I wrote about budgeting nine years ago and I've been a little reluctant to write about it again: by far, it's the blog post that has attracted the most requests from people asking me to link to their blog, site, or service.

I wasn't good at budgeting then and I'm still not good at it now, although I have learned a few things in the intervening time. Those things more properly relate to accounting than budgeting (so there's the first thing: I learned the difference!). I wanted to write about some of the things I've learned since then, starting with our family's approach to pooling income.


From talking to friends about how they manage stuff, this doesn't seem to be a common approach. We pay all our income into a shared account. We agree on an amount of "play money" that we can individually spend on whatever we like, and we pay that amount to ourselves from the shared account every month. Crucially, the amount we pick is the same for each of us, irrespective of our relative incomes. All of our shared family expenses come out of the shared account.

Some of my friends, especially (exclusively) the bread-winners, find this a bit alarming. One of the things I like about it is that whichever partner earns less than the other is not disadvantaged in terms of their discretionary spending. When my wife earned less than me, and I believe structural sexism was a contributing factor to that, that impacted us both equally. When my wife was not earning a salary at all, but was doing the lion's share of bringing up our children, she has the same discretionary spend as I do. Apart from the equity of it, there's a whole class of gripes and grumbles that some of my friends have about their partner's spending habits or money management that we completely avoid.


comment 1

We do the other way around: at the beginning of the month we roughly project expenditure (it's fairly flat since the pandemic, no wild trips), round it up to the next 500 multiple, we put that money in the common account, then split the difference.

If anything out of the ordinary comes along that the common account can't cover (fairly rare), one of the two pays. The next month we add that to the common pool and the pool returns the money to the payer. Yes, it's more complicated this way, but allows us to play with CC limits. F.i., if we take a trip back to our country of origin, one covers the tickets, the other the hotel and the common account the car rental.

Comment by Marcod Dione,