husbands and the cost of homeschooling - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 20 Old 08-07-2010, 11:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I feel like I'm always having to defend my homeschooling purchases to my husband. I have to ask several times before he will grudgingly agree to a purchase. Most of the time I end up scrimping somewhere in the household budget and using that money to make the purchase. It seems like he views educational purchases as my personal extravagances. So far I have had enough in my budget to buy everything the kids need and some of the things we would like but it's getting more and more difficult. It always seems to involve my not having a penny for myself during the months I need to make school purchases which becomes stressful, especially if I need something like new clothes.

I'm wondering how other families with one income handle the cost of homeschooling and school purchases. Right now we don't have a set budget but I'm thinking of proposing one, perhaps a quarterly or monthly amount which I am free to spend as I see fit. It's really having to get purchases 'approved' that is getting to me. If I think it's important to buy a membership to the zoo so we can go all year or if I feel that the art curriculum I bought needs drawing pencils to go with it then I should be able to make those purchases without having to justify them. I'm the one doing 90% of the schooling and nearly 100% of the planning and purchasing.

What would be a reasonable amount to ask for? What should count as a school expense? Should it be a set dollar amount or a percentage of income? We homeschool our two oldest, who are 4.5 and almost 6 (preschool/kindergarten for the younger and first grade for the older). Our 'definitely a school expense' costs for both kids last year were about $350 for curriculum and supplies. Our 'sort of a school expense' costs were about another $500 for museum trips, books, fine arts supplies, and so on. Most of this was funded via my household budget. I should note that we have plenty of money for this and my husband, while thrifty, does buy himself things things he needs and/or wants without too much concern over the cost.
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#2 of 20 Old 08-07-2010, 11:56 PM
 
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What would happen if you stopped asking for permission and instead let him find out about your purchases the same way you find out about his (whether he tells you outright, or you find out another way)?

I was drifting into a situation sort of like you described, and changing my behavior fixed it. I don't spend extravagantly, but I don't act like I have less right to spend than my husband does.

If your husband only gives you access to money after he's approved the purchase, that's an entirely different problem.
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#3 of 20 Old 08-08-2010, 12:02 AM
 
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Nope, my husband never questions any money that I spend, so I can spend or pay for whatever I want. Now, obviously if we are tight on money, I won't spend more than I need to, but he would never begrudge me a book purchase, museum membership or field trip cost, ever.

It sounds to me as if you and your husband have a very different way of going about finances than we do.
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#4 of 20 Old 08-08-2010, 12:10 AM
 
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I understand the feelings you have about having to ask permission. I think it's a tricky dynamic to navigate having one income and that same person managing the finances. My dh is not controlling in the least, but he is very thrifty and he doesn't value the same things I do. It's just a male/female difference for the most part. My dh does NOT appreciate that I spend $4 on a starbucks from time to time and I do NOT appreciate having to defend the purchase! We had to come up with a way for me to have some financial independence so I could feel like a big girl! Would your dh be amenable to you having an "allowance" of sorts? A set amount transferred to your account or cash given to you each pay day? And this would be for you to make school purchases, clothing, recreation, etc. This is what we have done and it is working great. My dh has agreed that this money is mine to do as I please. For me, it's my recreation money (night out with the girls, or a coffee), it's also for kids upkeep (clothing, school needs, recreation.) I do not have to tell him how much something costs or justify it in any way. He knows that I do not make foolish purchases and once he gives me the money, he doesn't think about it again. I can choose to blow it as soon as I get it or save it for a bigger purchase later.

This is just our first year homeschooling, so I can't give an opinion on what's reasonable, but it sounds like you have been making reasonable spending decisions thus far, so just come up with a reasonable amount and stick with it.

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#5 of 20 Old 08-08-2010, 01:08 AM
 
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Wow, my marriage is very different, I guess. When quit working to homeschool the kids, the assumption was that his income is our money. We use our money to meet the needs of our family--including bills, groceries, education, shelter, clothing. Perhaps the difference is that, while he earns the money, I pay the bills and we manage our finances together (investments, allocation of extra money, vacation decisions are all made by the two of us together.)

