Today we’re joined by reader Clare who has a passion for personal finance. Clare commented on a recent post about her wish to write a feature on joint finances and lots of you mentioned you’d be keen to have a read.

After reading Lauren’s article on who pays the bills it was clear that different relationships each have such differing views on personal finances and I wanted to write about my experiences and share my thoughts on the subject.

What struck me most was the sheer number of us who feel that our worth is based on the monetary value that we bring to our relationships. I feel we shouldn’t be about getting hung up on how much we earn but focusing on how much we contribute and those are two very different things.
A relationship is about playing to each other’s strengths and complementing each other; it doesn’t always work when one person does everything, or when two people do an equal half of the same thing. In our house renovation we’ve shared the tasks; Matt loves the big, quick jobs so he paints the walls while I love the detailed jobs, so I cut in. If Matt painted everything the centre of the room would be great but the splodges all over the ceiling would make me cry. Equally if I did everything we would have lovely lines in the corners but it would take me a week to paint the walls. I trust him to do a great job of getting even coverage and he trusts me to get a crisp, even finish. Financial matters are another set of jobs that we share and trust each other with. However we split the tasks – paying bills, budgeting the monthly food shopping, finding the best accounts for our savings – we play to our strengths but also work together to understand the decisions and actions we’re both taking.
As a couple you’ll probably have talked about your hopes and dreams: Where in the world you’d like to visit, where you’d like to live and what you’d do for a living of money was no object. I love those conversations, usually on holiday a couple of poolside cocktails in when you feel truly connected to your other half. Unfortunately, those dreams remain just that until you have a plan to make them into a reality. Sad as it seems, I get really excited when my husband and I talk about moving money into a better account or getting cashback on our insurance renewal because we’re one step closer to living the life we’ve always talked about.
Contributing more to shared finances doesn’t have to mean working three jobs or selling your shoe collection, it can be as simple as making some small changes. You tried those supermarket-brand products that are just as good as the branded ones? That’s £10 a week you’re putting in the pot. You made your lunch three times this week instead of taking it to work? Another £15 for the pot. You went online and researched how to get the cheapest deal for your utilities? You just made £200 for the pot and your joint finances are now in much better shape for it. And when you’ve spent time and effort on contributing to your shared finances, you feel more in control of what you have and care more about how you spend it.
Maybe this is second nature to you and you’re already bringing your A-game to your financial planning. Does your budget spreadsheet put the chancellor to shame? I’d love to know how you contribute to your family finances whether that’s finding a great deal for your mobile phone, batch cooking for the week or shopping the reduced section of the supermarket. And the single ladies out there, I’d love to know what your savings secrets are. Do you have any tips for making the most of your monthly finances?
I hope you spend some time this week enjoying the longer evenings – I’m feeling inspired to get our garden plans back up and running. What are your goals for 2017? Are there some small changes you can make to help you achieve them?