Arguing about money


Coins and credit card"It's not about the monee, monee, monee," as many of our four-year-olds drone in the style of Jessie J. Except it is often about the money. 'It' being the arguments, the concealed resentment and the anxiety.

These are your finances post-kids:

  • There is less money overall
  • One of you may well be getting no or less money at source - that would be the person doing more childcare
  • You may have gone into the whole kid thing proudly independent and with separate bank accounts and now one of you can support a light aircraft habit and the other has no money for buns

And that isn't right. People with children are able to work because other people are looking after their offspring. So you need to knock your own heads together and ensure there is equitable distribution of the family money.

This doesn't mean you necessarily let it all go into one big pot from which you both draw at will. If either partner is daft, profligate or a frequenter of online poker rooms, you'll need financial controls.

"I am a SAHM. My husband works. Our money is our money. I enable my husband to work by staying at home caring for our children." pooka

Different ways of organising your family finances

One approach to avoid arguing about money is for both salaries to go into a joint account and for all household bills to come out of that account. Both parents then draw freely from the account.

Alternatively, all money goes into a joint account and then some of it is siphoned off into personal accounts. Once again, the bills and household expenses come out of this general pot. But equal amounts of 'spending money' (if any) go into separate accounts, plus any expenses peculiar to one person, such as work travel costs.

If you both have a decent income and you would like to maintain some financial independence, you could agree that fair proportions of your respective salaries go into a joint account for joint expenses. Then make hay with your remaining funds.

"Our salaries get paid into our individual accounts. We both transfer an agreed amount into the joint account monthly which covers mortgage/food/bills etc. The rest is ours to do as we like with. I much prefer it this way. He fritters his away (imho) on beer and crap, I prefer to save mine for a rainy day or the odd treat." branflake81

You need to talk, talk, talk about it until you devise something which feels fair and takes account of each partner's idiosyncrasies. There is nothing wrong with keeping some financial autonomy provided your overall economy is fair. Hanging on to some of your own cash doesn't say anything profound about love and trust.

As Mumsnetter motherinferior puts it: "My partner is quite dreadful with money. I have some independent savings. They're what I pay into, as well as a pension, to have some money I can draw on if I need to. But then I never understand the idea that True Love involves pooling all your cash anyway."

Under no circumstances should the person who is earning the money (if there is only one) be controlling the finances and doling out an 'allowance' to the other person. This is not 1955.

And you should make sure you both have a good understanding of your financial situation and not just because one of you might be run down by a cyclist on the pavement. Mumsnetter madamez counsels: "Every adult should have some financial independence. Allowing your partner to control all the joint finances is bad for you psychologically: it starts you down the path to believing that you are either a dependent on the partner-with-money-control or that person's property. Love is irrelevant."

And finally, if you can, it's no bad thing for you each to have your own savings. Mumsnetter Lilymaid explains why: "My husband and I both have 'running away funds' - ie we have our own small investments that we could use in emergencies, but which are really long-term savings. We haven't yet had the urge to run and have known each other for 30 years." 

Last updated: over 3 years ago