The Little Black Dress Gets A Checking Account And …

Dec 15, 2009 by

We shall see.

And no, this is not some major emancipation for the LBD.  We decided when we got married to have a joint account.

Let’s just say it was time.  For various reasons, like maintaining my sanity.  And before we go any farther, the LBD is demanding I note for the record she had her own checking account prior to our marriage and did just fine, thank you very much. Duly noted; at least the part about having her own checking account.

The deal is I will continue to pay “the bills,” – utilities, cable, mortgage, cell phone, insurance, emergencies and other routine monthly bills. The LBD will be taking over the “house” account.  Although I am very clear as to what that entails, I’m sure there will be discussions for some time as to what falls under said “house” account.

To me it’s the everyday monthly living expenses – groceries, gas, supplies, the dreaded “miscellaneous,” toys, stuff, stuff, stuff and non-emergencies. Part of the potential problem I foresee is in defining who pays what – as the LBD has called skin-care products “an emergency” at times, thus arguing that would fall under “the bills.”

We have reached this decision because of several factors.  For one, I like to set household budgets and actually try to stay within them.  I can tell where we stand in what category with a couple of clicks. The LBD prefers to “guesstimate,” which can add up when she keeps saying “oh, and then there was that store where I got…”

My father valiantly tried to instill into his four sons the 80-10-10 rule. Basically, save 10 percent, give 10 percent and live on the remaining 80 percent.  I, with the LBD’s help, am seriously focusing on actually doing that.  I am tired of the 135 percent, five or zero percent, and seven or zero percent rule that seems to hit most families depending on the month.

Another problem is lists.  I use a list. I write down what I need, I go to the store, I purchase said items on said list and I am done. The LBD does lists. That list will include mushrooms and four other items.  When she comes back, I will look at her incredulously and ask “you bought $400 worth of mushrooms?”  Compounding the problem is she left three things off the original list of five, and there’s still nothing for dinner.

And then there’s that joyous time when I’ve got the checkbook and Quicken updated – and the LBD has a “couple” of things to add.  And after adding those 17 debits and checks, it appears we are off budget again.

One phrase you never want to hear the LBD say is that she’s going out for just a few minutes “to pick up a couple of things.”

That actually got to be rather fun.  You do not need GPS where the Little Black Dress is concerned.  I simply log into our online banking account and track her through town – look, she’s just left Target, now it’s Hobby Lobby, next the grocery store, here’s some store I’ve never heard of, another one I’ve never heard of, the gas station …

And I always dread reconciliation time. Because there’s that one check there and that debit here and another one there that just got left out … somehow. And then Quicken asks you if you’d like to “update” your records to reflect those misses, which are always the biggest hits of the month. We’ll try making that budget next month.

And so the decision to give the Little Black Dress total control – and responsibility – of a portion of our funds.

But I will give the LBD credit. She is determined to stay on track and within budget. And when the LBD gets determined about something, it’s best to move out of the way. And dear readers, I am not without fault. I have been known to miss a debit myself. Once, six years ago.

To help her over the first few potentially rocky months, she added a “little cushion” just to make sure she didn’t overdraw.  This would be in addition to the “little cushion” we originally put in.

The bank president, who goes to our church, has promised to keep me informed if we get a little low. And all the tellers have me on speed dial. You know, just in case.

Any study will tell you money issues are one of the biggest problem areas between spouses. Often times it’s linked to the fact one is a spender and one is a saver; or they are both spenders.  Two savers don’t seem to have a money problem.

The LBD and I have always been upfront about purchases – we don’t hide big expenses from each other and always discuss big-ticket items before slaying it with the debit card. (We are totally out of credit cards)  And that helps. And I believe it’s important.

But it’s interesting to me how all the “little” things add up pretty quick.  And so I applaud the LBD for really going after those “little things.”

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ ” Matthew 25:23 NIV

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