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Feminism: Sex and gender discussions

Should we be sharing wages equally, or keeping them seperate??

29 replies

sunshineandfreedom · 10/01/2013 08:32

Hello, really hoping for some practical advice here!

DP and I are getting weddinged in August. Currently, we have seperate bank accounts and each pay exactly half of every bill, leaving our 'spending money' seperate. He earns a couple of hundred more each month than I do; hopefully that will be changing very soon but that's the situation as it stands.

I have always believed that we should keep it this way until recently, but it's starting to feel silly. When I broached the idea of a joint account and pooling our wages before splitting them equally, including spending money, he seemed to feel that I was basically just asking for some free money (because I would end up better off out of this, and he worse).

BUT. And here's the but. Although part of me believes in completely seperate finances, the other part believes that in order to be completely equal in partnership what we actually need is pooled resources. From a feminist perspective, it's this:

A) Keeping finances seperate technicaly means we are 'financially independant' from each other (although not true, as neither of us could maintain our current lifestyle withoutt he other paying half of stuff).

B) Pooling our resources means we both have equal amounts of everything, which actually feels more fair in some ways.

So I'm not sure whether to push it or not. I currently feel strongly in favour of B, and think we should sort this out before we have DC in a few years. But every time I bring it up he is negative and seems to basically think I'm trying to take his money (which makes me think he's being childish and quite frankly a bit of a knob). But I am prepared to be told that's wrong.


(X-posting to the Money Matters board)

OP posts:
CailinDana · 10/01/2013 08:50

I wouldn't marry him until this was resolved. The fact he believes that you're "trying to take his money" is really really worrying. It shows that he doesn't see you as a unit, but as two separate people. Worse, he doesn't trust you. That is very serious. What happens if you lose your job, or go on maternity leave, or want to be a SAHM?

Personally I find it odd when a couple don't share their money but as long as it's fair and both are ok with it, then good luck to them. The issue here is that you're not ok with it, and your fiance would rather treat you like a greedy moneygrabber than as a partner that he's about to share the rest of his life with.

BertieBotts · 10/01/2013 08:58

I think it depends, if you're living as single people sharing a house (even though you're having a relationship, if that makes sense - I don't mean single in that way) then having separate resources which are different with what you each earn makes sense IMO, and you would be unreasonable to ask him to split it. Look at how it would feel if it was the other way around and he suggested it, especially if you'd done more work, either networking/experience/qualifications etc to get to your position (I don't know if this is the case in your situation now, I'm not implying that it is!)

However, if you're getting married, it sounds like it's a bit more serious? I think it would make sense to pool your resources, because you're effectively becoming a family unit, presumably planning for the future together, with the wedding, maybe planning for a mortgage or children or just saving in case anything goes wrong or for a holiday fund or whatever. Unless you're earning less because you really can't be bothered to push yourself for no good reason (and there can be good reasons for staying in a low paid job) then he should understand that careers move at different rates and just because he's earning more than you at the moment, doesn't mean you won't maybe earn more in the future. Plus like you say it needs discussing before you have DC (even if you discuss in a "not now but later" way) because if you take time off to be with the DC then your earnings will be affected and you don't want to be stuck with a miserly partner who insists that the family money is "his" because "he" earnt it.

It's hard to tell if he is being selfish/tight or whether he just hasn't really thought about what it means to be married and to share your lives in that way, since the separate finances thing does make sense when you're more of a casual couple than a serious one. For DP and I we've always shared our money, not to the point of having a joint account and taking equal amounts out, but when a bill came up etc then the person who had the most spare would pay it, we'd lend each other money to help us through a rough patch etc. It was never an issue and it never felt like DP was "taking" my money or that I was "taking" his - it was just kind of fluid and whoever had it helped out and whoever was skint got helped out etc. So in our case the sharing/pooling of resources was there from the beginning. But I think you'll learn a lot about your DP's attitude by talking to him about what he expects for the future etc.

help1975 · 10/01/2013 09:02

I think his attitude isn't quite right. Marriage is a team effort. The law will regard all your assets and debts as joint anyway does he understand that?
Personally I don't see how you can have children and not share all income. The financial abuse of women seems to happen when the earning partner dishes out pocket money rather than seeing income as shared.
I have been the higher earner whilst dh was sahp and am now Sahp whilst he works. At all points dh and I have shared our money and it just goes straight into joint account nobody thinks of it as theirs.

