What's the best way for a married guy to get some play money?
April 14, 2005 7:12 PM   Subscribe

Mr. Straight Arrow pays all his bills on time, works like a slave, and has a joint account with his spouse, but wants some fun money to splurge with his kid at a ball game, buy a scooter or go nuts at Sports Authority without his wife giving him grief over spending too much. Is this a separate stash in joint bank account, or something else?
posted by terrier319 to Human Relations (20 answers total)
I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say you ought to work out this issue with your wife. It's the grief she's giving you that's the problem, not your inability to hide money and purchases from her.

That, or I'm misunderstanding your question.
posted by odinsdream at 7:18 PM on April 14, 2005

What odinsdream said. Failing that, save some of your lunch money.
posted by caddis at 7:23 PM on April 14, 2005

I work pretty closely with HR/Payroll. One option that I've found is for the company you work for to issue you two checks, each deposited into separate accounts. One of our guys stashes 25% of his income in a separate account because he works as an independent contractor and likes to pay his taxes every 3 months.

Talk to payroll; have them issue 5% of your check into a hidden savings account. It might take a little pleading (read: muffins, friendly banter, etc), but it is possible.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 7:35 PM on April 14, 2005

BTW, it might be smart to wait until your next pay increase. Tell the wife that they really stiffed you this time; pocket the rest. Worst case scenario, you save enough money to buy her a trip to Europe or something. Best case scenario, trip plus cool stuff.

(Although I agree with complete honesty with your spouse, this is a white lie that has a distinct ability to favor the wife and therefore I feel justified in this advice; YMMV)
posted by SeizeTheDay at 7:37 PM on April 14, 2005

Unsolicited advice: what odinsdream said. This is a symptom of a much bigger problem.

Solicited advice: unless you need to keep serious amounts of money seperated, I would stick with cash. If she sees a bank statement with a seperate account on it she will freak out. The grief she has given you about spending in the past will be nothing compared to the grief you will receive for this.

Get a sports authority gift card and keep it in your wallet; load it up with cash you have withdrawn from the ATM once a month. Gift cards usually don't say how much is on it, so even if she saw it in your wallet it wouldn't give you away.

You could also do the same thing with a prepaid credit card.
posted by gatorae at 7:39 PM on April 14, 2005

A lot of couples work out an arrangement where they each get a bit of mad money to spend how they like. A set amount each month, a percentage, whatever. Keep it apart in a separate chequing account.

The important thing in the above paragraph was not 'set amount', 'separate' or 'mad money', but rather 'arrangement'. Do not hide the money. Do not keep it a secret. Just make some kind of agreement that gives both halves of the couple something that they want.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:50 PM on April 14, 2005

I would agree with the people who say that the grief you get is the problem, and you and your wife need to come up with a spending plan you can both live with. I would suggest that instead of "splurging on a scooter or a ballgame" you "budget for recreational expenses."

Getting money deposited into a special account, saving your lunch money, having a secret stash of cash are terrible ideas. Your wife is not stupid (I assume). When she sees you going off to the ballgame or sees your kid riding a scooter, she will know that these things cost money and that the money came from you. You will still get grief.
posted by duck at 7:52 PM on April 14, 2005

The stash in question is called a wallet. Take a lump of cash out of every paycheck, and spend it as you please. Write plain old checks against your existing account for large line item expenses like small vehicle purchases. If that causes a conflict with your spouse, deal with that conflict as an entirely separate issue from where you put your money, because the two problems aren't related to each other.
posted by majick at 8:01 PM on April 14, 2005

Three accounts: (1) big shared one for bills, household stuff, rent or mortgage, just everything you both share, (2) your account, (3) her account. Try getting an automated transfer into each of your individual accounts every two weeks for the bad money amount.

I like what someone said about the operative word being "arrangement." Don't go sneaking around without a good discussion about it, because if you are found out, then you will be doing something wrong, even if you're doing nothing wrong... And that something is secret spending.

Secret spending is an evil thing that creates resentment on both sides. Don't "go there."
posted by abbyladybug at 8:27 PM on April 14, 2005

abbyladybug beat me to the three accounts solution.

Seriously, how are you supposed to spoil your wife if you don't have your own money? If everything's in one joint account it's like she's buying her own gifts.
posted by krisjohn at 8:31 PM on April 14, 2005

I think that it is really healthy for spouses to budget a monthly "allowance" for themselves. And it's healthy to agree to this together.

It is NOT healthy for your marriage to hide money, divert money or keep separate books from your spouse.

Money is an emotional thing...it's not always practical. It is very tangled with issues of control, security, trust, self-worth, etc. I'm going to cast another vote for this being indicative of something deeper than money.

