Financial Transparency with Your Partner

Was speaking to a good mate yesterday.. he claims that him and his wife are happy with eachother emotionally. They both are on decent wages but noted they have an "awkward" tune when it comes to discussing and sharing their independant finances :where they are very discreet with their income, spending and savings etc.

Here are the key points I picked up:

*They split billing responsibilities and variable household expenditures
*He doesn't know how much his wife earns, due to her shift work and additional overtime shifts.
*His wife is not comfortable to disclose and would understate her earnings.
*They aren't open with their savings with each other and attempts to bring this up for future planning hasn't gone well.
*General discomfort in speaking about money and finances in general with each other.

Is this common? Personally me and my partner operate almost on the other side of the fence.. So am wandering what are OzB's thoughts on this, around being financially transparent (income, spending, budgeting/planning, savings) with your lifelong partner?

Poll Options

  • 63
    Yes
  • 788
    No
  • 297
    They need a therapist

Comments

  • Seriously you're married and still holding your cards that close?
    They're insane, commit them.

  • A less private version of this apparently is pretty common

    I was surprised, but when someone bought up about their own savings account, it was discussed amongst my team

    Most couples in the team had some variation of this, not to the extreme of Op… which comes across as very paranoia

  • +2

    I give'm a couple of years.

  • +3

    Seems like it's only a matter of time till she starts wandering and not disclosing that too 😂

  • +5

    Once your married, this is mine and that is yours is pretty pathetic. If your not a partnership then separate. We share the same cc, bank accounts etc. There are no restrictions on spending, but again that comes with trust where I know she won't go get a 7k bag.

    • +3

      that comes with trust where I know she won't go get a 7k bag.

      Yes exactly, because you're making decisions with your partner's or your family's best interests in the forefront of your mind. You're not thinking of yourself first and then the family as just an annoying chore and trying to game your way into getting more for yourself than your partner does. A 7k bag would be something you would discuss first, and you wouldn't get it if you need to get the heating fixed soon or the toilet is broken or there's a big rates bill arriving next week.

  • +4

    If I married someone we'd be totally transparent. Even if they wanted an account where they can spend just on their hobbies or whatever that's fine, as long as we're transparent about it.

    • +2

      That's how it should be. Trust and communication are so important

  • +1

    Your mate and his wife are a weird couple.

  • +1

    *His wife is not comfortable to disclose and would understate her earnings.

    Does the wife earn more than he does? I know a few people who earn more than their male partners, but play down their salaries (not necessarily lie) so that their bf/husband doesn't feel inferior! lol

    • Not sure. His wife is a registered nurse and he is a business analyst for one of the big 4 banks.

      • Is he a junior-mid level BA? If so with tax benefits/shift work she could be earning more (at least here in Bris)

        • I know some nurses that earn well north of 150k plus super so it isn't a surprising statement that a nurse can earn a look of money.

          In saying that, also know plenty of nurses that don't earn above 80k

          • @serpserpserp: Who? A nurse maximum wage is $47 an hour as a cns. Nurse practitioners may reach that but they aren't your typical nurse

  • +1

    I'm lucky that my wife and I have similar salaries so we've never really felt that one brings more to the table. We've had a shared bank account ever since we got married (10 years ago). Can go buy whatever you want within reason. Anything over $500 we'd consult the other person about it or factor it into our yearly budget.

    My sister was shocked to find out a few months ago that we had a shared bank account. She mention that her and her partner (married 7 years with 3 kids) still kept all their finances seperate. This seems crazy to me. However in their situation he's probably on very decent coin 250K?? (partnered stock broker) while she's on about 150K (finance manger)

    • +3

      You are the normal one and they are not. I had a friend who did separate finances thing. It was her idea as she was a feminist. It got to such a ridiculous level that because he earned a lot more he could go places on holiday that she could not afford. For some strange reason they eventually got divorced and 2 kids suffered.

