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Bills, Bills, Bills

Author: Lauren Coleman

Last week our bi-annual water bill arrived. In any household the sign of bills on the mat is always an unwelcome one but this one was a absolute whopper – over £550! Bloody hell. I was pretty sure either James had a secret bath obsession or we had a leak. I was convinced our usual bill equated to around £40 a month and that the was pretty normal but decided to check in with The Oracle, or rather our team instant messaging group to see what the general consensus was. Let me tell you there was a varied response.

Turns out for several reasons Lisa would prefer Rich didn’t get run over by a bus. One of those factors being that he’s in charge of the household bills and it’s the same in the O’Shea household. Our favourite cake baker, Lottie also hands over management of the finances to her other half too. That’s not to say they weren’t contributing to bills just neither of these lovely ladies could tell me what to expect from a water bill.
Laura on the other hand was on it like a shot and is still in possessions of every bill since the year dot. In her words, household finances were just another ‘lady job’.

It’t not a particularly stylish topic however personally I find how couples manage their households and finances utterly fascinating. In fact do you remember this post on splitting chores way back when we were in our infancy? I’m so nosy curious about the whole subject. As it happens we have got a leak and thankfully don’t have to pay the bill, but if we did it would come from the joint account which we both contribute to every month. In terms of actual management of these bills, it’s whoever gets there first, though most are paid by direct debit where the set-up was split between us equally.

If you’re curious to know how it works in the Coleman household then I’ll keep it brief. I divvy up my monthly income into four accounts; the joint to cover shopping, mortgage and bills; the tax bill fund and general savings. What’s left (which isn’t much) is mine to spend as I jolly well like. It works for us and means we both have a joint stake in financially running our home and the bills that come in as well as feeling guilt-free if either of gets invited on a solo trip.

How does it work around at your house? Do you split things equally or does it depend on your income? If you’ve got little ones, has this changed since you became a family?

The header image is taken from my old house but I’ve added a new blackboard and the same baskets to my new kitchen. Sadly the baskets are no longer available but Maisons Du Monde have some stupendous zingy yellow ones (which could be sprayed if you fancy another colour). On the subject of spraying, the wall lamp started life as the Clay Chiswick Wall Light from Garden Trading which James sprayed black.

{Contributors}
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Lauren likes Paris, Prosecco and Paint Charts
Follow Lauren on instagram @mrslaurencoleman

77 thoughts on “Bills, Bills, Bills

  1. I’m super nosey about how other couples manage joint finances so I’m actually really intrigued by the comments this post will get. In our house, the finances fall into my camp. And I use YNAB (https://www.youneedabudget.com) to manage our money situation (I get paid weekly and Gav, fortnightly so it gets a bit messy). I also geek out over apps and such for this kind of thing.

    Currently, it all goes in one big pot. But when we move back to the UK in a couple of months time we’re thinking about a set up very similar to yours. I like the idea of having my own money again (and I’m sure Gav would too).

    Who actually manages/pays the finances/bills in your house then Lauren?
    Also, personal question, but how do you work out what you need to put in the mortgage/shopping/bills account? Do you put a bit extra in for unexpected bills or those times when you go grocery shopping hungry and spend twice the usual amount? (happens to me all the time) 🙂

    1. Good point Naomi – I’ve just made an edit to include how we split management of them equally!
      On the joint we made a list of all our average monthly outgoings for food shopping, mortgage, bills and then divided it by two. We also pay in extra per month for the unexpected and then use it for Christmas presents if there’s any left! x

  2. Ooh interesting topic!

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who hasn’t really got a clue when it comes to the bills. Although the paper copies of such things are filed away somewhere, I couldn’t tell you off the top of my head how much we pay out on gas/electric/water. Essentially when I first moved in with my husband, he’d already been living on his own for a few years (I was fresh out of uni) and had got the whole bill thing down to a fine art – it made sense not to mess with it!

    Each month, I transfer him money to cover my half of the rent, bills (incl Sky and food) and a portion of savings – we’ve split the latter so we have a pot each just in case (god forbid) anything happens. All bills come out of his account but I’m named on all the bill accounts, again just in case.

    We looked into getting a joint account so both our names would be be on the payment but thanks to some awful ‘advice’ from a certain bank, it backfired massively and we never proceeded further. I imagine that when we get a mortgage or have kids, we’ll have to re-think how we manage this all. But for now it works!

    Worth noting that personal bills (mobile phone, travel card and the like) come out of what’s left over for each of us. As for how we split the food – we worked out how much we spent on average each month and went from there. We do online shopping too which helps avoid picking up things for the sake of it but we do end up popping into Tesco to pick up bread and milk halfway through the week… so occasionally some extras get thrown in that aren’t taken into account with the food ‘budget’ as such!

    1. Online shopping is so good for finances as you have to meal plan and much less wastage.
      Who does the online shopping though?!

      1. It’s a joint effort – I plan what we’re going to eat (because I’ll be cooking it) and then he does the ordering. I’m not sure about the wastage though – still seem to be left with a fair bit at the end of each week. I’d be interested in a post about ways to reduce this further though!

