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    Who Controls the Checkbook in Your Marriage

    By Kristen Houghton     

    My grandfather was fond of saying, “whoever controls the check book controls the marriage.” That he was the head of the family went without saying. He was a benevolent head to be sure, but he was the undisputed patriarch. He made the money and he had the last word on how it was spent.

    My grandmother worked only in times of real need. Like most women of her generation, she was dependent upon her husband for household money. Though many today still work outside the home to supplement the family income, others work for a variety of reasons. Some of us are career driven; some feel more complete as an individual because of our professions.

    But no matter why we work there is still the subject of who controls the check book, and the money.

    When I was a stay-at-home mom, my husband was the only one who brought home a paycheck. We had agreed that I should stay home, but financially I felt unequal. Though my husband was more than generous, I didn’t like having to ask for money. He paid all the bills and, whenever I needed a check or my credit card bill came due, it had to go past my husband, Alan.

    When I went back to work I opened my own checking account and it was the best thing I did for the financial part of our relationship. My credit cards and car lease are paid through that account, eliminating hassles over writing checks.

    If you have a problem over who controls the money in your marriage, here are a few suggestions.

    Find banks with no fee checking accounts. Set up a separate account in your name and have your spouse do the same. These accounts are solely for your individual purchases, credit cards, and car payments.

    Create a joint checking/savings account. Both of you should contribute to this account. It doesn’t have to be fifty-fifty if one of you is making considerably more in salary, but you must commit to your contribution even if the split is seventy-thirty.

    All household bills, and only household bills, are paid from the joint account and the checks should be written together.

    If your spouse is a stay-at-home mom or dad, be fair. Set up a plan that allows for the at-home spouse to have money to spend. It should not be considered an “allowance,” it should be seen as a salary.



    Remember that besides being partners in love, you are also business partners. The financial aspect of your partnership needs be established. Healthy finances create happier marriages.

    Written by Kristen HoughtonRate this article:

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