How will we handle household expenses?
Default answer: The head of the household—the husband—
makes all major decisions about common expenses.
Since by tradition the husband was responsible
for earning all the money to support his wife and children,
it was 'natural' for him to make all decisions about spending.
He might give his wife some discretionary allowance,
which she could spend without getting his prior approval.
But even here, there might be some reporting responsibility.
And if she bought something for herself he did not agree with,
she might be required to return it
or at least not "waste" his money in that way again.
Creative answers: But few Western couples now entering
have this vision of the man as the automatic head of the household.
And few assume that he alone will make all the major decisions
about spending the money, which is now more likely
to be earned by both partners rather than just one.
So people creating their own relationship
need to discuss—perhaps in some detail—
just how they will spend their money.
1. Housing: rent or mortgage, taxes, heat, repairs,
utilities (telephone, electricity, gas), appliances,
furniture, decorating, insurance, cable TV, etc.
2. Food and similar consumables: meals at home and away, alcohol,
tobacco, drugs (both legal and illegal), plants, pets, yard expenses.
3. Medical and dental expenses.
4. Clothing and personal items, laundry, dry cleaning.
5. Entertainment, vacations, gambling.
6. Gifts to relatives; charitable contributions.
7. Educational expenses for all members of the household, present and
8. Books, magazines, sports and exercise equipment.
9. Child support for children living in the household or elsewhere.
10. Alimony or other support for ex-spouses or ex-partners.
11. Expenses for aging relatives.
12. Automobiles—payments, repairs, gas & oil, parking expenses,
13. Boats, campers, cabins, recreational vehicles.
14. Income taxes and other taxes (eg on property owned elsewhere).
15. Hobbies and personal passions that take time and money.
16. Other discretionary spending of any sort.
106 DESIGNER MARRIAGE: WRITE YOUR OWN RELATIONSHIP CONTRACT
by James Park
have the first page of Question 20 from Designer
Two more pages explore possible ways to sharing household expenses.
April 9, 2009; Revised