Who Runs Your Financial Household? Is it a One Captain or Two Captain Ship?

by Evan

I have been married a little bit over 3 years, (married in June of 2008) and in that time The Wife and I have sort of fallen into our roles when it comes to the household chores, however, this wasn’t always the case.  In the beginning it was fiscal chaos.  She was paying some of the bills, I was paying some of the bills; one hand had no idea what the other was doing and it took me way too long to fix.  I wrote about making a financial plan 6 months after we were married! Six Months.

One Captain or Two Captain Ship?

My house is a one captain ship.  I handle 98% of everything to do with Money:

  • I pay all the bills
  • I handle all the investments
  • I control and watch like a hawk 4 out of 5 checking accounts
  • I control 9 out of 10 Credit Cards (although only one has a revolving debt)
  • I handle most of the savings accounts

Am I control freak? Not really.  Is it because I make all the money? No way, she contributes half of the household expenses on the first and fifteenth of the month.  The reason is because I am a Personal Finance Junkie (500+ posts should indicate that).  It works for us.

I actually don’t know anyone in my off-line life that splits the work up.  It seems to me that notwithstanding clichés, but having two captains would be too many cooks in the kitchen and too many chiefs.

Working in a Two Captain Financial Household

I read blogs where both spouses are into it, but they seem very rare. It works for them.  It seems to work because they split the actual responsibility, so one would handle checking and the other investments.  Otherwise, it is impossible to know exactly what anyone else is doing.

Who Runs Your Financial Household?

If you are running a single captain ship who is running it? While the past may have seemed like the men took care of all things money I think relying on the gender argument is more or less dead.  I don’t even think I have any friends around my age that use it as a justification as to who runs their financial house.  I do have to admit that I have said to The Wife in one of her irrational moments

I am a grown ass man that works hard if I want to buy XYZ I will buy it

Yes, I really used the words “grown ass man” but never end up buying anything! She is usually right that we don’t need it but I am absolutely positive that we can afford it (not trying to reopen up this argument), so I digress.

In my small sampling of asking friends it is almost split who takes care of everything associated with the basics, however, it is absolutely skewed towards the man handling the investments.  When asked why they let the other spouse take care of everything the most common answers are

I just want to be able to purchase what I want let them worry about the day to day things

They are better at it.

I don’t want to.

Who runs your Financial Household? and Why?

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27 comments

20's Finances September 5, 2011 - 10:31 am

I think it depends. For me, it is a similar situation. I have found that my wife and I each have our “roles.” These developed organically over the first year or so. Basically, whoever really cared about the topic (food, finances, cleaning) naturally took over that responsibility.

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Evan September 8, 2011 - 2:59 pm

So you run your financial household? What does she run?

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20 and Engaged September 5, 2011 - 11:32 am

For the most part, I ran the financial household. I’d say it was 75/25. Now we sort of take turns. Since our income is varying and we still have a hybrid system, hubby will be more involved.

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Evan September 9, 2011 - 9:27 am

How do you take turns? Will some months you handle the banking/bills and then he’ll do it? Seems like a recipe for things to fall through the crack

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krantcents September 5, 2011 - 11:50 am

I think there can only be one captain, but I want my wife’s input on many subjects. We confer on a variety of things and particularly large expenditures.

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Evan September 9, 2011 - 9:41 am

I completely agree – and kind of how we do things

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Andrea September 5, 2011 - 12:19 pm

I have in the past and present consistently been the one handling 99% of the finances in my household (with both my exes as well)

I am very willing to change this task and in fact it’s bothered me that I have had to handle it all, even though I enjoy it – doing it more as a team is my preference. I could never be someone to give away control completely though, I will always want to know 100% what’s going on and what’s going where. Perhaps in the future I’ll meet a geek just like me and we can argue about who pays which bill. 😉

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Evan September 9, 2011 - 9:45 am

I think if you find a guy to split it you are going to get annoyed that he is that involved! LOL grass is always greener for women hahah

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Mike September 6, 2011 - 1:46 pm

My situation is a lot like your own in that I handle pretty much all of the finances. I pay all the bills and handle our savings and investments. I actually which my wife would take more interest in financial matters but every time I bring it up her eyes glaze over.

