Who Makes The Money? Who Manages the Money? Who Spends The Money?

There’s a new blog I’ve started following, and each article on the site is half written by the wife of the team (Angela), and the other by the husband (Kirby). It’s pretty weird at first reading two people going back and forth on the same post, but once you get used to that it’s kinda interesting :)

The blog’s called, The Simple Money Blog – check it out some time.

Anyways, one half of the duo (Kirby) responded to one of my posts here at Budgets Are Sexy last week – the one on the financial bullying quiz – and in it he mentioned three “whos” when it came to combined money in the household:

  1. Who makes the money
  2. Who manages the money
  3. Who spends the money

He then added:

“Being open to suggestions and not just pushing your own agenda will take you far in your relationship – especially if you make the whole money management process collaborative, so you can lean on one another’s strengths.”

Which, of course, is 100% true. You want the person who’s good at managing the money to be the one doing that if possible (brownie points if they actually ENJOY it too – like we all do! ;)), and you want the one who’s better at doing other things to be mostly doing those. The whole “go with what you’re good at, and limit the stuff you’re not” kinda idea. My friend Nate talks a little about this too in one of his older posts – 12 ways to impress your boss – and I think it’s a good thing to keep in mind not only with money, but with life in general.

So today I thought we’d use these three questions as an exercise we can do together to see how we’re currently set up within our own relationships. And if you’re not in, how you’d LIKE it to be the day that changes ;) So you’ll be nice and *prepared sexily* on top of your normal sexy self! Haha…

I’ll go first, and then it’s your turn:

1. Who makes the money?

Right now, I do. 100% of it until the wife finishes her dissertation and gets her P.H.D. It’s not ideal stress/financial-wise, but we know it’s only temporary for now until she’s all done and jumps back into the work force… Something she’s been itching to do for quite a number of years now (fun fact: ever since this blog started she’s been in grad school!).

I can’t remember what it’s like to have dual incomes, but I’m mighty proud/blessed we’ve been able to go this long on mainly one. That’s something good to know shall the rug be pulled out from under us one day… And a major pro to anyone who can pull off living on only 50% of their income! The longer you can keep lifestyle creep away, the more freedom you get.

Overall grade: B-

2. Who manages the money?

Right now – and all other times – I do, of course :) But even if I weren’t a finance blogger I still would since the Mrs. honestly can’t stand it. She just wants to know that all is okay and leaves the rest of it to me. She even tries to wiggle out of our monthly’ish reviews, but I sneak them in when she can’t go anywhere! Like, when The Bachelor comes on or she goes for the ice cream, haha…

Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that people are MUCH more likely to put up with stuff they don’t like when they’re in good moods and/or doing something that makes them happy. Even if they have to lose their high for a hot second to squeeze in something important!

Overall grade: A

3. Who spends the money?

We both do? Really the only things we spend money on these days are the stuff we’re forced to like mortgages, rent, utilities, daycare, food, insurance, etc. We may spend $20 here or there on who knows what, but overall we’ve been pretty good at limiting our “extra” expenses to the point where our separate “do whatever we want” funds don’t even matter that much anymore. The wife likes to joke that I should be glad I married her if only because she doesn’t shop much! Haha… Which is funny, because I’m usually telling HER that she needs to shop more and live a little!

Overall grading: A+

Alright, your turn. Think about who’s doing all these Whos now, and then grade yourself on how close it is to your ideal situation. If you want to go anonymous to speak your mind freely, please do! Or just keep it internally to yourself :)

The point’s really to just stop and think about this for a little bit before you’re off to do whatever it is you do over there… I know what it’s like to be on the other side of the blog reading – I gotta catch your attention as best I can, and then release you into the world wide abyss! Just hopefully with more money in your pockets than less…

PS: If you’d like to see the steps we’ve taken to streamline our financial/joint accounts, click here.
PPS: If you want to read more about this second “who” (the managing one) click here. Angela and Kirby wrote a much more in depth article on it than I ;)

[Awesome photo by mista stagga lee]

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  1. My Money Design January 14, 2014 at 5:43 AM

    Nice job promoting a younger blog. I will check it out.

    Here are my answers:

    1) We both earn the money
    2) I 100% manage it
    3) She mostly spends it when it comes to all the regular everyday stuff. All the larger things like big-ticket purchases or investments (since they kind of are like an expense) are purchased by me.

    1. Angela @ The Simple Money Blog January 14, 2014 at 9:23 AM

      @My Money Design, what process do you all use to communicate about finances if she spends it and you 100% manage it? Does she run purchases past you or work within a set budget?

