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How should married couples conduct their financial affairs?



  • Registered Users Posts: 679 ✭✭✭Housefree

    And every man should have an emergency fund because if the relationship breaks down men lose the family home & family car 99% of the time. They will be left with nothing. They are as entitled to cover themselves like women

  • Administrators Posts: 14,001 Admin ✭✭✭✭✭Big Bag of Chips

    This thread has gone way off topic and very few of the recent replies are offering advice to the original poster who came looking for it.

    From this point on replies need to be addressing the OP's issue. Not general discussion about who pays for starters or who has a pension plan. The OP is @Weesie please reply to her when posting.

    Any off topic posts following this warning will pick up a 1 week ban from PI.

  • Posts: 2,078 ✭✭✭ [Deleted User]

    I'm the same, even down to working in Brussels in an internship (but not for the Commission sadly). Early 50s. My daughter and her partner whip out the calculators at every opportunity. I don't know how they do it.

  • Moderators, Social & Fun Moderators, Regional East Moderators, Regional North West Moderators Posts: 12,177 Mod ✭✭✭✭miamee

    Sorry to hear about your situation Weesie. It's hard to believe that you had no idea how much your husband earned and at no point did he indicate that it was a lot more than you earn. Does he know exactly how much YOU earn?

    Is he aware of how much it costs for your children to do the hobbies that they have and to keep the house running as it does? I.e. does he know how much the weekly groceries cost, bin collections, the heating and electricity bills or has that always been your thing to look after?

    Maybe I am grasping at straws but is there a possibility that he is completely oblivious to the costs of running a home and family and to how much you actually earn?

    If not and he is happy to allow you to struggle on your own wage while he treats himself to whatever he fancies from his larger pay packet then I'm afraid you will need to have a very frank conversation with him. Any house or family expenses should be looked after by both of you in whatever way you agree to split it between you. It sounds like there have been no real discussions about money or agreements that suit both of you. What is his suggestion when you tell him your wages no longer stretch as far as they used to and that you struggle monthly with everything? That struggle is only going to get worse as the cost of living rises so it's something you need to get sorted as soon as you can.

  • Registered Users Posts: 20,046 ✭✭✭✭Cyrus

    i didnt need to read too far into the thread to find the answer, this is what my wife and i do as well (and she has now taken time out of work to look after the kids which we both agreed was best for our family) how anyone can argue that anything else is a better way of managing in a marriage is beyond me but no doubt as i read through the thread people will.

    actually what we do is take all income that comes in, pay the mortgage, transfer a set amount into the joint account which pays for groceries, bills, meals, the cleaner, etc etc, pay an amount in pensions / investments and split the rest 50/50 to do with what we like, but the premise is the same, everything is shared down the middle regardless of who earns what.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 38 AvalonEnaid

    How in the world is a 50/50 split fair?? It's the most unfair method to manage finances because one person is always going to lose out!

    Let's take an example using easy numbers to show why a 50/50 split is never fair.


    Per month, Person A earns €700 and Person B earns €300. We now have a combined pot of €1000.

    Let's add typical costs (using easy numbers for quick math)

    Rent: €300,

    Utilities: €100,

    Food: €200,

    Total: €600

    If we go with the 50/50 split (€300 each) method; Person A is left with €400 for discretionary spending, while Person B is left with €0 for discretionary spending.

    How is this in any way remotely fair??

    But Person B can use the combined pot for discretionary spending I hear you say. So Person A must now pay for all of the discretionary spending of Person B? Something Person A cannot make use of because it belongs to Person B... How is this fair?

    But Person A and Person B are in love with each other I hear you say. Uh huh, explain that to the money issues / debt (36.1%) of reasons for couples to initiate the divorce process.

    The contributions to house hold costs must always be a percentage of your combined earnings. Using the above example with a 70% split and 30% split,

    Person A is left with €280 to spend on themselves, while Person B is left with €120 to spend on themselves.

    It's completely irrelevant to argue how Person A "works harder" and should therefore not be burdened with a higher percentage contribution. Is person A not living in the house? Is Person A not eating the food? Is Person A not using the gas/elec?

    I understand the thinking of a 50/50 split when you look at it as "contributing" to the house, but it does not factor in discretionary spending of the individual themselves. Person A and Person B need to have ownership of their own money (after contributing to the house hold) and be allowed to spend €50 of on some beauty product or gadget for themselves.

    Don't punish your other half because they don't earn as much as you do.

  • Registered Users Posts: 20,046 ✭✭✭✭Cyrus

    Make it fairer and split all income equally that way each person’s discretionary pot is the same, why should one spouse have more disposable income than the other ?