Trills · 10/01/2013 09:04

3 current accounts

One joint - you agree how much money this needs to have in it - pays for rent and bills and food and everything to do with the house and children (include things like insurance here). You both have full access and visibility.

Two separate ones: one each. Your wages get paid into here then you transfer enough into the joint account each month to cover what the joint account needs, in a way that leaves you both with equal amounts of spending money. You don't have access to each other's accounts and you don't get to comment or judge how the other spends their spending money.

You can also discuss savings etc but that's the main thing.

You are a team you both deserve to have the same amount of money to spend. Especially if you have children, when one of you will likely (directly or indirectly) give up some of their chance of higher earnings in order to do child-related stuff (even if you don't go part time, with children you can't both work as many hours and be on-call as much as you might do otherwise).

Trills · 10/01/2013 09:06

DP and I are not married and do not have children so we do something partway between what I said above and what you do.

We pay into the joint account proportionally to our income. So if one person takes home ore than the other we pay into the joint account in a ratio of 5:4 (or whatever). In the past he earned more, currently I earn more, that might change again.

sunshineandfreedom · 10/01/2013 09:12

^I think his attitude isn't quite right. Marriage is a team effort. The law will regard all your assets and debts as joint anyway does he understand that?

I think that would be a good way to get him to understand it... So it'd be pointless keeping it seperate anyway really. I think we just need a shift in our thinking to 'ours'...

Work-wise, he is in sales and earns a lot of comission because he's good at what he does. I work in admin to pay the bills, but am a writer and artist, and a student too! Academically I am more qualified and 'work harder' than him, but as I'm currently studying one could argue that day-job wise he works harder. But that's bollocks as I do a day job AND study! dies of le complicated

OP posts:
expatinscotland · 10/01/2013 09:16

Sounds like one of those people who see the value of people only in what they 'contribute' financially. I had a boyfriend like this, once. Once. Kept going on about women who didn't 'earn their keep' in a relationship, expected to be 'financed' by their partners, etc. His niggly attitude drove me up the wall.

sunshineandfreedom · 10/01/2013 09:19

He's not like that at all, expatinscotland - or I'd be well shot of him!

I don't know. I think it's primarily him not having adjusted his mind to think of us as a family unit as opposed to two seperate people... Because often we do think of ourselves as two seperate people who have chosen to be together - our lives don't revolve around each other!

OP posts:
purplefairies · 10/01/2013 09:20

We do more or less what Trills suggests. We have a joint account into which we both transfer an equal amount every month. This pays for the mortgage and household bills.

I wouldn't feel comfortable having EVERYTHING in one account, to be honest. I know it's silly, but I would some how feel like I'd need to justify my purchases more if it was coming out of "our" money. Since we both have our own accounts (I don't have a clue what the balance in DH's personal account is and vice-versa), I feel this gives me a lot more freedom to do with my money as I please.

On the other hand, we both alternate paying for food, holidays and other luxuries from each other's personal accounts and certainly don't keep a mental note of who has paid for what.

BertieBotts · 10/01/2013 09:28

I think you need to approach it from a "When we have children, what do you think we should do about money, as I'll be working less/on maternity leave/etc" POV and see what he thinks about that now, rather than trying to reason with him over legal points. IMO if you go from the legal angle he will probably assume you're thinking "what can I get from him in case of divorce?" although that might just be my experience with my twatty ex talking!

