Through stories from real-life couples, Money in Love aims to start conversations about how money works in relationships.
Whether it’s negotiating each other’s spending habits or sharing costs from loft conversions to loo roll, the financial side of romance can be fraught with challenges.
In fact, according to the Money Advice Service, the average couple has 39 arguments about money a year! One in seven married people have a secret stash of cash, and almost a quarter said their other half would be surprised if they knew the real state of their money.
Meet Jen & Dave
This week, we speak to a couple with very different financial histories. After experiencing life on the poverty line at a very young age, Jen has always had a difficult relationship with money. Now she and her partner of one year Dave are confronting her issues with money together.
Is one of you better at managing money than the other?
Jen: I’ve always lived hand to mouth. A year ago I was living alone in a flat in Warrington that was on an electricity meter. I’d just been made redundant and had to decide between food and electricity.
“When I was growing up we were quite affluent. Then my dad lost his job. After that we were living in poverty for quite a long time.”
I’ve recently been speaking to some friends who are money coaches and I’ve learned how my childhood has had a psychological effect on the way I manage my money. When I was growing up we were quite affluent. Then my dad lost his job due to ill health. After that we were living in poverty for quite a long time.
Money was always the root of all the problems at home, so it became a negative thing in my head. As a result, I’ve always tried to get rid of it as soon as I’ve been paid. I’ve been flippant and bought things that I’ve only worn or used once. I’ve not wanted to have the money in my bank account. Now I’m trying to retrain my brain to see money as a good thing.
I’m the eldest of four kids and the others don’t remember the time when we had money and went on nice holidays. They’re all amazing at managing their finances. So I think my problems come from experiencing that disparity between wealth and poverty. I’ve experienced having absolutely no money whatsoever too often. Which I don’t think you’ve ever experienced Dave.
Dave: I grew up in a household where we never worried about money. I went to a private school and never saw money as a negative thing. I see money as a tool as opposed to a burden – it lets me do things down the track, not just now. I’ve always been fairly calm when it comes to dealing with money.
How do you manage money together?
Jen: We started living together in August. But I haven’t been able to contribute towards household bills the last couple of months. I haven’t earned as much as usual because I’ve been unwell. I’ve felt guilty about it, but I contribute where I can, as much as I can.
“You need to be open about expectations when it comes to money. Otherwise it becomes another stick to beat each other with.”
Dave: We can cover all the household bills with what I’m earning. We take other things in turns, like the weekly shop. I’ve learned from previous relationships – and I think Jen has too – that you need to be open about expectations when it comes to money. Otherwise it becomes another stick to beat each other with. At the end of the day, we’re sharing our lives together. So we’ll share our money too.
Jen: I also have business expenses (like insurance and software packages). And a couple of bad debts that haunt me from the past. They’ve had to take priority, so I can keep my business going and we don’t have bailiffs turning up on the door.
Dave: But I’m expecting Jen to make her millions before I do, so spending more at the moment is absolutely fine. In three years’ time I’ll be in the lap of luxury. That’s the plan!
What money problems did you encounter in previous relationships?
Jen: I was with someone who had, shall we say, a lot of troubled vices. He got us into nearly £10,000 worth of debt which I was left to pay because it was all in my name. I was earning £15,000 at the time as a restaurant supervisor in Chester. I was quite naive and a bit of a doormat to say the least. Now I know how important it is to have limits on what you’re willing to do for someone.
“I was with someone who got us into nearly £10,000 worth of debt, which I was left to pay because it was all in my name.”
For example, I recently got a parking fine. It was getting to a serious stage and I didn’t have the money for it. When I spoke to Dave, he said (in the nicest possible way) “it’s your problem.” It was my own mess, so he wasn’t going to lend me money to sort it out. This made me pull my finger out and get it sorted.
Dave: If it had got to a point where there was no other option, then of course I would have paid it. But Jen can sometimes get flustered, then after thinking about the situation realise that she can sort it out on her own.
In my last relationship I was also the major earner. In fact, I was making twice as much as I do now because I used to live in Brisbane where they pay quite well. She was a struggling artist with a part time job and expected me to pay for everything. If I suggested that she contributed towards the rent, she’d tell me that was unfair.
What elements of managing money together get frustrating?
Jen: The frustrating thing for me is not knowing where my next money is coming from and feeling out of control. I’d like to prove to Dave that I can be good with money, and maybe even treat him for once.
Dave: Jen sees herself as quite self destructive. But she’s become better at thinking that money isn’t a bad thing. So while her money troubles have been difficult for me at times too, I’m much less frustrated than I was six months ago.
Has Dave’s outlook had an influence on you?
Jen: Definitely. He’s helping me change my mindset and find my own stability. While things have been fraught with my business, Dave has been helping me find other part-time work. It’s been really positive.
Want to share your story? Email us at [email protected] with a bit about yourselves and your relationship with money. If you’d rather stay anonymous, we can change your names ❤️
If you’re thinking of managing money with your partner, open a joint account with Monzo!