It’s incredible how many times I hear of couples who squabble about their personal/household bookkeeping - you know, who pays the bills, when are they due, what is affordable, working to a budget, how much to pay off the credit card (preferably all of it) and so on. This is exacerbated if one or more of the partners runs a business.
For instance, it is a quite a 'traditional' model for a male tradesperson to have his partner 'do the books'. That is also now being seen in the reverse with so many women owning and running their own small business.
Often one partner expects the other to perform the bookkeeping tasks without considering all the facts. The second partner may not want to, for many reasons, including
(a) lack of skill
(b) lack of time
(c) lack of interest.
They either don’t get around to it, don’t do it well, or worse, detest the task so much that they become angry with their partner for putting this on them. Soon arguing pursues in earnest. Does this sound familiar?
I often work from home, and my (adult) sons often jest with me and say I sit around doing nothing all day because I’m at home. No-one seems to notice I’m up at 4,30am doing emails, then 6am putting a load of washing out, then banging away on my keyboard all day, cooking dinner and finally another hour or two in the evening.
Thankfully my kids are grown up, so there is no need to factor in changing nappies, baby feeds or bathing little ones.
If you are asking your partner to take over the bookkeeping, please consider these three things:
1. The time that person has. Even if they are “home all day”, what else are they responsible for and what other demands are in their day?
2. Their skills in the task of bookkeeping. This task is not as easy as it might sound - you need to know how to operate the accounting program and more importantly how to code all the transactions.
3. Their interest. Let’s face it, many people find bookkeeping dull, boring and very annoying. Although I enjoy it, I understand that many people do not. Before you ask your partner/spouse to do something they hate, think yourself about something you absolutely hate doing and how that makes you feel.
If you are on the receiving end of being asked to do the dreaded bookkeeping for your household think about whether you have the time, ability and desire to do it.
If it’s a no to one or more of these facets, then let your partner know. You might want to consider getting a contract bookeeper to do some of the work. A contract bookkeeper can do as much or as little as you like. If cash is tight, there might be a trade off or compromise to be found. Another option is to share the task either with one another or with external bookeepers (such as me!) to balance things off and finish it up.
You can't imagine how many couples this affects. By sorting it out, and coming to an agreement about what is done in the home and what is potentially outsourced or shared, disaster can be diverted - and possibly marriage saved!