Saturday, February 9, 2013

Alpha Mail: household finance

BR asks about the marital implications of money management:
Longtime VP reader here who has just started reading AG. You and Roissy are both cruelty artists, but there's a distinct difference. Much like Libertarian vs Christian Libertarian.

What's your take on household banking duties? It's a strong tell in my circle of married friends. The guys who are in charge of the household finances are notably more satisfied than those who aren't. And their wives are much more pleasant to be around. Can that correctly be considered a defining Alpha characteristic? I can't imagine an Alpha behaving any other way.
Not Alpha, per se, but merely an appropriate indication of functioning male-female relations.  While there is certainly room to accommodate practical considerations such as military deployments and professional credentials, in general, it is a bad idea for men to put themselves in a position of receiving an allowance from their wives.  This is particularly true in light of the female tendency to view household finances in this way: "his income is ours, my income is mine".

That being said, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with the woman handling the finances if she happens to be the more responsible or the more suitable spouse.  For example, it would be absurd for a painter married to a CPA to think that he should be responsible for the banking duties.  That being said, the fact that many women openly resent the very idea that a man would be in control of his household's finances is a strong signal that it is, for more than a few women, a matter of socio-sexual significance that needs to be addressed accordingly.

The basic problem is that women tend to assume that power is meant to be used actively.  They don't really grasp the male concept of passive power used only in emergencies, so if they have it, they're usually going to use it and use it more heavily than a man would.  And using money to get one's way in a relationship seldom works out well for anyone, male or female, in the long run.  That's why it usually works out best for both parties if the husband is responsible.

34 comments:

The Next to Last Samurai said...

I think this is more cultural than anything else; a manly man in Japan (hey, that has a nice rhythm to it!) wouldn't dream of handling the household budget. That's women's work. And yes, their wives give them allowances.

Now, if you're arguing that a manly man does not abdicate his manly duties to his wife, I'd agree with you, but the handling of household funds is not in and of itself a manly duty, in the way that, taking care of the baby is always and everywhere a womanly duty. With the budget, it all depends on where you live.

VD said...

When you show me the American man whose wife is providing a monthly allowance to his mistress, with whom he lives three weeks out of the month, I will concede that your point about Japan is relevant here.

I lived there for six months. I am aware of how things are often done there, and you can't reasonably bring in one cultural difference without bringing in all of the assumptions and history that go with it.

Bob Wallace said...

I'm in charge of the finances, 100%. Her check is direct-deposited in my account, and I give her an allowance, otherwise the place would be full of women's shoes and clothes.

This should be a law.

The Midwesterner said...

Vox:

When you talk about "passive power used only in emergencies" do you mean keeping the power in reserve? Please clarify.

I do like your work here at Alpha Game.

Will Best said...

Gotta watch out Bob, I know a guy who put his wife on a budget/allowance in order to get out of debt, and the next thing he knew she ran up $4,000 on a stealth credit card buying starbucks and manicures.

I handle the money and didn't have to put my wife on an allowance. She asks how much she can spend when she goes shopping, and 80% of the time doesn't even come close to that limit.

I think having kids made it easier because I was able to capitalize on her maternal instincts. As in excess spending hurts the family and her child, where a 15% savings rate is ultimately beneficial to the family even if it doesn't have the same short term satisfaction.

It also helps that she isn't bad at math and can look at the cluster @#$@ that is SS and medicare and realize we aren't going to see half of that, if at all.

The Next to Last Samurai said...

No, my point was that household money management is not inherently male or female, which is what I thought you were saying. Maybe we were talking past each other.

I have a feeling the mistress is not in too many Japanese budgets these days! Probably much to the annoyance of the wives.

Lex Rex said...

Managing the money, especially in the feminist indoctrinated America, is ultimately an exercise in authority. Even in the case where the wife may have superior expertise, I would make it clear it was a delegation of duties, not her right.

Money is power, even in marriage.

Pepper said...

"...it is a bad idea for men to put themselves in a position of receiving an allowance from their wives". Reading this reminds me of VD's post a few days ago about men and household chores. Basically the fewer the chores the more sex the man got. I find it fascinating that when men and women act within their gender, sex is more frequent. Should be pretty basic though...men and women procreate. When man acts like man and woman acts like woman, sex happens. When men and women act androgynous, it doesn't.

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Cail Corishev said...

I grew up thinking this was women's work too (in middle America, not Japan). My mom carried the checkbook and did all the shopping, even their taxes. That's not to say my dad ever got an allowance; if he wanted to go buy something he tore a check out and went. He made the money and the important spending decisions, but didn't deal with the daily minutiae. So I used to think that a man who did all the budgeting and shopping was being sort of effeminate, like a man who insists on picking out the curtains for the kitchen.

Now that I'm older, I see all sorts of women whose money sense is so bad that they probably shouldn't be allowed to buy their own lunch, let alone anything more expensive or important. They actually think that buying something on sale is the same thing as saving money, whether you needed it or not. Our whole economic system is now in a shambles because these women (and a fair number of like-minded men) insist on voting for the equivalent of going to the shoe store and buying one of everything in your size and then paying with a check from a cancelled account.