Basically what I'm meaning is that it doesn't really matter what he says, because he can say anything he likes to placate you. You need to find out what his underlying attitude is to the concept of you earning less than him, and the easiest example to start with is you taking time out of work to look after children. You can't shift his thinking and it's not your responsibility to try - what you want to do is get him thinking and let him come to the conclusion on his own, otherwise he'll always be resentful and thinking that you tricked him out of his money etc. It might be the case that he's just not thought it through, but explaining it to him is patronising and also might lead him to say what you want to hear rather than what he actually thinks. Go into it as an open discussion about options "now that we're going to be married" and see what he thinks. If he says that marriage doesn't change anything, or starts talking about women who only get married so that they can steal their husband's money then I'd be seeing red flags.

Also, if you're studying then there's one reason you're earning less! Hard to do a high-powered, commission-driven job and have the energy to study as well. People in marriages support each other. If I'd finished my degree, DP would have supported me through it, and if he'd not got his dream job abroad, then I would have supported him to train for it here once I was qualified and earning.

AbigailAdams · 10/01/2013 09:36

We have a joint account and two separate current accounts. We transfer a proportion of our salary so that we end up with the same amount of spending money at the beginning of the month. We have done it several other ways but this is most definitely fairest.

We did used to put the same amount of money into a joint account but I ended up with loads of savings and DH none (as I earn more). So we then put the same percentage of our salary into the joint account and set up some joint savings to come out of the joint account, but again I still had more spending money and although DH had more it certainly wasn't as much.

It is not fair that one person has more to spend than another. If it were the other way round and you earned more, would you begrudge him paying less into the pot so that he had the same amount of spending money per month as you?

Also what is going to happen if you have children? How will you manage that? If he begrudges putting more than you into the pot now, how will he feel when you are on maternity leave? Will you have to provide for yourself? Will he provide for his children? All pretty dodgy ground if this is his attitude already.

AbigailAdams · 10/01/2013 09:38

x-post with Bertie (because I take so bloody long to write posts). Yes the underlying attitude is the most important thing to establish.

sunshineandfreedom · 10/01/2013 10:40

I think what I'll suggest is splitting bills and savings proportionately. So...

  • We calculate who earns what percentage of our joint income
  • We calculate how much we spend on bills AND how much we want to save each month
  • This total is then split in accordance with the percentages
  • We are each left with a proportionaly representative amount of spending money

How does that sound? That way when I'm on maternity leave/if one of us loses our job it will automatically still be fair, yes? And when we have DC an amount each month to be spent on them will also be part of the percentage split.
OP posts:
Trills · 10/01/2013 10:45

That way when I'm on maternity leave/if one of us loses our job it will automatically still be fair, yes?

If you think that it is fair that you might end up with only 10% as much spending money (while on maternity leave), or he might end up with only £2 a week spending money (if he were made redundant).

sunshineandfreedom · 10/01/2013 10:48

Maybe we just need a clause of "while I am on maternity leave / if one of us loses our job then the one of us still earning will support the other, and until such time as we are both working full-time again all resources will be shared"?

OP posts:
badtasteflump · 10/01/2013 10:52

We do what Trills does. Works fine. Everything's covered but I still have 'my' money Smile

badtasteflump · 10/01/2013 10:59

And PS I agree that you really need to get this sorted before you're married - I have a couple of friends who are married to men who are tightwads 'careful with money' and it doesn't make for a happy marriage Sad

sunshineandfreedom · 10/01/2013 11:11

Okay, so I've drafted what I plan to say. I'll ask him to sit down with me and talk about it with a glass of wine of an evening, and basically say this:


At the moment, we lives financially as two separate people. When we are married, the law will see our incomes as totally combined. I therefore feel that we should prepare for this.

Ideally, I would like to have a joint bank account. Both our wages will be paid into this, and all bills will come out of it. Whatever is left after bills and savings we will transfer into our single-person card one banking accounts, split evenly down the middle.

I thought for a long time about doing it by percentages, but that means that if one of us lost our job, or in the future when I may be on maternity leave, there is a possibility that one of us will end up with no money for themselves whatsoever ? I never want you to be in that position, and I hope that you feel the same way about me.

