spender. Or maybe both people are spenders, but they spend differently. One likes to buy bigg ticket items infrequently while the other spends a little bit of money on daily extravagances.

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marylynn We’re both pretty frugal, but I have to admit I do like my gadgets. We were at a conference recently and there was a microphone I just had to have! And of course, I do like my clothes.

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georgeAnd I like to go out for dinner more often than Mary-Lynn. Do you suppose that has anything to do with the fact that I’m the one who usually cooks dinner?

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How to come to an agreement on the family finances

We’ve found a good way to reach an agreement, on how your household saves and spends money, is to hold a summit! Heads of state do it; why shouldn’t you?

This summit has a three-fold purpose:

#1 – Values
You each need to fully understand where the other person is coming from. What’s important to him or her? By knowing each other’s values when it comes to money, you’ll be more flexible in your own financial decisions.

For example, a saver may value being debt-free. A spender may think it’s important to “live a little” now. Both positions can easily be defended. If you understand why it’s so important to your spouse, you’ll be more willing to accommodate his or her desires. You’ll find that you’re more flexible in looking for solutions.

#2 – Goals
Now that you have a good grasp of your respective values, you can discuss mutual goals. Only now you can both work to help each other get what’s important. So the spender will try to find ways to reduce debt. And the saver will see that buying a toy once in a while makes the spender more committed to saving. It’s win – win!

#3 – Strategies

You can’t stop now. With your goals in mind, develop specific strategies. For example, you may each set aside a certain amount from each of your paychecks for debt reduction and that certain toy. You’re working together to get more than you could get working alone!

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Next time, we’ll talk about the energy crisis … only it has nothing to do with oil. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

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Help – My Spouse Spends Too Much!

 
man_holding_money

Bigg Challenge
We received an e-mail from Diane, one of our newsletter subscribers. Diane says her husband has a passion for electronics and their credit card debt just keeps rising. She wants to know how to confront him and get their family finances back in order.

Bigg Advice – 4 tips to stop the bleeding without getting bloody

#1 – Plan for a conversation, not a confrontation.
You want to solve the problem, not have an argument. So use the word “we” frequently and “you” infrequently. Now that may be tough when you’re not the spender. If it’s easier, talk about the “situation”, so you remove yourself, too.

#2 – Make it an event.
Gather up any needed information and go out for cup of coffee or a very inexpensive dinner. This signals that you’re not planning on arguing, so your husband’s defenses will be lower. Find a place that’s private and doesn’t have a lot of background noise, so you can hear each other.

#3 – Agree to this rule, “Pay today or say no way.”
Repeat this rule out loud to each other, over and over again. This is where you have to start. Stop the future bleeding today so you can focus on the problems from the past tomorrow.

Saying it is one easy, doing it is hard. If your situation is really extreme, put yourselves on a cash allowance and agree what expenses that covers. If it’s less extreme, you can use debit cards that draw on separate accounts – one for you, one for your husband.

#4 – Create a fun account.
Set aside an agreed percentage of your incomes into this account. IF, and only IF,   you’re able to pay all of your other bills in full, THEN you get to spend this fun money.

So if you’ve met your goals, your husband gets bonus money for the gadgets he wants. By the way, you’ll get bonus money, too. This is how you get his “buy-in” and keep him from going into withdrawal, which is crucial because you can’t do it alone.

Don’t think you have to be debt-free to trigger any bonus money. You just have to see a reasonable level of progress. Sometimes a small investment in rewards pays bigg dividends.

For example, you may agree that when you’ve reduced your debt by 25 percent, you’ll draw down 10 percent of your fun account.

As you get your financial house in order, check out our article on the five piggy banks. This will help you keep it in order.

Thanks, Diane for sharing your bigg challenge. We wish you bigg success!

Do you have a bigg solution for Diane? Share it with a comment.
Are you facing a bigg challenge? We’d love to help!
E-mail us at bigginfo@biggsuccess.com.

We don’t know who originally came up with our bigg quote today, but we sure like it!

“Between work and family, I’m really not spending
enough quality time with my money.”

So give yourself time to get to know your money so it can get to work for you!

Next time, since it’s leap year, we’ll look at leaping from place to place. You can see the world while you work! Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

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Give Your Kids the Marshmallow Test

By Bigg Success Staff
07-10-08

Bigg Success with Money

marshmallows

It’s good to get the whole family involved in the family’s finances – especially when times are tough. Get everyone involved in finding ways to save a little money here and there.

To introduce the idea, have a little fun with your kids (depending on their age) by replicating a famous experiment … the Marshmallow Experiment, to be precise. Of course, if they’re old enough, you can just tell them about it – or even better, devise your own test with something they would value.

The test

The Marshmallow Experiment was conducted in the 1960s by Walther Mischel at Stanford University. His researchers gathered a group of four-year olds in a room. A researcher set a marshmallow in front of each kid. The kids were told that the researcher needed to run an errand. If the kid didn’t eat the marshmallow before the researcher got back, the kid would be given a second marshmallow. However, if the kid ate the marshmallow, he or she would not get another one.

The results

Some ate their marshmallow before the researcher even got out of the room! Others had no problem resisting the temptation. Some turned their backs on their marshmallows. Others sang a song or distracted themselves in other ways. One kid reportedly even licked the table around the marshmallow!

The reward for waiting was pretty good – a 100 percent increase in marshmallows! Interestingly enough, ALL the kids expected a second marshmallow – even the kids who ate theirs!

The follow-up

The researchers tracked these kids in the subsequent years. They surveyed their parents and their teachers. They found that, in general, the kids who had been able to resist the marshmallows were better adjusted and more dependable.

They were more competent socially and more self-assertive. They were able to cope with frustration and stress much better. They embraced challenges rather than seeing them as a huge obstacle. They also scored 210 points higher on their SAT exams.

Application

So consider giving your kids your own experiment. Help them understand that sometimes it’s good to resist temptation now so you can have even more tasty treats in the future!

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