  • +1

    He's gonna know once/if they break up….. lawyers are fun

    But no, it's not normal. People should be open about their finances whether they put in 10%, 50% or 90%.

  • +1

    It’s a bit odd but if there are no kids or family home/ shared mortgage there’s no real need to combine finances.

    • +1

      They’d be friends with benefits.

      • No they'd just be married without kids and a mortgage.

  • +2

    I know someone like this. The wife didn't know the husband had nothing. He made up some bullshit about having a property overseas, etc. But he was a gambler in debt. When they showed their cards, neither of them had anything saved up. In the past few years they have gotten their spending under better control.

    It doesn't matter if it's common or not. What matters is whether it's good for their relationship.

    • Neither of them had anything.

      I kinda wish I was there to see who's face scrunched up more.

      Bahahaha.

      • They were rapidly spending their cash figuring the other will bail them out!

  • marriage.. lifelong… if only that was true.. doesn't seem to be in this generation..

    • What generation? Each year, people of all generations are getting married.

    • Pretty sure divorce is not a 'this' generation thing. If anything, growing number of younger generation people are more hesitant to get married to begin with.

  • Looks like some incident has happened in past you are unaware of. This has created trust issues. This does happen a lot but not common. Therapist/counseling may or may not solve but worth trying.

  • +5

    I don't understand there people saying to keep it seperate just in case of divorce, and to make it hard for them to figure out how much you earn.

    Do you want the lawyers to get involved and open you up like a can of worms? Lawyers win, wife wins and you lose.

    Seriously imagine getting married and thinking well I'm going to get divorced eventually I better start planning for it.

    • It's an eventuality but if you're going into a marriage like that what the hell is the point.

  • +3

    Personally full disclosure on everything. What is the point of even getting married if you aren't looking at the future together. Having access to both financials makes it easier to budget and to plan for retirement. I'm surprised that more people aren't transparent with it. Seems like alot of folks here value money before all else and it's pretty sad.

  • +1

    how the hell do they get joint loans? eg : mortagage..

    OR they dont?

    • +1

      Clearly buy a house each for that first home owner grant. It's the Ozbargain way.

    • +1

      My wife and I dont share finances except for the loan. We both tip in as much as we can and trust that the other hasn't blown it all on cocaine (we have kids so dont have time to spend spare cash on the down low anyway)

      • +1

        Well not after all that cocaine you don't….

  • +8

    I'm married and my wife and I disclose everything. We don't split bills. I pay bills my wife saves and looks after big ticket expenses like insurances and travel. She knows my wages I know hers and we are always honest and respectful. We always tell each other what we bought and it's OK. If my wife says I think we need to dial backon spending. I just dial back. Everything is a team effort in marriage

  • +3

    It's different once you have kids.

    They won't be splitting the bills anymore once she's on maternity leave, and that's just the start.

    • +1

      Name may be a hint at the structure of many modern marriages.

  • +6

    Lol my wife doesn't even know how much she earns per month. Doesn't care as I do everything the Ozber way. Shuffle stuff around to maximise returns and just hand her a new cc every few months or so for her expenses. She hardly spends anything anyway as we almost do everything together. On the flipside if I drop dead it'll be a nightmare to unravel all the accounts and ccs.
    I'm a million % confident neither of us are leaving the other. Wouldn't have got married otherwise

  • +3

    It honestly depends but there should be enough transparancy so a couple can plan for the future.

    We operate on a split finances model. Pay all the bills/buy groceries from an agreed amount we set aside in a joint account each month and agree to individually AIM to save X amount each year towards a joint home deposit. We discuss how that's going on a monthly basis. We both agree money shouldn't sit in the bank but have different investment strategies plus we have investment property commitments we own seperately.

    As long as the other is pulling their weight on the joint goals I see no reason to question their spending habits.

  • -3

    Didn’t realise OzBargain was full of so many red pill MRA neckbeards

  • Am aware of wife's finances (and she I) but for the most part we actually keep everything separate. No joint accounts.

