Who pays in your relationship?

Do you split 50/50? Do you go all in? Who reaches for their wallet first in your relationship?

Mr and Mrs Romance - who pays in your relationship - the financial series

Think about it for a second – how many old sayings and expressions do you know about money? I can think of about 10 straight off. But the one that I’ve been pondering is: “When poverty comes in through the door, love flies out the window.”

Bit sad really, isn’t it? Are we really in the dark about how to manage our finances in a relationship?

An AMEX study looked into this more and found that only 43% of the general population discuss money before marriage, but this increased to 57% of affluent couple, and 81% of young professionals. 12% of people admitted to NEVER discussing their finances. 1

Only 51% of couples talk about how to manage their money before their wedding day. 2

But with almost everyone agreeing that talking about your spouse’s financial history is important, only 26% of us are actually having that conversation. 3

So let’s start the conversation. Let’s pull back the financial curtain.

In our relationship, Mrs Romance and I have one shared bank account. We pool our money and have always shared costs and expenses from the same pot.

It might be the same for you. Then again, it might seem utterly alien to you and you shudder at the thought. And that’s ok.

We’re used to having just one pot to put all our money into – it’s certainly easier for us to manage. But we’ve done it this way ever since Mrs Romance moved to the UK. The United Kingdom is a notoriously difficult place to get a bank account if you are – as we endearingly put it – ‘foreign’.

If we want to buy something special for each other (or for ourselves!) and we want it to be a surprise, we’ve got our own credit cards.

I am basically a mathematical amoeba.

When it comes to paying for stuff – like utilities, balancing accounts, restaurant bills etc, that duty seems to have defaulted to Mrs Romance.

I am basically a mathematical amoeba. And that single mathematical cell’s purpose is entirely taken up with finding a) the easiest way to solve a maths problem or b) the fastest way to avoid a maths problem. I have neither the propensity nor the concentration to deal with numbers well.

Having said that, Mrs Romance LUURVS numbers.

It sounds like a cop-out, doesn’t it? Yes, you’re probably right. But it seems to work with us.

It comes as an interesting shift from how we grew up. Both Mrs R and I have quite traditional parents – where it was the man’s role to pay up at the end of a night. I think it was probably my inept dithering and Mrs Romance’s impatience and lofty brain power that finally set the autocorrect on these roles.

The thing is I contribute to the relationship in other ways. And that’s what’s important. Clearly defined roles: not important. Support and honesty with each other: very important.

If you’ve got that, you’re onto a winning recipe.

We want to start a discussion about how you manage your finances as a couple. What works for you? What do you dislike about how your partner deals with money?

Image by Mrs Romance, sourced stats from businessinsider.com.


  • Reply October 14, 2014

    Sonia from Sonia Styling

    Ahh, money – such an interesting topic, isn’t it?! Some people might find this strange, but we have separate bank accounts. Mr Styling had multiple investment properties when we first met and then he started his own business, which to me just means “very complicated financial stuff”…so I’ve happily kept my own banky stuff separate. This works just fine for us because we’ve always been very open about finances and have easily agreed to out who pays for what. We never, ever argue about money – which must mean we’re doing something right (for us)! Each to their own, I say.

    • Reply October 16, 2014

      Mr Romance

      You’re absolutely right, Sonia. I was very careful when I wrote this piece to make it as non-judgy as possible. Just a conversation. Mrs R has separate business accounts too – and that’s fine by me. If she wants to keep all that complicated stuff a secret from me, that’s completely fine! The less I’m involved with mathematicals the better!
      Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply October 14, 2014