  3. Even before we were married we got three joint accounts- one to be paid into and have disposable income, the other for bills and a savings account. All our salary went into one pot. My husband has always earnt a lot more than me, but we didn’t consider our singular wages just how much we had coming into our account. I’m now a stay at home mum, so I’m pretty glad we have this set up! Again we still consider ‘his’ pay day as ‘our’ pay day.

    1. Oh and I organise all the bills, shop around for insurance and utilities etc except for the mortgage (remortgage/buying time) which is my husband’s domain. Everything is in both our names.

  4. I’m the bills person- all the direct debits are organised by me but come from our joint account. He pays for the oil and water as they are needed/ come in by card, but usually I open the “scary” post and deal with it.

    Are you on a water meter Lauren? Just we got a water bill that was ridiculous after our first one and it turned out there was a massive leak on their side of the boundary which we had reported and they had ignored so we got it written off! Worth double checking for any suspicious gurgling noises in the road… ours was very obvious.

    1. Hi Lucy, yep we’ve had someone out to look at it and they think the fault is with the meter. I still think James has some form of rinsing obsession though 😉

  5. I really should start figuring out what it is we pay each month. I used to be the one in charge until we moved/had kids and after I negotiated the initial bills with various companies I handed it over. Mainly as I can never remember the log in to our joint account! We have only ever paid in to one house account for the bills etc, Edd covers most of this since the girls arrived, and the rest of our money is our own to save/spend as we wish. That used to be ok when we earnt the same but I think I need to propose a change now that I only work part time….. (!!!) xx

  6. As I work in banking (sorry!) I deal with all the finances and have many many spreadsheets for this! Actually paying for them works in a very similar way to you. I work out the cost for everything that month including food (online shopping helps for this!)and travel and divide it by 2. I earn a bit more, and we are just about to buy our first home, so I also put extra into savings. After that money left is for both of us to do with it what ever we want (me beauty boxes and meals/drinks out etc, and for hubby his car!) We expect when we move for this to work a very similar way, with a bit extra from me to overpay/save. Hubby’s name is on all the accounts but I don’t think he has ever looked at them! I also find it really interesting how other people work their finances so great post! Xx

  7. Great post! I also used to work in banking and love a spreadsheet so I’ve generally always taken the lead but more recently have tried to get husband to take on a bit as running my business and doing all that bookkeeping is a big task since we relocated last year.
    We’ve managed our finances differently over the years, when we first bought our house we got a joint account added up all the bills and split in two. But then we moved and I went self employed, for about 18 months bills were all on him / but we used to accrue money each month to cover things like MOTs Christmas and any other bills that weren’t monthly like car tax etc.
    When we were both then back in full time employment we then pro rata’d how much we put in since my husband earned 20k more than me I felt this was only fair & he agreed. Any money left was ours to spend….. (I suggested this after reading karen Brady’s book!)
    And now I’m self employed again but earning a wage so I put in what I can to the joint account. I’m still in charge of the account as husband has no log on details! I think this year we will go back to accruing monies to cover random bills as we are now on oil at our new house. Also to note in Scotland we don’t have water bills for domestic use as it’s built in with our council tax.

  8. I find it fascinating to understand how others manage their money, but a few people have sadly revealed financial abuse which they didn’t even realise wasn’t normal, when this topic has arisen.

    I am a stay at home parent and all money is shared. It all goes into the current account and if there is a decent amount left at the end of a month, we put it into our savings account. We very rarely spend money on ourselves or anything which isn’t essential, so our savings rack up quite quickly compared to friends earning similar amounts. Maybe we’re just tight! I mainly deal with bills because I’m at home more, though my husband will sometimes pay if he sees an unpaid one lying around. I’m not known for my organisational skills, whereas he is very tidy and organised. It looks likely that I may have more earning potential in the future, so he might stay at home instead. I think the household would run much more smoothly that way.

    1. Hi Jade, would love to hear more from stay at home dads. Maybe this something we should try to cover on RMF? Is it something you’ve discussed a lot with your other half?

  9. This is a great post Lauren! I’m also so nosy when it comes to these things!

    My husband and I have extremely different salaries (he works in the public sector doing a job that pays him pittance) so we decided a good few years ago that we needed to pool our incomes to avoid thinking of money as mine/yours. The way I see it, we both do the jobs we love and it’s just luck that mine is paid much better – I certainly don’t work any harder than he does. Pooling our salaries works for us and it means we stopped seeing things as my half/your half, as everything we have is ours. I’m definitely in charge of keeping the system going though!

    Our salaries go into our joint account, and I then pay us each a couple of hundred pounds of what I like to call pocket money to our own separate accounts to do what we like with. Over time, we’ve realised that I need a bit more pocket money than my husband, mainly because he takes packed lunches (as there’s nowhere to buy lunch where he works) and also because I am a sucker for buying allll the cosmetics, but I don’t feel too bad about that!

