Through stories from real-life couples, Money in Love aims to start honest 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 Rosie & Alex
This week we speak to a couple with very different attitudes to money, who are working to pay off debts that amount to £15,000 between them.
Twenty-somethings Rosie and Alex are juggling repayments on credit cards and loans, but hope that if they stick to their budgets, they’ll be able to get out of debt and buy a house together.
How did you first get into debt?
Rosie: Alex was in debt before me, and before we met.
Alex: My debts are about £8,000 now.
Rosie: Mine started when I was in my final year of uni last September. I was studying child and youth studies. I decided to get a credit card to cover my living expenses. Although I tell myself that was the reason, but it was probably really because I wanted to spend £5,000 on crap.
I ended up maxing out my credit card and then I got another one to try and pay some of it back. I didn’t end up doing that and it spiralled. I now owe about £7,000. It consumes you, debt. Now I’ve got my first proper job after uni and everything I earn I’m using to pay back my debt.
The camera roll on my phone is brilliant, it’s full of great memories. But that’s all I have to show for that money.
The only thing I know I bought was a three night trip into London, which cost about a grand. As a Northerner coming down to London I was shocked – a fiver for a pint! We also bought a lovely little hamster called Leyla. Aside from that, I think we spent it on food. Takeaways, clothes, just rubbish.
Even now, I buy things for a house that I haven’t yet got. I’ll see something and think it’d be nice for the house, but I’m never going to get my house because I’m buying stuff to go in it the whole time!
"It spiralled. I now owe about £7,000."
Alex: I had a credit card for £2,500 and I got a loan to pay the credit card off. But then I racked it back up again to £3,000. Then I increased my loan again to pay it off, then spent on it again. So then my loan went up to £9,000. I’m slowly paying it off. Now I’ve got the loan down to about £5,500, but I’m still trying to get rid of my credit card.
Rosie: You were definitely a bad influence on me with money. I’d be so much more sensible if I didn’t know Alex!
When I’d suggest going out, he should have been saying, “no, we need to be sensible”. He’s older than me as well so he should know better. Or at least that’s what I’m blaming it on.
"I’d rather be happy and in debt, than miserable and not."
Alex, how do you feel about your debt?
Alex: I’m chilled about my debt.
Rosie: He’s chilled about everything!
Alex: I’d rather be happy and in debt, than miserable and not.
I just think you should have a good time. You’re not here long, you should enjoy yourself. I do regret racking up debt though, and I do want to get rid of it.
Rosie: You say you want to try and get rid of it, but –
Alex: I think when you’re young –
Rosie: But I want a house! I want a house deposit! Argh, this is where he frustrates me. We’d have no arguments if it wasn’t for money. The only thing we ever argue about is money.
I’m in a mindset where I’m 24, I’ve finished uni, I want to get a house and start settling down. But Alex is saying, “you’re here for a good time not a long time, so spend your money.”
My step siblings have both moved in with their partners and got their own houses. That’s my goal. It’s the security and independence. It’s so hard to get on the property ladder, so to be able to do that is like, “Yes, I’ve made it!”
"We’d have no arguments if it wasn’t for money. The only thing we ever argue about is money."
Alex: I do want to get a house.
Rosie: But your behaviour never shows that you want to get a house!
Alex: I think it’s just that when you’re young, you’re reckless with money. You don’t think about the future when you’re young. I’m trying to be sensible nowadays, I don’t go OTT anymore.
So would you say you’ve got different attitudes to money?
Rosie: My mum and dad broke up when I was quite young, and my dad earned the majority of the income. So when he left we were struggling for a while. Seeing my mum struggle made me more cautious. I thought, “I don’t want ever to be in that position!”
But as soon as I left home, I forgot about all that. Now I’m back home with my mum, my step dad and my brother. Mum is an admin assistant and my step dad works in a factory.
Alex has seen money from the other side. His dad has got a really good job. He’s an operations manager for a pharmaceutical company and earns about £60,000 a year. His mum works as a shop assistant. He tries to live like his mum and dad do, rather than as a reflection of his own income. But it don’t work like that!
