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There is one main reason why kids ask their parents for an allowance: They crave the freedom to make their own choices.

Think about it from a kid’s perspective. With an allowance, they don’t have to ask their parents for money. They don’t have to beg for a toy in the toy aisle and risk being told no.

The point is, when you have your own money, it’s yours to spend as you wish. But as we grow up, the idea of an allowance often gets pushed to the side. After all, allowances are for kids, right?

Actually, I’ve learned that allowances are great for married couples, too.

In fact, I believe every married couple should have an allowance – a specific amount of money each month they can spend however they want, no questions asked.

An allowance has worked wonders in my marriage, and many other couples say the same thing. Below are some reasons why.

It Establishes a Sense of Independence

According to research on separate bank accounts by TD Bank, “Thirty-eight percent of individuals in relationships who maintain separate accounts said they do so for independence, making it the top reason for holding individual accounts.”

Still, I always recommend that married couples join their finances together in one bank account as a way to truly become a team in every aspect of their lives. Yet, if you’re used to being independent and not having anyone question your purchases, joining your finances with your spouse’s can be stressful at first.

An allowance is a way to find a happy medium. You can open a joint bank account to manage your money as a team but then put a specific amount of money on two prepaid debit cards every month – one for each spouse.

Whether it’s $30 or $300 on your card each month, this money (aka your allowance) means that you can get a manicure without having to explain yourself. The benefit is that you also get to remain committed to working on your joint financial goals with your spouse via your joint account.

It Encourages Saving for Large Purchases

Ryan Inman, a financial planner based in Las Vegas, says, “When each spouse has a savings account earmarked just for them, it gives both a sense of independence. This should be a ‘no questions asked fund’ where each spouse can use their own savings toward anything they like. They can even save it month after month for larger purchases.”

Inman makes an excellent point. As an example, let’s say your spouse wants a monster TV. We’re talking a 60-inch TV with all the bells and whistles. You think this idea is completely ridiculous, and you don’t want your hard-earned money going toward it.

The thing is, with an allowance, your spouse can save month after month for that TV, avoiding small purchases like buying coffee in order to save until their allowance fund builds up enough to afford the TV they want.

This allows each person to make a choice about what they buy, and since it’s a “no questions asked” fund, a spouse can’t get irritated about the purchase, especially since they have the same right to save for a large purchase, too.

It Helps You Buy Gifts in Stealth Mode

Because I check my accounts every single day (I’m a #moneynerd like that), nothing gets by me. I know when my husband puts gas in his car, orders food from the cafeteria at work and more. I love tracking my spending and creating our budget; it’s fun for me. What’s not fun is ruining surprises for myself, especially around the holidays.

Before having an allowance, my husband would have to tell me not to look at our Amazon orders in order to buy me a gift, or he’d have to shop with cash. These days, we just use our allowance to buy each other gifts and treats.

This means that when he buys me a candy bar and brings it home to me, it really feels like a gift because it came out of “his money.” During the holidays, I’ll add extra money to our allowances to purchase gifts to make things fair.

Overall, my only regret when it comes to having an allowance as a married couple is that I didn’t get one sooner. Having an allowance trains you to budget, to save for purchases and to be generous with your spouse. It’s one of the best things I’ve done for my marriage, my finances and my life.

What about you? Do you and your spouse have joint savings accounts? Do you have your own spending money just for you each month?

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Late to this, but my experience is different regarding a spouse allowance. My wife, far better at managing finances than I, has total charge of our finances, at every level. Early on, she would become upset with my seeming inability to monitor my spending. Finally, after considerable disharmony, my wife put me on a weekly allowance. I argued against this, finding it humiliating. But she overruled me. She gave me a set amount every week, for my everyday expenses. This included everything, subway fare, lunch at work, newspaper, morning coffee, anything I needed. If I found myself depleted before the weekend, it was my lookout. She also kept my credit card, and only allowed me to use it once she had vetted what I was using it for. Since she paid for everything when we were out — movies, restaurants, shopping, etc., I had no real need anymore of a credit card. Eventually, I grew quite comfortable with this arrangement. It has stood us well for more than three decades. And continues to this day.

  2. I really like the post because it’s something I’ve done for years and like you, I wish I had done it sooner! It has helped my husband and I pay off student loans, credit card debt and save for our vacations. I’m the money master but I include my husband in our financial decision-making. We mutually agree on our monthly allowances. Bills are all paid, no late payments, no overdraft fees in the checking account and we are able to pay ourselves first (priority one) and in the process of paying off our mortgage with the extra money from paying off our debt. He gets excited when I tell him something grand I’ve paid off or how much we’ve managed to save. I love your analysis of keeping the independence. That’s very important and just like kids want it, we want to keep it.

  3. This is really an excellent suggestion for couples. I’ve worked w couples for years as a relationship/marriage counselor and have seen steady movement towards “separate everything” as the frequency of traditional marriages (and roles) have declined. While poor communication remains the largest barrier to happy relationships, financial/resource issues are right up there for creating stress on a relationship. Maintaining independence (allowance) while fostering interdependence (joint budgeting, consensus goals) is, in my view, the way to go.

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