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How should married couples conduct their financial affairs?

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  • Registered Users Posts: 436 ✭✭Girl Geraldine


    I think it is called "pin money". It is money that a wife should put away and keep to herself as an emergency fund in case she needs it to run away in case the husband got abusive, or disappeared, or if he went on the drink. Every woman should have an emergency fund like this and not have the husband know about it.



  • Registered Users Posts: 18,062 ✭✭✭✭rob316


    I can't understand how you didn't know he was earning 150k a year? It says more about your relationship than anything. Finances are so important in marriage especially one where ye have children, it should be totally transparent. I think there is always one who is always that bit more responsible with the finances but not to take the kids on holidays and you pick up all the bills. Leave him he has no respect for you at all, this is only the tipping point.



  • Registered Users Posts: 4,987 ✭✭✭Deeec


    I would find that odd that couples can be as nitpicky to take note of who has paid for what. I wouldnt even do that to a friend! Its not good in a marriage. Sooner or later that will lead to problems.



  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    "It would normally go something like, "I'll get this one, you got the last one" "

    Jesus! Okay, I'm learning here. It might be very strange for me, but it might work for some folks.



  • Registered Users Posts: 21,964 ✭✭✭✭ELM327


    Exactly. I funded my recent expenditure on a fancy solar panel and storage system from my bonuses at work. Personal savings are allowed too! It's important to cover the joint expenses with a margin for safety. But after that money is to enjoy life with. The whole point of the setup we have is to have the joint account budgeted and then we have our own remaining salary to spend as you please with no question.



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  • Registered Users Posts: 8,386 ✭✭✭FintanMcluskey


    you pick up all the bills

    Did OP say this???

    I dont think she did



  • Registered Users Posts: 7,513 ✭✭✭the_pen_turner


    openess and transparancy is very much important with any system . the issue here is that the op didnt know her husbands salery and what he is doing with the 40k more a year he roughly has more than she does.

    OP you realy need to find out where this money is going. it can range from a great pension , to colage funds for the kids to a gambling adiction or a second family. hopefully not the last ones

    im supprised that you think a joint account is the best way. i have heard stories directly from people that show it doesnt work

    several times i have been talking to guys and they have told me they are saving up for a newer car or van etc or a trip away with the lads and when asked about it 6 months later thaey say there wives spent the money on them. and one case where the husband boughts a 35k camper van and the wife lost the plot on him. i was working there and it would have been funny if it wasnt so sad.


    joint accounts only work with 2 frugal people. if one is more or less frugal than the other it can create issues



  • Registered Users Posts: 4,987 ✭✭✭Deeec


    But large expenses ( car, camper van, etc) should be discussed in a marriage before purchase whether they are being paid out of a joint account or a personal account - would you not agree.

    Im not sure why €35K was sitting in a joint account ( that makes no sense) but Im sure your man would have bought the camper van even if they had separate accounts. This couple have issues within the marriage - its not the joint account that was the problem



  • Registered Users Posts: 357 ✭✭JimboJones99


    See this is what I mean, to you it is nitpicking but it isn't to me. Just to clarify, there is no record being kept. I'm sure there are times where I paid for meals 2 or 3 times in a row and vice versa. If I knew she had, lets say, just had her car serviced, then I would pay for the meal regardless of who paid last time. It is not a defined structure whereby we take out a little notebook and jot that who paid for what. It is being comfortable in our relationship whereby we both know neither is trying to screw over the other whilst maintaining a bit of financial independence. Absolutely nothing odd about it in my view. The same way I don't think your scenario is odd either by the way

    Post edited by JimboJones99 on


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,192 ✭✭✭Fian


    My wife and I have always had a joint account, actually since before we were married. That was because she started working before I did and she was supporting me in part while I did a stage (internship) in brussells with the EU commission. We have two credit cards on the same account.

    Recently we each got a single Revolut account but that is the first time in decades we have had any independent account from each other. My wife's one is mostly used to give her card to the youngest and mine is mostly used to transfer money to the kids!

    There has never been any "her money" or "my money" - all our lives it has effectively been "our money". This means there is literally no issue about who pays for anything, all payments come from the same pool.

    My salary is higher than hers now, but when we were starting off she was subsidising me. Now we are both mostly subsidising our 4 kids!