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Evan September 9, 2011 - 9:46 am

You may never get her involved in the investment part of it, but savings there is a chance. Is she a spender though? cause if so then no chance lol

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Mike September 13, 2011 - 8:25 pm

Thankfully she’s not a big spender at all. Maybe someday she’ll take more interest. But for now she still doesn’t even understand how I make money online no matter how I try to explain it. She just sees revenue increasing and says “Keep doing whatever you’re doing!”

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Julie September 6, 2011 - 2:05 pm

I handle all the finances, but we have regular “meetings” to discuss them. I’m like you, I enjoy doing it.

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Evan September 9, 2011 - 9:51 am

HAHAHAHAH meetings huh? I would LOVE to hear about those

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Ashley September 7, 2011 - 12:00 pm

My husband does all the day to day stuff, like bill paying. But I do the long term planning, while talking to him of course, but I’m always the one who brings it up and sets up the plan. I say we are a two captain ship.

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Evan September 9, 2011 - 9:59 am

interesting! I am glad it works for you two. When you say long term planning do you mean like investments? or protection? or goals?

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Bernard September 8, 2011 - 11:38 am

My wife and I both have a say in every financial decision. In my mind, it’s the best way to go since both of you are affected.

We both have a strengths in certain areas, but we turn to each other for support and decisions.

I see it like parenting. Both should be engaged. Both should be making the decisions. If you and your partner have different views, then that may cause a problem.

I believe money is the number one source for issues in a marriage. It all begins with communcation.

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Evan September 9, 2011 - 10:00 am

I am not saying one opinion is more important than the other I was curious about execution

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Jen September 8, 2011 - 1:33 pm

I’m the captain of our finances, thank goodness! My husband (as wonderful as he is) should be nowhere near money. He never knows how much he paid for something, can fill a carry basket at the grocery store with $150 worth of stuff and would spend all our money on alcohol, pizza, movies and videos if I let him. Finally he realized that I should handle things and so I do it all and monitor his spending. He’s very happy now that we’re out of debt and finally able to save money.

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Evan September 9, 2011 - 10:00 am

Captain, I am just putting it out there IF you are going to waste money Alcohol and pizza are a great start hahaha

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Cherleen September 9, 2011 - 7:38 pm

Same thing here! Although both of us are involved in the decision-making and understands how discounts and coupons help us save, he still lack discipline in sticking to the budget.

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Jana September 8, 2011 - 2:03 pm

I’m our captain for day to day finances and my husband handles the long term stuff. We each sail the ship in consult with the other but the division of labor just works for us especially since, like Jen’s husband, mine doesn’t pay attention to how much anything costs. He trusts what I do with the day to day stuff and I trust what he does with the long term stuff. It works for us.

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Evan September 9, 2011 - 10:02 am

long term stuff? like investments? and protection contracts?

I think the most important thing is to have a system that works for YOU 2 otherwise financial chaos occurs

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Don September 8, 2011 - 10:54 pm

My wife is an accountant (or was), so she pays the bills. But since I’ve been in the stock market since I was about 6 years old, I handle the investments and the federal and state tax returns.

It’s a strange mix, but it works for us…

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Evan September 9, 2011 - 10:02 am

I don’t think it is strange at all! I think it is fantastic that there is a plan/strategy.

Let the bean counter handle the less fun stuff

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Well Heeled Blog September 9, 2011 - 7:32 pm

Once we are married, I think I’d be in charge of the long-term investments and he would be in charge of bill-paying. But it’s important for both partners to know and understand their household finances. What happens if you get hit by the bus tomorrow?

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Simon September 10, 2011 - 10:31 am

I do the grunt work but Mrs. SPF and I make decisions together.

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olga September 23, 2011 - 10:30 am

I handle finances and make and approve decisions, for investments we have an adviser handling everything (where we basically tell him we trust him, and settle in on how much monthly should be going into it – and we do trust him).

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