Money Moral Dilemma: Should my partner pay more towards bills as they earn more?



  • ginger_chocolate
    ginger_chocolate Forumite Posts: 285
    Sixth Anniversary 100 Posts
    I've never understood how couples can keep their finances separate - our old-fashioned view was that all incomes and expenses went through our joint account so no abitrarily splitting costs and whatever's left is "ours".
     Sometimes if you have seperate interests as well as shared ones it's easier to keep things more seperate. My partner and I have our salaries paid into personal accounts,  pay a set amount each into our joint account every month to cover the joint expenses, and whatever is left in our personal accounts is ours to do as we please. This means that if I want to go out with my friends or buy a new handbag, I don't have to stress about "fairness" it's my money to do as I please. Likewise if he wants to save for a few months then drop a couple of hundred quid on a new camera, that's up to him. It can be healthy to keep somethings seperate.

    That said every couple and every situation is different, there's no "right" and "wrong" way to do this. OP really needs to discuss this with their partner and figure something out that they can both live with.
  • gajones
    gajones Forumite Posts: 9
    Part of the Furniture First Post Combo Breaker
    Does the higher earner use more than you? If everything is used 50 - 50 then no, the bills should be 50 - 50.
    I am sure your partner buys other things as well, like holidays, car expenses etc.
    Pay for what you use.
  • retired19
    retired19 Forumite Posts: 16
    Third Anniversary 10 Posts
    You need to talk together. We've been together almost 50 years and our individual incomes have varied massively over the time. We've always had a joint account and paid everything into (and out of it). It takes trust of the other half but it's worked for us. We brought up 4 kids on it took all financial decisions jointly not worrying who put more money into the pot. When either of us didn't earn much money then they were contributing in other ways childcare, house maintenance, allotment etc.
    The main things are communication and trust.
  • City_Girl_3
    City_Girl_3 Forumite Posts: 28
    Eighth Anniversary 10 Posts Name Dropper Combo Breaker
    Everyone is different and for me, we’ve even handled it differently over the 21 years we’ve lived together (married 12 of them). 
    Prior to having kids, we earned roughly the same. Some years I far outearned him and some years it was reversed. But we always averaged some something similar, and we both contributed 50/50 to everything.
    After having kids, his career suddenly took off like a rocket and mine stagnated.  He started to put in more to cover childcare (I was still working full time), but it wasn’t proportionate overall. I guess it was a recognition of the sacrifices I made to be able to have kids.
    When the pandemic hit, it changed again. By this stage he’s earning 2.5x what I make, and because I have flexibility to work from home and he has none, a lot more of the childcare burden fell on me (previously we shared 50/50). I also take care of all the family finances and do a lot of unpaid work for the family (including his taxes and managing our joint side hustles / projects) on top of my full time job. So from this year he’s more or less handing over all of his money to me less a small allowance he keeps for personal expenses, and I spend/invest it as I please. 😂
    So I’d say it just really depends on your situation, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to have that conversation. It sounds like an adjustment of some sort could be the right thing. I do feel strongly that if you are in some way enabling him to earn more (eg by doing unpaid work for the family that benefits him) you should be recognised for that. 

  • samsam89
    samsam89 Forumite Posts: 214
    Tenth Anniversary 100 Posts Combo Breaker
    Hard one to answer. My OH’s income is less than half of mine and we put everything into one account and it’s just ours to use and spend equally. I’m happy with that arrangement but the tricky bit now is that she only works 20hrs a week which was originally due to childcare, however our children are both now at school so in my mind she should be working more and bringing more in rather than having 4 days off a week when she could be working. That wouldn’t change my perspective that what’s mine is here and vice versa, I’d just like her to bring in more for her part now she has the time.
  • ariarnia
    ariarnia Forumite Posts: 4,225
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Name Dropper Combo Breaker
    gajones said:
    Does the higher earner use more than you? If everything is used 50 - 50 then no, the bills should be 50 - 50.
    I am sure your partner buys other things as well, like holidays, car expenses etc.
    Pay for what you use.
    would the partner complain if the op started cutting back on things like the heating etc because they needed to reduce there outgoings to match income?
    Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you. Anne Lamott

    It's amazing how those with a can-do attitude and willingness to 'pitch in and work' get all the luck, isn't it?