    Then for bills, I know how much we need to leave in the j/a for the month to cover mortgage, bills (I have a separate spreadsheet of the amount of each bill and day of the month the direct debit leaves, I know I’m a loser!) and food/travel, and the rest is transferred straight to joint savings account. More often than not a little bit of the savings pot wings its way back into the j/a towards the end of the month to cover that extra meal out/theatre tickets/stuff for the house, but I find it much easier to make sure we’re keeping an eye on what we spend and build up savings if the j/a only contains what we *should* need to get us through the month.

    1. It’s refreshing to hear the pooling of incomes works in your household especially when you’re the main breadwinner. A few of my friends tried this approach but it seemed to cause a bit of tension for the person earning more.

  10. The bills are my job! I look after all the finances in our house and I regularly say that if I got run over by a bus Ste wouldn’t have the foggiest idea where to start. I could tell you exactly how much we pay every month and when those payments go out (I feel as if I’m revealing far too much of my control freak tendencies here!). We are fair though and split everything down the middle exactly. We don’t have savings at the moment – everything is being poured into the house (with the exception of a standing order going from both of our accounts into Hector’s saving account) but once the house is completed we’ll both be looking to open an ISA again. Oh and I ALWAYS shop around for the best deal on our utilities – you can save an absolute fortune xx

    1. Hi Lolly, I have to look after all the finances too, I like to be organised and I think it only works where one person takes control, too many cooks and all that! Cheeky question but do you split everything down the middle exactly regardless on salaries? I haven’t shopped around for ages, I really must do! xx

      1. Hi Sara – yes we split everything down the middle regardless of salaries. In the past I’d say that I earned more than Ste – he owns his own business and it was definitely tough in the early days when he’d just started up but he still paid his half fair and square. Now he earns considerably more than I do but I still want to feel as if I’m paying my fair share too. Perhaps when we have more children things might change but for now it works this way. I can’t complain if he decides to spend money on a new bike/ski trip and vice versa because whatever money is left after the bills have been paid is ours to spend as we wish.

        1. Thanks for your reply 🙂 That really works for us too – my husband is an accountant so having my own money to do with as I wish is a must! I am a lot more frivolous than he is! xx

  11. I look after everything. I’d love my husband to but he’s not interested/lazy so I trust myself to do a better job and to research better deals etc each year, which I don’t think he’d bother to do. Everything goes into one account and has for years but it does cause some tension as I feel he fritters money sometimes. So I’ve been wondering about setting up a system like yours Lauren where money goes into a designated joint acct and we are more responsible for our own money. To be honest, since the kids have come along 95% of our money goes on them anyway! But I do like to hunt bargains and it’s frustrating when I’m being v careful and spot he spent loads on new cycling gear!

    1. Abi this sounds exactly like me and my husband but the other way around! He is very spendy in some ways but in others he is VERY particular. He would spend £500 on a light fitting but quibble over 50p extra in a supermarket. And admittedly im probably too frivolous. This is where having our own pots as well as the joint comes in handy and definitely reduces tension! X

    2. It definitely works when you have separate interests Abi. James likes to ‘invest’ in his car, whereas I prefer tat for the house. Keeping some funds separate means we never have to question each others spending.

  12. I LOVE this post, I find this SO fascinating too! We put the majority of what we earn into the “joint account”- this goes on mortgage/bills/food, etc but also other things like going out at the weekend together, holiday fund, decorating the house, new furniture etc. We are actually thinking of having two joint accounts now – one purely for mortgage/bills/food and one for everything else, as we (I mean, me) keep over spending on things for the house and not having enough money for food by the end of the month haha! We leave ourselves each with a small pot which is our own money to do what we like with and in my case spend on all the make up and all the clothes.

    I find it fascinating to know how people decide how much they each put in. Me and my husband have never split things 50/50, at the moment we earn the same so its easy, but it certainly wasn’t always like that and when we have children it wont be again. We always work out finances on a pro rata basis depending on salary, so we put everything into one pot and leave ourselves with an equal amount at the end for our own spending, even if that means one person is contributing lots more to the joint because they earn more. I have always had my own money and it makes me nervous thinking that when we have children there will be a time where I don’t work and don’t earn my own money and I struggle with that!

    Despite the above, money is still a tricky subject to us and we still have different ideas of what we like to spend money on. My husband and I only ever argue about a couple of things and money is up there at spot Number 1 I think! xx

    1. I must add to this that we do save too!! We recently saved our deposit to buy our first house and since buying the house saving has taken a back seat (decorating is expensive work!) But once we are a bit more settled the decorating/furniture money will turn back into savings xx

    2. Hi Sarah, I think a second joint account could be such a good idea – one for fun and one for essentials.
      Maybe we need to a post about the number one thing people argue about 😉

        1. Oh yes, I’m sure I was promised an in-laws post on RMF. I’m guessing it hasn’t materialised as you would all have write anonymously – just in case!

