Couples finance

Ideas for managing your money as a couple

Of all the challenges you face as a couple, managing your money can be one of the hardest. We look at some ideas that can help.

It’s not surprising that 42% of adults in a relationship admit to arguing about money 1. Here's how to navigate the money minefield.

 

Who takes control?

While 35% of you take an equal role in managing your finances, almost half rely on one person. ‘I’m a spreadsheet geek,’ admits David, a technology specialist from Belfast, ‘so I keep track of our money. My partner's good at finding ways to reduce spending but she doesn’t have an overview of the figures. We play to our strengths.'

Mine, yours and ours

Although there’s no ‘one size fits all’ solution, the Money Advice Service lists 4 main ways couples can divide their money in current accounts:

  • Separate accounts for earnings – joint purchases/bills are then calculated on a case-by-case basis
  • One joint account for everything
  • Separate accounts for earnings plus a joint account, perhaps for household expenditure
  • Separate accounts then the main earner pays their partner an ‘allowance’

The main advantage of separate accounts is that each person retains a level of privacy. ‘We’ve never had a joint account,’ says Emma, a part-time communications manager from Essex. ‘My husband pays the mortgage and bills and I cover childcare and food. We don't worry about the exact split, but it works for us and I like the independence.’

However, putting everything into a joint account can simplify things. ‘We have one account for everything,’ says Clare. ‘Money is tight, so balancing the books is a job in itself. We have defined roles.’

Honest and open

It pays to be frank with your partner about money. ‘Be honest,’ advises Clare, ‘and make sure both of you know where things stand.’

Being unaware of each other's financial situation can lead to problems. ‘In a previous relationship I didn't ask my partner about his salary or debt,’ confesses Emma. ‘It turned out he was overspending and taking out loans against our house.’

 

Best ways to budget

There are various ways to track your joint finances, yet 42% use old-fashioned pen and paper. Clare says, ‘Every time we buy something, even if it’s just a stamp, I write it off against our current account, cash or credit card. It gives me control’.

Budgeting carefully as a couple allows you to work out how much you can save towards a goal, which for 49% would be a holiday.

 

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