    I really don't understand married couples who keep their finances separate, for me part of marriage is that it is a partnership, the two of you as a team vs. the world. Having said that I realise it is not unusual to do so, just not my thing. Especially where there is a significant disparity between incomes. I mean imo it is effectively essential to run pooled finances if one of the parents stays at home to mind the kids, which my wife did for a number of years when our kids were young, that way both spouses have equal money with each other.

    There seems to be a generation gap of some kind involved in this, though I am not ancient, I am in my late 40s. It seems more common to run seperate finances in younger people.



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  • Administrators, Politics Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 25,947 Admin ✭✭✭✭✭Neyite


    We have:

    Joint account for bills/direct debits. Joint credit union for long term savings. Our own accounts that our salaries get paid into. We know what each other's salary is, and we know each other's bank card PIN. Money is not formally pooled but it's all 'our' money regardless of what account it happens to be in. So if I've paid for stuff and have run out by the end of the month, he'll either transfer money to me or give me his card whenever I'm getting what we need. Now, that works for us - but we are very similar in our spending habits so probably that's why. We discuss big purchases.

    Financial disparity between a couple, particularly with children /house involved never ends well and it's one of the biggest stressors in a relationship.

    If he's not going to talk about it, if he's not prepared for counselling, or to make it more proportional then you've very little option there. But if you are married then the starting point for any financial split is probably somewhere in the middle of your assets and savings combined, taking into account the needs of the children so it might be worth an appointment with a solicitor to see what your options are. He might come around to realising that giving you his fair proportion of the household expenses is much cheaper than a divorce.



  • Registered Users Posts: 1,658 ✭✭✭notAMember




  • Registered Users Posts: 2,083 ✭✭✭paddydriver


    I can give my take here... I Thankfully was in the position to clear the final chunk on my mortgage last week in AIB. They sent me a letter with final amount to clear it and the daily interest of circa €1.04 each day. I went to the counter in AIB and gave them a draft for the large amount and asked what the extra was of daily interest - think total was €4 something.. with that my wife gets a fiver out of her bag and gives it to me to pay the balance. Anyway.. the story here is that after 18 years of marriage and me paying the mortgage and never missing a payment; it was my wife that finally cleared it for me. That's an example of how some married couples conduct their financial affairs.. nothing ever agreed; just that I paid for the house.

    Note.. that's the only ever contribution she made to paying the mortgage; but it was an important and symbolic one 😁



  • Registered Users Posts: 7,513 ✭✭✭the_pen_turner


    of course it should have been disgussed.

    they both have decent jobs .

    iv known him for 20 years . he always wanted a camper van. always talking about it and that he was saving up for one.

    10 years ago they bought a house that was 4 years old but wrecked by bad tennants. and i mean wrecked. no kitchen bathrooms, re plumb and wrire parts of it, new plasterslabs etc. they stretched their moeny as far as posible to get a bedroom, bathroom and heating etc , basically livible. i fitted a 200euro kitchen from donedeal to get them by. they have been doing up a room a year since

    his wife has been saving for a kitchen since then and he saving for a camper van. i know his priorities are messed up. he is an idiot.

    problem is that its all one account so both sides were looking at the savings part thinking it was theirs. probably was 50:50 savings realy

    he got there first.

    my point is that if they had seperate accounts for their own savings they would have both knew where they stood and there would be no confusion

    buying a camper van when your kitchen is a sorry state is madness though



  • Registered Users Posts: 7,513 ✭✭✭the_pen_turner


    i agree 95% . your probably right. but he could be doing good with the money.

    thats why the OP needs to find out



  • Registered Users Posts: 2,066 ✭✭✭HerrKuehn


    I really have no idea why the wife would save for a kitchen in the house on her own.



  • Registered Users Posts: 288 ✭✭JL555


    A married couple should conduct their finances with openness and honesty. Anything else just leads to problems.



  • Registered Users Posts: 2,066 ✭✭✭HerrKuehn


    One thing I also notice most of the discussion is around spending. Money comes in, pay bills and then spend. What do you do around saving for the future/retirement? If one of you has a decent pension is the other one just stuck working so they can pay the half? This is definitely something that would affect the OP, she has a decent pension and has no idea what he has (unless they are both PS but I assume not as she would definitely have known his grade).

