The Debit Card Wars

I don’t know how other marriages work, because I’ve only had the one, but from what I can gather one person usually takes care of the financial stuff like bills. For my husband Roy and me, that responsibility falls on my shoulders. And to be clear, I don’t mind, but recently Roy has been making it difficult for me, costing me a great deal of time, forcing me to sort through an array of charges put on the wrong accounts. Oh gee… fun.

You see our finances are straight-forward enough, and I imagine our setup is similar to a lot of other two-income households. Roy is Income A and I am Income B. We both have our personal/individual accounts. Then we have a joint checking and joint savings. As much as we both joke, we don’t have a “What’s his is mine, what’s mine is mine” scenario. Roy has his own savings, checking and credit accounts as do I. And we both put the appropriate percentages of our income into the joint checking and savings accounts each month.

It’s simple really: anything for the household like groceries, household items, pet stuff, bills etc. come from the joint account. Anything personal – like if I want to get a latte somewhere or if Roy wants to eat out for lunch, as well as gifts for each other come out of our personal accounts.

But lately, Roy has been rotating cards like crazy. He’ll put joint items on his personal checking, savings and two credit accounts. He’ll put a personal purchase on the joint. It’s maddening. Because each week as I do an assessment of all the accounts and make sure everything is on the up-and-up, I see these purchases and have to tally them all up across four different accounts, and then I “refund” Roy’s personal checking the amount because he has paid what he owes the joint for that month. (I used to just have it go towards a credit for the next month, but it becomes impossible to keep up with what’s been paid and what hasn’t because he does it so darn much.)

It drives me wild because with so many transactions on so many different accounts going this way and that… I mean if he just kept using his personal accounts for joint stuff it would be annoying, but this is constant back-and-forth math. And it’s math I shouldn’t even be doing. I shouldn’t need to.

I’ve (jokingly) threatened to take away his personal cards because he does more “joint on his personal” offenses than the other way around, but in reality this is problematic. One – I don’t want to take away or have anything to do with HIS accounts/money. They’re his – not ours. Secondly, what if he wants to surprise me, or wants to go out for lunch – you know do things that should not be on the joint account?

For months I have asked Roy to stop, but he forgets or doesn’t mean to or misunderstood, etc. I have bribed and threatened him (jokingly) and yet I wonder what would happen if I stopped joking. What if I really did confiscate said cards (or at least some of them) to cut back on how many accounts it’s affecting? Or what if I simply didn’t reimburse him? If he used a personal account for a joint purchase, then maybe that loss will make him think twice before doing it again. (I doubt it unless it was, say, our mortgage payment, but I won’t know until I try it I guess).

I know every marriage has its small yet epic battles. For example, the thermostat is probably a universal one (and yeah, that’s an ongoing thing for us too). I guess this is just one of those things that drive you crazy but you put up with it because the package/person itself is pretty awesome. And an awesome partner for life obviously is worth a little grief now and then.

So this debit card mess that I sort out each month is just a bit of the grief I’m due I guess. And that’s fine. It’s irksome not infuriating. But mark my words, I’m tempted to go old school and start a war with the debit cards. Mostly because I think it would be highly entertaining, even if it would not be all that productive.

Here is to the irksome things the ones we love do and remembering that despite these irksome things, we still love them.

-DMW

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