Our finances have been weird in our relationship, and by no means perfect or even good sometimes! We need to fix this.

When we are married, and actually already, I see us as a family unit of two (plus the cat), not two single people. We are a family. I feel that our finances should be family finances, not split into ?this is yours and this is mine?. This will set us up for a secure future together and also make things like saving easier.

Right now, yes, you will be a tiny bit ?worse off? out of it, but I ask you not to see it like that. What we earn, we earn for our family unit ? as it stands, of two plus cat ? we do not earn it for ourselves as individuals. One day I?ll be earning a helluva a lot as a lecturer (I hope!), and we?ll all be better off then!

I love you. I already see us as a family. Just because we don?t have kids yet, doesn?t mean we?re not a family. I want our money to reflect this, and think that if we do this now it will save us a world of trouble in the future. It will also make it easier for us to create some savings, which we can then use to pay off our debts faster and save for travel or a house deposit.

I also think that this will strengthen our ?togetherness? as we?ll be ?in it together?, so to speak. It will help us to be generally more considerate of each other because we?ll feel more united ? an ?us? instead of ?you and I?.
I hope that you understand what I?m trying to do here. What do you think?


I think that explains it. He probably genuinely hasn't thought about it from that perspective. He can be a bit dense sometimes.

OP posts:
badtasteflump · 10/01/2013 11:30

Sounds good to me Smile. I don't think any reasonable person could argue with that.

And don't get too hung up on 'justifying' why you should both be left with similar amounts of money - it's only right that you are because, as you say, you will be a family unit and both work for the benefit of that unit, whether PT, FT, at home, whatever....

fedupwithdeployment · 10/01/2013 11:49

Good luck.

My DH always earned more than me. He supported me for a year pre wedding while I was doing a year's course, and while I took 3 years out with children.

This year I got a job which meant I was paid exactly the same as him...and now he has been made redundant (albeit with decent package), so I am earning a lot more than him!

We have a joint and sep accounts, and all major bills come out of joint account. But it is a bit ad hoc, and when we do tesco, it tends to be out of my account, because that is the one that is registed on line! I would say we share all money, but he doesn't see how much I spend on hair cuts etc! I think we have a pretty healthy attitude towards family finances.

Lancelottie · 10/01/2013 11:56

Sounds good, but my god you must have a patient or slow-thinking partner if you're going to get through that lot before he interrupts!

LaCiccolina · 10/01/2013 11:57

Well u have to decide what marriage means to u both.

Is it a) a legal doc?
B) two single people connecting for sex sometimes?
C) two single incomes doing individual things?
D) a family? & what does that mean?
E) two people sharing money and desires and dreams?

I'm not being sarcastic here just genuinely how do u both see life moving forwards? A wedding is bigger than a party. It's the start of something new and bigger than both of u. U are now or will be, us. Forever.


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TheDoctrineOfSnatch · 10/01/2013 13:34

It may just mean a change in his thinking rather than be anything 'tightwaddish' - I felt a bit weird when DH and I boguth a house shortly before we were married, the deposit money was all from my savings but the house ownership was 50:50. I guess I'd had 'save your money for a rainy day', 'be financially independent' etc drummed into me and it took a while for that to be overcome by the 'partnership' message.

I did do it, but slightly reluctantly - but all reluctance went reasonably quickly after marriage and now I know it was the right thing to do.

Greythorne · 10/01/2013 13:40

I think you might also ask him a rhetorical question:

Imagine one of you was earning 100,000 per annum
The other earns 20,000 per annum

Would he still expect to share bills equally and then keep the remainder separate? So one person has 80k "spending money" and the other 5k "spending money"?

Greythorne · 10/01/2013 13:41

whoops, my sums don't add up, but hopefully you get what I mean.

This situation seems extreme but this is similar to what many women on maternity or SAHM leave on in. Suddenly they are no longer earning....does that mean their spouse pays all the bills and they get no "spending money" at all?

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