    A married couple needs to raise kids and accumulate enough wealth to be able to retire together. I would assume this is the goal for most people. The woman (most often) would find that she might have worked reduced hours while the kids were young and may not have been able to save enough for retirement. What do you do then? Or have most of the spenders not thought that far ahead?



  • Registered Users Posts: 1,658 ✭✭✭notAMember


    Well done on your clear mortgage @paddydriver , nice milestone. Hopefully that will be us in 4 years.


    Our situation was always that both incomes come into one joint account when married. All bills come out of that joint account, and we discuss and agree everything financial. Pensions, insurance, mortgage changes, savings and planned spends. Savings go into dedicated accounts for specific intended purposes. Car, Holiday, Emergency. Before we were married, we did it a different way, I covered bills and he covered rent, and we did every second discretionary... was roughly even but it didn't give either of us a clear view on how we could be more efficient because it was scattered / split. We found it more difficult to plan that way, too ad-hoc.


    We use three documents to track how we are sitting, financially for the last decade or so.

    Plan - this is just a google document with notes in it like... replace the car in 2025, replace the gutters on house in 2024, bring emergency fund up to x amount. We check it once or twice a year, have a note in the calendar to do it.

    Budget - This we take a look at every 6 months as well. Has all the expected incomings and outgoings listed, so we can see where we need to adjust anywhere. So, if we see groceries going up for example, we might bring pension contributions down. Things like that.

    Monthly tracker - this isn't needed unless people really want to get into the nitty gritty, but we are both nerdy enough to enjoy it. We dump the account data in here and have set up charts that update monthly on various things, like grocery spend, electricity usage and cost, pension / share / investment performance, mortgage burn-down, car mileage and cost. It gives us indicators like when a car is getting old, we can see cost getting steeper for example. I love a good excel chart. :)


    But either way, to have a clear understanding of your own household, the very least you need is the data. And OP, you don't have that. That would stress me out. And I think when you're the lower earner, being responsible for the lions share of the expenses simply isn't fair.



  • Registered Users Posts: 7,513 ✭✭✭the_pen_turner


    he wants a basic 5k kitchen , she wants a 30k kitchen with all the bells and whistles. so she is looking after that and he is looking after other projects. he is always tipping at little jobs . he pays for the slabing , plastering, floors, skirtings etc inside and landsaping outside. she pays for the painting and decorative stuff . he spends a little every week rather than save up and do loads altogether



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  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    I earn a lot more than my wife but we pay everything 50:50. Why? Because all my surplus goes to our joint savings, investments, and pension.

    We maintain separate bank accounts. We maintain a detailed budget. I pay utilities, she pays all child-related bills from budgeted sums.

    We both receive exactly the same monthly allowance, from which we jointly pay groceries and buy whatever we happen to like for ourselves. Meals out or cinema visits and petrol are paid 50:50 from that monthly allowance (for example I fill the car with 80 euro of petrol, she will transfer 40 to me, and vice versa). I agree with @FintanMcluskey that I don't want to know everything my wife buys and she doesn't want to know everything I buy.

    The OP's situation is bizarre to me. Does your husband have a gambling problem? I don't understand how you never found out his salary etc. It's unacceptable that he doesn't want to discuss it. And you writing him letters and sending him emails about it reveals a very weird dynamic between both of you imo.



  • Registered Users Posts: 4,354 ✭✭✭Tefral


    I earn about 4 times my wifes salary. That wasn't always the case though. She got sick about the time our first child was born and didn't go back to work after. Then we planned baby no. 2 where she took a lower paid job that wasn't as stressful but also finishes when the kids finish creche, so she's home with them after 3 and gets the dinner on and all that jazz. The way I look at it, she took a hit in her career to have our kids and now is on a lower paid job because she is getting the kids to and from school. To me that has a worth too. That's a Job that while doesn't pay, has a monetary value as you'd have to pay someone else to do that for you.

    The only way I see our situation as fair is: we fire everything into a joint account and have a direct debit into another account each where we have "beer money" each. That's our own to do what we like and everything else comes from the joint account.


    To me, there's so many stresses in family life, money shouldn't be one. If two adults that share a life together cant have an adult conversation about money, then theres something serious amiss.



  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    That sounds more like what a couple who are dating would do, not a couple who are married.

