Talking about money, even with your spouse can be difficult. Unless you have plenty of extra it’s not exactly a fun talk. But sometimes it’s certainly necessary.

My husband and I aren’t as good about this as we should be. Because of my business I do keep separate accounts, but he needs to know how mine are going, and I need to know how our personal financial situation is doing. That doesn’t always get discussed when it should.

Things have been tight for a while, which is why we need to discuss it more. We scraped by when he was laid off, kept scraping by when he got a barely adequate job, and keep trying to do better now.

Some of the coincidences have been interesting. My income went up rather suddenly when he was laid off, then plummeted the week before he started the new job. Utterly frustrating, as we would have been in a good position financially if my income had kept up, and I was still doing things the same as before. Just a most frustrating coincidence that instead the combined income was about what I had been making alone while he was laid off.

That one was pretty easy to talk about just because it was so frustrating and odd.

Plan How You Spend Your Money

Fortunately, neither of us is a really big spender as a rule. Anything out of the ordinary gets discussed.

I understand that’s a pretty common rule, actually. There’s the money spent on necessities and regular expenses, and then there’s what you can spend on your own without asking, and what you can only spend after clearing it with your spouse.

It’s not a bad system if you follow it carefully. Failing to discuss things can lead to quite a bit of frustration for both of you.

Don’t Worry About Who’s the Breadwinner

While just now my husband out earns me, he knows my stated goal for my business in part is to heavily out earn him. He likes that goal, even though the last time I managed it, it also made him feel a bit insecure.

It’s hard for a man to not be the breadwinner in some ways. Despite the common expectation that both spouses will work, there’s still the idea that the man more often earns more.

Add in that my income comes from working at home, and I can see where it’s both a point of pride for him when I earn well and just a touch awkward. It’s the conflict between knowing it doesn’t matter, and how you were taught to view the world growing up.

The trick can be getting to where it genuinely doesn’t matter who the breadwinner is. The money belongs to the both of you, not just to whoever earns it.

That can be hard on the one who earns more, as there can be the feeling of “I earned it, I can spend it as I like.” But if you’re really a team, in my opinion, that’s not the way it should be.

It’s always important to know where your family stands financially. It’s stressful when you know you’re behind, but better than not knowing and being caught by surprise. And if times are good, so much the better.

Take some time and make sure you know how your family is doing financially.