Who is the Financial Driver?

by TTMK on April 16, 2012 · 6 comments

Who does the driving, the guy or the girl? Financially speaking, that is.

I thought of this concept of a “financial driver” when I stepped off the train this past week.  As I walked off the platform, and to the parking lot for the commuter train I took, I noticed that a wife came to pick up her husband from the station.  He had his work bag with him, and seemed like he was coming back from a long day at work. She was cheerful as she drove up the curb to pick him up.

As she temporarily parked the car and he approached on foot, she opened the driver’s side door and got out. She left the door open as she walked around to the other side of the car. She opened the passenger door, got in and sat down. Meanwhile, he got into the car and took the newly vacated driver’s seat.  Then, they drove off for the evening.

It got me thinking: why did she have to move to the passenger side? She was already driving, so why couldn’t he get into the car and sit in the passenger seat? Wouldn’t that have been easier?

I don’t know the people, but it seemed like there were clear gender roles at play there. She drove when he wasn’t around, but once the man was present, she let him take command of the vehicle and put her fate in his hands. She let him take care of her when he arrived, while she was taking care of herself at first before he got there.

Being someone financially oriented, and an experienced personal finance blogger, I of course thought of a money angle to this.  Basically, it seemed like a visual metaphor for how some folks tend to view money and relationships.  For whatever reason, the guy is often expected to take the lead – whether it’s his own expectations or his wife’s.  It seems natural and ingrained in many relationships.

I like to drive. I don’t know why this is the case, but it just seems more natural when I drive and not her. But is this necessary or even valid? In driving, and more to the point – in terms of money?

It makes me wonder sometimes, when I see this. Being a parent of a daughter, I guess it’s natural to think that you want your own to be treated well when older. Even taken care of, perhaps? But I want her to grow up being self-sufficient, thinking that she doesn’t need to depend on someone to provide for her. If it happens, great. Regardless, she should be able to take care of herself.

Relating this back to driving, isn’t it often said that women are actually safer drivers than men according to statistics? Why should there be different perceptions when it comes to money and independence?

Who is the financial driver in your life?


{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Emily @ evolvingPF April 16, 2012 at 9:54 am

I think my husband and I are co-driving our finances. I have more involvement in the nitty-gritty details but we still make all giving/saving/spending decisions together. We’ve only been married for two years though so I think it remains to be seen who will have more influence over the long arc of our financial vision. I hope it is my husband.

As for driving driving, I prefer for my husband to drive. When I pick him up we will switch seats so he can drive if there is an opportunity to park. I’m a good driver on my own but when he is in the car I want to chat with him, which distracts me and I don’t give enough attention to the road. He is better at keeping his attention on the road and/or tuning me out. 🙂


TTMK May 12, 2012 at 2:46 pm

Emily – LOL, I do get what you mean about guys focusing on the road and not the passenger’s talking 🙂


Daisy April 16, 2012 at 9:51 pm

Like Emily, the boyfriend and I are co-drivers. I pay way more attention to our finances, but saving comes easily for him and not me. So we balance each other out. As far as real driving – I hate driving but I will drive if he’s in my car and he’ll drive if I’m in his!


TTMK May 12, 2012 at 2:48 pm

Daisy – sounds well balanced all around!


eemusings April 20, 2012 at 11:59 pm

How odd!

I have seen that happen before. I’ve done it myself, although that was while I was a noob driver, got myself stuck in a carpark and had to call T to come get me and back out of the spot.

T is very much the driver (I hate driving and am not particularly good at it), and if I come pick him up from somewhere he might offer to swap and take the wheel when I get there. It’s not a control thing – it’s a personal thing. Sometimes I’ll accept, sometimes I’ll stay put.

Financially, I’m very much the CFO.


TTMK May 12, 2012 at 2:50 pm

eemusings – I guess it depends on each person and situation. I agree that it’s probably a personal thing for many as well, not necessarily a control thing.


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