  13. Really interesting post! And just talking amongst friends it is clear that everyone does things differently. I am the organiser of household bills and, well, everything in our house. Mainly because I am organised and my husband isn’t so much, plus he is probably one of the rare few who don’t use internet or phone banking which makes paying anything electronically impossible! We have a joint account that we pay our mortgage, utilities and food money into every month, with our salaries getting paid into our own individual current accounts. All our utilities are done by monthly direct debit so I know exactly how much is coming out when, and we usually have some left over for a meal out or maybe buy something for the house. We have an agreement that we won’t ever buy anything big for the house without running it by one another which I find really helps. One of my fave things about our bill paying is paying our council tax via direct debit means we only pay it over 10 months and so in Feb and March have a bonus £550 spare!! Always great timing after Christmas. x

    1. Oooh yes, I wondered why we had more money in the joint account this month! Gotta love direct debiting the council tax.

  14. My husband and I have a joint account which both salaries go into and all expenditure comes out of. When we first moved in together we had two separate accounts and split the bills equally, but now that we have moved to a bigger house and have more outgoings (childcare bills etc), it’s simpler to keep everything in one account. Most bills are direct debits, but he is responsible for things like renegotiating our mortgage deal, house insurance etc. We both deal with our own car finances (insurance, maintenance etc). He pays the electricity bill and I do the household stuff like food shopping and paying the window cleaner. We have two separate savings accounts, which is handy for present buying etc – but I must admit he is way more disciplined about paying into his than I am! I like to think that is because his spending habits are wholly uninfluenced by RMS’s dirty enabling. 😉

    Love hearing how others do it to see if I can pick up any tips!

  15. Interesting topic, its always fascinating to see how others manage their money.
    My husband and I both earn about the same amount, our wages get paid into our own separate accounts and then we both pay 50/50 into a joint account which covers the mortgage and all bills.
    We also each pay into a different account a set amount which covers food and petrol.
    We save a small amount each month which goes into another joint account – this covers things like holidays and emergency stuff and any nice splurges for the house.
    The remaining money is ours to spend on what we wish, this does have to cover things like mobile bills, contact lenses, gym.
    We also have a joint credit card so things like house renovations go on there and we both gradually pay it off over the months – usually paying the same amount off. It sounds complicated but works for us!
    I’m expecting first baby so this may all change when on maternity leave and back working part time.

  16. Another one here who finds this all fascinating! I’ve been out for dinner with so many of my friends who end up discussing with their partner who’s bought that round of drinks and “I owe you for half the meal” etc.

    Lolly – if I got run over by a bus my boyfriend would also have no clue. The money in our house is alllll my job – my boyfriend doesn’t even have internet banking *eye roll*. (Possibly because I’m the daughter of an accountant…?) However, we pool all our money (even though up to a year ago I was earning nearly double what he does) as neither of us feel possessive over what we earn, it’s all “our” money and goes straight into our joint account. We both have individual accounts still but only our phone bills go out of those, so I transfer enough money each money to cover those and that’s it. We’ve just never got around to changing the account we pay our phone bills from! Maybe it helps that neither of us have expensive hobbies, but I’ve never felt guilty for buying new clothes/books/whatever from the joint account. It’s just our money.

    I also set up all the direct debits as needed, manage them, move money into our (single, shared) savings account, shop around for insurance/energy deals (although my boyfriend actually does the negotiating as I’m crap at being assertive enough on the phone!), and applied for our mortgage.

    And yet our mortgage statements always come addressed to just him (as in “Dear Mr xxxx”, even though I’m the primary contact and we’re both on the address!) – does this annoy anyone else as much?!

    1. This is similar to how me and my Husband work. Despite sharing the majority of our money and putting it into one pot I still cant give up that couple of hundred pounds we give ourselves as our “own” money for the month. I think its because I spend way more than my husband, especially on myself, and I just would just feel too guilty spending the joint money on another foundation or another pair of shoes. Perhaps if I was more sensible with money this wouldn’t be the case! xx

      1. It’s a funny one isn’t it Sarah? The total balance would still be the same if we pooled everything but having your ‘own’ money causes much less guilt.

    2. Laughed at your last paragraph Katie, cause all the statements for our joint account come addressed to me, even though it was originally my husband’s account and we just added my name to it! It really annoys him cause he still sort of thinks of it as ‘his’ account! 🙂

  17. We have a joint account and our own. Salaries come to us and we each pay into the joint account to cover bills and food. At the mo it’s equal amounts but has been different at different stages.

    We both deal with bills, hubby does online meter reading submissions for gas and elec. I shop around for best deals etc. We could both tell you what all our direct debits are (after checking the spreadsheet!)

  18. This is such an interesting topic.

    We each pay equal amounts into a joint account to cover bills and have always done this even when I was earning a tiny salary. I take control of the bills because I am a control freak but I think my husband has a pretty good idea of what we pay for things

    We also both pay an equal amount into another account for our house renovations.

    After that our money is our own. It does sometimes get pretty awkward splitting restaurant bills or transferring the other half but it is what we have always done.

    I also have a secret savings account that my husband knows nothing about. I came away from my previous relationship financially damaged and this is my safety net.

  19. We do things a bit differently – we have a complicated spreadsheet and a whole load of accounts (one joint, one shopping, one savings, and an individual spending account each).