In any case, given what you said your expenses were last year, I would tell him that you need $2000 for the year for homeschool expenses only. This is because, though your kids are young, this year you may need to start buying more expensive materials for your oldest. If he balks at that, remind him that daycare alone would be $1000 per month at a minimum. And the older child would pay $8000 or more per year to go to private school--where he would not get the kind of individualized attention and custom tailored education that he gets with you.
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#6 of 20 Old 08-08-2010, 01:27 AM - Thread Starter
 
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zeldamomma-
I could just stop asking before purchases. This is what happens when I use 'my own money', it's just that my household budget isn't really covering expenses anymore. If I were to order something with his debit card he would find out about it when his bank account didn't seem right, not something I want to do to him. We don't use credit cards for anything except emergencies and have rarely had a need to. If either of us wants to buy anything it is paid for in cash, in my case it comes out of my household budget and in his case it comes out of his bank account.

grace and granola-
I do currently have a cash allowance. It used to be a direct deposit into a bank account then we moved and couldn't find a bank that was fee free and it didn't make sense to pay $40 per month to put cash into the account so I no longer have my own account. The issue I have is that this money covers household expenses only with a couple hundred dollars left over for everything else. Increasingly that 'everything else' has come to include school expenses which, after curriculum/field trips/supplies/books/etc., means I'm left with next to nothing. If I need new clothes because nothing fits after having a baby or want to have my hair cut for the first time in a year I have to ask for more money which leads to questions about where all that money for the month went or I have to not buy the school things that I feel are needed. It always seems like my household allowance is supposed to magically stretch to pay for everything that is not a set bill, maybe I need to to just ask for a 'raise'. I don't think he realizes just how much is costs to run a household of five (and soon six) people. I even showed him that my food budget is less than what a family our size would receive if he didn't have an income and we were on food stamps but it didn't seem to motivate him to increase the allowance.
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#7 of 20 Old 08-08-2010, 01:34 AM
 
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If he's unwilling to adjust the budget to cover school expenses and give you your own money (an equal amount to his own money) then I would say counseling is in order. It's one thing to ask that you make joint decisions on major expenses, but not on colored pencils.

BTW, my husband never questions what I spend money on.

He did ask me what the heartburn prevention medication was for (after his father died of a heart attack at 47, his mother found tons of tums in his work coats.) The medication is for our old dog to take when she gets her prednisone. I think he was relieved it was for the dog and not me.

Created an instant family (7/89 and 5/91) in 1997. Made a baby boy 12/05 adopted a baby girl 8/08. Ask me about tandem adoptive nursing. Now living as gluten, dairy, cane sugar, and tomato free vegetarians. Homeschooling and loving it.

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#8 of 20 Old 08-08-2010, 04:17 AM
 
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Originally Posted by elus0814 View Post
The issue I have is that this money covers household expenses only with a couple hundred dollars left over for everything else. Increasingly that 'everything else' has come to include school expenses which, after curriculum/field trips/supplies/books/etc., means I'm left with next to nothing. If I need new clothes because nothing fits after having a baby or want to have my hair cut for the first time in a year I have to ask for more money which leads to questions about where all that money for the month went or I have to not buy the school things that I feel are needed.
Can you not just tell him you need an extra $100 a month (as an example) to cover increasing costs for household expenses?

We are a single income family but I do the bulk of the money management. We each get some mad money but like Laura said the overall approach is that it is the family money to meet the family's needs.

It sounds like it might be time for a heart to heart with your husband about practical and philosophical issues around money.

Good luck to you.
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#9 of 20 Old 08-08-2010, 09:37 AM
 
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We have a specific budget for homeschooling expenses. We have it transferred to a separate account (online savings account with ING Direct) on a monthly basis so it's always there when needed.

In our case, we genuinely couldn't afford as much as I wanted to spend on homeschooling stuff, so I got a very part-time work-at-home job to cover the difference. That solution works well for us, because it means we can now afford things we really couldn't manage before, like a swimming pool membership for the whole family for the coming year.

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#10 of 20 Old 08-08-2010, 09:59 AM
 
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Wow, my marriage is very different, I guess. When quit working to homeschool the kids, the assumption was that his income is our money. We use our money to meet the needs of our family--including bills, groceries, education, shelter, clothing. Perhaps the difference is that, while he earns the money, I pay the bills and we manage our finances together (investments, allocation of extra money, vacation decisions are all made by the two of us together.)

In any case, given what you said your expenses were last year, I would tell him that you need $2000 for the year for homeschool expenses only. This is because, though your kids are young, this year you may need to start buying more expensive materials for your oldest. If he balks at that, remind him that daycare alone would be $1000 per month at a minimum. And the older child would pay $8000 or more per year to go to private school--where he would not get the kind of individualized attention and custom tailored education that he gets with you.
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Yes, this.

