Who spends the money?

KJ: This post is the second post in our series on who manages, who spends, and who makes the money. For this post, we focus on another important aspect of the budgeting and planning process: who actually spends the money? Not to simply say who buys the most clothes, fancy electronics, or the latest and greatest [insert product], but to discuss who most frequently goes to the grocery store, buys household items, and writes the checks (or send them electronically for those acclimated with the digital world).

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Who spends the money in your household?
AJ: In our household it’s typically me who’s spending the money. At the very least I’m the one who is tracking what is being spent. The one downside to us merging our finances from my perspective was that I always kept a specific amount of money in my bank account that I knew had to last me the entire pay period or the entire month after siphoning off savings immediately. Once we merged finances and the numbers in the account were larger but proportional to our expenses, I had a really hard time tracking how much we truly had left, so I became really gun-shy about spending my own money. Plus, as we got older, bills became more numerous from just food to rent/housing, utilities, insurance, gas, etc. Keeping your receipts is great but how often do you actually review your receipts to know what you’re spending? If you’re just checking your bank balance to ensure you’re not overdrafting regularly, you’re not really managing your finances, you’re more living paycheck-to-paycheck regardless of what you make.

If you are primarily the spender in your household (by choice or by force), you should also be the tracker of what’s going out and what’s coming in, so you can be accountable and aware of how much you truly have available for fundamental things like filling your car with gas and buying groceries. To be clear, being the spender of the money does not mean that you are picking out fancy and fun things for yourself all the time, it just means that you’re the one that ultimately makes a choice on brand name or generic, new vs. used, sale vs. full-price. As much power as the money manager has, the spending tracker has equal power, for better or for worse. There have been times that the tracker (me) forgot to write down a meal here or a meal there and the money manager (Kirby) had to point out that I was being a little over zealous in my calculations of what I had remaining to spend for the month. Regardless of what your role is, take an active role in planning for your lives together.

Work to complement one another’s strengths
KJ: For some families, the spender and the manager may be the same person, but for us, we’ve found our separate hats help us keep one another in check as well as have a second set of eyes to look over things. With both of us having very full-time+ jobs, it wouldn’t be fair for one person to do it all. I think it would be a hard sell to pass all of these duties to Angela to handle while I’m relaxing on the couch waiting for dinner to be served…? Find the skills that you both have that can complement one another to help split out the finance duties as it can be very overwhelming for anything and everything to be done by one individual. Even if you have no prior experience, you have to start somewhere, and the sooner you learn, the better!

    Who in your household spends the money?
    Does the same person manage the money too?
    Tell us what system has worked for you.

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3 thoughts on “Who spends the money?

  1. In our household I think the lines of where the money manager stops and the spender starts are a bit fuzzy. Sometimes we find ourselves doing this or that, or even doing it jointly…the worst is when we think the other is doing it when actually they are not and we end up with gaps in our finances. In this regard I agree with you that there should be a “designated” manager and spender and its something I think we’ll be exploring.
    Great post

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