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Should a Non-Working Spouse Receive a Stipend?

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?

Renee

Monday 12th of April 2010

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.

Anonymous

Friday 9th of April 2010

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".

One Frugal Girl

Thursday 8th of April 2010

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.

pharmboy

Thursday 8th of April 2010

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.

Abigail

Wednesday 7th of April 2010

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.