PSA: Giving someone an "allowance" is insulting.
The traditional household of a husband working full-time, and the wife not at all, is fading away quickly. In fact, the Pew Research Center, which studies social and demographic trends, found that 46 percent of two-parent households have both parents working full-time.
Many things can contribute to this, including the fact that student loan debt is the highest it's ever been, the average American household is $130,922 in debt, or the fact that we don't live in the 1960s anymore. But there's still a large number of couples who fit the description of one spouse working and the other staying home.
The one thing that seems to be a constant over the years is the arguments that revolve around money. But the major difference in homes where one spouse works and the other doesn't, is that one member of the relationship might think they have the upper hand.
Want to make your stay-at-home spouse feel like a child? Make them ask for money when they want something. Want to really piss them off in an argument? Hint: Not this. Here's what you never, ever want to say to a stay-at-home spouse regarding money.
1. "I make the money, so I make the decisions."
Not only do they feel like they're not contributing to the relationship financially, now they aren't "allowed" to assist in making any of the important decisions impacting your relationship. This can definitely leave one to feel insignificant in the relationship or start a serious argument.
Decisions in a marriage must be made together. You're a team, a partnership. Each of you play an important role, no matter which partner is making the money. It's crucial that each member has a voice and decisions are made collaboratively, especially with finances.
2. "Ask me first before you buy anything."
I can only speak for myself, but it's seriously annoying when someone tries to make me feel like a child. And telling your spouse to let you know before they buy anything is definitely treating them as though they are a child.
Even if you make the money and want to know where it's being spent, it doesn't mean you must act like a parent to your spouse. It's completely understandable that you don't want to waste money or spend it on things you don't need. That's why creating a budget you both agree on is extremely important.
Set a budget and create financial goals together. Work hard and keep each other accountable. One person shouldn't be controlling the spending or having their spouse ask if they can spend money.
3. "I make the money, so I can do whatever I want."
You and your spouse might have taken the time to create a budget that's going to help you reach your financial goals, but you messed up and went way outside of the budget. Now isn't the time to get defensive and think it doesn't matter if you stick to the budget because you're the one bringing home the dough.
You both are responsible for sticking to the budget and making sure you reach your financial goals. Both of you should be held accountable.
4. "And what do you contribute?"
You might feel as though an argument is the perfect time to let your spouse know they aren't contributing financially to the relationship. If you're married, you're most likely guilty of not listening to your spouse as they are speaking to you in an argument.
Most of the time, you're doing one of three things: Thinking about how you can one-up them, thinking about whether you can really cut them deep, or simply tuning them out and not listening to a word they say. Saying something condescending like, "I make the money. What do you contribute?" is an awesome way to really kick the argument into high gear. Also, it makes you look like a jackass.
5. "I'll give you an allowance."
I remember getting an allowance — when I was 12! Your spouse isn't a pre-teen and doesn't need an allowance. Saying you'll give your spouse an allowance is simply insinuating that since they don't bring in any cash, they should only be allowed to use a small amount to get what your family needs. This is ridiculous.
An allowance is a good thing only if both of you have one and you both agree on the amount. Each partner can have an allowance, while the rest of the funds go to bills and other financial responsibilities. Don't forget your emergency fund.
6. "Why do you need X amount of money?"
Spending money is a part of everyday life. In fact, a wise man once told me that each day costs you $10. In essence, he was correct. So each spouse is going to need to spend money.
If your spouse informs you that they need to spend some money that day, leading off with, "Why do you need that amount of money?" isn't the best way to go about things — unless your spouse has a major spending problem. That's a topic for an entirely different article.
Trust is a major contributor to a successful and happy relationship. Consistently asking them why they need money or a specific amount can make your partner feel as though you don't trust them, which can get a little annoying. Actually, it can become very annoying.
7. "You don't need it."
So now you're dictating what they do and don't need. This will get you on a fast track to some serious relationship issues. We get attached to the money we make, and we want to make the decisions on where it's being spent. If we think it's a waste of money or you don't need it, you're not going to want to spend your hard-earned money on it.
Sometimes, one spouse really doesn't know what's needed. In that case, simply saying, "If it's something you think we need, that's fine," works much better, especially when you both understand whether it's going to derail your finances or not.
8. "You're just with me for the money."
I've said this a few times, but only in jest. Sure, saying it once or twice in a joking manner is harmless. It's when you're saying it all the time that your spouse starts feeling as though you think it's true.
Your spouse, at one point, was most likely a financial contributor to the relationship. Never forget that. They've made a sacrifice to accommodate your situation. Even joking about it several times can be aggravating for your spouse.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to identify that communication is key for a healthy, happy relationship, especially regarding your finances. So instead of saying the wrong thing, here's how you can ensure you're both saying the right thing.
- Regularly talk and review your financial goals. Talking about finances can be a difficult yet boring subject to discuss. Make a date out of it. Visit a coffee shop together or talk about it over a casual dinner. Sometimes a different atmosphere can make the topic enjoyable.
- Review your finances together. Transparency is important, and you both need to have a clear understanding of where they money is being assigned. This can help you both decide how much extra cash you each can use as you see fit.