So my thinking has changed a little. If you're lucky enough to marry a sensible woman like my mom, then by all means turn the household finances over to her (it's not like any man wants to deal with that stuff, right?). But you'd better be sure about her first, because most of them are economic idiots.

Brian said...

ALL women play the game of "what's yours is mine and what's mine is mine" with EVERYTHING. I call my woman out on it all the time. It's fun to watch her twist in the wind and try to justify it. Basically, men, if it needs protected, it needs to be taken away from her.

SarahsDaughter said...

In our home it is much like a secretarial role. I manage the check book and pay the bills. Every quarter or so I give him a report on the finances. Here's what is going out, here's what comes in. He decides if anything should change. I make up to $100 decisions (within the discretionary spending budget each month). If it's more than a $100 decision, he makes it.

Bob Wallace said...

"Gotta watch out Bob, I know a guy who put his wife on a budget/allowance in order to get out of debt, and the next thing he knew she ran up $4,000 on a stealth credit card buying starbucks and manicures."

No credit cards, just debit cards.

I knew a woman who was the manager of a woman's clothing and shoe store. When I asked her how many clothes and shoes she had, she said she had set aside an entire room in her house.

Then she got married and her husband put an end to shopping sprees.

I'll admit, I learned an awful lot about the cost of lipstick and bras - and it's all bullshit. Women are being ripped off, and they go right along with it. I don't.

Aeoli Pera said...

That being said, the fact that many women openly resent the very idea that a man would be in control of his household's finances is a strong signal that it is, for more than a few women, a matter of socio-sexual significance that needs to be addressed accordingly.

I interpret this as a near-universal disposition, clouded by confounding variables, particularly but not limited to a woman's exercise of self-control.

Aeoli Pera said...

Most of the confusion here seems to be a failure to distinguish between the banker and the bookkeeper. Sometimes it's the same person, sometimes they aren't the same person.

Shimshon said...

I let my wife control the money for years and our situation was the stuff of epic disaster movies. I took absolute control of my income and I'm a LOT happier. So is she, because the utilities get paid and there's meat on the table.

I also told her at the same time I took control of the money that if she wanted to go to marriage therapy (which we don't need at all now) she had to pay for it. She grumbled mightily about this, as you can expect, but I stood my ground and she pays. I'd rather use the money in some other way, but it's not my nickel, and I'm okay with that, because she does contribute some money to household expenses when needed, beyond what the therapy costs.

REALMATT said...

I allowed my mother to do consulting under my name and trusted her and now I owe the IRS 40,000. I definitely learned my lesson.

Take control or oversee the activity or pay the price for inaction and indifference.

And for Gods sake don't ever register as sole propieter. C CORP. C CORP. C CORP.

Nate said...

I'll tell you how we do it... take it how you will.

My business is contracted to provide services to a customer. My wife provides those services... and she is an employee of my business. I pay her.

I also handle all of the business finances and household finances. generally speaking... my lives as though it is 1840... and financial matters are simply not her concern. If I were to attempt to discuss the cost of her vehicle with her for example... she would think that entirely inappropriate.

It isn't something she has any control over... nor does she desire any. She prefers to simply say, "Hey I need to go do X. How much can I spend?" and I give her a number that she needs to stay under... and she gets to come home and brag about how much she got.. and how she didn't even come close to the limit.

Now... I don't claim to be in a financial situation that many people can related to. But I would strongly... STRONGLY suggest that the male run the show completely.

realmatt said...

Nate, your wife only goes in when she's needed for surgery?

Anonymous said...

Who balances a checkbook and hands out an allowance? Modern banking mean money is deposited directly in an account and checks sent out electronically. I or my wife charge for household expenses. I visit the ATM when running low on cash.

If you're using the old system, try adapting.

Jimmy

dannyfrom504 said...

Hmmmmm. Not having a wife makes this easy. Since I've unplugged, I only buy food and pay bills. Hell I gave my family 80% of my furniture.

So glad this isn't an issue for me. Off to the quarter tomorrow.

PVW said...

He has his personal accounts where he manages his personal finances; I have mine. I manage the joint account from which I pay our household bills. I came up with the budget and explained how much each of us should contribute, in light of our salaries. I also manage our investment accounts. I've always been fiscally responsible, and this dated back to when I was a young woman working at my first job in high school; my mother taught me well. I always explain, quite honestly--no shenanigans here, of what I'm doing on our behalf. So all the bills are paid on time, we have no financial worries, I rack up no credit card debt, and neither does he. If either of us has an interest in spending money on something that costs more than $500, we consult with each other.

RC said...

Female control of the finances naturally undermines the headship of the husband. I have seen this play out many times but closely in my own parents. My dad handed over the control of the finances forty years ago and he now goes to his wife for any major purchase to see if it's "in the budget or not." She looks things through and comes up with a verdict. Nuts. An otherwise kick-ass, take-names man is led around by a 5'2" woman. Not natural and it has ramifications well beyond just the dollars.

