What’s scary about income-sharing?

by Raven Cotyledon

As I wrote in my post on Trust, when I was part of starting the Common Threads community in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1995, we didn’t begin by doing income-sharing. We always had the intention of doing it, but Robert and I had learned the hard way not to try to do everything at once right from the start.  Robert and Susan and I spent at least a year (my memory of the time is a bit foggy now) getting to know each other and learning what we would need from each other (trust, naturally, was a big part of it) and what got in the way of us wanting to do this. What got in the way was mostly fear.

Susan wrote a lovely article about our process for Communities magazine (Summer, 1998, issue #99) entitled “Income Sharing: Overcoming Stage Fright”.  A quote from the article, “My worst fears about income sharing a year ago were that I would lose control of my money.  I thought that I’d have to attend a meeting to get permission to buy a pair of socks. I thought people might be judging me for what I wanted to buy and that I would judge them as well.”   She also pointed out that Robert and I “were wise not to ask us to commit to income sharing at outset, because I, for one, wouldn’t have been able to agree.”

The issue

My memory is that we had at least one meeting where we discussed our greatest fears about income-sharing.  Susan was worried that she wouldn’t be able to buy a pair of socks. I was worried that we would never actually begin income-sharing.  We did begin income-sharing and Susan was able to buy socks. Again, from her article, “We have spent little time discussing actual expenditures. I have bought several pairs of socks and even a skirt, all with no discussion.”

I had done income-sharing a few times before this, so it wasn’t so scary for me.  As I sometimes say to people who wonder how we could do something that seems so scary, there are lots of people around who do income-sharing–especially married couples (and even non-married couples). But the idea of taking it beyond two people seems to fill some people with fear. Part of this is, as I said in my previous piece, concerns about trust. Some of it, perhaps a lot of it, as Susan pointed out, is about losing control.

Susan also wrote that this isn’t what happened when we actually started income-sharing. “Although I was concerned that I might be losing control over an important aspect of my life, the opposite has occurred. I enjoy the fact that I am spending money in accordance with a budget, rather than haphazardly, as I did before.”

The article

It is interesting to be doing this again with DNA and gil and seeing how much this frees up each of us. I have heard each of them talk directly about the benefits of what we are doing.  It makes me wonder why more people aren’t willing to do it.

I will end this with a few more quotes from Susan’s article. “I feel I am reaping the benefits of not having to figure things out on my own.  … Paying more attention to money helps me remember that money and material goods, while important and sometimes necessary, are not the be-all and end-all of life. I try to find ways to enjoy and nurture myself and others that don’t require much money, or at least more money than I had previously. These are, for me, the emotional and spiritual benefits of income sharing.”


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What’s scary about income-sharing?

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