How are you paying off your debts?
Rosie: We both have a budget. I earn £750 a month, and if I get overtime it’s extra on top.
My monthly budget is:
- £100 board to my mum
- £70 minimum payments on my credit cards
- £18 Odeon Limitless card (which is going as soon as the renewal is up)
- £50 car insurance
- £175 car payment
- £70 phone
- £10 aside for income tax, which I pay off yearly
- Then I give myself £50 a week to live off
Anything left over at the end goes to pay off the highest interest credit card. So last month I managed to pay off £250 because I’d done overtime.
Alex: I allow myself £100 a week because I don’t drive and get public transport. I take home £1,300 in wages, so my monthly budget is:
- £150 board
- £179 loan
- £100 minimum payments on my credit card
- £18 Odeon Limitless card
- £75 phone
- £50 Very account
- Then £100 to live off every week
Like Rosie I put anything left on the highest interest credit card.
Have you cut back on anything?
Rosie: I definitely don’t shop as much, like clothes shopping. Something we both still do too much is buying food on the go, rather than taking packed lunches into work. It’s the worst chore for a Sunday night to make sandwiches.
I’ve got an app set up so when I spend money in the shop around the corner from work, it tells me how much money I will have wasted in 10 years if I do that every working day. It’s about £12,000, it’s ridiculous!
Alex: I don’t go shopping or go out much anymore. And I haven’t been away for a while.
Rosie: We haven’t been on a nice holiday, have we? We’re going to Skegness in Lincolnshire for a week in June.
How do you manage money together?
Rosie: We both manage our debts separately. Then for joint things, like our trip away to Skegness, we’ve got a joint account. Within that we’ve got two pots. One is my contribution to the holiday and one is Alex’s, so we can see how much we both put in. We’re both aiming to put in £400. Then when we’re away for the week, we’ll use the joint account between us.
What do your arguments about money typically look like?
Rosie: It would probably be something stupid, like Alex wanting to buy a candle for the house. I’ll say we can’t because we need to save money. Then we’ll argue.
He got paid yesterday, and the first thing he did was go out for his payday treats. He’ll buy something like a new pair of trainers, but that £50 could go towards paying off his debts.
Are you always the one saying no, Rosie?
Rosie: He’s sitting next to me implying that he’s whipped. He’s horrible to me!
Alex: I’m under lock and key.
Rosie: Oh shut your face, you’re not.
Tell us about your jobs.
Rosie: I work with children that have been through domestic abuse. It’s part time hours because with charity work, everything is funded.
I annoy Alex because I love my job and he hates his. He’d like to be a paramedic. He’s very caring. He’s wasted in the job he’s in.
"I went into the shop Alex was working in to return a pair of my mum’s knickers!"
How did you meet?
Rosie: I went into the shop Alex was working in to return a pair of my mum’s knickers! He broke every data protection law going and found me on Facebook. I got this message saying, “I know this is really weird but have I just served you in a shop in Derby? I’ve just got to tell you that you’re the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen.”
It was sweet, but really creepy. For a long time I was put off by it, but then he wore me down. And all because of my mum’s knickers.
How did you get engaged?
We went to see my favourite band, Don Broco. He organised it with the band and got up on stage and proposed. I know I moan about him, but he is really sweet.
How does it work when you live in different places?
Rosie: It’s hard. It’s about an hour and 15 minute drive between Manchester and Stoke on Trent. It gets us both down quite a lot. It’s hard when I just want a hug and he’s not here!
We both love our families and have got supportive friends, but we’re ready for our own space. But we don’t want to rent because it’s just dead money.
"God, the day I’ve got no debt I’ll cry with happiness!"
Other than saving for a house deposit, what are your other financial goals?
Alex: I’d like to learn to drive eventually, but I’ve got to pay my debts off before I can.
Rosie: I’d love to be able to save enough so we have an emergency fund if one of us gets made redundant or anything. People say that’s six months wages, I think.
God, the day I’ve got no debt I’ll cry with happiness! We’ve got a good plan, it’s just going to take a while.
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!