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Featuring Spice! -- The PolyFamily Web Comic

Polyamory for the Practical

How to Make the Best of a Crassly Materialistic World

Poly people deal with a lot of issues, but this site is mostly devoted to actually making a poly family work.

One of the biggest issues in any marriage is money. Couples fight about it all the time, so why should a poly family be any different?

First things, first. I know this is going to sound annoying to the free spirit, the type that bucks "The System" and enters into a poly marriage in the first place, but guys, you've got to have a budget.

No, you're not different. you need a budget, too!

Matter of fact, in theory, you can get by as a monogamous couple without one... (Well, maybe you could. I was married nine and a half years as half of a couple and I can tell you, before we did the budget thing, we wound up sinking down about half our income into debt). A poly family without a budget? Forget it! You've got three or more people, all with their own tastes, ideas and ways to achieve goals. You need a plan.

In our particular quad, while our husbands are quite skilled at earning money (kisses to The Prince and The Beast), they're not financial planners. Now, that's okay. I'm a hell of a planner and my wife is fantastic at making sure any plan is followed. So, since the men aren't really financial wizards, we leave them out of all that mess, right?

No, we don't. We really like being married and want to stay that way. Besides, what if we both got hit by a truck or something? Who would continue saving for the kids' college educations?

What we do is treat it more like a larger organization. I use financial software. ( Quicken , as it happens). Most of these programs make it possible to print out reports by just about any block of time you'd care to name. We go over the finances monthly, since most of our bills only occur once a month.

There are many ways to set up finances in a poly family. Some people like to set up separate accounts for each person and make each member responsible for a certain set of bills. This can work very well, though I have a personal prejudice against it. I prefer that a marriage be a group effort and would rather we share fortunes and setbacks together.

This is a fantasy look at the ideal poly family of four adults and two children. This table is not an absolute. The basic idea here though, is that all incomes and outgoes have to balance.

         
  Percentages   Annual Monthly
Net Spendable     $60,000.00 $5,000.00
         
Housing 35.00%   $21,000.00 $1,750.00
Food 11.00%   $6,600.00 $550.00
Auto 11.00%   $6,600.00 $550.00
Insurance 9.00%   $5,400.00 $450.00
Debt 5.00%   $3,000.00 $250.00
Entertainment 4.00%   $2,400.00 $200.00
Clothing 4.00%   $2,400.00 $200.00
Savings 5.00%   $3,000.00 $250.00
Med/Dental 4.00%   $2,400.00 $200.00
Misc 4.00%   $2,400.00 $200.00
School/childcare 4.00%   $2,400.00 $200.00
Investments 4.00%   $2,400.00 $200.00
  100.00%      

You can get by making less than this "ideal" budget, by the way.   These figures are just guidelines.

Each category is also a link to how to save money in each category. Email me with any tips that may work for you. I would really like to include the uniquely polyamorous ones in with this site.   If you'd like a good tightwadding reference, check this out.   It's kind of an Amy Dacyczyn kiss up, but the links are useful.

  • Housing This includes all costs associated with housing. Rent/Mortgage, utilities, maintenance.
  • Food This includes groceries and such. I tend to class meals out as entertainment, meeself.
  • Auto Title, taxes, tags, insurance, maintenance
  • Debt Here's where we get into credit card debt, personal debt to individuals and other sorts of personal loans. Don't count a mortgage or car payment here.
  • Entertainment This is a fairly flexible category, but don't leave it out no matter how strapped for cash you are. If you don't plan for some fun, you'll steal money out of other parts of the budget to have some. Money should not be all bills and hard times and doesn't have to be. This category includes: meals out, movies, tai-chi classes, vacations, boats, trips to amusement parks, Renfaires, SCA events, conventions. (You mean you don't go to Renfaires?)
  • Clothing This is one another one of those flexible categories. It's a bad idea to cut it too much, though. It should never be less than $10 per person per month.
  • Savings Do not neglect this category. Ever. It doesn't take long to build up a few months' worth of expenses. After that, you can distribute the money over the other categories. Remember, though, you're saving, not hoarding. 3-6 months' worth of expenses is plenty. When you do have an emergency, do remember that you need to replace that money as soon as possible to keep the fund going.
  • Medical/Dental This is going to depend on a lot of things. If everyone has health insurance, you can pretty much divide this category among several different ones. However, we're self-employed, so we have to pay for medical ourselves. We found that given our states of health and the price of health insurance that the smart thing to do was have a catastrophic medical policy, then put the rest into a medical savings account. So far, it has been far, far cheaper than insurance.
  • School/Childcare Childcare is where a poly family is often very lucky. You generally don't spend a lot for it.
  • Investments We are putting most of our investment money into our business at the moment, but we also put by a very small amount into stocks. It's not a lot, but when we get that 6 months' living expenses into the bank, we're going to start funneling the savings category into the mutual fund as well. Remember guys, Social Security ainta gonna be around for the GenXers.

I know that sounds crass, but if you're poly, having your finances in order is something that you should do just out of self-defense. I know that money shouldn't matter in a court or in the court of public opinion. The simple truth is that it does. Recently, a young woman came out as both pagan and poly on an MTV spot. Her child's paternal grandmother sued for custody of the child. It is my very strong opinion that were the paternal grandmother not providing some amount of financial support and child care, the case would not have been the issue it was. Protect yourself. Be very, very careful from whom and how you as a family will accept money -- especially from other family members. The same goes double for child care.



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