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,317 ✭✭✭gameoverdude

    Hmm. The ops post is not a black and white outcome. So many variables. Its up to an individual couple.

    Overall, I believe discussion is the key. No communication, good luck.

  • Registered Users Posts: 373 ✭✭SodiumCooled

    As I mentioned in my post I think the argument of 50:50 being unfair has some merit if one earner has a very low income and the other a relatively high income but in the case of the OP (which is the situation we are trying to help with) I think her salary is more than sufficient to leave a very comfortable disposable income even on a 50:50 split given their mortgage isn't massive etc. I think the issue is that its not even being split 50:50 bar some of the main monthly outgoings (and of course the not knowing his income which is definitely not normal).

    I get about 500 euro more per month into my hand compared to my wife (partly due to higher salary, partly due to her having a higher pension contribution). The idea that this should be shared out between us would not even enter our heads however my wife also has a healthy amount of discretionary spending money left over after our bills and other outgoing are paid so why would it need to be split? I think all being done fairly on splitting all household outgoings the OP should be in a situation like this.

    Some will disagree but they have more because they earn more?

  • Registered Users Posts: 20,046 ✭✭✭✭Cyrus

    It’s a partnership as far as I’m concerned, I can’t see why one spouse should have more walking around money than the other, but others may disagree.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 13,468 ✭✭✭✭fits

    Is he gambling?

  • Registered Users Posts: 38 AvalonEnaid

    It is literally not fair to split all income equally. Person A (the higher earner) is now paying for the discretionary spending of Person B. And why should one spouse have more disposable? Because they earn more, but they must still contribute proportionally to their use of the houses fixed costs (rent, food, etc...).

    @Weesie, I have no idea how you would broach the subject, but the first step is to understand why your husband is so secretive over his finances. Perhaps there is some childhood trigger that made him think he needs to hide his finances?

  • Registered Users Posts: 20,046 ✭✭✭✭Cyrus

    Partnership means different things to different people. If you start seeing your income as separate then of course you’ll feel that way.

  • Registered Users Posts: 216 ✭✭Skibunny77

    OP, I feel so sad reading your post. This is not a loving or respectful relationship.

    Please, if you do nothing else, tell him you are unwilling to continue to live like this, that as he has refused to make changes or attend counselling, that you are going to attend counselling yourself and make choices that meet your needs (as he is making no attempt to hear, engage or take an interest in your needs).

    I would also say this behaviour will increasingly impact the kids over time. Already he is refusing family holidays. They will grow up knowing their Dad prioritises money over their mum, and over them. This is damaging. Get counselling.

  • Registered Users Posts: 160 ✭✭ChickenDish

    There is no such thing as mine or hers, my wife and myself do not keep track of who spends what. Whoever has money at the time covers the cost or what is needed. We both put money in joint account and if something crops up, whom ever has the money to cover it pays.

    OP your hubby needs a serious wake up call. Unfortunately you have enabled him for quiet some time, so there is no easy fix. I suspect if this situation is not resolved fairly (you not bearing the brunt of all the financial expenses) your marriage will deteriorate even faster given how you presently feel. What's more important to your husband? A healthy bank balance or his family unit! Give him a reality check....

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,858 ✭✭✭growleaves

    A judge may not allow this "emergency fund" to exist separately though. It may be pooled with other money and assets for the purposes of dividing it up for spousal maintenance and child support. I'd think long and hard about trying to hide money and keeping it undeclared.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,814 ✭✭✭griffin100

    I'm the same age as you and my wife and I are exactly the same so perhaps it is a generational thing. We set up a joint account before we were married and we have always had both salaries paid into it and all spending comes out of it. There has never been any issue around one person earning more than the other, that's just life. Reading some of the comments here if the fact that one partner in a marriage is earning more than the other is causing stress then the marriage has more than money issues.

    We have never thought along the lines of her and my money, it's our money that is used to fund a family of 4 kids, pay a mortgage, pay for cars, etc. and now pay for kids college. We discuss major purchases like cars and holidays and we also agree on how much to out into joint savings at the end of every moth, but if I want to spend a couple of hundred euros on something then I just do, I don't need my wife's permission and vice versa. I'm not criticising the couples that have a clear division of finances, its just a way of life that I could never imagine and after almost 20 years of marriage is just alien to me.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,444 ✭✭✭Quantum Erasure

    Is this kind of stuff not covered in pre-marriage courses, for better or worse...?

  • Moderators, Business & Finance Moderators Posts: 17,710 Mod ✭✭✭✭Henry Ford III

    I think a financial counselling session is what's needed OP.

