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 Katherine & Christina
This week, we speak to Manchester-based couple Katherine and Christina, who’ve only officially been together for four months. While both women have managed to buy their own properties and earn a similar amount, close-up their situations are worlds apart.
Job: Recruitment Account Manager
Salary/ income £18,500 + £10,000 bonus
Together for? 4 months
Describe Christina: Cautious, impulsive, thrifty
Biggest purchase? My flat
Biggest spending regret? Buying an old flat, there have been a lot of issues with it
Guilty pleasures? Holidaying, eating out and ASOS
Job: Marketing Account Manager
Salary/ income: £20,000 + £400 a month rent from tenant
Together for? 4 months
Describe Katherine: Spontaneous but savvy
Biggest purchase? My flat
Biggest spending regret? Buying my flat with my ex, rather than alone or with a parent
Guilty pleasures? Food
Katherine, why did you describe Christina as impulsive?
Christina: I don’t think I’m impulsive at all!
Katherine: In the past, if she wanted something she’d just buy it. But I think her past decisions have caused her to become more cautious.
"I impulsively bought a house without thinking about it. That was stupid."
Christina: I impulsively bought a house without thinking about it. That was stupid. I was renting the place and then the landlord told me he was selling and I had two months to move out. So I asked if it’d be possible for me to buy it. And he said, “That’d be even better, I’ll gift you the deposit.”
The next thing you know I had a house! But I didn’t look into it or research it – I just signed some papers. The landlord gave me 5%. I don’t even know how much I bought the property for, I think it was £130,000. So I had to find £7,000 for fees and that kind of stuff. I ended up taking out credit cards, overdrafts and all kinds of craziness. It set me back a lot. I bought it with my ex and I kept the place when we broke up, so now I owe her money. In the end, my parents had to gift me the money to wipe off my debts. It was very irresponsible of me.
Would you say Katherine is more responsible with money?
Christina: If Katherine sees something she likes, she’ll buy it. But she always seems to have money and she’s really good with saving. She puts money away and invests it, but also treats herself a lot.
Katherine: I think it all stems from my parents and grandparents. They taught me about saving money and putting it into ISAs from quite a young age. When I was four, my headmistress saw me and my mum walking to HSBC to pay in my birthday money. She asked me where I was going and I said, “to the bank. I’m saving for university.”
"My mum’s from Iran, my dad’s from Sri Lanka and my grandmother's from Austria. They all had to work really hard to be here, so they understand the value of money."
My nan and my parents aren’t from the UK. My mum’s from Iran, my dad’s from Sri Lanka and my grandmother's from Austria. They all had to work really hard to be here, so they understand the value of money. My dad’s a doctor and my mum’s a nurse, so I’ve had a decent start in life, which not everyone has. They were comfortable, and I did go to a private school.
What was it like for you growing up, Christina?
Christina: My background was completely the opposite. My parents both earned hardly any money when I was growing up. They don’t understand the value of money as they should do. They were fortunate enough to pay off their mortgage, but for a long time they lived with what was coming in day to day. We never had savings, holidays or anything nice really.
They did put money away for me every month though, which I was given access to at 16. They saved up £4,500, which was a huge amount of money to them. But I wanted a car at 17 and spent £2,500 on my first year’s insurance! It had probably taken mum and dad about 10 years to save that. But they were fine with it. I slightly wish they’d been more strict, as then I might have saved it for something more important.
They’re not savvy or intelligent in that way, so I never was. We didn’t have money, so we didn’t see any value in it. If you get it, you spend it, because it’s not going to be around for long anyway. You might as well enjoy it.
Are you better at managing money now?
Christina: My income goes into my NatWest bank account and all my bills come out of there. My tenant pays me weekly into my Monzo, and that’s what I live off if. That’s how I try and limit myself.
"I used to be thousands of pounds into my overdraft and had credit cards and all sorts...I was just terrible at managing my own money."
I used to be thousands of pounds into my overdraft and had credit cards and all sorts. It wasn’t just from the house but from general life. I was just terrible at managing my own money.
Now for the first time in my life I’ve got savings. It’s not a lot, but I actually have some. I have different Pots for savings and holidays. Katherine has been a good influence on me. Before that I just did what I wanted, and it wasn’t a good idea.
How do you organise your money together?
Katherine: If we want to go somewhere, I always book it on the credit card. Then Christina will pay me a few days later. I have those 0% credit cards where you can spread the payments out interest free. Over the past year she’s sent me £1,000 to my Monzo, because I book it and she’ll pay me after.
Christina: We try to be as fair as possible. I think Katherine does spend more money on me and I feel quite bad about that. I do try, but quite honestly I’m just broke.
Katherine: She did bring me flowers this evening, though. So I don’t think it’s that unequal!
"It’s frustrating when Katherine wants to do nice things and I can’t."
Do you ever argue about money?
Christina: It’s frustrating when Katherine wants to do nice things and I can’t. In the past she’s always been on big holidays, like last Christmas she went to Asia. She wanted to go there again, but I could only afford to go to Spain. We’ve got a nice holiday planned but it’s not as glamorous and exciting!
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