And please let me give you a different perspective. I don't know that it's "asking permission". For us, we have a good income level, but if I went out and spend $500 a year on museum trips without talking to him abou tit, he would probably have a coronary. I don't have to ask permission for school purchases...but since it is OUR money, I do have to run by purchases that might be extra. It's just good communication. What if he had that money set aside in the budget for a repair to his car, oil changes (which run us well over $100 every 2 months because of how much we drive), or family holiday/birthday gifts, but then he went to check the account, and there was another huge school charge on it? I'd be frustrated too!

I think what needs to happen is a) ask for a budget to be set which includes a certain amount each month that can go to schooling--if you don't use it that month, it carries over. and b) lay out the costs of what you want to do each semester, and then financially plan for it accordingly. If you want to spend $500 on musum trips over a year, divide the cost by 12 and save up that amount each month. And communicate!!! It has to be frustrating to "ask permission", but you're not really doing that. Just as both people have the right to know the cost of the electric bill and food costs, both people have the right to know about the education costs.

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#11 of 20 Old 08-08-2010, 10:33 AM
 
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zeldamomma-
I could just stop asking before purchases. This is what happens when I use 'my own money', it's just that my household budget isn't really covering expenses anymore. If I were to order something with his debit card he would find out about it when his bank account didn't seem right, not something I want to do to him. We don't use credit cards for anything except emergencies and have rarely had a need to. If either of us wants to buy anything it is paid for in cash, in my case it comes out of my household budget and in his case it comes out of his bank account.

grace and granola-
I do currently have a cash allowance. It used to be a direct deposit into a bank account then we moved and couldn't find a bank that was fee free and it didn't make sense to pay $40 per month to put cash into the account so I no longer have my own account. The issue I have is that this money covers household expenses only with a couple hundred dollars left over for everything else. Increasingly that 'everything else' has come to include school expenses which, after curriculum/field trips/supplies/books/etc., means I'm left with next to nothing. If I need new clothes because nothing fits after having a baby or want to have my hair cut for the first time in a year I have to ask for more money which leads to questions about where all that money for the month went or I have to not buy the school things that I feel are needed. It always seems like my household allowance is supposed to magically stretch to pay for everything that is not a set bill, maybe I need to to just ask for a 'raise'. I don't think he realizes just how much is costs to run a household of five (and soon six) people. I even showed him that my food budget is less than what a family our size would receive if he didn't have an income and we were on food stamps but it didn't seem to motivate him to increase the allowance.
Yes, ask for a raise! Your family is growing and needs have changed. Cost of living increase?

Oh, and just an interesting tidbit a picked up yesterday, at our local public school system, the average cost they spend per child per year is $4000!! So, let your husband know that even at the average PS, they would have that much money allocated to their education...each!

Heather-- I'm a <>< SAHM of two fabulous boys 8/05 and 2/07
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#12 of 20 Old 08-08-2010, 10:33 AM
 
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well, i'm over our finances, so i buy stuff if and when we have the extra money. i also constantly sell stuff, so i use that money as i see fit too. my husband doesn't care though. he has his own hobbies and obsessions. for him it's music. for me it's books. as long as we have it to spend and are being reasonable, it's no big deal (honestly, my wants from my amazon wishlist are a lot cheaper than his wants anyway). when i make a big purchase (with our tax return), i do give him a heads-up of what i plan to spend. he shows me the same courtesy.

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#13 of 20 Old 08-08-2010, 12:08 PM
 
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zeldamomma-
I could just stop asking before purchases. This is what happens when I use 'my own money', it's just that my household budget isn't really covering expenses anymore. If I were to order something with his debit card he would find out about it when his bank account didn't seem right, not something I want to do to him. We don't use credit cards for anything except emergencies and have rarely had a need to. If either of us wants to buy anything it is paid for in cash, in my case it comes out of my household budget and in his case it comes out of his bank account.
You can inform him without asking permission. If he starts making you feel like you need permission to buy colored pencils, I would point out the absurdity of it when he starts doing it. Explaining that the household budget isn't covering everything is also an important conversation, but if he's got you feeling like you don't have an equal right to the family money, that's a bigger issue, IMO.
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#14 of 20 Old 08-08-2010, 03:14 PM
 
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That is one area that my dh could care less about. He knows i am good with finances (I do all the bills and manage the checking account) I also shop for bargains and get the best possible sale items, homeschool items included. I don't know how a dh could be supportive of homeschooling and not realize that it will cost some money...I also think that for 2 lo's 2000$ sounds good to me. Are they taking any classes at the gym or anything? That stuff adds up, partly why we haven't begun to put ds in any classes yet, but remember those aren't just for homeschoolers, there are plenty of public schoolers in soccer and swim lessons, although they can still count for homeschool, just point that out to your dh, that a lot of the extra activities will cost extra money, and have a set amount for books/supplies and then another for museums, dance class etc...

