Monday, September 29, 2008

Becoming financially dependent

I was at the mall today picking up my contact lenses and I started thinking about how different my life is now. Six months ago I was getting ready to quit my job and I was really nervous about the finances and about being fully financially dependent on my husband for the first time in our relationship. Six years ago I finishing my last semester of college and preparing for being completely on my own financially. Both were very nerve wracking times. I'm not sure which is a bigger leap of faith, trusting that you can support yourself or trusting that someone else can support you.

That gets me thinking about how much things have changed in the way we manage our money since we got together. I met my husband 2 weeks after I finished college, right around the time I got my very first full time employee paycheck. He moved in 4 months later into my tiny studio apartment. We were both very broke and we split the bills straight down the middle. Whenever one of us had an unexpected bill pop up the other pitched in but besides that we were pretty even. I remember how touched I was when he gave, not loaned, me $40 to help pay a medical bill because that was a lot of money to us at that time. We eventually moved into a bigger apartment and got married but continued to split the bills. We paid our half and set a certain amount in a savings account but the rest of our money was ours.

One year to the week after we got married we got a joint checking account. That was a big step for us. We continued to keep our own separate accounts with a set allowance per month for play money. That worked for a few months but then we started trying to seriously save for a house and decided to quit doing the monthly allowances and just save everything we could. Eight months after the wedding, 2 weeks after Christmas, my husband got laid off. He was laid off for 2 months which stretched us even further on our budget and house savings. We bought our house in May 2006 and I got pregnant a month later. In September 2006 I got notice that I was going to be laid off the following spring right around the expected arrival time of our son.

My layoff was extended out until May 2007 and Bear came early in January 2007. Due to his early arrival I took an extra month of unpaid maternity leave to stay home a little longer. Then after my lay off I didn't work for 6 weeks. I think the layoffs and the unpaid maternity leave helped us to learn to become more financially trusting of each other. So when it came time for me to put in my notice in February 2008 at my new job I knew we would be fine and I knew my husband would take care of us. However I still had that little fear whispering in the back of my head about how I would have to curb my spending not just due to budget constraints but also because its "his" money. And for the first few months home it did feel a little that way not because of anything he did but just because it was a big adjustment for me to be dependent on someone again.

Last time I was dependent on someone was when my parents supported me and they set me a budget and I didn't have unlimited access to their funds like I do with my husband. Yet as I sat and reflected on that today I realized that it has finally clicked into place and I finally feel like it is "our" money and I feel comfortable spending it like I did when I was bringing in my half.


Haley said...

This is very sweet and well written. :-)

I agree, it is nice to know that you have someone you can trust 100% about money and to have them trust you the same way.

I think alot of couples struggle with that, and to know that we are part of the few aren't is a very good feeling!

Stephanie said...

It's a big step, huh? I felt the same way when my first arrived. Now that I've had three in three years, I feel like I definitely earn my keep!!! My kiddos are sick right now, so I'm getting paid overtime. HA!

Kristine said...

My husband and I have always done the joint house account with separate allowance accounts thing. It has worked really well for us, a lot of my friends keep their money totally separate in the their marriages and I just can't wrap my head around how that can be done. Especially when children are involved.

I can see where the transition from a monetary contribution to the SAHM contribution in a relationship could be hard for both people. Not just the less money, but the emotional aspects of it as well.

jpandtheboys said...

It's interesting to read. My husband and I have always shared our money and I never even thought about it. I can imagine though when you start out having your own money how it would be an adjustment to get used to. I think it's great that you have come to a place where you have peace about it.

stacey said...

we did not get married until we were 29 and i had been a big traveler (pleasure and job) while enjoying my income. i so totally get your thoughts! although we merged financially when married, it was still very hard. and sometimes still is! :)