metro mama

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Money Changes Everything

I’m going to talk about a taboo subject today.

No, not that…get your mind out of the gutter. I’m talking about money.

One of the biggest adjustments for me as a SAHM is no longer bringing home my own paycheque.

I started earning my own money, babysitting, when I was twelve. I had my first real job at 15 (in a library) and have supported myself ever since. I put myself through college and university. I managed my own finances. I didn’t have a lot of money, but I got by.

Ironically, it’s only been the last couple of years that I’ve finally been debt-free and earning a pretty decent salary—just in time to give it up.


That’s not the issue though. We’re happy with our decision to have a smaller family income. We’ve made adjustments—we have one car, no cable, and we eat out less often. We’re concerned about having enough money to do the travelling we want to do, but that can wait a couple of years if it has to.

What concerns me about not having my own income is lack of autonomy (or a perceived lack of it). I need to have money that is mine and mine alone. Luckily, I have a little nest egg--last year, the company I worked for went public and the owners gave their employees stock in the company. Also, my skills are in demand right now and I think I could get back into the workforce easily if I needed to (this may not be case in a couple of years). If it weren’t for these two things, it would have been much harder to stop working.

My marriage is rock solid, but I still need to have my own resources. I just do.

Sorting out the logistics is another issue. BP and I have always had a pretty relaxed system. We have our own bank accounts and we just take turns paying for stuff. Now that there is nothing coming in, I have to stop paying for stuff out of my account.

We’re making BP’s account a joint one, but I don’t like giving up my privacy. I don’t want him to know how much his birthday present cost. He doesn’t always need to know how much Cakes’ new shoes were.

BP suggested that we top up my account every few months so I can just keep continue using it. My first reaction was, hooray, I’ll be getting paid for my work. Then I thought, wait a minute, does that insinuate BP’s my boss? (ha, fat chance) And then I thought, but wait….I’ll be getting paid from the family’s money, so no, he’s not my boss.

Am I over-thinking this? Does anyone have a clever system they want to share?

. . . he that wants money, means, and content, is without three good friends.--Shakespeare



Blogger Gabriella said...

You're not overthinking this, I've thought the same things. My mat leave is over in one month, then I'm home for another year with no pay. It should be interesting. We also have only a jt acct and it's strange buying your husband a gift because all he has to do is check the account and see how much it is. So I too don't have any ideas at all either, but just wanted to comment on I think there's many like this out there.

11:40 AM  
Blogger kittenpie said...

I have the same issues - I hate that when Misterpie wants to get all budget-y, he wants to know what all the credit card transactions are so he can know how and where we're spending money. I hate feeling like I have to tell or justify because hey, I work hard.

It's not exactly the same because I am a go-out-to-work mom, and in fact I have been supporting him while he did his practicum, but I totally get the feeling of wanting your own and feeling like an independent woman. I think a lot of women of our generation would have this struggle, since we were raised to take care of ourselves, not go from our parents' care to our husbands' as past generation used to do.

2:08 PM  
Blogger crazymumma said...

We have a joint acct and have had one for years. I am in charge! I pay the bills, make transfers..let him know what we need and when we need it. He simply deposits his cheque.

Birthday presents etc, go on visa, and get paid off in 100 years.
Big purchases get discussed.

I love a joint acct, less work for me than when we had to transfer stuff back and forth between accts to make ends meet.


8:13 PM  
Blogger bubandpie said...

I've been thinking about these issues a lot lately too. For most of our marriage, I've been the breadwinner since, aside from one year working in retail, hubby has been in school. He just started articling, but his pay is minimal (barely enough to offset my reduction in pay due to a low course load this upcoming year).


It looks as if he has a job lined up for when he finishes articling, so in a very short period of time he'll be making more than I ever have. And a couple of years down the road this firm wants to bring him into partnership, so he could be making enough to render my income totally superfluous. That's great news, right? Except that it really freaks me out. I have absolutely no fears for the stability of our marriage, but it still feels weird to enter a lifestyle that I know I couldn't keep up on my own.

9:02 PM  
Anonymous Naomi said...

Such a hard topic, money.

We both put our paycheques into a single joint account, used for paying all the bills (I'm the bill payer).

If hubby gets any extra income, from overtime pay, or birthday money, it goes into his personal account. Same for me. I also do some tutoring, and, by agreement, the tutoring money is for our extras - dinners out, for example. (No tutoring money, no dinners out)

Works for us. If we had any extra left over, we would probably transfer a bit to each of our personal accounts each month as well, for "mad money". Unfortunately, there isn't any of that right now.

10:45 PM  
Blogger hautemama said...

I know what you mean - it's just ego getting in the way. Hang in there, it's just for a few years til the kids are in school.

12:01 AM  
Blogger Lotta said...

You are soooooooo not overthinking. This is something all new mommies go through.

I don't think it will ever be resolved but I have opted for the Donna Reed manipulate where neccesary and do it with a smile strategy.

We have a joint account and then I keep a seperate paypal account. I siphon what I need to and sell junk on ebay. That way I have a stash of cash that I can use for anything my selfish little heart desires.

12:43 AM  
Blogger sunshine scribe said...

You are not over-thinking it. I HATE money. Hate it. I have seen friends try a bunch of different systems and they all have their pros and cons. I say just go with what you fee more comfortable with.

7:08 AM  
Blogger Amber said...

From the very start of our marriage, we never lived off of two incomes and immediately banked mine into savings, knowing we'd soon be living off my hubby's.

But when the time came for me to quit and rely entirely on our joint checking account, I went through a bit of an identity crisis. But after a couple of months, I finally GOT IT: Waitaminiute--He makes the money. And I spend it.

I've never looked back since. :-)

9:48 AM  
Blogger Mother Bumper said...

I've been going through the exact same issue. My income will stop in two months and I'm freaked. Sure I've put aside money but no income? Eghads! Just wanted you to know I hear you and if I figure something out, I'll let you know...

9:55 AM  
Anonymous Jill Urbane, The Mentor Mom said...

Money is always a difficult topic for couples. I would accept your husband's willingness to "top your account off." Sounds like he recognizes that you need to have your own cash available to do with what you want.

In a recent study, they figured the stay at home mom's yearly salary would be $120,000 based on her duties (eg, housekeeper, cook, personal shopper, etc.)!

Hang in there!

11:12 AM  
Blogger scarbie doll said...

This is how we do it. (Now I have Montell Jordan in my head) I work three days a week for my sanity and for the autonomy of which you speak. We have a joint account, one that pays the bills. He puts in two thirds, I put in one third. We each have our own credit card and are responsible for the remainder of what we make. We can spend or save as desired. This has been the best case scenario for us.

I would ideally like to save up like you did so I can stay home, and possibly freelance, after #2. It's tough.

12:05 AM  
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