Every woman's magazine I've ever read
says that openness and honesty about money matters is important
to a good marriage. It seems there are men out there who are
secretive about money or keep a tight rein on the purse strings.
Not at my house - but explaining our
domestic finances is more complicated than negotiating a loan
from the World Bank.
First of all, I should explain that my
wife and I both work, so we're lucky enough to each have a few
bucks coming in. But for some reason that I can't quite figure
out, even after ten years of marriage, our finances have stayed
separate. We each have our own bank accounts, credit cards and
I have no idea how much or where she
keeps her dough, and she doesn't know which mattress my money
is stuffed into. However, my wife is of Scottish extraction,
and I've never had any worry she would be foolishly parted from
her money. If anything, she's a bit too good with money - bless
her. I've seen her agonize over whether she should spend a few
dollars on something as frivolous as a new pair of winter boots,
even though her current pair has a hole and lets in the slush.
Every married couple has their own way
of looking after household bills. Some pool their money and pay
everything out of a joint account. Some guys I know hand over
their paycheque and get an allowance. We've never fallen into
any of these money routines. In fact, none of our friends understand
what we do.
After ten years or marriage, we still
pay bills like we're roommates. I look after the gas and electric
bills - she takes care of the phone and cable. We each pay the
mortgage every month by depositing half of the money into our
only joint account.
Okay, so that may not be so odd, but
wait until you're behind us at the grocery checkout. If the bill
comes to eighty dollars, I'll fish out forty of it and hand it
over to her. After all, I don't want her to lay claim to all
the food in the fridge.
When we order in we have an unwritten
rule: when it's pizza, I pay - when it's chicken, she picks up
There are other times when I'm short
of spending cash. I'll wander around town for weeks with the
same twenty dollar bill in my pocket because I can't get to a
bank machine. I'm only able to buy lunch for myself by scrounging
in the mountain of coins on my dresser for loonies and toonies.
But when I need money and can't get to
the bank, I'll ask to borrow twenty bucks from my wife Rhea.
"I'll pay you back," I always promise, and I always
do. I don't want her to think I'm not good for the money, or
for her to send some guy named 'Rocko' after me.
There is a nice part to all this nuttiness
When we go out for dinner we usually
forget about splitting the bill. It's not like we sit down with
a calculator and figure out who had the extra cola.
One or the other of us will pick up the
tab. And then it feels just like we're out on a date.
Not bad after ten years of marriage.