    We pool our money and make sure all our obligations are paid for (mortgage, bills, car costs, food into a shopping account, phones, standing orders for gym/papers, childcare, kids’ activities, the lot). We then put some in savings and then split equally the remainder, which goes into our individual ‘frittering’ accounts. This way he can spend money on energy drinks and music, and I can spend mine on expensive coffee and books and it doesn’t matter and we don’t have to justify it to each other. It also means that whenever one of us gets a pay rise we both benefit and when I’ve been on maternity leave I don’t feel like a burden (or worse, beholden to him for money). Small bonuses get kept by the individual earning them (likewise if I withdraw from Quidco/topcashback or sell things on eBay) but big bonuses are usually discussed and used for something we’ll all benefit from – a holiday or a new bathroom, for example. It has worked really well for us.

  20. All our earnings are pooled (we own our own business so are paid one joint lump from the business account each month).
    All bills / kids stuff / meals out is covered via our joint account.
    Our joint account then gives me and my husband an equal amount each month via standing order, to spend on what we wish (me: clothes, husband:bike kit).
    I’m an accountant (groan!) and have a monthly spreadsheet where I literally document EVERYTHING we buy, so I know down to the penny how much we’ve got in our account at any point in time.
    I also do freelance accountancy work so I have additional earnings from that (for more clothes & home stuff, plus we tend to use it for holidays).
    I’m also the company accountant for our business, so I look after those finances too. Gosh, I sound like a monetary control freak don’t I?! But I do love my Excel spreadsheets & money is what I’m good at doing, so my husband is happy to leave it all to me. Very interesting discussion (that pleases a dull accountant like me to hear all about how others manage their home finances!). My parents still do the “oh i’ll buy this meal, you can pay for the drinks” which always sounds so funny when they’ve been married for 40 years!

    1. Don’t worry Nicola – see below… i’m the same! Sometimes I think I should be an accountant. I give myself high fives everytime the bank balance matches the spreadsheet! 🙂

  21. We have a spreadsheet (one of many… yes, i’m addicted!) which details how much we need to pay out for mortgage/bills/food/petrol etc. After that we take off the credit card (mainly mine!) and our own bills for phones/itunes. We each get our own spending money with which to do as we please – generally mine goes on clothes and makeup and his goes on his lunch and sportswear! Everything else goes into the savings and we dip into that for when we go out for meals or overspend in the joint! This mainly happened after we got married and we decided I’d take a lower salary job which meant I couldn’t afford to do 50/50 anymore and pay credit cards in my name or contribute to holidays so we’d never have any split savings. It works perfectly for us and it means we can holiday etc together. With maternity in mind it works perfectly as we know we can live off his salary without me feeling like I’m spending ‘his’ money. We definitely take the whats theirs is ours approach. Regarding bills, yet another spreadsheet that details what dates/amount bills come out so we can track what’s come out and what’s not yet to ensure the right amount in the joint account at all times! I manage it, but he’s got constant access to know what the deal is each month and where all the bills are stored! Each to their own on this though – we got the idea from a friend who married before us and we’re similar in our approach.

  22. My husband and I have our own accounts and a joint current and savings account. We both transfer the same amount in to our current account to cover mortgage, bills etc.
    We’ve always done money stuff 50/50 except when my husband was first starting his business and then I probably paid in more to cover us.
    I’m on maternity leave at the moment but planning on going back full time so no change (except more bills for childcare coming out of joint funds!).
    Paying bills and sorting finances is usually my job, mainly because I’m a bit less forgetful. It’s hardly rocket science but as someone else mentioned I think it’s a job best done by one person.
    I had a builder come to give me a quote last week to be told he’d put it in the post for my husband to look at. Clearly he didn’t think finances were a woman’s domain! ?

  23. So interesting! I feel a little ashamed to say that in our house this is a blue job too. I haven’t got a clue what the water bill is, even though I contribute to it. I’m in charge of filing and general organisation but the actual paying of stuff is down to hubs. Thinking about it I don’t really know why we do it this way, I think because there’s always a risk I’ll run amok in John Lewis with the money instead of actually paying the bill.

    Lauren, I found some similar (not exactly the same) wire wall mounted stuff on this site having had a Google after your post – dirty enabling strikes again! https://thefarthing.co.uk/products/two-slot-industrial-magazine-letter-rack

    May I ask what the flip those brown paper button and string packets are called? I’ve had a shifty on Amazon as I’d like some for keeping my expense receipts in each month and sorting out the shambles that has become my administration since going freelance but to no avail. Thanks so much.

  24. We were similar to a lot in that we would use our joint account for all bills and food, another savings account, then have our own accounts to spend the remainder. When I got pregnant last year we decided to live off of my husbands salary and save mine entirely. This was to build up a good saving pot for this year while I’m on maternity leave. It’s working for us, as we see all of the money as ours. The savings we have built up will be dipped into this year for any baby related items and also for holidays.

    I’m the organised one who shops around for the best deals and know exactly what direct debits come out on which day. I don’t think my husband is even sure how much we pay for utilities.

