Marriage money melee!

New Warhorn Media post by Nathan Alberson:

Thanks for this. Question: do you and your wives have a bunch of different debit cards? Or is it just one each for your walk-around money plus assigned expenses?

If you buy something with designated funds w/o the debit card do you just “reimburse” the designated account?

Sorry if you addressed this in the last 15 minutes!


I don’t know exactly what the Mentzels do, but my wife and I both have one debit card each for our individual expense accounts. Plus I have an additional debit card that belongs to the master checking account from whence all the other accounts are drawn. I don’t use that one except for the designated expenses, generally speaking. Plus we both have credit cards for emergencies.

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If anybody else has any awesome money marriage tips, or ways of doing things, I’d love to hear 'em.

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What Nathan said. I have a debit card for my expense account, she has one for hers. There’s a card for the checking account that fixed expenses come from, but it goes unused.

And yeah, if I pay for something that qualifies as an annual expense, I just transfer money from “annual expenses” to “Jake’s expenses” or the main expense account either beforehand or as a reimbursement.


We tried doing something similar. Instead of separate accounts for each of us we had an account for regular bill type of items, as you mentioned. Then we had an account for “Essentials,” i.e. groceries, toiletries, things we need. Then we had an account for “Non Essentials,” i.e. eating out, coffee trips, random shopping, entertainments, etc.

The problem we ran into was that we tried to use our credit card to pay for everything (cash back!) and pay it off immediately. That little extra step never happened so we never stuck to our budget. The card was always paid off by the end of the month but we would be dipping into savings. The past few months we have tried maintaining our budget using Mint - running into the same problem.

Its probably time for us to give up on cash back with the credit card since it keeps us from keeping budget. My understanding is that when you swipe the debit card the money comes out immediately so it makes it easier to use like the envelope system - when the money is gone, its gone.


That’s true. But that strikes at another reason I prefer credit cards. The money isn’t really gone immediately. When you have your debit card stolen there is one less step of protection. You’ll almost certainly get your money back, but in the meantime it can wreak havoc.

Yeah that’s the reason we used CC v. debit cards. That and the insurance they provide, etc. But we just haven’t found the key to actually having time to keep our budget balanced with the CC.

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I received great advice from a young deacon and his wife one night.

Newlyweds with dual income should be careful how they allocate the wife’s income. Her income should not be used for living expenses and other mandatory things like minimum debt payments. This will reduce the temptation to keep her working, delaying children, etc. It also helps budget and begin to get used to a lifestyle covered by the husband’s earnings. The wife’s earnings should go towards things like making extra payments toward debt; savings towards a mortgage down payment or emergency fund; capital expenses like appliances, cars, furniture; extra donations and generosity.


Best advice we got was along similar lines:

Decide on your maximum standard of living independent from your income. Otherwise your standard of living simply goes up according to your income, using all the extra money that could be put to better use if you were intentional ahead of time to discipline yourselves.


This is very helpful. My wife and I stumbled into a fairly similar setup when I closed a business but kept the extra checking account. We use it almost exactly like the Mentzel’s fixed expenses account and annual expenses account combined. We had already been discussing it, and after hearing this we will simplify our budget by combining several separate lines into his and hers categories. Having some separate spending money makes gift giving much better!

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