Married Bliss and Paying the Bills

The much married Zsa Zsa Gabor once said:


He taught me housekeeping.  When I divorce I keep the house

Money problems are a frequent cause of marital stress.  The additional effect caused by overspending at Christmas can make this worse It’s up to you how you manage your money when you’re in a relationship. Generally speaking, there are four main ways you can do it:


  1. Keep separate accounts.  If you don’t have a joint account, you’ll both keep your earnings separate. Any bills you share like the rent or mortgage need to be split on a case-by-case basis.
  2. Share everything.  You can combine all your income into a single pot and use this for all your expenses from small, everyday things to paying the rent, mortgage and bills.  This can make budgeting a lot easier, but you’ll need a joint account for it to work smoothly. That way, you’ll both have equal control over the money – although you’ll have very little privacy and you’ll both be able to see what the other person is spending.
  3. Share some responsibilities but keep some things private
  4. The main earner pays their partner an ‘allowance’.   If one of you isn’t earning – perhaps because you’re staying at home to look after young children or caring for an elderly relative – you could both keep separate accounts and the earner pays their partner an allowance.  The main earner can transfer an agreed amount each week or month to their partner’s account. You can both decide whether the amount that is transferred is money for household bills and spending money, or just personal spending money. remember, the allowance should not be seen as a ‘favour’ bestowed on the non-earning partner – if they are at home looking after the kids or as a carer – that’s a job too, it just happens to be unpaid


In truth, it’s not as clear-cut as this – exactly how you manage your finances will depend on both your attitudes to money. You may find some areas where you’re happy to share the responsibility, but others where you feel differently and need to reach a compromise.  Try to understand each other’s approach and attitude to money. This will help you identify areas where you agree – and disagree – so you plan everything and communicate regularly. 


Whether you are concerned with finances as part of a couple or as an individual if you want to get on top of your finances, a budget is a really good way to start. It’s just a record of money you have coming in (from things like your salary or wages, pensions or benefits) and payments that you make (such as your rent or mortgage, insurance and Council Tax as well as living expenses and regular and irregular spending).

A great way to work out your budget is with an online budget planner – like the one on the MoneyAdviceService website. This allows you to record all of your incomings and outgoings. It then analyses and adds up your figures and gives a breakdown of where your spending goes each month across the following broad categories: – household bills, living costs, financial products, family and friends, travel, leisure,   You can set a budget up using a spreadsheet on your computer or just write it all down on a piece of paper. Your bank or building society may also give you access to an online budgeting tool which takes information directly from your transactions.

Your local CAB can provide you with advice on how to manage debt or the steps involved in the break up of a marriage call the Citizens Advice Waverley line on 0844 848 7969 to talk to an adviser or to make an appointment for a face to face meeting

Share this article