SDH said...

My finances are completely separate from Mrs. SDH. We each pay 50% of the cost of running the house into a joint account.

She does the taxes, I review them. Larger purchases we split, unless they're for only one person i.e. I pay for my cars and she just bought new furniture for her sitting room.

Works out quite well.

PVW said...

@SDH: Works out quite well.

Me: Yes, because budgets and finances is something I enjoy working on and it is something I do very well. Most importantly, I have more time for it, as I am around more often during the day--I have a flexible work schedule, so I can read up on the latest financial new stories, make phone calls and set up appointments.

PVW said...

oops, news stories

realmatt said...

Men who think it isn't a big deal don't understand that the experience of a woman is completely different from that of a man.

Women are constantly pushing buttons, looking for a way to grab power in any manifestation, even unintentionally. It becomes a part of their personality after doing it for so long.

A lot of men, either because they're oblivious or they already have power, give it up unknowingly.

You have to always be on. Be here, now, in the moment.

And never give an inch.

jrl said...

My job is to handle the big picture strategery and course corrections. The wife implements said strategery.

Josh said...

I think it's all a matter of frame.

If a delta/gamma takes control of the finances over fear that his wife will spend and borrow them to ruin, he loses hand.

If an alpha/sigma/beta makes the financial decisions and delegates the bills, checkbook, household purchases, etc to his wife, he does not lose hand.

dh said...

> My job is to handle the big picture strategery
> and course corrections. The wife implements
> said strategery.

That's basically it - imagine you are a corporation. You are the CFO - head of finance. She is operations - head of purchasing.

The man doesn't care what brand detergent she buys, or whether it's ultra concentrated or ultra ultra concentrated.

realmatt said...


If an alpha/sigma/beta makes the financial decisions and delegates the bills, checkbook, household purchases, etc to his wife, he does not lose hand.


So, if the man controls the finances, he does not lose hand...

He's still in control in your scenario.

MaMu1977 said...

My grandparents had an "arrangement"-Grandpa's check went towards the mortgage and utilities, Grandma's check went towards food and clothing. Each of them put aside $10/month (increasing as time progressed and salaries became larger) towards retirement. She didn't ask about his money, he didn't ask about her money. She never came running to him about needing $20 for new school shoes (because *she* insisted on getting a job and not staying at home), he never bothered her for beer money or singles to throw at the hoochie coochie girls (because he felt that keeping a roof over their heads and being able to afford to buy a new car for each of their kids allowed him to decompress any way that he liked.) To this day, my grandfather doesn't need to worry about money, despite the fact that he retired in the 1980's and he's living off of a sole pension (my grandmother died a decade ago.)

Now, if you're talking about *modern* women...

Brett said...

While few readers of this blog will need the "Real World Example" to reinforce the above lesson, I share my tale of Women Suck:

I don't pay bills. I haven't paid a bill since I graduated college. My bank offers a service where they receive the bill, and automatically pay it if funds are available. You can set max limits so they don't wipe you out on an erroneous bill (I use 10% more than the expected bill). They send you a notice letting you know what they paid, and whether the bill received was above the max. I check my bills regularly for errors or fraud, but let the bank worry about making sure the bill gets paid on time.

I had a live in Girl (and I emphasize /girl/). When she moved in, she insisted that she pay the bills directly, that my way was inefficient, blah, blah. Like a stupid little Beta (which, to be fair, I am), I conceded. We established a joint account, I put the portion of my pay check that is ear marked for household expenses and savings in it, and let her handle the bills. I gave it no more thought than I had when the bank was handling it.

She leaves. Clears out the $1000 savings, which is legal because it's a joint account. She was owed the money for the TV she put on her credit card (never mind the two times I paid the tow fee for her car, or the 3 months she lived rent free). More to the point, I'm broke and get a call from the bank. It seems my mortgage hasn't been paid in two months.

As is noted above, females will use power whether that use is right or wrong. In her head, the dissolution of the relationship was all my fault of course, I was a mean person, a neglectful person, etc, etc. So I deserved to be punished for my "sins". So having decided that she was leaving (several months before she told me), she stopped paying any bills she could without triggering a phone call from the creditor.

I, and I think most men, would not have behaved in such a fashion. That's not to say we won't stick around longer than we should, either consciously or not. But barring actual criminal abuse, we'd simply cut our losses and move on. The idea that my non-criminal, non-moral failures as a boyfriend somehow deserve punishment is one only the feminine mind could conceive.

So heed Vox's warning well (Damnit Vox, where were you four years ago?!), and don't make my mistake. The bar for "crimes deserving punishment" is so much lower for women than we men can often conceive. They will use that power for evil.

Nate said...

Realmatt
The corp bills by the hour for her. So yes... if she's there... she's in the OR.. or handling OB. I also bill a lesser amount when she is on call but not at the hospital. So.. if she's on call all weekend long... but never gets called in... she still made X per hour all weekend long.

So basically we're talking NFL money for 30 hours a week.

Can't complain.

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