Should a Non-Working Spouse Receive a Stipend?

April 7, 2010 at 3:05 AM 9 comments

A sixty year old woman I know is considering retiring. She is experiencing a number of physical ailments as a result of her current employment and her physician believes she must stop performing repetitive tasks in order for her condition to improve.

She won’t receive a pension or any other form of compensation once she leaves her job. Her husband is already retired and receives a moderate pension every month. The woman really wants to quit her job, but she is sad to give up her paycheck. Although she lives extremely frugally, she like everyone else, still spends money.

She feels strange asking her husband for money and is considering a monetary arrangement whereby her husband will transfer a small amount of money from their joint account into an account she holds solely in her name.

She asked for my opinion and I had to admit that I wasn’t sure what I would do in this situation. So what do you think? Do you think this arrangement makes sense? If you or your spouse or significant other wasn’t working how would you arrange your finances? Would you consider paying a stipend to the non-working spouse?

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9 Comments Add your own

  • 1. mrs_clink  |  April 7, 2010 at 3:39 AM

    Our situation is similar (although, I am not retired, I am a stay at home mom). I left my career 2 years ago when I was pregnant with our second child. The similar part is that my husband transfers a certain amount of money to my checking account monthly that is mine to spend however I see fit. We have other accounts for household expenses, bills and savings that we both have access to but I still maintain my own account with money that he gives me. We jokingly call it my 'paycheck' for all the hard work I do around the house and with our kids :) I have a female friend who thinks our situation is atrocious and demeaning.. I don't see it that way. My husband doesn't want me to have to ask for money for non-essentials like lunch with friends. etc… he doesn't have to discuss those things with me! So, we both have set amounts of 'misc.' money in our budget and mine gets transferred to my account. Any regular expenses come out of other accounts (doctors copays, groceries, bills, etc).

    MC

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  • 2. Jessica  |  April 7, 2010 at 12:31 PM

    Absolutely–this doesn't even require any thought from me. Just because one individual is not drawing an income outside of the house, why aren't they entitled to have a little discretionary money? My husband and I both work, but each receive a monthly 'allowance' to spend on personal needs/wants (haircuts, clothes, lunches, hobbies, etc.), and while the amount has fluctuated depending on our economic situation (I have taken 3 maternity leaves with some un-paid time), that allowance has always been a priority in our budget. I

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  • 3. Liz  |  April 7, 2010 at 4:18 PM

    I have friends in a similar circumstance… she works and he's been laid off for about 18 months. She transfers money into his account at each payday, so that he can pay his bills and have spending money without having to ask for money – which seems to me would be more demeaning than the arrangment they have worked out!

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  • 4. Alison@This Wasn't In The Plan  |  April 7, 2010 at 5:31 PM

    Of course! I can understand her not wanting to ask for the money, so that arrangement seems like it would work well.

    I'm the non-working spouse in my relationship (I stay home with the kids) and though we don't have separate accounts, I have just as much access to the account as my husband does and do not need to ask for money.

    Having to ask for money seems to imply that the money belongs to one spouse and not the other and I don't think that should be the way it is in any marriage.

    Reply
  • 5. Abigail  |  April 7, 2010 at 8:20 PM

    Like the others, I didn't even hesitate. The answer is a resounding "Yes!"

    When you're married, it's "our" money. It's one thing if both people are working, but if that isn't the case, it really should be shared.

    Also, if she's that frail health-wise, she should start a disability claim. Once she's been denied the first time — almost everyone is — she can get a lawyer to help her.

    She won't have much money right away. However, it will pay back-payments once she is accepted.

    Reply
  • 6. pharmboy  |  April 8, 2010 at 3:18 AM

    I can't imagine "paying" my wife a stipend. We combined all of our money after we married, and I can't imagine anything else. My wife stays home with our 4-month old son, and even though she has averaged two hours of work PER MONTH she has complete access to all the money and now that she has more free time she's actually "in charge" of paying bills and balancing Quicken. We're a team, and we love it.

    Reply
  • 7. One Frugal Girl  |  April 8, 2010 at 3:36 AM

    Thanks for all of the comments.

    My initial thoughts were similar to pharmboy's, because my husband and I maintain all of our money jointly. We don't have separate accounts now, so it seems a bit strange to think we'd have separate accounts if one of us wasn't working.

    Honestly, we haven't faced this issue yet, though we might if we are lucky enough to be blessed with children. Since we haven't encountered it I hadn't given it much thought so I thank you all for your comments, which were extremely insightful.

    After reading your comments I can completely understand the desire to maintain a small account for discretionary expenses that the working-spouse subsidizes. I can understand why the non-working spouse would feel uncomfortable asking the working-spouse for money and I think if a separate, subsidized account suits both partners needs, then it is a solution worth considering.

    I forwarded all of your comments on to the sixty year old woman I know and she is now feeling much more comfortable with the idea. She plans to present it to her husband shortly.

    Reply
  • 8. Anonymous  |  April 9, 2010 at 1:55 AM

    My husband and I don't have "Yours" "Mine" "Ours" money. It's all "Our" money. From that we each get paid an allowance based on our needs. The rest go to bills and savings. He gets more money per month than I for the simple reason that he goes out to eat more during the week. I understand that it would be difficult for a couple that has gone for decades with "Yours" and "Mine" money to make the transition to "Ours".

    Reply
  • 9. Renee  |  April 12, 2010 at 1:57 AM

    Yes. Until a few weeks ago I have been a stay-at-home mom. My husband's paycheck goes into the household account. We both get a monthly allowance or spending cash which we can spend as we please – no questions asked. We spend it on hobbies and going out with our own friends (like moms night out.)It is the same amount for each of us. The rest of the money goes into the household account. His job is to make the money. Mine is to make it stretch as far as possible. We have "our" money and then our own allowances.

    Reply

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