Different attitudes to money
It's important to understand how your partner behaves financially and to discuss
money regularly. Make sure you know who pays for what or whether you’re sharing
costs. You don’t want your bank balance to disappear just because you met the wrong
It's normal to have differences in opinions about money or very different financial
backgrounds; what is important is how you manage those differences.
Some people are happy to live with their credit cards or overdraft maxed out. You may
not like to live that way. Or your partner might want to pay for everything, leaving you
feeling indebted. Whatever your situation, it’s best to make conscious decisions
about your spending and to discuss money openly. Doing so will help you avoid
arguments and tension. Find common ground and work out a money plan that suits you
If you move in with your partner or you’re already living together, it's likely
there will be shared bills and other joint expenses. Agree on a system for paying these.
Will one person take responsibility for payment, or will you pay them together in person
once a week or month?
Over time, you might combine your financial arrangements more and more. If so, you
need to work out how shared money will be managed. This might involve setting up a joint
account that you both pay into to cover bills and other payments, or to save for things
like holidays you’re planning to take together.
While each couple will have to determine what works best for them, financial and
relationship experts recommend the following tips:
- Put both your names on services like electricity and telephone to make bills your
- Make sure joint assets like your home are purchased in both your names, and that
joint debts are in both names, not just one.
- Be careful about putting your name on a loan that will only benefit your
About Shared Money
Don't be blinded by love – be aware of how much money is coming in and going
out in your relationship. Here are some things to watch out for:
- A joint loan doesn't always mean you're only liable for half the debt. If your
partner defaults, you may be liable for the whole amount, plus fees, interest and charges
– even if your relationship ends.
- If a utility service such as electricity or water is only in your name, then it's
your sole responsibility to pay the bills.
- Think carefully before you guarantee a loan for your partner or family members. If
things don't go to plan and the borrower can't repay the money, you will have to pay for
any loan you've guaranteed, plus fees, interest and charges. For example, if the guarantee
is secured against your home you risk losing it.
Take care of yourself
If you earn less income than your partner, you may feel you don't have a right to
make decisions about where the money goes. Talk to your partner about how you feel. You
should work as a partnership, including when it comes to money.
- Make a list of all your accounts, loans, investments and insurance.
- Keep all your financial information in one place so you both know where they
Don't sign anything you don't understand. Always read documents
Get professional advice before:
- Guaranteeing a loan.
- Signing your name to a loan which will only benefit your partner.
- Becoming a partner in a business.
Planning for the future together
In the early stages of a relationship, sharing the bills may be your main financial
concern. Over time, you may decide on goals together such as going on a vacation, buying a
home, or even starting a family. Make sure you set budgets for your various goals.
- Make a will and keep it up to date. See planning your estate and putting it in trust
- Get your partner and older children to work with you on a household budget. This
will help you see how much money you can save or invest in your shared goals
When a relationship ends
What happens financially if you split up depends on whether you have any bills,
savings, property and debts. It’s wise to keep track of debts and bills during your
relationship so you don’t have any unexpected surprises if you break up. This
includes knowing about all the car loans, overdrafts, credit card or other debts you and
your partner have entered into – whether as individuals or as a couple.
Whether you remain in the relationship or not, it’s important to be aware that
you could be required to repay any loans or debts if your name is on any of these
agreements or if you agreed to be a guarantor. If your partner or your ex-partner doesn't
pay debts off, you may later find it difficult to borrow money or buy a house.
Following a break-up, make sure you freeze or close every store card, account, loan,
or debt you’ve set up jointly – including ones where your partner only had
authorized user rights. It’s also important to write everything down in case there
are disagreements at a later date.
When closing accounts make sure you make alternative arrangements to cover automatic payments for mortgage or
rent, insurance and other bills or you may be charged late fees. Another tip is to make
sure you get any joint debts transferred to one name only as part of the split. See
section on divorce for more information.