Apparently, I don’t love my wife. Every financial expert says so — because we’ve never merged our money.
“Keeping money entirely separate will lead to a lot of unnecessary stress,” claims one such expert.
“When you put all your money at your spouse’s disposal, it is something like giving the gift of all of your income,” says another.
It seems most Americans agree. A poll this week by Country Financial reports, “Americans are united in their sentiments about combining their finances: 64 percent of Americans think combining finances is important.”
“Screw you all,” say my wife and I.
We have no children, we both have jobs, and we keep separate credit cards and bank accounts. She pays the mortgage and I pay all the household bills, which conveniently totals my half of the mortgage each month.
We spend the rest of our money any damn way we please. We never ask for permission and rarely ask for advice. And so unlike many couples, we never fight about money — which that Country Financial survey says is common:
Among American couples that report arguing about money, nearly a quarter (24 percent) say the context is about spending too much rather than not making enough (6 percent). An unfortunate quarter (25 percent) of the population said both issues are a common argument.
Here are the money problems my wife and I have never experienced in 15 years of marriage…
1. Indulgence dilemmas
My wife is obsessed with black boots — she has a shrine in our walk-in closet to boots I couldn’t tell apart if you kicked me in the head with one of them. But what do I care? It’s her money.
Likewise, when I buy a shiny new Apple laptop, she looks at me (and it) with utter confusion, yet she says nothing. Sure, I could buy matching his-and-her Dell desktops for what one Mac Air costs. But my money, my computer.
2. Fake date nights
Couples often fall into such stagnant routines, they try to shake things up with “date nights.” Ours are really dates: One of us asks the other out and pays for the evening. This makes it more real and therefore more refreshing. (The only difference is that whoever pays can expect to get laid and probably will.)
3. Indecisive dinners
When we go out for lunch or dinner, we avoid those silly where-do-you-want-to-go-no-where-do-YOU-want-to-go? exchanges — because whoever pays decides.
4. Salary envy
My wife earns more than me. She’s a respected HR and finance director, while I’m a journalist — and “respected” never gets put in front of that job description. Yet we avoid the power plays other couples face, because the one earning more money doesn’t get to make more of the financial decisions. Since we split expenses, there’s no emotional maneuvering.
5. Cost creep
Because I make less than my wife, I’m always lobbying to keep our shared expenses low. So we still watch TV on an analog 34-inch set that simply refuses to die and are waiting as long as we can to renovate the master bathroom. You might think that would cause an argument, because she might want to spend her half on a new flat screen and I don’t have the cash.
We avoid that because we are competitive about money — but saving it, not spending. While I earn less, I save more. That’s partly because in this still-sexist society, it’s cheaper to buy men’s clothes and shoes (and less of them). It’s also partly because I came into the marriage with more investments from some business ventures.
So if we’re going to fight over money, it’s about who saves the most. And it doesn’t matter who’s winning, because when you save money, everyone’s a winner.
Happy Valentine’s Day.