For a long time, I thought myself and my husband were odd for keeping our finances largely separate and not sharing income. However, after discussing the issue on Facebook and Instagram, there seem to be many people in the same position for different reasons. I thought it would be useful to explain the hows and the whys of why we keep our cash (largely) to ourselves.
The quick answer is…habit. We have been together since 2001 in our early 20s and moved in together in 2002. Noone is going to rush into sharing income earning a pittance at age 22 when you’ve only been together a year. And as we live (and have always lived) in a farm property owned by my husband’s family, we have never had a mortgage which I guess can be a crunch point for pooling finances. We divided up the bills fairly but these came out of our individual wages.
Over the years, our spending changed as our careers progressed. I became the main earner by some distance but with my income I funded the majority our holidays while my husband paid the majority of the bills. What I’m trying to say is we made it fair and it wasn’t like we didn’t share the expenses, but it was just never in the same “pot!”. We also significantly extended the house and this was all done in loans under my name as I had an excellent credit rating at the time.
Now our situation is reversed as I am part time around looking after our daughter and my husband is the main earner. He still pays the majority of the bills but I still pay for the groceries and household products as well as my own car payment, credit card and mobile phone. The difference now is there is no extra money from me for holidays and other luxuries!
The benefits of keeping your money separate
I think the main benefit for myself was that I am a bit of a control freak but not so much so that I would expect full control over my husband’s income! I like to be able to control my own pot of money. Also, having been the main earner for so long and being happy with separate money, it seemed a bit cheeky for me to be the person that suggests we pool it now!
Another benefit to having my own spending money is I would feel uncomfortable paying for e.g. a spa day out of a shared pot of money, I like to think I can fund my own treats. Similarly I wouldn’t be too happy if my husband was buying computer games or golf equipment out of the same pot! I know a lot of people pool money for bills but keep their own spending money separate – I guess this is what we were doing in actual fact but without the joint account.
Finally, I think birthdays and Christmas presents for each other would feel a bit odd if they were paid for out of a shared pot – you would be essentially paying for your own presents! I am interested to know how people who just have a joint account manage this – let me know in the comments.
Funnily enough I think the main disadvantage for us now money is tight comes back down to control. Because I wasn’t in control of my husband’s finances, I would get frustrated about certain purchases he made when I was scrimping by on my part time wage. I don’t mean he buys anything wildly extravagant at all, but just things I considered a waste of money, such as a phone upgrade or a new game. However, he pays much more of the bills than me, and earns overtime on top of his monthly salary so I don’t feel justified in complaining about this.
I also didn’t like the fact that I didn’t really know how much our total monthly expenditure or income actually was – and this is not going to help pay off debts any quicker. Meanwhile, I was trying to pay off my credit card and save up an emergency all by myself and struggling to keep my head above water.
You might think this all sounds a bit ridiculous for a couple that have been together for so long, and that we can’t be in a great place relationship wise, but nothing could be further from the truth! I guess after so long of being the main earner and not sharing my money I didn’t feel right expecting help to pay off my card now the situation is reversed. Also, being completely honest, and I know we are not alone in this – we don’t tend to argue that much but when we do, money is probably the number one reason. I had visions of a joint account causing more problems than it solved. In fact, this article seems to agree.
However, realising it did need addressing, we finally sat down last month and went through everything. We have agreed to keep the outgoing bills the same, but we have both set up a new joint account to pool the money that is left over after all other expenses. This is roughly £600 a month and £500 of this is from my husband which is why I have felt so guilty about it! I do also aim to make £300+ each month in side hustles, but a lot of this money is tied up building up my blog and my matched betting pot, so I don’t really include it right now. It is helping me build better earnings for the future and that’s good enough at the minute!
You may be wondering where this extra £500 is currently going – my husband has cut his spending and re-evaluated some of his bills and well as realising where money gets wasted. It isn’t as straightforward as him wasting £500 a month on bits and pieces – he gets expenses and overtime in varying amounts and paid in at different times of the month so because he isn’t overly cautious, it is easy to lose track of incomings and outgoings. Our heating costs are also paid for out of this money – we have an oil tank for heating being a farm property which is approx. £350 a quarter, but it will now be paid for out of the pooled fund.
Our plan moving forward
By sharing this income, we are going to spilt it between paying off my credit card and building a £1000 emergency fund. Once the emergency fund is full, we can begin to save for the things we have struggled to afford in recent years, such as a holiday and home improvements. My car will also be paid off at the end of January which will be another £200 a month to add to the pot. Am I very optimistic at the thought that in a matter of months, we should have zero short term debt and quite a healthy pot of savings.
It sounds so simple written down but I really hope we can stick to this. Past experience has told me that something always seems to come along to change your plans…!
How do you manage your finances as a couple – do you share it all, keep it separate or a mixture? Let me know in the comments.