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14 Jan 2013

His & Her Money

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by Jesse Mecham

Spurred by this discussion over on the YNAB Facebook page, I thought I’d elaborate on this His/Her money concept.

Why Have His & Her Money?

It gives each partner in the relationship some breathing room (see my podcast on slowly suffocating under a budget). You don’t need a lot.

When Julie and I first married, things were tight. We didn’t have the his/her money concept going at all. I felt like I couldn’t buy anything. It was awful. It made me want to not budget at all (this was before YNAB was YNAB. At that time, it was just “the budget” on our computer).

So I approached Julie, we decided to give each other $5 per month, and it saved the day.

The key is that there’s something, even just a little bit, that does not need to be answered for to your partner.

How Much Money Should We Allocate Toward His/Her Fun Money?

As much as needed. You’ll see in that Facebook discussion that the amounts vary. Julie and I do $50 each per month, other people do $400 each per month. The kicker is…

What Spending Belongs in His/Her Money?

Whatever you decide. Julie and I use it for anything we want (as an individual) that isn’t budgeted for elsewhere. So if I want a new pair of shoes, and Shoes for Dad isn’t in the budget this month, then it’s coming out of my His money. If Julie wants a new ratchet set, and we didn’t budget for Julie’s Ratchet Set, then it’s coming out of the Her money.

So during our monthly budget meeting, we try and remember what we need. If Julie wants to budget for the Ratchet set under Home Repairs, and that fits in the budget, then we do that. If I need new shoes, we could budget for that under Clothing.

Many in the discussion don’t allow that. They have specific items that are part of the His/Her Universe. A common thread was eating out, but I also saw hair care, and clothing.

There is no category that is scrutinized as much as Julie’s Her category. She knows every outflow. She watches it like a hawk. She always, always has more than I do. Bless her frugality.

How Do You Handle His/Her Money in YNAB?

Your call honestly. Julie and I leave it in the budget, and just categorize those purchases as His or Hers. Other people take cash out of the bank and each has their own cash in purse/wallet to be used on whatever they like. That is one step further removed from accountability, and I like the simplicity of that. We’ll likely stick with our way only because I treat cash in my wallet as pure slush. It’s one of those things where I don’t know how it ended up in my wallet, and I won’t be able to tell you how it left either.

(We don’t track our cash in YNAB. It’s too small to be of consequence.)

His/Her Takeaways

In the end, do what works for you. Experiment. There’s no wrong way to implement this. The important points are that the other person does not have to answer for their spending of their money, and that it should be an amount that will make a difference. It’s surprising what a difference just a small amount makes.

Your Next Step

Remember, budgeting is not restrictive. You won’t be spending less, you’ll be spending right. You can do this! Today. Right now. What do you have to lose? Except all that debt and stress. (Ok, so kind of a lot.)


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