    I pay for pretty much everything then she'll send me a fair proportion every so often (not quite half since I earn a bit more)

  • +1

    I do wonder how this changes with home ownership then kids.
    One could presume it's part age related and part ability to actually run seperate finances. Once these two milestones occur it's usually (in my experience) all in.

    • +1

      …millstones…

  • +2

    Couples that still live like they’re single, or recently coupled are not in a healthy relationship

  • My wife and I have been effectively sharing our financials (in the respect that we acted like it was joint money) since 6mo after we started dating. But it did take a really long time to end up with joint accounts other than the home loans. I think it was really just inertia more than anything.

    It has always worked really well BUT it has caused some arguments because I enjoy spending more than she does…and then I get a bit annoyed about being judged for it, because at the end of the day I feel like I am allowed to spend it however I see fit when its only small-ish purchases. We earn roughly 50:50 though she does earn more than me (maybe 40:60)

    But i do have friends who are similar to OPs description; they've been together for 12yrs and treat it as separate money. He used to get some frustrated about it, because she even refused to put her money into the joint offset account (until recently)

    • +2

      I think the solution to that is to get all her and your salary paid into the home loan account and then draw out an equal amount each month into your private accounts for any fun spending you want to do. Joint expenses come from the home loan account. If she wants to save for fewer, more expensive things and you want to have nice but cheaper things more often then you can.

  • +1

    If he is unhappy he should take it to relationship counseling instead of finding a friend to back up his position. It needs to be sorted out with someone objective. I have no idea how much I earn for similar reasons and frequently understate it due to overtime shifts. It's always corrected at tax time and my husband and I find out at tax time so I don't see the issue here - there's no agenda!

  • +2

    I'm open with the misso about what i'm on and am happy to talk about it, including wealth. I'd say it's high up there on the agenda when thinking about spending a long time with a significant other. The last thing you want is someone who's a freeloader/terrible with monetary management/ happy to take out a new car loan and think about the long term costs later.

    I don't see the whole stigma behind it, not talking about money is one of the biggest factors in poor money management. Having said that i feel with the wealth of information at hand the current and future generations are going to be some of the most savvy when it comes to money management as they're so open.

    • I think the whole don't talk about money is perpetuated by the private industry which likes to keep everyone's pay packets confidential. Then you get to government and you know exactly what everyone's on and it's a bit more of a hospitable environment when it comes to talking about pay.
  • I got screwed over because there wasnt much financial transparency between me and my ex. Well I gave transparency but she didnt back and people told me to not push the conversation or expect her to come around quickly but give it time etc. But that wasnt true, she never came around and really she didnt want to give it so that she could try to go after as much cash as possible when it came to the divorce which was obviously always a possibility on her mind. Long story but i would say you definitely should have full transparency and things should be shared instead of the guy expected to pay for most things.

    • Feelsbadman

      If it helps, you can’t take it with you!

  • a few thoughts -

    • she may not be feeling safe about the long-term prospects of the relationship

    • she may have grown up feeling unsafe about sharing private information - parents' trauma observed

    • she may be earning more than hub - and fear him feeling emasculated if revealed

    • she may be nasty and secreting millions and/or gambling it all away - he'll find out later !!!

    • I share your thoughts, except that he is the one who may be a gambler or extravagant spender.

      Additionally, how many years have they been married? Again this could be from point 1 (not safe on long term).

      • They've been married for about 4-5years

  • I always find it a little odd when long term partners don't have shared finances, let alone not even discussing them. A former boss in his 50s used to complain about his wife always asking him to pay for everything, which didn't make sense to me. Personally, my wife and I have 100% of our finances in a joint account. We see each other's pay and spending, and there is no me or her paying for something, it's us paying together always. Each to their own I guess, but if you're separating your finances and not even discussing them because you don't trust your SO, then you may have bigger issues.

