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 Sian & Matt
This week, we speak to a couple who got together at university in Loughborough six months ago. They live off their student loans, overdrafts and use credit cards during the holidays. But try to use each other as a reason not to go out and overspend! With graduation just around the corner, they’re planning their next steps as a couple.
Job: Student, systems engineering
Salary/ income: £9,500 student loan
Together for? 6 months
Describe Sian: Loves a bargain
Biggest purchase? Laptop
Biggest spending regret? Weighing scales
Guilty pleasures? Eating angel slices
How do you manage money together?
Matt: We pay for things as they come, then sort the money out between us later. We’re not strict.
Sian: If you bought something, I’d buy the next drink. It’s quite chill, and we’re transparent with everything. We have to be quite honest about how skint we are!
Matt: Especially towards the end of term.
As students, what kinds of things do you do to save cash?
Sian: We shop at Lidl quite a lot.
Matt: And make packed lunches!
"We often use each other as an excuse not to go out, so we save money that way."
Sian: We often use each other as an excuse not to go out, so we save money that way. It’s not as bad staying in if you’ve got company. It helps with the FOMO.
Matt: Our friends still go out a lot, but not as much as before because it’s third year.
Sian: As we’re all students and no one has any money, if you just play the “I can’t afford it” card, there’s not that much backlash!
Do you set a weekly budget?
Matt: I try to stick to £100 a week, which is for all my spending after rent, from food to new trainers. I’ve got a spreadsheet where I track everything I buy. My rent is just over £100 including bills and TV.
Sian: I do it differently. I’ve got a main account that all my student finance goes into, then I have a weekly standing order to my Monzo account. I use that money for all my other spending. I try to do £70 a week but it always ends up being more, maybe £70 was a bit ambitious.
My rent is about £86 a week including bills. So it’s not too bad. Then I have my phone contract and Spotify. I don’t have masses of outgoings.
Matt: It’s just hard when you have to spend £20 or so on something unexpected.
Sian, what’s your job and why did you decide to get one?
Sian: I work for the university, showing people around on open days. It’s mostly just talking to people and eating free lunches. It doesn’t feel like proper work. They pay me £10 an hour, which is good, but it’s not regular work. Over the course of the year it amounts to about £1,000-1,500.
I always sign up for work and then when it comes round I’m like, “Why did I do this, I’ve got too much uni work?!”
My funding got cut this year, which is a bit upsetting. It’s all done on your parents' income. My mum earned something ridiculous like £400 too much, which meant I had about £2,000 in funding taken off me. So I had to work really. It's not like I can't pay my rent. It's just more that I can't book holidays or buy Tesco Finest, so it isn't a massive issue!
"I’ve maxed out my £2,000 overdraft. But it doesn’t bother me at all. I think it’s quite normal."
Do you have any other debt beyond your student loans?
Matt: I’ve maxed out my £2,000 overdraft. But it doesn’t bother me at all. I think it’s quite normal and there’s no consequences for having it now, as long as you start paying it off six months after graduating.
Sian: Mine’s only £750 and it’s not maxed out, but there’s only a little bit left. I did try and get it extended, but HSBC said no. At the time I was very annoyed, but now I’m quite grateful they didn’t.
We both have credit cards that we use over Easter and Christmas. Your funding gets very low by the time the holidays come round.
Matt: You plan your weekly budget on how many weeks you’ve got at uni, so then when you’ve got a month off you’ve got no money left.
What are your plans once uni finishes?
Matt: We’ve both got our grad jobs sorted already. I’ve got an engineer role at an engineering consultancy, working on HS2. My starting salary is £27,500.
Sian: Mine’s all about driverless cars and electric cars. It should be interesting! You just have demonstrate that you can learn complex concepts, and then they teach you most of it when you get there.
My starting salary is £26,000, but I get a £2,500 starting bonus too. And then I get profit share twice a year as well, which works out as about another £2,000. We’re going to have so much more money next year, we’re so excited.
"We’re going to move in together next year and start chipping away at our overdrafts."
Where are your jobs based?
Sian: Birmingham. We’re going to move in together next year and start chipping away at our overdrafts.
We decided to live together because I got a job in Birmingham, and Matt is from there anyway. We worked out that if I got a place of my own, Matt would probably be spending a large proportion of his time there anyway, so we thought we might as well just live together.
Matt: The problem is, we need to get a tenancy deposit from somewhere.
Want to share your story? Email us at [email protected] with a bit about yourselves and your relationship with money. If we interview you, we'll give you £25 each to put towards a date night. And 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!