  2. a terrible husband... January 14, 2014 at 5:54 AM

    I make, I manage mostly because she doesn’t enjoy it, but she’s getting more involved. We both spend it. She helps me open up my wallet for things I almost always “should” but never get around to spend on (like vacations). It sees to work. :)

    1. J. Money January 14, 2014 at 10:34 PM

      That’s def. good :) I think I’m that person to my wife!

  3. Kirby @ TheSimpleMoneyBlog January 14, 2014 at 7:25 AM

    Thanks for the shout out J. Money! Great post! :)

    1. J. Money January 14, 2014 at 10:35 PM

      Thanks for the post idea :) Wish you guys continued success with the blog!

  4. Dave @ The New York Budget January 14, 2014 at 7:56 AM

    For now, I am still a one-man team in terms of personal finances. I’d be curious to know about how the transition worked for all of you married folks. Did finances combine the day of marriage? Before? After? How did it happen?

    1. Kirby @ TheSimpleMoneyBlog January 14, 2014 at 8:51 AM

      Great question! We actually had technically separate finances before we got married, but for the years that we lived together (most of our relationship) and had joint bills (utilities, house expenses, food, etc.), we split bills in relation to our incomes. We kept some of our expenses (shopping, etc.) separate from one another until we got married, but soon before we got married we started talking about how to merge them and what that would entail. It wasn’t until we got married that we actually physically combined our accounts, but Mint.com and other programs can allow you to manage accounts and finances “together” while still keeping them completely separate from an ownership perspective.

      We also wrote a blog post all about our experience (you can go to it if you click my name above in the comment). We hope our experience helps you!

      1. J. Money January 14, 2014 at 10:38 PM

        My journey followed similar to Kirby’s – only we waited 4 years after marriage to finally physically combine anything (mainly out of my wanting to keep things simple and more streamlined since I was the one managing ;)).


        I don’t really notice much of a change from the way it was before outside of logistics, but I guess that’s a good thing. As long as both parties are happy with the setup I feel like you’re on the right track.

  5. Brian@ Debt Discipline January 14, 2014 at 8:33 AM

    1) We both earn
    2) I manage it, but we jointly review.
    3) We both spend, but review before making any purchased outside the normal monthly expensive like mortgage, food, etc

    This was not always the case for us. I was the only one handling, but since we have been on the same page with our money our financial situation and relationship have improved!

  6. snarkfinance January 14, 2014 at 8:59 AM

    Who Makes the money: both of us, but probably 70/30 split between my income and her’s.
    Who Manages the Money: Are you kidding? Me, me me me me
    Who Spends the Money: No one really, but I tend to have more larger purchases (snowboarding related), which she is okay with given my higher income / contribution to our future goals. Plus she has the student loans.

    Has worked pretty well so far. We are working a 2 year plan to move to the mountains, so she is putting her trust in me to get us there. Mission accepted.

    1. J. Money January 14, 2014 at 10:40 PM

      Nice! Was just reading about your snowboarding level of skill on your site (or maybe on a guest post you did recently somewhere?). That’s pretty dope dude! I look like a jackal up there on a board, haha…

  7. James Lathrop January 14, 2014 at 8:59 AM

    1) We both do current. Dual income FTW! Grade = A
    2) Me. I manage the money, but at the beginning of each month we go over our budget and she lets me know what I missed (apparently we need to buy things like clothes and toiletries, transition from single life to married life complete.) We also talk to each other before we make any large purchases. Grade = A
    3) Both of us and neither of us. We both don’t really like spending money. She is more of a buy little things here and there, but only when she has a use for it type person and I’m more of a every 3 month I throw $100-$200 at something and then hibernate in my money spending for another 3 months. It works out well :) Grade = A

  8. Laurie @thefrugalfarmer January 14, 2014 at 9:20 AM

    1. Rick makes most of it, although my side hustle cash is increasing!
    2. I manage it, mostly b/c I’m good at it (now, that is. :-) ) and b/c he hates managing it
    3. I spend it, but only within the confines of our agreed-upon budget. He takes a couple of hundred out each month for whatever his little heart needs or wants. :-)

  9. Rebecca @ Stapler Confessions January 14, 2014 at 9:31 AM

    1) He does (for now, until I get back to work)
    2) I do
    3) I do. Oops!