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#15 of 20 Old 08-08-2010, 04:57 PM
 
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Ok, some thoughts that struck me are:

1. You seem like you are trying very hard to keep stress on your dh to a minimum, and I totally understand that. When I stopped working while pregnant with ds1, I was trying to spend as close to zero as possible.

2. Now, I realize that as the person who takes care of the household and does all of the food/home/kids shopping, it is part of my job to spend $$.

3. So, in order to keep a realistic budget, I have decided to set up a monthly amount in following categories:

Food
Supplements/vitamins
Household (cleaning, kitchen, soaps/detergent, equipment for the home)
Personal (DH and mine are the same amount)
Kids (this covers activites, education, clothing, birthday party gifts for friends, sports equipment)
Family entertainment (dinners out, potlucks, bbqs with friends, movies, go cart racing, whatever)

We both agreed to above expenses, and kid's category covers ongoing expenses (replacing art supplies, buying more toner/paper, signing up for a cool class, buying some books), but I also have a yearly homeschool budget in addition for major/bulk ordering costs that I do 2xs per year (this includes things like toner, printer paper, folders, but also globes, microscope, reference books, etc).

You dh may just be stressed about finances. I know mine was grateful I made this budget so he would know exactly how much he needs to make every month to cover us.

He already has a good grip on the fixed expenses (utilities, gas, insurances, prop tax, mortg, etc). But the above expenses were hard to estimate on any given month.

I will say that I was extremely realistic and budgeted to cover our needs if they all happened at once (kids go to 4 birthday parties and we have flag football sign-ups in the same month, for example). It has happened and I was to be prepared.

I will also say that I agree with the pp who said that spending $$ on dc education is a necessity- you would have to spend a lot more if they were in private, or preschool. You'd also have to spend $$ if they were in public school, as they require parents to purchase supplies, pay for field trips, etc. Not to mention additional clothing because in that environment, clothing is a whole other issue.

HTH!
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#16 of 20 Old 08-08-2010, 08:13 PM
 
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We have had to deal with some of the same types of issues. It's not so much that dh felt I should "pre-approve" the expenses with him in terms of "getting permission" but he is the one who does all the bill paying and often we would not be communicating on what "extras" either one of us needed to spend money on so it could happen that in the same month I had to drop a ton of money for more supplies, he also had to go out and buy some new clothes and since we weren't communicating on that (or, in his mind, since I wasn't communicating with him, since he is the one who pays the bills and was mentally keeping track of how much money we could expect to spend) we sometimes ended up short.

FWIW, I have foregone new clothes and stuff too in order to be able to spend the money on stuff for homeschooling and not have our bills be any higher than necessary. I decided to skip buying new clothes this summer, for example, even though I really needed them.

Finally, I don't know if this sounds "sneaky" or not, but we have always grocery shopped at places like super Wal-Mart or now Meijer which sells more than just food. So if we needed some new, for example, crayons that week, it got rolled into the food budget so when dh saw the bills he didn't see "you went to the craft store and spent extra money there" he just saw "grocery shopping".

HTH
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#17 of 20 Old 08-09-2010, 02:21 AM
 
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All major purchase decisions are made as a couple. DH sits down and looks at things I want to get and gives his opinion. Since Im going to be the one with the bulk of the responsibilities when it comes to homeschooling (mine are young so we don't do anything formal yet) the final decision ends up being mine. I can't imagine us not coming up with a compromise though, its never happened before.
As for the "little things" like crayons, paints, zoo trips etc I can't imagine him getting upset with me. Our budget is TIGHT though so if I know its close Ill talk to him about whether it would be better to wait until the next month for that item. Usually he finds a way to get what we need for the girls even if its doing without himself. Hes great at making sure the girls have everything they might need before getting what he might want. But like I said, our budget is tight, 20 dollars for a zoo trip some months means not having enough money for specific lunch food (DH doesn't like taking leftovers since they no longer have a microwave and he doesn't like leftovers cold) so I really think in the end that needs to have equal say. If our budget wasn't tight then I don't see him even batting an eye at any purchase I made. In fact we are praying he gets promoted next month and he already said 1/3rd of his raise he wants to put aside for girl's school supplies so I no longer have to feel like I need to squeeze them in somewhere.

