When you share finances with a partner, you can outsource the budgeting to the one who is most interested, but there are good reasons not to.
After doing this for many years, I’ve learned a surprising fact: not everyone is a money nerd.
Who knew? It seems crazy to me, but some people don’t enjoy spreadsheets and expense tracking and thinking about mutual funds. Wild, I know.
You may be one of these people. Or, you may be in a relationship with this person.
Not everyone who is in a relationship needs to share finances. (Also, there are multiple ways to share finances when you’re in a relationship.) But if you do, you may be tempted to let the nerdiest one of the bunch take over the duties of the budgeting and planning.
And why not? Let the person who likes it the most take care of it! Sounds like a sure deal.
But before you go outsourcing your finances to a partner, or before you take over the budgeting duties of someone else, you may want to reconsider.
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Plan together, work together
Your money is just a tool for getting what you want, whether it’s things or experiences.
So why would you want to outsource that tool to someone else, no matter how aligned you are?
Giving up any semblance of hands-on interest in your household budget means that you relinquish a very powerful planning ability. Another person can dictate what’s important and what’s not.
But more than that, working together on financial matters can, if done in the best possible frame of mind, be a bonding and growth experience. You plan together, work together, and move together, as a unit.
(Sure, there can also money fights that come from this. But that’s not a reason to have one of you tune out. Money fights are an important indicator of conflicting needs, and it’s vital to work through them in a relationship. Talk to me if you’re experiencing this kind of difficulty.)
Working together makes sure that everyone has buy-in. There’s no way to just say “yes dear” and then go do what you want.
And as for the nerds out there, the same is true. You want real buy-in from a partner, a partner that’s on-board with you, and that means going over the plans together.
There’s another reason to make sure that everyone is taking ownership of finances: it eliminates anyone from having the cover to do nefarious things.
If you let a partner take over all of your finances, and never look at any of your statements, then you allow for the possibility for the person in charge to make decisions that aren’t the best for you.
This could be through bad judgment or weakness, such as spending money on the latest gadgets, or gambling, or it could be downright malfeasance. Don’t find out that your partner has been taking money from you for years without you knowing.
That’s of course an extreme example, but it does happen.
Captain and first mate
I prefer to think of joint financial decisions with a nautical analogy.
One person is likely to be better suited to some of the more mundane aspects of household finances. Call that person the “captain”.
If you’re not that person, then you’re the “first mate”. You all work together to steer the ship, but only one of you has their hands on the actual wheel.
Even if you’re not a money nerd, you still want to have some awareness of your finances. That way, you’ll make sure you’re sailing to the same destination, and with the wind at your backs.