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How do you manage money with your partner?

The Which? Money Podcast is exploring how couples handle joint finances at different stages of a relationship. Do you have a story to tell?

Managing money can be difficult enough when it’s just you in the picture. But if you share money with someone else, all hell could break loose if you’re not careful.

A survey from Netwealth found that younger women are far less likely to have joint accounts or shared savings with their partners than older generations. The key reason given for this was financial independence.

Do you fit in with this trend, or would you rather pool your money with your loved one? 

Tell us your story

In the lead-up to Valentine’s Day, we want to know how couples at all stages of relationships handle finances together.

💷 What are your tips and tricks for managing money with a partner, relative, or someone very close to you? 

💷 Do you set clear guidelines on who picks up the bill on dates?

💷 Have you had the joint bank account chat?  

💷 Is it all 50/50 or have you got a unique system that works for you?

The Which? Money Podcast

On the next episode of the Which? Money podcast, we’ll be exploring money and relationships. You might hear your story featured there.

You can find the Which? Money Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

How has managing your finances with your partner been for you?
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Let us know in the comments if you’d like to get involved.

Christopher Yates says:
3 February 2020

My wife and I (aged 73 and 75) have been married for 43 years. We have a joint account for shared household expenses; aside from that we have separate and private accounts, no questions asked. Works well.

John Herbert says:
3 February 2020

My wife and I have a joint bank account. She gets all she wants and I pay the bills. Has worked well for nearly 30 years.

My husband and I have been married for nearly 29 years. We started out with joint accounts but my husband would overdraw the account. Most of our marriage is being in debt. I am retired because of I’ll health and our finances are even worse. He refuses to do a budget and thinks he knows best

The quickest way to save money is to give up smoking immediately.

We make sure that each of us has at least one utility bill in their name. It’s often required for public services, banking etc.

Roy Turner says:
3 February 2020

It’s not easy. My wife is very sensitive about retaining her financial independence and whilst she contributes 50/50 on utilities and council tax that is as far as it goes. I pay for the food and for all incidental expenses from going out to buying for the garden etc. I have tried to discuss it but she rears up immediately, as I said, it’s not easy.

Yvonne says:
4 February 2020

We simply figure out the running costs for our home and contribute an agreed amount to a joint account every month, it has not always been an equal amount but it is now. Then we have one dedicated credit card account with two cards which we split equally in an agreed ratio when the bill arrives, paying in full each month. Everything else is discretionary from our separate accounts and it’s worked like a dream for over 25 years. Also means we know what our running costs are. We like to keep a bit extra in our joint account for unexpected costs.

We’re 88 and 89 and always had joint accounts in the bank. However, most of the savings are in my wife’s name – she doesn’t pay income tax.

Is there a law which says “with a retired couple only one person has to pay tax”?

Certainly not. I presume that his wife does not have an occupational pension.

A person can get up to £5,000 of interest from savings and not have to pay tax on it. This is the ‘Starting Rate for Savings’.

A person in the standard tax rate band may also get up to £1,000 of interest and not have to pay tax on it. This is the Personal Savings Allowance.

A husband and wife, retired or otherwise, may use their allowances to optimum joint benefit.

Kate says:
4 February 2020

My fiancée and I don’t have a joint account. We split our mortgage and all our utilities 50/50, and we tend to each have a couple of bills in our name. We log any other shared costs like food shopping, meals out, buying things for the house in a money tracking app so we can keep an eye spending and keep things fairly even.

Alan says:
5 February 2020

My wife and I have a joint account and have done so since we were married 43 years ago, I deal with most financial matters. We have separate savings accounts and ISA’s based on savings tax regimes at the time of inception.
We have no issues with who spends what as long as there are funds to cover the purchases, during hard times discussion on what was essential or desireable took place to decide on the way forward. This works well, as it is based on mutual trust and consideration of each others needs.

I was going to say pretty well exactly what Alan said so thanks for saving me the time.

I totally agree. A marriage has to be based on trust, and that includes the finances.

Barbie says:
5 February 2020

Having read some of the comments here it strikes me that where both partners are prepared to be reasonable and respectful of each other, whatever method is used it tends to work. Problems really arise where a bullying, selfish chauvinist or feminist is involved.

We have always had a joint back account. We spread savings accounts to minimise tax and protect against possible care home charges. My wife has a separate credit card which for uses to buy me surprises. I often surprise her.

We have 2 kids (13m and 4yo) and a mortgage.
I work 3 days per week, he has just dropped to 4 to share child care, but still earns proportionally more than me.

We both put all our salary into the joint account and then draw down a monthly personal allowance to cover clothes, lunch, social etc. Usually about £150pm. The kids, car, house, holidays, Christmas etc, all comes from that central (Well budgeted pot)

We are a team. What we earn contributes financially to our home/household/family etc, but it’s not the whole picture. “Domestic ” contribution is valued by both of us, and we both participate.

Laura says:
9 February 2020

I moved in with my boyfriend but we kept separate accounts, and I paid my share of bills to his account since he was already set up, and he had bought the house on his own and was paying the mortgage. We’ve been together 5 years and married for 18 months, but kept the same arrangement because it seems most convenient. My only concern is how I would be able to arrange the bills to be paid if anything happened to him. With online banking and direct debits I don’t know who most of our suppliers are.

That is also a serious concern for people in later life, Laura. After my father died, my mother was left to cover all the costs of running the house on a much smaller income and also deal with all the regular payments. Fortunately in those pre-computer days it was just a case of waiting for a bill turn up. It is vital to keep the other half fully informed of incomings and outgoings and give password access to on-line data since anything can happen at any time. I am aware that some people are not comfortable with that.

In the case of a joint account I presume that direct debits would continue to be paid after the bank had been notified of the death. If Fiona uses online banking it should be easy to look up to see a list of current direct debits and the amount/date of the most recent payment, but contacting the bank would be the alternative.

I wonder what would happen in the case of a married couple that kept separate accounts. Would a bank permit a married couple share passwords for accounts that are not shared, for use in case of emergencies?