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The Money Trap: How to Manage Money in a Single-Income Household

The Money Trap: How to Manage Money in a Single-Income Household

Couples may marry for love, but it is money that often douses the flames of passion. As Circle of Moms members reveal, raising a family on one parent's income while the other parent stays at home can set the stage for ongoing tension. Many moms say running a household on a single income is difficult enough without the additional stresses on a couple over control of money and resources. As Veronica K. explains, "It's a touch and go thing - for the most part it is our money, but there are times that I have to make that stand in arguments because my hubby still tries to play the 'it's my money' thing on me."

Among the questions that arise, the most common is, "Is the money yours, his or both?" Circle of Moms member Lacye, who posed this question, also wonders, "Should each parent have money in their own account - money that is one's own? Or should funds be funneled into one joint account and be doled out at the discretion of the partner who makes the money?"

Circle of Moms members have shared a range of ideas for families living on one income, but stress that no single money management system will fit every family. All say that the issues are serious and potentially very divisive, and so merit thoughtful discussion by both partners.


Joint Accounts

Many Circle of Moms believe that all the household money should be pooled into one account and all financial decisions should be made as a team. "It's our money," says Sarah H., a stay-at-home mom. "He makes the money, and I run the household. Our 'jobs' are both significant and important to our family. I don't make money, but I work hard to save money. I'm very fortunate that my husband understands the value of a SAHM. We even have a life insurance policy on me so that he can pay for childcare and a maid should anything ever happen to me. Sarah B. agrees: "I am a SAHM and it is our money, not his money," she says. "Neither of us make a large purchase without consulting the other. All decisions regarding finances are made together."

Separate Accounts

In some households it works best for both parents to have their own accounts, even when only one is the primary wage earner. "I think I'm in the minority that my money is my money, and my husbands' money is his money," says Sarah M. "Obviously, we help each other out where it's needed, but we have no joint account."

Sarah says joint accounts worry her because of the chance that all the money will wind up in an account under the name of the primary wage earner. The stay-at-home partner, she says, can lose "the right to be put out if the husband goes and buys himself a new car or a new TV."

Another good reason for moms to have their own accounts is to create their own credit history, points out Heather L. "My relationship is a partnership," she says. "We don't have a joint account, because if he buggers up and overspends, it would directly affect my financial existence, among other things."

Finding What Works For You

"We have found what works for us," says Brie S. "He works and I am a SAHM. The account is in his name. But I work and take care of the books and pay the bills and if he needs cash he lets me know and I get it for him. If he needs the card he asks for it. It's not an issue."

No matter how you ultimately decide to manage money in your home, Circle of Mom members agree that it's not just about money or whether couples have joint or separate checking and savings accounts that matters most. What does matter is if couples work together as a unified team.

"I'm his partner, not his dependent," says Liz H. "Whatever you choose, decide on it together. And, if the first plan you draw up doesn't work, change it until it fits your situation."

Do you think one wage earner families should have joint or separate accounts?

Image Source: Suite 211 via Flickr/Creative Commons

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.

Join The Conversation
SamanthaRowan SamanthaRowan 6 years
We have two accounts, one that is a joint account for saving and one that is in his name for paying the bills. He works and I am a SAHM but I manage all the bills and if he spends money, he just brings me the receipt so I can keep track of everything. It works great and we never fight about money! He understands that me being home is valuable as we have 8 kids and daycare would cost more than I would even make working outside of our home!
JoyceGagnon JoyceGagnon 6 years
all the separate stuff is too complicated for us. $$ =$$ for us and we pay everything from the pot.
josephinemartinez josephinemartinez 6 years
Well I have my own account and my husband has his but most of his check goes in my he puts some in his we have it that cause my husband spends to much money and the bills won't get paid
shirleysaunders shirleysaunders 6 years
I totally agree that you should have separate account, I was in a bad relationship and my ex - husband wrote cheques that bounced and he could forge my signature so well, it was scary. in order to save myself, I had to have him charged. later we reconciled and did the one account thing and it happened again. I had payments coming out and I would have to get up in the middle of the night and check accounts. I learned the hard way. once bitten, twice shy !!
BrendaSzewczak BrendaSzewczak 6 years
just remember if you ever divorce, separate account or not, counts a marital asset and you will be asked to account for any large purchases within months of separation
MelissaFountain63145 MelissaFountain63145 6 years
Whether 1 or both work, it is nice to be able to buy presents for the other without the other knowing what you spent or where you spent it, heehee. I know what is in the joint account and what is in my account (I can no longer work). When we worked separate jobs, both accounts were in both names but we didn't look at the registers. We trust each other - really, it's just the "presents" part and we talked about it and agreed that was how we would do it. Now, a certain amount is put in an account with both our names but he doesn't look at the register - but he may if he really wants to - just ask so that I can tell him whether I just bought him (or us) something! Mutual respect is the most important piece, no?
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