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More for the EF

December 2nd, 2008 at 07:52 pm

Mr. H caught me about a week ago, and told me he had deposited his paycheck. He deposits set amounts into Checkbook One and Checkbook Two. Generally speaking, he manages Checkbook Two (mortgage, regular bills, medical expenses) and I manage Checkbook One (groceries, gas, clothing, gifts, yard and garden, household expenses, hobbies and other miscellaneous stuff). But we both access each account - I'll pay a doctor out of Checkbook Two, or he'll write a check for bowling out of Checkbook One. "And I put $50 in the Emergency Fund like we talked about."

"Which account did the $50 not go into?" I asked. When the words came out of his mouth I already knew the answer to this one.

"Checkbook Number One," he said. It's kind of like when he takes me out to an expensive restaurant for my birthday, and then later I'm juggling expenses to try to figure out how to pay the credit card bill.

"Mr. H, you're giving me $50 less to work with in an account that's overspent each month," I said.

"Oh. I guess we never talked about it," Mr. H said, some part of the light bulb going on over his head. "Fine! I'll just put it back."

"That's not what I said. I suggested that we work together to figure out where this $50 could come from. When you decided to take the $50 from Checkbook One, you're taking our problem and making it my problem. I'll have to make the hard decisions about what to cut out of our expenses." Unsaid was that, to keep peace in my home, I would probably not cut anything that would have an effect on him. So any uncomfortable effects would be on me.


Later on I showed him my post-it, on which I had written the dollar amounts of money I knew would be spent during December from Checkbook One. I assumed that we would spend about 2/3 of our typical food budget (which I'll admit needs to be cut back), I'd cut my coffee allowance to zero, and nothing would be spent out of that account that wasn't groceries, gas, church contribution, credit card payment or bowling (his hobby), plus the $50. If we can stick to that, which admittedly is fairly unlikely**, we'd have $150 in Checkbook One at the end of December. There is very little margin for error. But I do plan to take this up with him again.

** Christmas expenses have generally come out of Checkbook Two.

4 Responses to “More for the EF ”

  1. Koppur Says:

    Doesn't seem fair he gets bowling and you have to give up all your coffee...?

  2. Petunia Says:

    Koppur - at this point I have no idea how the month is going to play out, and I have had my coffee for the past couple of days. (Yes! Yes! It's an addiction!) What I was trying to point out to him - which now becomes clearer to me as I type this - is that taking $50 out of this account will only work if a whole lot of adjustments are made to our "typical" spending. I don't think he got it though. But I'll keep working at it.

    Also. . . I won't know this until Wednesday night. . . but his bowling total might be less this month because of the holidays. If it is, than that is where the $50 can come from, or some of it at any rate.

  3. merch Says:

    It's a fine line you are walking here. He's nibbling on the bait but you don't want to spook him.

    I would suggest you post the monthly budget somewhere where he can see it. As the categories start approaching there allotted amount, I would just sit down and go "we are going over in this part of the budget and I'm having problems getting to balance, what would you suggest we cut to get back on budget?"

    The trick is you have to approach this from a positive way without being defensive, otherwise it will probably be a fight.

    The trick is to get him to engage in a non-confrontational way. Good luck.

  4. Petunia Says:

    Thanks Merch. I think I'll post it inside his side of the medicine cabinet. Sounds like I'm putting him on the spot. . . but if I put it on the fridge we get to have the commentary of every one and his brother who walks through our kitchen. Or more particularly, our parents. (His visit regularly and my mom will be here in a week and a half.)

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