ETA: I do have to mention that whenever either of us worry about supply costs we just have to think about the cost of sending our kids to preschool. Its pretty typically out here to start sending your child around 18months-2 years old so most families would have both our girls in preschool. That would be between 400-600/month plus supplies per child (so 9600-14400 plus supplies per year). I think to totally set up what I got for the girls this year I spent around 500 (that includes family memberships to the 2 zoos, the botanical gardens and the aquarium around here), Ill probably spend another 200 on art supplies and other consumables as the year goes on. So what I spend doesn't seem like much when you calcuate what I would spend on sending them to a preschool where they would get a whole lot less one on one interaction.

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#18 of 20 Old 08-09-2010, 11:05 AM
 
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If we were not doing a state cyber school, I would make my curric based on the library and free materials available. (Our small local library, for instance, has "scope and sequence" books for most grade levels, has some text books, has a number of "how to teach" books, and has plenty of material that would be great for a literature based curriculum. They also have a "learning library" to loan out educational materials and games) There is a *ton* of stuff out there available, if you're able to organize. The main cost there would be printing (worksheets, etc).

Like someone else mentioned, stuff like crayons, markers, rulers, is bought occasionally and just rolled into the grocery budget. If I find good items deeply discounted, $15 here or there is no biggie either.

But we are a one-income family, and a low income at that. So it's reasonable to be cautious about spending and I personally think that it is possible to home-educate and do it *well* for free or nearly free during the elementary years.

ETA: I think good communication is key. It's just not a good idea to have two people sharing money, but not keeping in touch about what's being spent, and on what. If he doesn't understand that the money available for "household needs" is not enough, then that would be a good sign that you need to keep close tabs on what you're spending and where, so that you can show it to him on paper. "This is why X amount of money doesn't cover what we need". Of course, when keeping track of every penny, a lot of people find that they are impulse buying, or over spending, so whichever way it goes, it will be a good habit to get started.
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#19 of 20 Old 08-09-2010, 11:38 AM
 
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I'm wondering how other families with one income handle the cost of homeschooling and school purchases.
What would be a reasonable amount to ask for? What should count as a school expense? .
We spend close to nothing on textbooks and the like. I like to get free stuff online and through the library. I will often try a cheaper alternative when it comes to textbooks first. Ex - if I want a certain thing for my kids, I will research it well and then try the cheapest option that will fit the bill. A $200 book is not automatically more valuable than a $30 one. I spend most of our money on activities and lessons. I think it is fairly easy to supply at-home resources on the cheap.

As per the spending, I do it the way we have always done it. If the item cost is low, I just go for it. Dh does the same thing. If it is high, we discuss it ahead of time. What constitutes low and high depends somewhat on income level. For us it is about $200. I would not be happy if I had to justify every little expense - I am an adult and I can spend money as I see fit. I trust him to do the same, and for both of us to keep the reality of our income, expenses and goals in mind when purchasing.

As per a reasonable amount to ask for - I do not like the words to ask for). I would reframe it to a reasonable amount that you both agree on.

Given your expenses last year, I would probably want about $1000 for September-June. I would want it in a lump sum - 2 if it is financially easier. Alternately, you could just keep track of the money and agree to back off on the purchasing if you get near the $1000 mark.
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#20 of 20 Old 08-09-2010, 01:21 PM
 
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elus0814 - it sounds to me like you have similar dynamic to my DH and I with the money. I buy and then he gives me crap about it afterwards. But the funny thing is, he will often say he believes I spend our money well and am careful with it, and once I point it out to him that he is giving me crap he stops. My DH somehow likes the debate of things and/or he feels it important to know where every penny has gone from our house, so it isn't that he MINDS that I'd buy the pencils, it's that he needs to know that that particular money went to pencils for school, if that makes any sense. From the way he talks about it and asks, *I* imply that he doesn't like it, but when I actually call him on that he steps back and is really clear that it doesn't bother him, he's just trying to get it all itemized and understood.

SO, I think it might help with your DH if you find a way to break the dynamic. Find a peaceful way to help him realize that the way he talks about your spending makes you feel bad. I don't have it all figured out yet, but I do know that having my own account helps me feel a freedom with money that I need. "My account" is really ours as much as our family account, but for me it allows me to make the purchases I want to make without having to discuss every little pencil with DH, and somehow he is able to not feel the need to know about every little pencil in "my account", whereas he has some sort of compulsion to know it all in our family account.

Since it costs too much for a local account for you, what about something like ING? Online banking with no fees and no minimum balance. Somewhere your "allowance" can go... And I think I'd also ask for a raise to have more wiggle room in your "extras" budget (although, personally, we spend way less than that).

Tjej
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