Evelyn*, 34, from the East Midlands, works in retail distribution and earns £80k. She lives with her partner of two years, who earns £27k in a manufacturing job.
With a £53k difference between their salaries, the couple need to be intentional about how they divide bills and expenses. They split them 75/25, with Evelyn contributing more so that they each pay an equal percentage of their salary.
Evelyn’s relationship with money hasn’t always been so well-rounded. Her mum, who was the breadwinner, and dad split up because of money. She says this made her controlling over her money and mindful about sharing it with partners.
Since working on her issues in therapy, Evelyn is now more trusting and transparent when it comes to her money, and is content with the current division of finances in her relationship.
Here, Evelyn shares her journey towards being happy in a relationship with a significant money gap.
“My parents’ divorce was partly due to money, so I've always been very controlling over my money”
Unfortunately my dad got into debt and hid it from the family. Money would go missing and new loans would appear. This resulted in arguments, a lack of trust and ultimately, my parents’ divorce.
It made me want to be self-sufficient and very in control of my money. I always wanted to know I had an income and that I had enough money to see me through. I’ve budgeted since I was a teenager. It also made me quite conscious of sharing “my” money with partners.
“A big salary difference led to my last breakup”
I also earned significantly more – £30k – than my previous partner, which became an issue and ultimately contributed to our breakup. We wouldn’t split things fairly, which led to arguments, and we weren’t always supportive of each other’s financial goals.
For example, it would get to the end of the month and it would be his turn to buy groceries but he wouldn’t have enough money left before pay day, so I’d end up paying.
I’d get really frustrated when I had to pay for mundane things like repairs because I was the one with money available. Especially if I had to pay his share of things, because he didn’t have the same approach to budgeting as me.
We weren’t open about money and didn’t really have trust between us. For example, we wanted to save for a house but I felt he wasn’t saving anything compared to me.
“I had to address my relationship to money – and other people's money – after that relationship ended”
My mum has always been the breadwinner too, so I was used to seeing women provide and gender norms being challenged. But it still made me feel like everything was my responsibility in my previous relationship.
After we broke up, I self-funded some cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). I knew there were issues with both of us, but I had to take some responsibility and I was sick of my own BS.
“I wanted to understand why I’d get so upset when managing finances alongside a partner, and stop that cycle of behaviour”
As a result, I’m now more trusting and transparent when communicating with my partner about money, and accepting that not everyone will have the same control as I do.
With my current partner, having worked on myself, I’m far more open and less controlling about money. I value that I’ve worked hard to be where I am and I shouldn't feel bad about that.
We agree what things we split and how we split them so we know each other's expectations. There are some things I "treat" us to, but I accept that it’s my decision to spend my money. I’m doing it for us both.
“As the female breadwinner, I never think ‘this shouldn’t be me”
I’m proud of the career I’ve built and the earning potential I’ve created for myself, and I want to be able to share and enjoy my life alongside my partner.
If I thought I needed to be with someone who earns the same, that doesn’t mean we'd be compatible in other aspects of life. Likewise, you never know how your income may change over time.
“My current partner and I have to be open about money because there’s a £53k difference between our incomes”
Because I had such a bad experience with my previous partner, and because my parents' divorce was partly due to my dad's bad relationship with debt, we both make an effort to be open about money.
We divide shared bills, mortgage, utilities, council tax, etc., by an equitable amount rather than straight down the middle. We pay an equal percentage of our salary on things.
I contribute 75% of the combined household income and my partner 25%, so I pay for 75% of the bills. About 20% of each of our total salaries goes on bills.
“It’s the fairest way we’ve found to work things out. This way we still have the same portion of our salary as disposable income”
We pay the same percentage of our income towards bills, it's just that for me the absolute value is higher. If we split everything 50/50, I’d have a lot of spare cash each month but my partner wouldn't.
We wouldn't be able to spend money on things together and enjoy our time together or on our own hobbies and interests. And we’re both able to save the same percentage of our salary each month.
My partner is very emotionally mature, and we’ve both been very open about our feelings on it, especially given my previous experience. He feels it’s the fairest way and appreciates the methodology I came up with.
“Holidays are probably the one thing we haven't got quite right”
I’m open to spending more money on a holiday because I have a greater disposable income. On our last holiday we split everything 50/50 and it was more of a stretch for my partner.
Going forward, he’ll pay for flights while I pay for the accommodation or something like that. That way we’ll pay a similar percentage of our income towards a holiday, again keeping it fair and relative.
“We have a Shared Tab in Monzo, which takes away all sorts of stress and potential awkward conversations”
We know exactly who owes what and can easily keep track of our day-to-day spending, while still having our own financial freedom.
It’s fantastic for adding groceries, meals out, etc. and we can adjust the split if we need to. It is totally transparent and very user friendly – it definitely helps us manage our finances fairly and equally.
To apply for a Monzo current account you must be a UK resident. Ts&Cs apply.
*We’ve changed her name.