Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Communal Pot

We know we’ve touched on the topic previously, but it’s one that never gets old: money. Every day – and pretty much all day – we planners deal with it, and mainly yours. Fortunately, our goal for money is the same as yours: to make it stretch as far as possible.

However, what we’re finding more often are contributions being made in the form of a cash or check. The result of this is that the category of “your money” becomes an overarching one that includes contributions from many different family members and friends. It is, therefore, a type of ‘communal pot’.

This name might conjure images of a group of wedding-gown-clad brides sitting in a circle and sharing a witches’ cauldron of stew. But, while we guess that’s acceptable, we’d like you to spare an equal amount of focus on the ingredients in the pot.  

In a ‘communal pot’ every participant brings an ingredient to contribute to making the stew. Carrots, potatoes, chicken (can you tell its lunchtime?)…all are mashed (yummy…mashed potatoes…) into one savory dish. In a ‘communal wedding’, multiple parties contribute an item for a couple’s wedding; a mother-of-the groom might make invitations = carrots, an aunt the floral arrangements for the altar = potatoes and a friend programs = parsley (every stew needs seasoning). In a ‘communal pot wedding’, multiple parties contribute money to the couple to spend as the couple sees fit: cash = any ingredient desired.

These gifts, however, are sometimes less easily spent than received, mainly because many of our couples are unsure 1) what to spend this money on, 2) how to report it being spent and, 3) what to do if they choose not to spend it.

Because we like helping (it’s our job, after all), and because we particularly like helping couples on the verge of marrying, here’s some help:

By logic, a contribution to a communal pot can be used any way the recipient wishes. After all, if a specific type of purchase was intended, that specific purchase would have been made by the giver. For example, if Aunt Sallie really wanted you to use the money to purchase invitations, she would have purchased those invitations for you.

By social custom, there’s no need to discuss how a gift of money was spent. After all, you don’t explain how you spent Aunt Sallie’s Christmas gift of $25.00, do you?

By right, you do not have to do anything with that gift. A gift is a gift and, once given, is the recipient’s property.

And, to be super helpful, here’s a precise, entirely appropriate sentence:

“It was really nice of Aunt Sallie to gift us that present; we put it to good use for our life together.”

Done and done.