Should Couples Get An Allowance to Keep Finances on Track?

by Tamila McDonald
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Should Couples Get an Allowance

When people think about allowances, they usually focus on the money given to children to reward them for completing chores and teach them solid money habits. However, that doesn’t mean allowances can be great tools for couples. Particularly those who want to keep their finances on track while maintaining a bit of spending freedom. Now, this doesn’t mean allowances are ideal for every couple. It just means that they could be a reasonable solution in some situations. If you’re wondering whether couples should get an allowance. Here’s what you need to consider.

The Benefits of an Allowance

Balancing Independence and Financial Control

Most adults have non-necessities that they’d like to spend money on from time to time. Whether it’s a small, personal treat, an extravagant purchase, or gifts for their partner. Having the ability to spend some cash can be invigorating.

The issue is, when the spending is happening unchecked. It can wreak havoc on a couple’s budget. This is particularly true if both partners have a tendency toward unplanned spending on occasion and don’t discuss purchases with each other in advance. Even small items can add up fast. Thus, potentially derailing the couple’s financial plan entirely.

With an allowance, you can create a sense of balance. Both partners receive a specific amount of money that they can use however they please. Since the cash is theirs to use, it gives them a degree of independence. However, since the amount of money is limited, it comes with a level of control. Unplanned spending can’t get out of hand, as it’s restricted based on the amount set for the allowance.

Couples can also choose to set their money aside for larger purchases. If there is something expensive that they want, their allowance can be put toward that cost. Essentially, it can serve as a savings vehicle, allowing them to set money aside without impacting the rest of the household’s budget.

In many cases, that makes an allowance an excellent option for providing some level of financial freedom while ensuring household concerns are addressed. However, that doesn’t mean everyone appreciates the approach.

Increased Spending Privacy

There are plenty of legitimate times when a bit of spending privacy is desirable. One prime example is when a person is purchasing a surprise gift for their partner, and they want to make sure it isn’t discovered too early. If it’s bought from a shared account, there’s a chance their partner will see the purchase before the big reveal. If there’s an allowance involved, that scenario is entirely avoidable.

Essentially, allowances give couples the ability to have separate cash stashes that aren’t reviewed by their partner. It creates opportunities for surprises that are hard to set up otherwise, which could make them a great option for couples who enjoy a bit of the unexpected.

The Drawbacks of an Allowance

Hidden Unhealthy Habits

While allowances can create privacy in a positive way, it also means that certain unhealthy activities may go unnoticed. For example, it could make a gambling, drug, or shopping addiction less obvious initially, as one partner isn’t aware of how the others spending patterns until they begin impacting the household budget. As a result, the situation could develop further than it would have otherwise, making it harder to manage the behavior once it is discovered.

Intentional Control or Manipulation

Giving one partner an allowance can be a form of control and manipulation, particularly in households where one partner significantly outearns the other, or there are notable financial inequities. It enables one person to force limitations on their partner, potentially with the intent of causing harm.

Financial abuse is typically accompanied by other forms, such as physical and emotional abuse. However, if the goal of the allowance is to reduce or eliminate financial self-sufficiency, it’s a red flag regardless of what else is occurring within the relationship. This is particularly true if one partner is also taking control of the financial accounts and restricting the other’s access.

How Allowances May Be Interpreted

At times, allowances may be viewed as a restriction, not a form of freedom. Some interpret allowances as an insult, believing that their partner views them as too immature to act wisely without the limitation an allowance creates. As a result, this can lead to frustration, hostility, or undesirable behavior, like hiding purchases used with household funds.

If an allowance is being imposed only on the partner that isn’t the main breadwinner, it could also be interpreted poorly. It may seem like a comment on their value or trustworthiness, or that the primary earner feels they have more financial rights due to their position in the relationship.

Ultimately, these are all points couples need to discuss openly and honestly. That way, each partner can gauge the other’s perspective, making it easier to determine if an allowance is the right way to keep their finances on track.

Do you think that allowances are a good move for keeping a couple’s finances on track? Why or why not? Have you tried the allowance approach and want to discuss your experience? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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