  25. I think people are far too ‘British’ and polite to talk about money but I find it really interesting. In our household we have an individual accounts which each of our wages are paid into, we then put an equal amount in the joint account to cover the mortgage, bills and food. We both then put savings into our own individual ISA’s. It works well for us to be independent and to just share a joint account for the bills etc. If we are going out for dinner or buying something jointly we just top up the account equally. I would hate to be analysing what my hubby is spending (especially with how many coffees he buys!) or have him do so to me.

    Rob mostly looks after the household bills – I’m useless figuring out what numbers I need from the meter! And he keeps me updated if costs go up so we can decide whether to switch or cancel.

    We’re very open about money and if we haven’t been able to put as much savings away as we would have liked we let each other know so we don’t get too carried away planning holidays or more considered purchases. I think this helps our relationship as we don’t ever fall out about money.

  26. Another one who finds this fascinating! I’m in charge of all the finances: bills, mortgage etc. Partially because I am a lot more organised (read control freak) with money and also now because I earn more. We have a joint account but don’t use it. All bills, mortgage etc. come out of my account. The husband is responsible for the food shopping and treats such as going for meals we pay alternating, depending on who can still afford it.

    It does worry me sometimes that he doesn’t have much of a clue about the finances but he has no interest in it whatsoever so we just gotta hope I don’t get run over!

  27. I am also super intrigued by this! I moved in with my husband when he had already been living in his first home for 6 months so all of the bills and mortgage payments had been set up in his name, so back then I just transferred what felt like a fair amount.
    Fast forward to just after we got married, we set up a joint account and figured out how much went out each month for joint and household expenses, what percentages we each contributed to our total household income and then split the contributions with those percentages in mind (55/45 I think). Our salaries go into our own bank accounts and then there is a standing order the day after which goes into the joint account for mortgage, bills, food shops and joint shopping such as decorating bits and bobs. I also have a standing order into a separate personal bills account for my phone bill, gym membership etc so that I know 100% that the money in my bank account is all for me to spend on whatever I like! It feels like a really fair way of allocating costs. Plus then I don’t feel so guilty when I splurge on make up or ASOS orders…

  28. Ah so interesting to read! I feel like I’m quite an organised person but the above makes me feel like I totally have dropped the ball on bills – neither of us really ‘do’ anything when it comes to bills. They’ve been set up for ages and they all just come out of our joint account direct debit without much thinking about. My husband earns more than me but I am adamant that we pay in exactly the same to our joint account – where our mortgage, bills and general food etc comes out of. The rest stays in our individual accounts to do as we please – and also pay 50% of any joint holidays. I like having this for my own stuff but also we both like being able to ‘get’ dinner if it’s a special occasion for the other one (usually it all comes out of the jointer). However, we’ve recently decided to ramp up our savings to be able to move house and do renovations but I can’t ramp up in the same way as he can so he pays more in to our joint saving account. Additionally, he has another pot of savings which is a lot bigger than mine and that will be spent on our next house deposit. Before we married, we bought our first home and he put in more to the deposit too. I went about setting up a deed of trust to reflect this but we both (genuinely) forgot about signing it. He doesn’t really care about splits and would happily just merge anything but for me personally I want to feel like for some things it’s 50/50. We don’t have children but when that hopefully happens, im sure logistics will change.

  29. This is such a timely post, we have been married a year and own our home but only just getting around to sorting out our finances! We have always been open and honest and contributed equally as we earn almost identical salaries but I feel like we could be more organised. We are thinking of doing all our salary into one pot with the bills and savings direct debits coming out of it then a monthly stipend to each of our personal accounts

    We are thinking that our annual savings for christmas and holidays should come out of the joint account but that food and mobile bills from our personal stipend. It seems like everyone else tends to take food from the joint account but half of my supermarket shop these days contains clothes or magazines or other non essentials! Similarly if I am wasting money on my phone on data (i’m looking at you pinterest) or ridiculous apps I feel like it shouldn’t be coming from the joint account money.

  30. Another great post for comments RMS!

    I’m a spreadsheet lover and fortunately (or not if you’re spending time in our company) I married one too so our finances are pretty well organised. We’ve worked our butts off the last few years to pay as much off our mortgage whilst still saving and plugging into our pensions. We keep our own current accounts – I am partial to the odd Bobbi Brown splurge – and have some joint accounts for savings.

    We pool our money each month and we then allocate it out into mortgage overpayments, savings accounts and bills. I think it’s each partner’s responsibility to know what is being paid, where from and when. It’s so important to talk about money…when you have hopes and dreams in a relationship a lot of that will come down to money and I always want to feel like an equal partner. That doesn’t mean having to contribute the same in monetary value but putting the same effort into making smart choices.

    If you ever want someone to write an article about personal finances, why it matters and how simple it can be to take control I would LOVE to do it. I feel really passionately about how school teaches our children to ask the way to the youth hostel in French but not how to budget.

    Loving all the honest advice on here, such a great community x

      1. Thanks Lauren! I’ve sent a message through the ‘contact’ section – let me know if there’s a way to contact you directly x

    1. I massively agree about schools not teaching appropriate life skills such as budgeting – much more useful than Pythagoras’ theory! I grow up in a household where money was tight and usually got the answer that we could not afford whatever the latest craze was, so when I left school and had my own money I just blew the lot without any understanding of consequence.

