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.”

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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.”

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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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