4 Ways Couples Handle Discretionary Funds

Over the weekend I showed my wife a video of a new piece of equipment I hoped to eventually add to our home gym. The object of my desire had previously been mentioned, so she asked me why I hadn’t purchased it yet. I stated the reason was we hadn’t had a serious conversation about me spending $200. I didn’t feel comfortable making a purchase of that size without discussing it and making sure it fit into our spending plan.

Both parties in a relationship deserve to spend discretionary funds on things they want. Cooperation is required to ensure both parties are satisfied. If one person spends all the funds on themselves without consulting the other, there will be problems. What follows are a couple of different ways couples can handle this situation.


Some couples choose to allocate an allowance to each person. Discretionary funds could be split exactly in half, or some choose to give some amount to each person, and then have a third, common fund for the couple to spend together.

Yours and Mine

Not all couples integrate their finances. Some split up the bills, and whatever a person has left over after paying the agreed upon bills with their own income is theirs to do with however they’d like.

Spend Limit

Other couples set a limit of how much one can spend without discussion with the other person first. My personal opinion is this is the least desirable to me. This could enable one person to consistently eat up big chunks of the discretionary funds without any discussion.

Joint Spending Plan

Another option, and the one my wife and I use, is we plan every expenditure together. We’re both reasonable people that like to see each of us get things we want. If she wants to spend a day at the spa, or buy new clothes, we figure out a plan to make it happen. If I want a new piece of home gym equipment or a brisket to throw on the smoker, we figure it out together.

There’s more than one way for couples to handle spending of discretionary funds. Listed above are four I’ve seen in action including the one my wife and I use. However you choose to handle spending in your relationship, discuss it with your significant other, agree to try something, but also agree to be flexible if it doesn’t work.

How about you, EOD Nation? Are you in a relationship? How do you handle discretionary fund spending?

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