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How do you manage when your relationship turn serious enough to consider life together but you have such different incomes?

(10 Posts)
PigletUnrepentant Sat 22-Mar-14 22:58:10

I have been a single mum for so many years I have become very independent. I work long hours but have a small salary, the invaluable help of tax credits and a very austere lifestyle so DS and I manage ok in my small income.

I am aware that if my partner and I start living together I will need to loose the tax credits, DP says I shouldn't worry about that as he has a good salary. I know he means it but:
- I have been on my own for such a long time I find it difficult to accept him paying things for me and/or DS.
- he knows how much I treasure my independance so he tries to respect that.
- His ex wife was, as he is, a very high earner so, he is used to see a woman as an equal and have no problems in making himself helpful around the house without any prompt, BUT, I expect he is also used to having a partner who is financially independant, which I wouldn't be if we start living together.

Obviously, I'm applying for better paid jobs all the time (even before I met him), we are both trying to find a middle ground, he is kind enough to adapt himself to my lifestyle, but I am afraid he might be sacrificing many things he enjoyed doing, and I am struggling a bit to keep up with the increased expenses of going out, possible holidays, etc.

How do I manage this income difference? He is absolutely lovely, but I cannot avoid thinking that I will be feeling like a financial burden to him if we go ahead with the idea of living together.

shouldbebetterthanthis Sun 23-Mar-14 00:36:55

When I got engaged to DH (who isn't my DS's dad) we sat down and had a chat about finances, with all our paperwork spread out and a spreadsheet on the laptop. I had to explain to him that I would lose all means-tested financial support (including child tax credits, HB and more recently child benefit). I've never got child maintenance either so it would mean that his income would have to go towards supporting both of us.

DH was a little surprised at benefits implication (as we discussed, it meant that many women must be put into very vulnerable positions because of it) but his personal view was that he knew what the deal was when he got into a relationship with me and that his commitment to me meant supporting each other through thick and thin, financially as well as emotional and in practical ways. He wouldn't dream of separating finances in any way because we were forming a new family and we all had a right to access the family income, regardless of who was bringing it in.

Your DP sounds lovely and he shows a similar attitude to my DH. I would not be too proud or focus too much on your financial contribution. You're contributing to the household and relationship and that's extremely valuable.

We have joint current and savings accounts now, although we have kept our own accounts as well, but all income is family income. Nothing else would make sense. DH takes responsibility for paying for most leisure activities and holidays, and he'd hate it if we had to limit ourselves only to activities that I could afford to pay equally from my own income. If your relationship is serious enough to consider cohabiting (although I would be wary of doing this without being married, as it puts you in a weak position) then you should be ready to share your lives together and to me, that means the finances as well.

Splatt34 Sun 23-Mar-14 06:32:28

I am, always have been the main income earner by a long way in our relationship. OK so we were both single & childless when we got together but as early as 6 months I paid for us both to go on holiday. I wanted to go, I wanted to go with him & he couldn't afford it. Made complete sense to me& he eventually accepted.

12 years, a wedding & 2 kids on I still am the main earner. DH works part time and looks after the DDs on the other days as I am FT. His job covers his car, phone, "pocket money" & most of nursery (less my child care voucher), mine covers everything else.

It would be a lie to say I sometimes don't slightly envy friends with higher joint income or wish I was able to work PT, but there wrest fleeting thoughts & I wouldn't change a thing.

PigletUnrepentant Sun 23-Mar-14 07:05:51

Thank you for your comments.
It is years since my exh and I did the same after we got married (when we got engaged we had the same salary, after the wedding I lost mine as we moved abroad for his job).

It worked fine and once we discussed the things we got a nice arrangement that kept both of us happy for some years, or at least that is what I thought. i guess that having heard once and once again at the court , during the divorce process, what a financial burden I was and being left in such vulnerable position after leaving my career, there is something deep inside me telling me this is not going to work. which is ridiculous as not all men are the same and no matter how hard I try, i will not be able to get a salary as good as his as he had built that over many years and I am practically back at square one as no matter how hard I try, the years I spent at home during my first marriage had a very big impact on my earning power.

Blimey, i am starting to think that the problem is not the difference of salaries but all the trauma left by my previous relationship...

PigletUnrepentant Mon 24-Mar-14 19:14:30

Bump

TalkinPeace Mon 24-Mar-14 21:58:57

you are right
its not about money
its about trust

DH and I have always had merged finances even through the years when he did not work and then when I did not
now - as I'm an accountant - I magically flex our earnings to make best use of tax allowances

MillyMollyMama Mon 24-Mar-14 23:42:40

We merged our incomes into one account when we bought a house, three years before we got married in 1981. At that time DH earned about 60% more than me. Fast forward 25 years and DH's income had ballooned by a multiple of 100 and I earned a few pounds from my investments. We still have a joint account. Go on to 2008/09 and his income drops by 95% and mine is still a few pounds from investments. Times have greatly improved now, although not back to the heady days of before, but we rarely discuss who has earned what and who pays for what because, guess what, it's always him who has earned the money.

In the intervening years, before children, I had a fairly good job and liked to think I could manage pretty well but my salary was always pretty small in comparison to DH. However I think if you genuinely get on with each other, who brings what to the bank account is of no real consequence because you accept the person for what they are, not what they can, or cannot, pay for.

Dahlen Tue 25-Mar-14 14:46:41

In my case I've simply opted not to live together. I simply won't be dependent on a man again.

BF and I have talked about it. He is a good man who believes we should pool finances rather than split them 50/50 because there are children involved and because I would lose child-related benefits (some CTCs and CB) if we moved in together. He says all the right things and I believe his sincerity.

I still can't bring myself to be ok with it. I just hate, hate, hate the idea of being financially dependent, even if just in part, on a man and unable to pay my own way. If he was the father of my children I'd feel less bad about it, but he isn't. I would not let any man move in with me unless I felt he understood and accepted the step-parenting commitment he would be making if we lived together, which includes financial responsibility for step children as if they were your own. But just because I demand that in principle and he agrees doesn't mean I am comfortable with it happening in practice and straight away. I see it more as a safety net.

Ironically I have always been the higher earner in all my relationships and even paid XH's CM for him without ever begruding a penny, so I've been on the flip side of this arrangement and never resented it. However, it's always easier to be the benefactor than the recipient IMO because of the power balance (even though healthy relationships shouldn't be about power).

PigletUnrepentant Tue 25-Mar-14 19:19:40

"you are right
its not about money
its about trust"

I think you have got a point there, he may be happy to help, but while I continue to see his contribution as "help", i guess I'm going to continue to find it difficult :s

PigletUnrepentant Tue 25-Mar-14 19:24:10

Dahlen, you have put how I feel in much better words. I should wait, we are not ready yet. As generous as he is, and as winderfully well he gets along with my son, I don't feel I can't expect him to be there, financially speaking, for DS.

I suppose I need to keep my TC until I can provide for DS without other help than my salary alone.

He earns about 4-5 times my salary, but I still feel I shouldn't expect him to pay for us.

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