    Claire Chadwick : Mum's Closet

    A great conversation to start – good going guys!
    Money money money – the stem of most arguments in relationships!
    Recently a friend was talking to me about how her and her husband {and their 3 young kids} were looking for a new rental to live in. Thrown into the conversation was something along the lines of “_____ {her hubby’s name} still owes me $1000 from last month, so he can pay for the bond of the new house as a way of paying mine and his share!”
    It caught me off guard! HE OWES HER MONEY??? They’ve been married for over 10 years and living together for over 16 years. I was intrigued that they still {through all these years and jobs and moves and children and maternity leaves etc etc} they still keep money completely separate and split everything in half – including keeping track of who pays more and who owes what!?
    Who I am to judge? Coz they’re happy and it obviously works for them. And I’m all for doing what works.
    But I know that would never work for my hubby and I. Pretty much right from the start of our relationship we’ve shared money and bills and debts. While I was in uni he carried most of the money earning load, and then when I started working fulltime and he built a business, I was the breadwinner, etc etc. We pool all our monies into a joint account and he’s usually the bill payer from there. It’s not about who owns what or who earns more = it’s about being a team and getting bloody bills paid so we can use the rest of the money for fun…for both of us, and the kids 🙂 I now earn a lot less than him {I work part time and then stay home with the kidlets other days} but that’s my way of contributing to our life, and it works for us.
    As I said, Whatever works 🙂
    Good post Mr and Mrs R.

    • Reply October 16, 2014

      Mr Romance

      Thank you so much, Claire. So glad you liked the post.
      I couldn’t agree more – there are no rules about how people lead their relationships. As long as it works for both or all people involved, it’s no one else’s business, is it? I personally couldn’t deal with splitting everything like your friend. I don’t have the memory, time, energy or will to carry it out for more than a day (I’m sure I’ve tried to use it in a moment of stubbornness with Mrs R) before giving up.
      Mrs R and I have switched roles so many times as far as who the bread winner is. I didn’t feel comfortable the first time it switched, but you get used to it and drop the ego. As long as life’s good, who cares who earns, right?
      Thank you for sharing. Great to hear what you’ve got to say!

  • Reply October 15, 2014

    Nick Deane

    Money touches every part of our lives and bringing this matter up before having a serious relationship is huge. It is not just about love when you are in a relationship I think, it is about responsibility and having someones best interest at heart. If going dutch works for some, then it works. If both of you are using the same account, then that is fine as well. As long as you have a serious talk and make a financial commitment, things will be easier in the future with your loved ones. Thanks for the great post guys!

    • Reply October 16, 2014

      Mr Romance

      Relationships are ALL about communication, aren’t they, Nick? It might not be a very comfortable conversation, but like you said, it’s an important one. Essential that you both know where you stand in a partnership, isn’t it?
      Thank you for sharing.

  • Reply October 15, 2014

    Liz @ I Spy Plum Pie

    Excellent post as always guys. My bf and I don’t yet live together, but we won’t be able to do a 50-50 split of things when we do because I bought my apartment last year so it would be unfair to expect him to pay half the mortgage without getting his name on it! We’ll definitely be having a chat about the rest of it though, I don’t understand how couples can just not talk about it! It doesn’t matter how you set it up, it just needs to be clear and work for everyone. I know of a lot of couples that do the three bank account thing – one each and one joint for bills etc & that seems pretty logical to me, but each to their own!

    • Reply October 16, 2014

      Mr Romance

      You’re very kind, Liz! 🙂
      Sounds like you’re being very fair re: your boyfriend and the mortgage (congrats on buying, btw!). It really is important that everyone in a relationship is happy with the setup. One way or another you’ll be sharing your incomes, so why not reach an understanding before things turn into arguments? I suppose the way people organise their money depends on what they’re comfortable with, doesn’t it? As long as there aren’t any lies (well, not too many anyway!) and everyone’s happy, that’s what really matters.
      Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply October 21, 2014


    My husband and I are very recently married, so we still have separate bank accounts, but it’s a super hassle worrying about who paid what. We’ll definitely merge them as soon as we can.

    When we were first engaged he had some tight spots and at first it was weird for him to let me pay for things for him – but I reminded him that we were getting married and it wasn’t going to make a difference in a couple of months except that he’d be less stressed out because he wouldn’t have to penny pinch.

    Now we just make sure we’re up front about what we want to do with our money. We let each other know what purchases we’ll need to make in the upcoming weeks and we talk about where we’re at with our bills.

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