  31. Great post and so interesting to hear how other people manage this. I am in charge of everything money related in our house. Our salaries are paid to our individual accounts and then we pay into the joint account 50/50 to cover all our monthly bills and the mortgage. We also pay in a bit extra to cover annual bills like house, car and travel insurance and the TV licence. We usually find that we have a bit left over which is often used on flights for weekends away (it feels like we’re getting a ‘free’ trip!) My top tip is to have a joint credit card. We have had one for years (well before we were married). It’s paid off in full each month from the joint account, and we use for all joint spend such as food shopping and meals out together – this avoids all of the “it’s not my turn to pay” type discussion. Perhaps it’s not the most romantic approach and it means absolutely everything (apart from gifts) is split down the middle, but it makes us feel like a ‘team’ and works really well for us.

    I find it fascinating that people can leave all of this to someone else. I’m obviously far too much of a control freak to do that! My husband would not have a clue how to manage this if I wasn’t around. In fact, I am somewhat embarrassed to admit, that I once set up a mortgage overpayment without telling him. I strongly believed (still do) that overpaying was the right approach, however he was a little on the fence. I knew he wouldn’t question the overall figure that I asked him to pay into the joint account that month (it changes month by month due to the joint credit card) and I was right! It was a bit naughty but we could both afford it and we’ve already saved a fortune in interest and knocked a lot of time off our mortgage. He knows about it now (it acted to prove my point that he didn’t pull his weight with the household admin!) and agrees that it is the best approach, fortunately!

  32. Great..nosy post! Our finances…each get paid our salaries into our own accounts then we do the same percentage split (Mr earns more so he will put more in but with a % I think it works out fair) into a joint account. From the joint account- mortgage, gas, electricity, council tax, water, nursery, insurance, mobile, credit card payments, Sky, internet all pay off. Whatever is remaining in our own accounts is up-to us how we spend. I would be interested to know what apps people use to track finances?…we are still pretty old school and have a folder which we shove the bills in.

  33. I also find this an interesting subject. When I first moved in with my husband 12 years ago we were unmarried and earned the same so had a 50:50 standing order to our joint account.
    A couple of years later we moved abroad and I actually didn’t have a job(!) so we went totally cold turkey and had a joint account. Since then everything we have is shared and I/we don’t see any reason for it to be different. It sometimes makes it difficult to buy secrets because we share the accounts…my husband bought my engagement ring from our joint account but I didn’t actually find out until after the proposal!
    We often are surprised when our married friends have separate money because we see marriage as a much bigger commitment than having a joint bank account. My husband earns more than me now but he would never suggest he is entitled to more of our income.
    My grandparents who are happily married in their 90s now and still have separate money and will give me Money for birthday and Christmas labelled as ‘this is from your grandma’ and ‘this is from your grandad’. Bizarre.
    As a result we take joint responsibility for everything and this suits us well although like a lot of others we are both accountants so fairly confident with finances and although on direct debit I could tell you how much most of the household bills are off the top of my head. It’s really not that difficult!

  34. Everything in our household goes into one ‘pot’ to pay all the bills, insurances, food etc. At the beginning of each year we work out a budget for the year, everything we need to spend money on (and I mean everything) gets entered on a giant spreadsheet, from the mortgage, utility bills, petrol, food to what we think we’ll spend on the garden, to birthday gifts. And if there is anything left over then that’s for leisure and hopefully a little bit left in case of emergencies. It works really well, we both have input in this and agree it, so that if I want to buy a new coat or shoes, that’s fine, because I have a pre-agreed clothing budget. Also, we’ve given thought to everything so nothing should come as a surprise.

  35. This is all so interesting! When we moved in together years ago we argued a lot over whose turn it was to pay for stuff so when we got engaged and were saving up for a wedding we bit the bullet and opened a joint account and paid all our money into that account. At that point our salaries were pretty equal so it was easy to see that it was fair. Fast forward 17 years and 2 kids later and we still have that joint account and it works fine. Our salaries are a lot less equal now and my husb earns a lot more than me but it still works fine as we have always worked on a what’s mine is yours basis. Only thing we have changed is that a few years ago we got a John Lewis credit card that we put most of our spending on, purely because every few months you get a nice little bonus of getting some John Lewis vouchers, which is just a fabulously exciting thing to receive for doing absolutely nothing! My husb is an Excel wizard so does a spreadsheet for our budget and savings going forward for the next few years – we usually don’t meet the expectations but it’s good to have a focus and I think it stops you frittering money away too much. I am the daily saver frequenting price comparison sites and Aldi cos he can’t be bothered with the minutiae of the day to day stuff. For us, it’s about doing the bits you’re good at, and fortunately we seem to pretty well balanced in the finance side of things. This all sounds a bit smug but it’s true!! Fab post!

