DDJennifer’s post reminded me that I had wanted to write about our finances, especially since we have one of those “smart husband turns over the money to his financially responsible wife” type marriages, and that won’t actually change with the introduction of D/s.
I’ve always been the frugal saver type. Seeing a bank account balance grow is reward enough in itself. The fact that you can later use that money to buy some large item and pay cash with no interest (or better yet, compound interest in your favour) was always a bonus for me. I was just happy to see the money grow. Zeus, on the other hand, subscribes to the philosophy that since you can’t take it with you, you’d might as well spend it. All of it. And heck, why stop there?
When we met, Zeus had a $500 overdraft. If I asked him how much money he had left until payday and he would say $300, I had to ask him he actually had $300, or that he was $200 into his overdraft and it was $300 before his debit card stopped working… “Uh, Yeah. That one.”
He was making monthly payments on a laptop. I’d seen those commercials but I didn’t even think that was a real thing. Like, who does that? I remember at the time, he was like 40% into the payment term and the remaining payments added up to more than buying a new one cash. It was ridiculous.
I put an end to that. This was control-freak-Leda, and I was not starting a life partnership with someone who was going to drain my accounts and destroy my finances. No way, nah uhn, no how. I paid off that laptop from my own savings, paid off his student loans from more of my savings, and made him agree not to get any more credit.
Now don’t get me wrong. Zeus is and was an EXCELLENT provider. He has never been more than a week without work, no matter how bad the job market. He’s just one of those people who gets the job done, doesn’t fuck around, and takes pride in creating efficiencies wherever he can. He loves to work, he takes pride in his ability to log long hours, and he enjoys pushing himself. So at no point have I ever worried about my financial security. However, his spending habits have always reflected his earning ability. He enjoys the finer things in life, doesn’t think he should live like a pauper when he’s working so hard, and doesn’t mind spending some money frivolously just for fun. That being said, he also started to see the value of saving after the first time we paid cash for a car (used of course!). When we eventually paid cash for a 40′ mobile home, he was sold. He still didn’t want to pinch every penny, but he was comfortable with some stricter boundaries.
Nuts & Bolts of our finances
My accounting system is ridiculously complicated. Just like me. We have one joint chequing, some investments, a joint savings, and then a pile of individual chequing accounts we use for day-to-day spending.
All the income goes into the joint account, and the bills get paid from that account. We both have access on paper, but Zeus doesn’t touch it in practice. Some retirement savings gets taken off before we even see the paycheque. Then I take some more off as a pre-authorized contribution, again before I do the rest of the budget. I strongly subscribe to the “pay yourself first” philosophy. I always pay myself again last, but I’ll get to that. Then I transfer money into my chequing account for our household spending, calculate how much is left over and put some more in savings, and then I transfer Zeus his allowance.
The Dominant has an allowance???
Like I said, Zeus is seriously bad with money. Part of it is his generous nature, he’ll buy coffees for his crew if they work hard on a crappy day for example. A lot of it is that he just feels he works hard so he deserves to treat himself. Like, all the time. Until there’s no money left.
Over the years, we’ve worked out some good, legitimate compromises. Not those “compromises” where really one person gets steamrolled and the other gets their way. We both gave in a little — I got comfortable with a little less savings and he got comfortable with a little less spending — and came up with some pretty good mechanisms. They worked really well for us. The funny thing for D/s is that they’re completely role-reversed.
Zeus makes the money. I make bits of money here and there, but he’s the one who keeps us housed, fed, and entertained. And yet he’s the one who has an allowance. The amount has changed dramatically over the years, depending on how much is coming in and what fixed bills we have going out, along with what savings goals we might have at the moment and how close we are to them. But ultimately, it was always my responsibility to say “no” when he would ask for money and we couldn’t really afford it.
D/s or d/$?
The thing is, I was never good at saying no to him. I mean, he’s the one who worked for it. It’s “his” money. I just manage it. And spend a bunch of it. And save it. But wife or not, it’s his money initially. Unless we were really really tight, I pretty much always just said yes. I didn’t tell him what the situation was or anything, I usually just hummed and hawed, then decided that we would take money out of savings for his massage or steak and lobster dinner, because he wanted to. Meanwhile, his strategy was just to ask me for as much money as possible until I say no, assuming I would always be the same hardass I was when we met (the one who basically always said no, until he felt completely used an unappreciated because he never got to spend any of his money). I think it took him a few years to actually admit that was his strategy, I never figured it out on my own. But even when he told me, I still pretty much just said yes all the time. I would get way past my comfort level before even telling him how far over budget we were, and even then not say “not” just tell him it’s coming from savings. It seems I was incapable of finding middle ground on my own, I would either save every penny possible and never “let” him spend any of his own money, or else I would let him spend as much as he wanted with me as the lamest possible checkpoint in the system.
Well, now we’re going to try a new strategy. In a lot of ways, the day-to-day financial management won’t change. I’ll still track the spending and draw up the budgets for the household expenses. I’ll setup the pre-authorised transfers for savings (which have been on hold until we decided what to do with our money in the stock market… spoiler alert: we pulled half of it out and shoved it into our mortgage).
Here’s where it changes: We’ll sit down every month and go over how much money is left after expenses (i.e. bills, household, and regular savings), and he will decide how much of it will be spent on luxury items and how much will go into extra savings (e.g. to pay down the mortgage or go on a second trip). Then, with him having decided what he’s spending that month, it will be my task to track it and keep him updated. I’ll put the savings amount into “untouchable” savings and “his” money into an account where I can transfer it as he wants it.
I think this will work so much better for us, on a lot of levels. It should alleviate his frustration of making all the money and then never feeling like he “gets” to spend any of it: now he’ll be 100% in charge of how much discretionary spending gets saved vs spent, so he can’t grumble that he’s not getting to spend any of it. And I won’t feel like I’m being pressured to agree to something that I’m not really comfortable with (i.e. him spending every last penny that I can’t sneak into savings). It also helps my need for predictability, since we’ll decide at the beginning of the month how much money he’s going to spend, and then that’s that, rather than asking me to make new financial decisions every other day depending on his mood, or when I may not be in a good headspace for financial decisions (distracted, tired, hungry, etc). And then from the D/s stance, it’s not “me giving him an allowance from his own money.” It’s him making his own budget, and I’m just setting up the mechanisms (automatic transfers twice per week is what we’ve been doing lately, since then he never has to go more than 3 days without cash).
More than anything, I’m looking forward to how much this will reduce my stress. It’s always been such an impossible responsibility having the person who makes the money ask you if they can go spend some of it on something you know they really like. What are you supposed to say to that? If I say no, it’s like he’s not worth it or that I’m just trying to hoard all his money. But if I always say yes, then I feel like we’re going broke because I’m taking money out of savings for luxuries. This way, I’m not giving permission, I’m just telling him whether there’s money left in the budget he chose for himself. Overall, I think that will both alleviate my stress about being responsible for someone else’s spending, and also help him become more responsible with his own spending by not relying on someone else to make the decision for him.