[ Edited ]
y UNstable Fiancee
02-03-2012 08:11 PM - edited 02-03-2012 08:17 PM
What is the best way to merge finances with someone who's not great (at all) at managing their finances? My fiancee hasn't really learned that there is opportunity cost for everything that you do, and that whatever your current choices are, you HAVE to give something up in return. We're beginning the process of merging things together, and to a point he really seems ok with abdicating all rights to truly help manage our finances in the future. I know that's not smart because if I handle everything then if something happens to me, he'll have no idea where to jump in. In addition, he just needs to learn how to do this as an adult, anyway. Does anyone have suggestions on how to do this in a way that works for both of us? (1. Doesn't overwhelm either of us, 2. We build up a good savings, 3. Doesn't result in a parent-child relationship - I really don't want to tell him what his 'allowance' is every month)
Just an observation here from someone feeling her age more and more, every day:
In a marriage/ partnership, you don't necessarily need to have each partner equally capable of doing everything. For instance, I might be the go-to person for laundry and check-book balancing, and my partner might be the one who grills and pulls out the toolbox to keep things running.
Sure, it's always possible that "something might happen to you", but chances are, it won't. If your fiance is genuinely happy with you handling the finances, and that includes you having veto power when he wants to buy a bass boat or something, then why not? A friend of mine, a gifted engineer and salesman, explained that his wife handled all the money details in their 30-year marriage by saying, "We go with our strengths."
If he really, really is OK with you alloting the money most of the time, then why not look on this as the exact equivalent of one of you doing the laundry, another vacuuming, the first emptying the litterbox, and the other keeping the cars maintained? It's all just Stuff --the day-to-day details of managing a household, and there's nothing wrong with one of you being in charge of a certain area, as long as you both agree on how everything breaks out.
Money is a definite power party in a partnership, and you both need to understand how it affects your relationship (you seem to think that you might wind up being the mom) and your long-term goals.
I'd give it a try for a good six months, if not more, before you get married. Take over as much of the $$$ stuff as he's comfortable with. Have regular meetings (or less formally, quick update sessions) about what you're doing and why. Gauge his reactions to what you do, and explain your reasoning if he gets cranky. If it turns out that he's a whiner about not getting to blow money on random junk, then that's probably your message that this isn't where you want to be forever.
If it turns out that he's a pouter, or a whiner, or a rager, and he wants to have all the fun of using money and none of the responsibility, then he's probably a perpetual child, and not someone that you want to share a yoke with. You want to find this out now, not later.
Try not to get too caught up in all the "oughts." Find out where both of you really are, and see what makes sense for your own unique relationship.
edit to add: and if, God forbid, something happens to you, he will have a model to follow when he's on his own.
I do worry a bit about you saying "he just needs to learn how to do this as an adult, anyway." We women have a bad way of trying to mother the men in our lives, and change them into some version of an Ideal Man. He's a human being, just as you are, and he should be allowed to bring his own unique strengths and weaknesses into your relationship, just as you should be. When you start assigning "needs" to your partner, it might be saying more about you, than it is about him. Just a thought.
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