  36. It’s interesting how many do a 50/50 split of the bills these days when only 30 odd years ago it would be standard to pool everything. My parents think it’s really strange that we have separate accounts as well as joint current and savings accounts but it works for us. Hubby and I put an agreed upon amount into our joint account every month to cover our mortgage, bills, food, petrol and entertainment for the month. Pre baby we also each put an equal amount in our joint savings account and into our own personal savings accounts (I was good at this and have saved quite a bit, hubby was not and has nothing!?). Anything left was ours to do with as we pleased. At this point hubby was earning about 25% more than me and I wouldn’t have felt right if he paid more, I’m very financially independent and always have been. When I went on maternity leave hubby put 80% of the amount needed to cover the joint account and I put 20% as statutory mat pay is a pittance. As soon as I went back to work hubby quit his job to start his own business so now he’s on a pittance and I’m the main bread winner so I do 80% and he does 20%. I don’t mind because it means he’s home all the time (he used to work offshore) and that’s priceless with a 1 year old. ? From a bills point of view he has no idea, I have a budgeting spreadsheet to keep track of everything and deal with it all through direct debits and online banking, I can’t remember the last time I got a paper bill! Everything is in both our names but it wound me up when I renewed our mortgage last year and everything came addressed to him! ?

  37. I won’t go in to our accounts as it’s a combination of what others have already written and is nothing groundbreaking, it’s just what we have evolved to work best for us. What I will add is how important I think financial compatibility is to a relationship. I’ve always thought how tough it must be to love someone who is the money-opposite of you, and I think the issues and resentments that brings up could make for a very interesting and helpful post?

    For me, there are a few golden rules that I’ve come to realise help us work better together financially, and for my tuppence worth, here they are…

    – Honest and open communication. About where we are and where we want to go.
    – Sensible amounts of trust. Whatever we plan, we test it with the ‘what situation will we be in if things go sour?’ question. We both honestly don’t think this would happen or that if it did that we are mean enough to screw each other over, but it happens and I’ve seen intelligent, successful middle aged women left with no savings, renting a shitty flat and working well beyond retirement because their husband left them and they had no plan of their own ?. Whatever happens, we need to be ok to move on with our lives without being on the breadline.
    – Big dreams. We have got what we’ve aimed for, almost all of the time!
    – Research and hard work. Being in control of your cash and making it earn even more money for you doesn’t happen by accident. We read a lot, ask a lot of questions and act on what we’ve learned.
    – Insurance. A health scare was enough for us to sort this out, we are now insured enough for us to sleep at night. You can’t insure against everything of course, and insurance is always a waste of money – until you need it.
    – Playing to our strengths – I’m far more interested in the best banks accounts and credit cards and my chap is astonishingly good at getting great deals on the utilities, but they bore me to tears!
    – Be a tight arse with the boring things so we can splurge on the fun things!
    – Learning to say no to people who suck your money in whatever way. If you don’t want to do it, say no. Whether you *could* afford it is no-ones business but yours, it’s whether you *want* to afford it that matters.
    – Enjoying our money without feeling guilty. This took me years, but it’s just money and you can’t take it with you! Use it to make your life happier and don’t wait to do the things you’ve always wanted to do, as long as you actually can afford it, get a cleaner (true story, best money spent ever!) buy the shoes, book the wedding, extend your house, travel to your dream destination ???

  38. Faye I love your comment above and all very true.

    My husband is self employed in the acting business so can have good years and bad years financially. I work as a PA in the financial services sector and my salary is decent (for a PA!) but pretty stagnant i.e. it’s not like I’m on any great career path where I’m likely to be earning a lot more in years to come.

    We are both very laid back about money but pretty good with it I’d say. Neither of us has ever been in debt (I’ve never even had a credit card). We have a joint account that we each pay in to monthly with the amount we pay in always totaling the same amount, but who pays what is quite fluid depending on work for my husband. We then both have our own current & savings accounts (I should add that I’d be happy to have one account and pool all our income but my husband says it’s easier for his accountant to just go through the stuff on his account and the joint account rather than having to rummage through all the nonsense I spend my money on too!!!)

    Invariably, if there’s a new item of furniture to be bought, or clothes/shoes for kids etc etc, I’ll choose and buy it and I’d never ask him to give me half back. Same goes for holidays, I choose them/book them/pay for them but then generally he brings along the spending money when we’re away. Then say if the car needs something doing to it, or there’s something for the house that needs seeing to that’s not very glamorous/interesting, he gets on with ‘sorting it out’ and pays for it and wouldnt ask me for half. We just muddle along really and it works. The joint account has enough funds generally for a few meals out a month so we never have that thing of who is getting dinner. Finally, as my husband is the ‘stay at home parent’ apart from when he’s got some work on, we’re lucky to have a lovely childminder who is willing to look after our daughter on a totally ad hoc basis, so when she’s been at the childminder, it’s because my husband has been working/earning money therefore he always pays that bill. It was never talked about and I never questioned it, that’s just how it works.

    Sorry, rambling response but essentially for us, we dont have any spreadsheets or whatnot and quite a lot of unspoken agreements but for us it works. Neither of us are too money-centric and the topic generally doesn’t come up very often in our household, maybe that needs to change….!

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