    Make an appointment with a reputable independent Accountant or QFA and tell your Husband what's going on. Tell him you expect him to attend, and why you are unhappy. Don't pull any punches.

    Your issue really boils down to where his extra net income is going every month. Your biggest mistake was a lack of openness and transparency going way back, and after all this time that behaviour is going to be difficult to detail/change. It's big stuff you are talking about btw - maybe c.€40,000 p.a. after tax.

    Best case scenario is that the prospect of having to disclose to a 3rd party will encourage him to come clean with you before the appointment.

    Unfortunately you're not in a great position, and this is likely going to be a impactful confrontation.

    Best of luck.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,367 ✭✭✭Sunny Dayz

    I think from reading the comments on this thread that there's not a "one size fits all" approach to couples' finances. And whether it's mainly joint or separate finances a couple go by what works best for them as a unit.

    OP in your case there is something not working within the household finances. You need to sit down with your husband and work out what your incomings and outgoings are and communicate. When you know what's coming in and what has to be paid (mortgage, bills, childcare, savings) then you can work out how much each of you can contribute to the household and what is available for extras such as clothes shopping, household items, holidays etc.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 20,653 ✭✭✭✭amdublin

    A thought struck me, admittedly going from nought to 100 very quickly, if you were separated or divorced from him he would probably HAVE to give you more money per a court order?? Am I right?

    Kind of crazy to stay in an unhappy relationship where you are broke all the time because he is not paying his fair share (which he simply is not).

    At it's simplest: he should be paying half of every bill/mortgage/children's needs etc. And I would think more than half based on him earning more.

    He sounds stingey: that he would choose no family holidays or no extra curriculars for the kids? What is he doing with all his money do you think??

  • Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators, Social & Fun Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 6,906 Mod ✭✭✭✭shesty

    It's easy to split stuff 50/50 or have separate accounts when you have no kids.

    When you do have kids - a joint account is needed that an amount is paid into every month, be it both salaries, or an agreed amount (more than the mortgage amount), or else one person ends up being the one funding all of the kid's needs. (it seems).

    How you do the division is up to the individual couple, but I do think the OP needs to sit down with her husband, tot up what she pays out every month - bills, kids, the works - and look at what he pays out every month and then see are the two in any way equal. By the sounds of it, they aren't. And then agree a contribution from both sides that doesn't see one half losing out.

    All very easy to write down I know, but very hard to implement in real life if he is unwilling to engage on it.

    I would say at this point OP, that counselling of some sort will have to be part of the solution.

    Or, while I am not advising it, potentially a refusal to pay 50% of the bills one month until he agrees to talk (since it is a tactic he seems to like employing).

    I'd recommend counselling first though.

    For perspective, you are bringing approximately 225k gross into the house annually. We are bringing less than that. My husband earns more than me, and I work a 4 day week so it is further reduced - yet we do save, and have some bit of spare money every week (not much these days), and paying for the kids many activities is done by both of us, even if it is me who mostly reminds when things are due.

    Your husband's behaviour just isn't acceptable when you have kids to provide for too.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,394 ✭✭✭ManOfMystery

    My wife and I have always had a joint account - both our wages go into it.

    She earns slightly more than me as she is in a more senior role, but I also have some side work which supplements my main income so it balances out - plus in the past I was the only one paying into the pot when she extended her maternity leave.

    There is no "her money" or "my money". There is no 50/50 imbalance. We don't look at this as money belonging to individuals - when we married, we became a unit and the money belongs to both of us.

    This works absolutely fine for us, and all we both have to do is be respectful of each other - we don't monitor each other's expenditure for normal/small purchases, but if either of us want to buy something large we just run it past the other person. Neither of us tend to go on spending sprees so it never feels like one person is abusing the money which has been pooled by the other. And neither of us would ever create a scenario where one person decides to stop working and just rely on the income of the other. As long as it's generally balanced, like everything in life, it works fine.

    The problem with your scenario OP is that it is hugely, hugely imbalanced. And if your OH has been unwilling to communicate it, I would really consider escalating this to the next level. He is not acting in a trustworthy way.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,800 ✭✭✭Hooked

    Feel sad reading the OP's post... Married and not knowing what he earns... just not right, in MY opinion.

    We are not married long... few years... but when we made a huge house move we sat and chatted about this... Long story short: we split the mortgage in the ratio of our salaries. Wife has 60% of the bill. As she earns 50% more than me. Then everything we need (groceries, bills, etc...) we split down the middle. She wants to buy a 1000 euro handbag in BT's... none of my business. It's her money.