  • +1

    I think she may have been exposed to or heard of many stories about marriages falling apart and ending up in divorce where the women end up homeless or in poverty.

    There are many variables and can't judge. What if he's an extravagant spender? Or a discreet gambler?

    How many years have they been married?

    If this arrangement gives her a sense of security then it's up to them. They do need to have a conversation about the root cause so he's at peace with it instead of talking to his friends about it.

    Actually, I do advice my girlfriends to keep their finances separate early in the marriage because you don't know a man until you're divorcing them (stories from other girlfriends).

  • This is bizarre……..what ethnicity are they? Is this a cultural thing?

    • we all thinking it lol

  • +7

    Going against the grain here.

    Been married over 10+ years with 2 kids. The only joint account my wife and I have is our Mortgage. I earn double what my wife earns so I pay all the mortgage, utilities, school, council rates and car bills. She takes cares of the groceries and her own phone or gym bills.

    It works for us. Financials is the last thing burdening our relationship. We don't ever have moments where i have to "check in" with the wife if i can purchase a new tv or me questioning her $$$ spend on herself. I feel like having a joint account would drive us insane making me question her spending habits or her getting irritated from me trying to manage what she can/cannot buy. Not saying this is the correct way, you do what works for your relationship and this works for us. Having said all that, there is no "hiding", we are fully transparent with each other when asked.

    • +1

      I know I'll hate myself for pulling on this thread but where the heck does the excess money go if not the offset?

      All other options suck unless you're piling it all into index funds in which case it's all invested anyway. Alternatively it's all spent on stuff because this model encourages spending.

      • She earns less-has higher self (plus kids) maintenance costs. Clothes, shoes, hair, makeup plus family groceries. No excess.
        He earns more-covers the big expenses. Probably dinners, entertainment, holidays. No excess.

        • +1

          If there's no excess surely you are in big trouble when you need an emergency plumber or you find out the kids need braces etc.

        • +2

          Which would basically confirm my point. Noone is incentivised to save anything.

      • +3

        I think you've made an assumption here that because we don't micromanage each others purchases that we may be reckless spenders and leave nothing to save or invest. What i mentioned was just an example of the issues we don't have to go through, it doesn't mean i buy a new tv every month or my wife splurges on her spends monthly.

        You're right in that this may encourage others to spend but as i've mentioned this works for us and we are quite restrained with our purchases. I simply sharing that there isn't a one size fits all method and everyone should have a join account.

        I still have lots of excess after paying all the bills and can afford to buy a new luxury car but i choose not to because I know it will sit and depreciate in my garage.

        There's plenty of excess and money budgeted and that goes straight into a savings/offset account or investment.

    • +1

      This is pretty much myself and my husband without the mortgage (house paid off). Works for us too.

  • +3

    That's totally weird. Why bother getting married? Wait till they have a kid lol

    • +2

      Imagine being born into a situation like that 😳

  • Was gonna ask how long they’ve been dating but realised it says ‘wife’. Seems like there are some trust issues there. Is your mate good with his money?

  • +1

    It's possible that his wife has been burned in the past - perhaps in a previous relationship where their partner was financially controlling/abusive. Happens far more often than we would all like to think.

    In the absence of reasons like that, then yeah it doesn't seem right. But I've noticed in Australia we are very bad at talking openly about money. In my experience anyway, people are generally very uncomfortable talking about how much they earn, how much they spent on major purchases, just finances in general.

    Not that I want us all to be salary obsessed (profanity), but I do think it would be healthier if we were more open about these sorts of things.

  • +3

    They will both find out shortly when they complete their tax returns anyway (to calculate the Medicare surcharge tax) so if they are shocked at each others incomes they can talk about it then. If it's as expected then they should probably talk about their plan for the next year and if they should have more regular check-ins to make sure their family goals are on track.