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  • Fona
    Fona Forumite Posts: 1
    First Post
    Just had to reply! This exact situation caused soooo many arguments between me and my now husband. I work full time and then 2 part time evening/weekend jobs, I was lucky to get 1 weekend a month to myself and still earned about 2/3rds or less than he did. He assumed I should still pay half of everything. In my opinion I should pay the same proportion of my earning. So for example I took home £2'000pm (40% of the total income) and husband £3'000pm (60%of total income) Totaling £5'000 income per month (100% total income). There for if our combined bills total £2'000 i should pay 40% of the £2'000 bill being £800, and he should pay 60% of the bill being £1'200. Obviously he did not think this was fair, even to this day, 14 years later! Although this completely changed to him paying 95% of the bills since I stopped working 3years ago to have our 2 daughters. If your other half will not agree but you financially trust them (very important), then suggest opening a joint account t for all wages to go into, then all bills to come out of, then a joint savings account :) this is what I should have done at the time. 
  • spyros_455
    spyros_455 Forumite Posts: 3
    First Anniversary First Post
    There are multiple ways to split finances for couples and they're all acceptable. I've referred to a particular guide explaining the options for myself and my partner, but, alas, I'm not able to post links yet. Here are some of the options.


    50-50 is overall quite fair. As others have mentioned, why should he subsidize you? However, it can create resentment and difficulties in the relationship as what you've described on your post. It would generally be considered the most fair.


    Another option is to pay bills proportionally to income. Either pre-tax income or after tax income. This is a compromise for both people's happiness and financial stability while still keeping finances separate.

    I personally advocate for this method in my relationship. I don't mind supporting my girlfriend a bit. It allows my girlfriend to invest more for retirement, which strongly benefits me because it means our retirement will be more comfortable. Also, I don't see us breaking up anytime soon. Finally, I don't want her moving out due to being too expensive for her because her contributing 33% to bills is much better financially for me than me paying 100% of the bills. If it wasn't for the reasons above, I wouldn't do that method because there would be no benefit to me.

    This method is a compromise between feelings and financial benefits as described above about retirement and potentially having the other person move out. It's a negotiation.

    Shared money

    Finally, some couples split all money evenly. I.e. both salaries go in the same joint account. This one depends on feelings only and considering yourselves as a permanent couple where you share everything. Otherwise there is no reason for the higher earning party to do this whatsoever.

    Other things like chores

    Chore time also has value. It's part of the negotiation if you do a significant amount of chores more than him. If it's roughly equal then there's no point bringing it up as it can easily be seen as nitpicking for financial gain. However, if you do many hours more chores than him, then you could bring it up as a point in the negotiation for paying bills proportionally.

    Effectively, him doing less chores is a time saving for him and time has a monetary value. I would personally consider the hours that my girlfriend does more chores as roughly 1 hour of my (or her) hourly rate that I should subsidize extra for bills.

    However, you've got to be careful with this as, for example, he may not agree that certain chores need doing that often, etc.

    Again, this is a negotiation but I think it's an important point.

    To summarize: They're all valid methods. I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of couples did either 50-50 OR proportionally paying bills if the relationship was good.
  • KatieWK
    KatieWK Forumite Posts: 2
    First Post
    Hi, My partner and I have three accounts. One is a joint account and the other two are sole accounts. We make sure that the same minimum amount is allocated to each sole account each month so it can be spent on our own interests (clothes and shoes in one case, beer and golf bets in the other case!) The rest of our money goes in the joint account and that pays for bills, groceries, transport etc. This way, it doesn’t matter who earns more, we never argue about money and we can each spend and save as we wish with our own sole accounts. Just one way of organising things but it really works for us.
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