    Honestly, all my husband likes to do is spend time with his family and program his ass off. Luckily, he’s a software programmer and his family loves spending time with him :) He has his fair share of chores around the house, but none of them involve managing or spending money. Honestly, we don’t spend much money on anything other than food and fixed expenses. We each have a monthly “allowance,” which he has no problem spending, but it’s like 0.015% of our monthly budget, so it’s a drop in the bucket compared to what we spend in total — or the $500 grocery bill I rack up.

    1. J. Money January 14, 2014 at 10:41 PM

      “All my husband likes to do is spend time with his family and program his ass off” – haha… that sounds like a winning combo right there!

  10. John S @ Frugal Rules January 14, 2014 at 9:38 AM

    Great questions to ponder J & Kirby!

    1 – Who makes the money – we both do since we run our own business. It’s made up of the business as well as some freelancing I do in addition to the blog. Grade – A
    2 – Who manages the money – We sort of go 50/50 on this. We work through our budget together roughly on a monthly basis and make joint decisions with my wife handling any bill payments. I handle the investing for the most part. I always explain what I’m doing with it, but could involve her more on it but she leaves it to me as her comfort level isn’t there. Grade – B- I know I could probably find ways to involve her more.
    3 – Who spends the money – Again likely 50/50. We make any major decisions together and are free to spend up to a certain amount with out checking with the other, but usually do anyway. :) Grade – A

    It has worked out pretty well for us over the years and helps us keep each other in the loop in viewing it as working together as a team on our finances.

  11. Kirby @ TheSimpleMoneyBlog January 14, 2014 at 9:50 AM

    Thanks! And actually, the credit on this whole series should go to Angela as this had been her idea for a post series! :)

  12. Kathy January 14, 2014 at 9:59 AM

    Honestly we are such a team that I have to answer both of us for all three. Since we are both retired, we mainly live on his pension since I don’t get social security yet. However, my IRA generates income that is reinvested since I’ve taken no distribution from it yet. I do have an inheritance that also generates income that can be used if necessary. I manage the checkbook, pay the bills etc. and he manages the investments. However, we always discuss new investments to buy or ones to sell and arrive at a decision together. Both of us spend the money since we are together most of the time. I would say though that he is much more willing to spend than I am. Like I said, it is absolutely a team approach.

    1. J. Money January 14, 2014 at 10:42 PM

      That’s a great way to be!!

  13. Done by Forty January 14, 2014 at 10:36 AM

    Who makes the money: Both, though the missus’ income as a PhD student is modest…and will be until she graduates and (hopefully) finds a professor position. Say, a “B” here.

    Who manages the money: Me, as I am a huge dork. We like the system though, so, “A-”

    Who spends the money: Tough to say! I want to say both, though I get the impression that I spend more. “B-“

    1. J. Money January 14, 2014 at 10:43 PM

      I don’t think you need to worry about being a dork around these here parts. That’s the new normal! ;)

  14. Kristen January 14, 2014 at 10:44 AM

    1. We both make money, roughly 60/40. Unfortunately, I’m the 60 of that equation & I really, really, really, really want to be a stay at home mommy after boy #2 arrives in April. Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s going to happen right away but it’s our major financial goal that we’re working towards. Grade: A (for now)

    2. I manage the $$ pretty much 100% and I do enjoy it (I’m one of those who gets all giddy just thinking about spreadsheets). However, I really do want more input from the spouse. Unfortunately, he has absolutely no interest. I’ve tried monthly meetings, quarterly meetings, writing a summary on a whiteboard in the pantry where we look every day, etc. but so far no luck with getting him involved. I’m up for doing the grunt work but really wish he’d give more feedback & input. *sigh* Grade: C-

    3. We both spend. We do the “allowance” thing which has helped us out a lot. Most of our daily expenses (groceries, household supplies, dining out) are paid with cash. We work opposite shifts so whomever is at home gets the cash “envelope” (a wallet-sized accordion file). Big purchases we pretty much decide together. Grade: A

    What would be REALLY interesting would be to hear the spouse’s grades & thoughts on these 3 questions!

    1. J. Money January 14, 2014 at 10:44 PM

      Haha agreed!!

      As for #2 – try talking about it naked and/or with alcohol :) That always gets my attention no matter what the discussion’s about!

  15. This Life On Purpose January 14, 2014 at 10:58 AM

    1 – We both earn the money, about equally too at this point.
    2 – It’s a shared responsibility, but mostly be. Although we haven’t combined finances yet so he’s still responsible for his own accounts.
    3 – Both, him more on “stuff” and me more on travel. But we are both accountable to each other to not spend more than we can afford.