    I have always been supportive of only having 1 joint account for bills to come out of and another for joint savings goals like a house deposit or family holiday etc that way people can get their income added directly to their personal account and make payments without it appearing on a joint list and being questioned unnecessarily. It also allows people to save additional money for themselves without feeling guilty that they need to spend it on the other person, in my case my money goes on my 4x4 or Playstation games. She can buy her candles/ crystals or whatever without me getting annoyed. the goal is to talk about it informally but regularly so we can make adjustments to our short term goals whenever they change.

  • I wish your mate and his wife the best and I hope they solve any financial issues for a long and happy marriage.

    However, if your mate ends up in a divorce and loses 50%+ of his wealth and assets, then he deserves it and I have no sympathy.

  • His money is her money.

  • +2

    My wife and i have a joint bank account that our pay and expenses come into and out of.

    She has little interest in the finances and i do both our tax returns and also run mine through an accountant just to be sure on a few more complex things.

    I think it's unusual to be secretive about how much each other earns. It's like you are setting up for the marriage to fail imho.

  • +5

    I make significantly more than my wife, we keep joint accounts except for ones that we use for daily spending. But what we buy/etc. isn't a secret. We really just have those to be able to Google/Apple pay on our phones and be less prone to some form of theft from our main accounts.

    We have no issue discussing how much we make and I encourage her to buy things she wants and have always viewed and told her that our money is our money.

    The only time I give her any sort of grief is when money could have been easily saved, like she doesn't get cashback or when she spent $115 + $25 shipping when free shipping was available at $125 (at a place she plans to buy from again in 2-3 weeks).

    I understand that people can be different, cultures can be different, but it just doesn't sound like marriage to me. I view marriage as working together with transparency and earnestness in order to achieve eachother's dreams, to help eachother become more like what we want to become, and to spend time together when possible to do so. When you intend to hide things and the such, it seems more like your cooperating with another business that could be hostile in the future.

    • +1

      or when she spent $115 + $25 shipping when free shipping was available at $125

      Reasonable grounds for divorce?

      • +4

        It is alright, any women worth her salt will not send 5 minutes with him. He and his incel mates dream of meeting women. Fortunately their personalities make great contraceptives.

  • +3

    him and his wife are happy with each other emotionally

    so physically not so much

    XDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD

  • I don't see how this is legally possible as you need to disclose your spouse's income on your tax return.

    As far as being normal, I don't even understand why married couples have seperate finances and this is on next level stupid from that.

  • +1

    happy with eachother emotionally

    Um… if you have to explicitly define being emotionally happy with each other over being happily married there's something definitely wrong there.

    He doesn't know how much his wife earns
    wife is not comfortable to disclose and would understate her earnings.
    They aren't open with their savings with each other and attempts to bring this up for future planning hasn't gone well.

    Sounds as though she is intentionally hiding something, not only that but lying to her husband. This is not a trusting relationship, so either she has some serious guarding when it comes to finances or this marriage is heading towards its end. In either case, if their marriage is important to them, they need therapy for sure. From OP's explanation it sounds as though it has the husband in turmoil but she's too selfish to care. Emotional comfort isn't enough to hold a marriage together.

  • +6

    My wife doesn't know I have a $20 Myer gift card hid under the bed.

  • +1

    My wife and I pool everything, only recently have we set up personal accounts and we get an equal payment into that regularly.

    Sure we don't announce everything we do with spending. But its all there for each of us to look at.

    Potential Divorce? You never know what might happen, but this deep in there is no fun or clean way out anyway.

    @tsunamisurfer, that's all fine for DINKs, but when it comes to a family you need to reassess.

  • That is so weird. Imagine having a wife and not knowing how much money she makes.

  • No. It's not common.

    Common in Australia is people using joint accounts - which IMO is stupid. It made sense in the days before the internet but now you can open unlimited online bank accounts so I would argue the best way is:

    • Keep your own finances, but be honest with each other and be open with your $$$.

    You need to know savings and incomes to plan for the future, but you don't need access to each others money.