    I'd expect a meal out together to be paid for out of shared money.



  • Registered Users Posts: 357 ✭✭JimboJones99


    Or a couple who have a grown up talk and agree on what the household/family budget should be and transfer money in accordingly and then use excess money to socialise such as to eating out and who are quite happy for it not to be a big deal over who gets the bill.

    Would it really be that much of a difference if we budgeted a little bit extra so we could pay for meals out of a joint account rather than our own individual ones? Would that make us seem more married than dating??



  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    A conversation every time you go out sounds like more effort to me. But whatever you're having yourself...

    (What if only one of you has a starter? 😛)



  • Registered Users Posts: 357 ✭✭JimboJones99


    You obviously didn't read the post just after that one!!

    Also I wouldnt call it a conversation, it is literally one line when we are getting the bill.

    If she only had a starter, of course I would pay, I am a gentleman after all!!

    Post edited by JimboJones99 on


  • Registered Users Posts: 373 ✭✭SodiumCooled


    I feel for the op as the things seem to have really gotten out of hand by the fact the status quo has remained for many many years and it's going to take quite a bit of work to get things evened out. I think the first step would be to make sure all common expenses are split including the things that are currently not e.g. kids clothes and household expenses - also a jointly paid for holiday for all the family needs to happen.

    From the perspective of managing finances there is no "right" way, every couple will be different but like a few other posters my wife and I would never have considered the pooling all money into one account and both getting paid into it etc - I don't want to offend but I do find the whole "pocket money" or "allowance" from the pool etc quite strange for grown adults. We both get paid into our own accounts and while we have a joint account which we setup on getting married we have found that we don't really use it - mortgage comes out of my wife's account as it gets her free banking, I just transfer over 50% of the mortgage, she has some other bills and I have some bills some sort of balance so we don't worry on them but major ones either one or the other transfers over money (or has an SO set up for fixed things like mortgage and childcare).

    Things like car expenses we both look after our own car though if fuel is needed when driving the other persons car we would fill and not be looking for it. Meals out and that sort of thing we take turns paying, not religiously keeping track but over time we would think it balances out. I wouldn't know the balance in her account nor she mine at a given time but we know what we earn and roughly what we save etc. We save separately but would pool it in the joint account for a large one of purchase etc.

    We split things 50:50 as a general rule - I earn a bit more than my wife now, she used to earn a bit more than me - we feel 50:50 is fair and after bills are paid our money is our own to spend/save as we each wish there is very little discussion on what we spend our money on outside of big purchases. There was a period when my wife was not earning while on mat leave during this I transferred over money to her account as she needed it. I think if one person earns a very low wage compared to the other then 50:50 is harder to argue but once both are hitting 50k plus I think even with a large difference like the OP I think 50:50 is a fair way to go about it.

    Our way works well for us, we trust each other and we never have any arguments or stresses over managing our finances.



  • Registered Users Posts: 277 ✭✭scrumqueen


    I have never bought into the idea of a joint account but I applaud the couples who can manage it without it letting it damage their relationship.

    In my case, I drew up a list of all our expenses and we split it 50/50 and we both paid into a joint account to manage these expenses and topped up equally if and where required.

    The rest we kept back for ourselves but a savings amount was calculated into the expenses.

    OP, the big issue here is that you are fundamentally being disrespected. Your husband refuses to be transparent about his finances. He could have gambling or drug debt, you wouldn't know. His attitude in refusing to speak about it isn't great either. I would suggest marriage counselling but deep down I don't think someone who has shown you such disrespect can come back from that.

    I also agree with the poster who mentioned pin money, I call it a running away fund but every woman should have one.



  • Registered Users Posts: 2,066 ✭✭✭HerrKuehn


    What do you do in terms of investments and retirement planning? Is it done as a team or just each try sort it themselves? If one manages to accumulate enough to retire and the other doesn't do they need to stay working?



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  • Registered Users Posts: 373 ✭✭SodiumCooled


    As I mentioned savings/investments are generally done separately as is retirement planning. My wife has a far better pension and has paid one for much longer than I do/have for example so I would see it as just a given that she would most likely be in a position to retire before me. I don't see this as unusual - one of my parents retired quite a few years before the other due to pension difference and its something I see replicated among many couples of their age who they are friends with.



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