  16. Jan January 14, 2014 at 11:06 AM

    1) We both do – Dual income rocks!
    2) We both do – I do more of the budgeting and the monthly bills, he does the investing.
    3) We both do – We both don’t view shopping as a fun activity, but like to enjoy the money we make. We check with each other before we make major purchases try to get coupons or only buy things on sale. We love traveling and trying new restaurants – so we spend a lot of money there.

  17. Martin January 14, 2014 at 11:06 AM

    You married people with your financial articles!

    1. J. Money January 14, 2014 at 10:45 PM

      It didn’t stop you from commenting ;)

  18. Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life January 14, 2014 at 11:10 AM

    It’s just me, myself, and I in my home which simplifies the spending and management but is rough when it comes to making the money. I’d rather have two incomes and split costs that I’m currently undertaking on my own (groceries, woof).

  19. Charlie January 14, 2014 at 11:20 AM

    1. We both earn income. Dual income is great and not sure we can survive on just one until we’re debt free.

    2. I manage all of it. good thing is, all of our expenses are automated and I don’t have to think about it. Same goes true with our investments and our debt snowball. my wife just wants to know that we’re OK and we both look forward to the day we’re debt free.

    3. We both spend out of our miscellaneous budget only for personal things like going out to dinner with friends, gas for our cars, movies. Unfortunately, we already reached our maximum amount for our miscellaneous budget so now I have to think of creative ways to not go over.

  20. Wunderwriter January 14, 2014 at 11:36 AM

    1. Well, I “earn” it in that I get up and go to work everyday, but he gets two pensions and social security, so this one is 60/40. Grade: A
    2. I manage it 100% of the time, always have and most likely, always will. He hates numbers, can barely sit still when we have a serious, sit down and see where we are conversation. Grade: B-
    3. We both spend it. I spend it on all the bills, daily expenses, etc. He spends it on a lot of small things (fast food, drug store purchases, etc.), and every once in a while he surprises me with a major, large purchase that typically causes the *&^% to hit the fan. Most recent: a very (and I do mean VERY) expensive and unnecessary camera that he’ll most likely never use. Grade: C

    We have come a long way, but we have very different long term goals (I am working four and a half more years to completely pay off our second mortgage; that’s my focus and nothing else…I don’t care about spending money on the house, vacations, etc. but I’ll compromise so we don’t have a completely bare bones existence for the next few years, but unwillingly). He tends to look for immediate gratification and has a difficult time with any goal that’s further out than a few months, so I’ve broken down our last financial goals (paying off two remaining zero interest credit cards before we really hit that second lien) into month by month goals so he can “get on board.” It’s a work in progress, I’m old school cheap and he’s new age “if I want it, I should have it,” so it’s never easy…

    1. J. Money January 14, 2014 at 10:48 PM

      Hah! An interesting combo indeed. But REALLY good you have a grasp on how each other works so you can formulate those plans like you’re doing. I’d be all about getting rid of that 2nd mortgage too – that’s the best feeling in the world!! (At least I imagine it is – still aways to go for us :()… Hopefully you’ll be able to sell that fancy pants camera of his and recoup a chunk of that money later ;) To be applied to the 2nd mortgage, of course.

  21. Jennifer Lissette January 14, 2014 at 11:49 AM

    1) He earns it. He’s a software engineer and I’m a stay at home mom to our 2, soon to be 3, boys.

    2) I manage the money, but keep him informed. I let him know the state of the budget & the net worth between 1-3 times per month. I discuss big money management issues, such as new investments & savings goals with him before I move any money around.

    3) We both spend it. Since I’m at home, I spend more of the day to day money for groceries and the like. But since I’m a natural saver and he’s a natural spender, when it comes to things like clothes, household items & entertainment, the money generally does not get spent unless he’s driving the purchase.

  22. Broke Millennial January 14, 2014 at 11:50 AM

    I’m not married so currently it’s all me all the time. Frankly, I like it this way. I think it will be a little difficult for me to adjust to joined finances when the time comes because I’m inherently a big saver and will have to get used to someone wanting to spend money on items I deem “not necessary.” My boyfriend actually looked around my very bare apartment recently and said, “If we ever lived together, could we have…things?” While I laughed, I realized it would be a struggle for me to figure out how to accommodate someone’s spending habits. Luckily I won’t have to worry about that for a few more years!

    1. J. Money January 14, 2014 at 10:50 PM

      Ahahahaha…. you can tell your boyfriend I approve :) Not so much in the “spending” department, but more in the “funny” one.