My spouse and I have a monthly allowance that we use for clothes, haircuts, personal purchases, mad money, giving gifts to each other, etc. That way, if we want to save up for something larger, we learn to do without something else we want. Everything else is budgeted for jointly. It keeps it nice and tidy for book keeping AND emotional purposes.
posted by jeanmari at 8:32 PM on April 14, 2005

Discuss your budget with your wife. Determine how much per month is appropriate for each of you to spend on fun stuff. Transfer that amount into a separate account (one for each of you, if you want) and then use that account only for ball games and scooters and such. As long as you stay within your "mad money" budget, then both of you should agree to not complain about how the money was spent.

This way, she won't have to worry too much about where the money is going, and you'll both have some guilt-free spending money. If you can't afford to put it in your budget, then maybe it wasn't to be.
posted by stefanie at 8:39 PM on April 14, 2005

What odisndream et al said. If you have to hide money from your wife, then you have a serious communication breakdown in your relationship.

Sit down together, and work out your budget. You have hard expenses that cannot be changed--rent, bills, food, subscription to Swingers Monthly, whatever--and soft expenses that vary month to month. After that, assuming you're not living beyond your means, you should have extra. Budget some of that into savings and investments, and then use the rest as discretionary funds for whatever.

The important thing is: Talk. If you can't, then seek counselling.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 1:06 AM on April 15, 2005

Dunno what it's like where you are, but here in the UK, I've internet accounts with Smile and if I want to set up an additional savings account it's trivial. I've got about 6 now, which might be taking it a little over the top (current, tax, general savings, money i've saved by not smoking...). All statements are electronic. Obviously, there are some physical manifestations of the account - bank cards, chequebook, etc. - which you'd have to intercept if you're intent on keeping it secret. But I find it really handy to have a set of virtual pots to move my money (or my debt:-) around between.
posted by handee at 4:50 AM on April 15, 2005

What abbyladybug said. My wife and I switched to this system at the beginning of this year and it's worked out great. And now she's really surprised when I buy her something nice because I buy it from my account. In the past she would always see a purchase show up in online banking and would have a good idea beforehand that I'd bought something from one of her favorite stores. We're also actually saving more money because we have a preset amount that goes into our individual accounts we're allowed to spend for each payday. We don't take any non-household purchases out of our joint account. All the fun money must come out of our individual accounts. We've both become much more frugal in what we spend for daily expenses, lunch, coffee, etc., so that we have more money in our "party" accounts for weekends and special occasions.
posted by white_devil at 5:15 AM on April 15, 2005

My spouse and I used to have the 3 account set up, but decided to consolidate to 1 account. When it comes to mad money, I have a payroll deduction set up for Canada Savings Bonds. $100 a paycheck goes straight to them. When I want to splurge, I use my personal credit card (not a joint one), arrange for a redemption of my bonds and pay the credit card bill with the bond money.

I just got myself a new laptop (Toshiba M40) that way.

Of course, my spouse was aware that I was socking money away for that so maybe my advice is not applicable.
posted by smcniven at 6:56 AM on April 15, 2005

In in with the don't-do-it crowd. Splitting money is the first step to splitting the marriage. Budget is a scarry word to some, but it's nothing more than a plan of how to use this particular resource. Perhaps your bride will be more amiable to the expense if it is not a surprise to her. Regardless, there's trouble in paradise and it may take a *good* counselor to help air it out.

When I say good, I mean that if the counselor ever suggests a separation of any kind, you need to find a new counselor. If a counselor doesn't give homework, your not getting your money's worth. If a counselor doesn't have a source of authority that you trust, you need a new counselor.
posted by kc0dxh at 7:16 AM on April 15, 2005

I can't believe anybody would even suggest- let alone condone- lying to a spouse about this. The things you want to spend your money on are harmless/inconsequential; don't turn them into a big deal by creating elaborate schemes (read: lies) to squirrel away money. Sheesh. I don't know why but this kind of outrages me.
posted by elisabeth r at 8:29 AM on April 15, 2005

Three accounts:
1) Checking for all bills and daily expenses like gas, morning coffee, dining out.
2) Savings for long term planning (paying off debt, saving for a house, deposit on a car)
3) Savings for fun stuff; you can divide it up or buy stuff together.

The easiest way to maintain these accounts:
Auto-depositing of your paychecks. You can designate amounts to be sent to each account every pay period. We have a set amount go to checking and the remainder goes to savings account (2). That way, when we get a raise, the extra goes into savings, not into checking. The other savings account (3) gets its money by taking money out of our checking account once a month; essentially we make a payment to ourselves. If ever there comes a time we can't afford to put money in there, I can just go online and stop the autotransfer.

Don't hide money from your wife or lie about your spending.
posted by suchatreat at 8:32 AM on April 15, 2005

Alternative viewpoint: My wife and I have only one account that our paychecks go into and all our expenses come out of. But we also both make a little money on the side doing the things we do full time. Side income money doesn't go into our joint account and can be spent how ever we want with no guilt. I'm not sure what my wife does with her's but mine stays on my person until I spend it (though it rarely happens I'm not freaked out to be walking around with a few Gs in my wallet.)
posted by Mitheral at 9:10 AM on April 15, 2005

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