    I guess it boils down to what works for each couple/situation.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,797 ✭✭✭Jump_In_Jack

    I don’t know how you can put up with a partner that won’t be fair with the shared expenses of your children and your household. That’s just common decency, you have to expect that as a minimum threshold.

    The bare minimum should be everything bought for the house, or for the children, should be split evenly.

    Can you explain how it transpired that you paid for expenses for the house and the children without getting half from your partner?

    Have you tried simply getting together all the receipts of what you spent at the end of a month and totalling them up and saying you need half the total paid into your account by electronic transfer there and then or else there will be consequences?

    By rights, if you do a lot of the running around and organising and managing things for the house and children then you should make your partner pay more than half, maybe 60%, to compensate for your time and effort taken to maintain everything.

  • Registered Users Posts: 11,775 ✭✭✭✭BattleCorp

    We've three accounts. My wife's account, my account and a joint account. We both contribute equally into the joint account. We put money into this to cover the mortgage and living expenses. There's never a whole pile of money in it and sometimes we have to top it up and we both do that 50:50.

    If we have an expense like buying a bed/fill of oil etc. and the money for it isn't in the joint account, we both pay 50% each for the bed/oil etc. Anything for the house that isn't covered for by the joint account is paid for evenly between us.

    That seems fair to both of us.

    OP, you shouldn't be out of money at the end of the month if you are on €75k and he's on twice that. No way.

    Your other half needs to pony up his fair share of the household expenses.

  • Registered Users Posts: 20,743 ✭✭✭✭yourdeadwright

    Ok you've a joint income of 225 k a year,

    How are you broke ?

    Unless you live in a multiply million mansion . Sound's like you husband i hiding some kind of a problem ,drinking, drugs ,gambling,hookers cause where is the money going ,

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,373 ✭✭✭MrMusician18

    Struggle? This household has a combined gross income of €225k!

    Your mortgage isn't even particularly large given your earnings.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,797 ✭✭✭Jump_In_Jack

    To be fair to the OP, if the burden of furnishing the house is falling on her alone, that would definitely wipe out a lot, and birthday presents nowadays can be expensive, and if there are lots of them it could amount to a fair bit.

    after tax and pension contributions 75k might leave around 3,500 a month net, and childcare and mortgage could eat 2k of that, and bills and groceries another 500, so 1000 a month left to keep a car going, and pay out for a cleaner, and pay off furnishings and presents, I could see how there could be nothing left at the end of each month.

    The thing I can’t understand is how the burden of furnishing the house and paying the cleaner and the kids presents would fall onto one person, surely it would be a simple demand for each to put half of this into the joint account and pay it out of the joint account, or else keep a total every month and demand he pay half into your account. Generally these expenses tend to be regular every month, like €300 each a month might cover it.

    That could be a few hundred every month back to yourself, which for most people would be plenty.

    The holiday thing is definitely one where I’d be setting a target for the holiday, say 3k for a two week summer holiday, and each must put in half into the pot, even make it a monthly thing, €150 a month for 10 months, and then ye pay for everything on the holiday out of the joint account. I really think that would be worth it.

    The last thing I’d reference is the pension and savings, because there has to be a plan for retirement, for example would ye retire somewhere abroad, or to a quiet countryside place by the seaside or stay in your house.

    And what age to retire and what standard of living to expect, once kids are grown enough ye’ll surely want to start enjoying meals out, weekends away together and Sun holidays or cruises etc.

    if ye can’t plan that now (broadly at least), it’s like saying ye won’t be together in 20 years time so why bother.

    in any case OP, you need to ensure your pension pot is sufficient for your retirement, and you may need to pay AVC’s into a private pension to get you up to the level you’ll need, so it’s important you don’t continue to be caught to pay for the day to day expenses and you’ll find the years will fly by and you’ll be sorry you didn’t sort it out in time.

    and unlike a lot of other posts, I don’t particularly care if your partner throws his own money away on hobbies etc, as long as he doesn’t expect you to pay for his responsibilities.

    I do think it’s fair if someone earns money it’s their money to do what they want with, it’s a reward for getting your career together and finding a way to earn a good wage, everybody should be entitled to reward themselves for their own efforts.

    But personally I would not let my partner struggle if I was flush with cash, I suppose it’s about caring for their happiness and if your partner doesn’t care for your happiness then that’s a red flag.

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  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Home & Garden Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators, Social & Fun Moderators Posts: 22,375 CMod ✭✭✭✭Pawwed Rig

    That is how I do it aswell but this system assumes that both are earning similar amounts. If one spouse was on 100k and the other min wage then it wouldn't work