The other day, we overheard an FOF say she gets a monthly allowance from her husband...we also know FOFs who enforce monthly spending limits on their spouses. It made us wonder -- just how many of you get or give an allowance? Take our poll, then find out what financial expert, Elle Kaplan
, thinks. (Elle is a financial advisor who specializes in helping FOFs manage their money.)
Financial expert Elle Kaplan
FOF: Do you think setting an allowance is a good way to protect a couple's finances?
Elle: Marriages are complex, so what works in one marriage may not work in another and I don't judge that. What I would say is whether you are the recipient of an allowance or a provider of the allowance it is your financial responsibility to know about the entire
financial picture. I don't care if you are spending 5% of it, as long as you have active awareness of where the other 95% of it is. I encourage and even insist that both parties participate in financial conversations.
FOF: Why is that?
Elle: It's not a place where you can just leave it up to your partner. I've seen this happen, then tragedy strikes and all of a sudden your partner's not there. Life will be hard enough with heartache and grief, you don't want to add this to the tragedy to-do list, you really don't.
FOF: What if you're worried that your partner's spending will have detrimental effects on your family finances?
Elle: Honesty about finances is important. Often you and your partner will have different spending styles and that's fine. Even though the spending will be different, your ultimate financial goals are going to be the same. No matter what you're spending or whether you're the giver or receiver of allowance, you can help to get on the same page about these goals by being honest and transparent about your finances.
FOF: Is there an approach you suggest, other than setting spending limits, to help curtail a partner's spending?
Elle: There's nothing wrong with what I call the 'Ménage
' approach to spending, where there's 'his' money and 'her' money and 'our' money. The key is transparency; you should both know how to access everything.
FOF: Do you have clients in happy, trusting marriages who set spending limits on each other?
Elle: I've seen it work quite well when couples have a baseline understanding about what's reasonable to spend. That doesn't mean a wife is calling her husband every time she makes a purchase saying, 'This is $300, can I buy it?' or visa versa. Instead, they might have set amount, say $500, that before either of them spend they will have a discussion about it. But below that amount they have the trust and ability to do what they like.
Elle Kaplan is the Founding Partner and CEO of Lexion Capital Management. Elle provides a broad range of wealth and risk management advice to individuals, foundations, trusts, and endowments.