  23. Angella January 14, 2014 at 11:53 AM

    1. We both earn, but soon it will probably be just him.
    2. I manage the money, but keep him in the loop.
    3. He is the spender. That made our first few years of marriage a doozy! But we’ve worked through it and he’s so much better now. I’m a saver. I never spend money on myself, so marrying a spender has it’s upside as well, as there are times when he makes me spend money on ourselves. And it’s nice to do every once in awhile.

    1. Kristen January 14, 2014 at 12:40 PM

      I can TOTALLY relate to that!! I like to spend money, but not on myself. I swear, if it wasn’t for my husband buying me stuff, I’d probably have nothing, haha!

  24. Mel @ brokeGIRLrich January 14, 2014 at 12:55 PM

    Oh my goodness, I started reading all these financial blogs and even blogging myself because #2 is totally the boyfriend and I usually feel like a confused idiot when he’s explaining things to me (less so over the last 6 months – I’ve even occasionally brought things up that make him look at me with admiration – yeah, sexy stocks and knowing what an ETF is).

    1. J. Money January 14, 2014 at 10:51 PM

      (Work it, girl!)

  25. Stephanie@Mrs.Debtfighter January 14, 2014 at 1:26 PM

    1. Hubby makes about 90% of the income!
    2. I manage the money 100%! Like others in the comments, he just likes to know that everything is OK! BUT, starting this year, I plan to start having monthly budget talks.
    3. We both spend the money but right now only on necessities and outings that we take as a family.

  26. Jay January 14, 2014 at 3:34 PM

    1. It was 50%-50% but I finally decided to start my own business recently so right now it is more like 10% me and 90% my wife but hopefully that will be much more balanced soon :)

    2. We both use a credit card that is linked to the same account, however I monitor the bank accounts and pay the bills.

    3. This is the opposite of my response to the first question. My wife spends 90% and I spend 10% however, I am pretty frugal.

    This is a great blog, keep up the good work!

    1. J. Money January 14, 2014 at 10:52 PM

      Haha… I love that #1 and #3 go hand in hand. Good luck on the new venture!

  27. Marie @ 4HWD January 14, 2014 at 4:44 PM

    We both earn and I manage the money, but when it comes to spending, we set a limit to it. I’m a frugal type of person before purchasing something I will think it first if I really need to buy it.

  28. Cassie January 14, 2014 at 10:29 PM

    1. We both earn the money.
    2. We both manage our money pretty equally.
    3. We both spend the money, but differently. I probably buy more of the day-to-day things (groceries and the like), and he tends to take charge of our larger purchases.

  29. Amanda @ Passionately Simple Life January 15, 2014 at 10:20 AM

    1. It’s about 60/40 right now with me being the 40.
    2. We manage our own money because we haven’t combined finances, but we do run by each other on bigger purchases, who is going to put money towards what this month. Well, sometimes…
    3. We both do, but he tends to spend more because I earn less and it makes me feel a bit guilty when he buys dinner out almost every time.

    1. J. Money January 15, 2014 at 7:44 PM

      Aww, well I’m sure he’s just happy to be out with you and spending quality time :) Maybe on the next one you can surprise him and pay! And if you plan it early and find the right coupons/etc it won’t cost you as much? :)

  30. theFIREstarter January 15, 2014 at 3:17 PM

    1. 60/40 in my favour. Could be more even but I’m happy with that. B+
    2. 70/30 in my favour. I do all the more technical stuff and some bills. But Mrs TFS also helps out with some of it. A
    3. About 50/50 if I’m really honest. There was a bit of a time last when I tried to stop spending money on crap and it took a while for Mrs TFS to see the light and join me. But we’re both pretty good these days. A!

    Great way to reflect on finances even if you think you are doing well in each category. Cheers!

  31. Kalen January 16, 2014 at 7:15 AM

    This has changed in our household over the years. I started out as the primary “maker” and “spender” and my wife was the manager. We sucked at finances so she basically gave up. She was good at managing, but I was terrible…at everything…relating to money. That’s when I started managing the money even though I didn’t know what I was doing. Well, since then I have read over 100 books on finances and even started my own finance blog. I did a complete 360 and now I actually know where are money is going and we invest regularly. It’s nice to have a clue as to what we are doing! We are headed in the right direction now for sure. Thanks for the article!

    1. J. Money January 16, 2014 at 3:35 PM

      Nice!! Always great to hear happy endings like that :) Congrats on the new blog too!

      1. Kalen January 16, 2014 at 6:31 PM

        Thank you so much! :)