We recently had a conversation at threads HQ about money. It’s not something that we talk much about here, and considering that the way we deal with our dosh plays a pretty big part in life, that Jesus liked to talk about it quite a lot, AND that it gives us a goldmine of slang to weave into these posts, we’d like to start addressing that.
Now, there’s already lots of stuff out there about handling money wisely as a Christian. But the topic that kicked of this epic convo on coin was actually our differing views on how we should handle money in relationships.
If you’re in a relationship, do you share and share alike? Or go your separate ways? Is there a theological basis for the system you’ve chosen, or is it more of a pragmatic decision? And if you’re not in a relationship, what do you think about the ol’ smacker situ (thank you, Cambridge English Dictionary), and how do you feel about sharing said smackers with someone else?
Have a read of our thoughts below – and weigh in on the comments!
Alexandra: As a seasoned single, I earn my money and I spend/save/give it in the places that I choose, at the levels that I choose (or at least the levels that London living allows when you work in the charity sector). My mum used to be horrified that I didn’t keep my receipts so that I could sit down and go through my (paper) bank statements to make sure I hadn’t over-spent. For a while I just thought I was doing a terrible job of adulting, and then I realised that it’s just me spending my money so I know what’s (not) in my account. I don’t need to faff about with a joint account, worrying about whether I’ve spent more of my husband’s money than we/I/him are ok with, or wondering whether I should tell him about my raise and the fact that I’ll need to start transferring more money into the joint account we use for bills. Unless we’re also using it for holidays, in which case that’s fine. Of course, I’m saying this on the assumption that I’ll continue to make a fairly average amount of money and so will my husband, but if it turns out I marry a billionaire then I’ll probably be cool with spending his money. And keeping mine for me. You know. 😉
So I suppose if I get married, I’d end up approaching money in the same way that I’d approach trying to have children: I’m not interested in doing it for the sake of it, but if I love someone enough to agree to be married to them, then I’ll probably be willing to share my money with them/have their children. In the same way that not sleeping for 10 years isn’t objectively appealing, but in reality I’d want to have a family with my husband, sharing my money isn’t objectively appealing. But in reality when you’ve promised “all that I am I give to you, and all that I have I share with you” then you’re basically obliged to start checking your receipts…
Andy: So I’m not the most naturally organised/detailed person. At all. My spouse is. Which is great for me (and potentially frustrating for her). So it made sense from the start of our marriage for her to lead the way in regards to finances. She’s more gifted with the skills needed for us to steward such resources well. And she mostly enjoys it (I think).
It was never really a debate for us that both our incomes would go into one “pot” – our mindset was marriage is about two becoming one (thank you, Spice Girls), so we’d share everything. However, we were really fortunate that we had a pretty similar mentality towards saving and spending, and particularly the things we value most (experiences over possessions, for example).
I try (pretty badly) to keep up to date with where we’re at financially through a shared spreadsheet, and we talk semi-regularly about finances – more so when things are a bit tight or we’re looking to save for something in particular. On a day-to-day basis we both have a banking app that helps with monthly spending targets (we use it for lunches/coffees/travel/those little expenses that easily add up!) which helps us to stay on track.
The negative side to our situation is that it’s pretty hard for me to surprise her with anything big. There have been times when family members have kindly put things on credit cards for me to pay back after the surprise, but it’s not the easiest in that respect. Fortunately for me, she doesn’t enjoy big surprises as much as I do.
Danny: There was a wedding, a honeymoon, and a return to the realities of life as a married couple. Less than a month ago my wife and I said “I will” and promised to love and honour each other for richer, for poorer, for better and for worse. But at the moment that doesn’t include sharing each other’s money. I have a bank account with my salary paid into, which I use to spend money, and she has hers.
This isn’t out of any intent to remain independent from each other, but simply that we haven’t got it sorted out yet. Last Friday night, in our rock-and-roll married lifestyle, I was cleaning the kitchen, my wife was doing some ironing and we were planning how we would arrange our money and bank accounts. Getting married generates a lot of life admin, and combining two lives – especially two which have each had over a decade of independent adulthood – involves sorting through a lot of stuff, especially sifting book collections, deciding which table to keep, and what curtain pole best suits the bay window. Amid the organisation and the unpacking, the anticipation of the gift-list delivery and decisions over how to rearrange our lounge, organising money just hasn’t happened yet. But the principle that we want to work towards is that we have shared resources and shared expenses, while also being able to trust each other with how we are individually using our money.
Christine: Before we got married, I gave a very earnest spiel to Ben about how I wanted us to value generosity with each other, and share everything together, before mistakenly closing the lecture with: “So in other words, what’s yours is yours, and what’s mine is mine”. 😮
Freudian slip or not, I’ve been married for just over a year now, and the decision of how to handle our finances has been mostly pragmatic for us. We wanted to start saving for common goals (read: this garden shed in lieu of a house), so we have a joint account, and another account for bills and stuff. My first proper job was with CAP, so I’ve always tried to do their three-account system and am now attempting to impose that upon our shared finances. We also have personal accounts for our own spending. Although I don’t have a problem with eventually combining it all in the future, I hate life admin and queuing of any kind, so visiting the bank to get that sorted is a struggle.
Despite whatever my subconscious might be telling me, we do really want to be generous toward each other in our marriage – it’s a value we see as an integral working-out of our faith. Ben especially is really good at looking out for me, particularly if it’s toward the end of the pay month, when I’m often running close to the red. And I do the same for him. Those acts of generosity and interdependence are really nice actually – and I think it’s that sort of interdependence that’s the key for us. I’m sure arrangements will change and adapt as our lifestyles change, but that team mentality to finances is really wonderful, and a value I know we want to preserve.
Thomas: My wife and I have been married nearly six years and are still working out the best way to do things. While I always think there’s room for improvement, we’d say we’re pretty well-grounded when it comes to finances. If I believe the Bible, which I do, then I believe that my wife and I are “one flesh”; a visualisation of the relationship between the Church and Jesus – despite how imperfect we are.
In that one-fleshness, all of my life is now shared with Laura, and that has to include our salaries, bills and bank balances. Poor money management is often pointed to as one of the main reasons leading to divorce, and while we never think we’ll be walking in that direction, it takes intentionality to build a healthy marriage. For us, a shared bank balance is key. We each have other accounts too, but nothing is hidden. Budgeting for presents is about the height of it, but even then, we set clear expectations of what we’re to spend. I’m convinced that if we struggle financially – in the sharing everything sense, rather than the ‘trying to make ends meet’ sense – then we’ll struggle in every other area of our decision-making.