    • +2

      If you have a mortgage it makes sense to put all of your money in it so you pay the least interest possible

      • +1

        Yes if you have a large offset and a high rate. Lots of people with 100% or 90% fixed.

  • +2

    It's simple.
    She makes more money than him. She doesn't want to disclose because it would mean potentially contributing more towards joint expenses and that doesn't work for her. Women usually go with an ideology that my money is mine but my patterns money is ours. Men usually end up contributing a lot more towards rent/mortgage/bills/going out etc irrespective of how much thier partner earns.

    • yep, but when it comes time for the divorce she'll also rinse him for everything his worth

  • awhh additional overtime shifts and hiding expendeture bills ??
    cheater, cheater, pumkpkin eater !

  • +1

    Hope her real name is not Hamber Turd !

  • +2

    I would suggest a therapist, but I don't know how they would work out who pays for it!

  • Relationships are too complicated to be summed up in a <200 word post and it feels like there's a lot of missing context here. What works for most couples doesn't necessarily work for everyone. Also you'd have to be extremely out of touch to suggest laws aren't severely biased against majority income earners or even suggest that most divorces end fairly leading to an increase in couples with this sort of dynamic.
    Have a few professionals in my circle who are somewhat like this and seem to be content, though most of them do know each other's incomes (apart from investments)

  • +2

    sounds like they don't have kids yet and best to keep it that way until they get some therapy.
    Get your mate to pay for this himself so its clearly his investment and there's no strings attached to the wife… And if therapy doesn't work out, best to just walk away and start again.

    when you marry someone, you marry their finances along with the family etc.
    it makes no sense that one person is saving and the other is spending it just as fast… let alone being in the dark about it.

    For me, all our income goes into a single joint account.
    Everything gets paid out of that account and we have CC that comes out of that account.
    This is for day-to-day living, pretty much everything gets paid from here that's for the family. We're not big spenders, so its not like one of us goes out every Friday night and shouts everybody a few rounds of drinks.

    I did think about that and that's why we also draw equal $ (call it an allowance) into an individual account that we each can spend on whatever without the other person's permission.
    This way if either of us wants to shout everybody drinks, blow it on pokemon cards, invest in crypto or simply be a stay-at-home parent, we will both draw equal amounts

    I find we never discuss money unless it's for the family investments because everything is transparent and we trust each other not to blow all the money away. In theory, any one of us can empty those bank accounts at any time, but what would be the point of that given that working together is going to return much greater value than the money in the accounts.

  • -2

    my partner and i did the following when we knew we were serious, wanted to buy property together and get married.
    We currently have 4 categories of accounts:
    1. Our mortgage accounts (this is shared between the 2 of us)
    2. Our "general expenses" account (this is share between the two of us), this is to cover anything household…food, electricity, water, internet, insurance, the vehicles we share, etc.
    3. My personal accounts, This is just for me, my partner has no visibility of this account, i can spend this on whatever i want.
    4. My partners personal accounts, Same as above except my partner is the only one with visibility and can spend whatever they want.

    Now how does everything get divided?
    well, we agree on some figures (with some excel calculations for forecasting). But in general we divi up a certain percent of our salaries amongst the 3 accounts.
    X% for mortgage (Account 1)
    Y% for general expenses (Account 2)
    Z% for personal allowance (into personal account, this % is much lower than the other above 2).

    We do it based off of %, because we understand that some of us may be in jobs that pay more or less…now although the person earning less will be paying less in mortgage etc, they will also be given a smaller personal allowance. What's important to note though is that personal spending is for everything AFTER the main expenses are paid from account 2.

    This gets really easy as we have our banks automatically transfer the funds every month when we get paid.

    This is working really well for us, we can keep living our lives and don't really need to worry if the mortgage is being paid or if we will have enough $$$ for food.

    Where things will be changed up a bit is if 1 of us reaches a situation where we can't work for a period of time (such as injury or pregnancy), In this specific case, being a team, the person that's earning money will have their personal allowance split between the 2 people.

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