What happens when household earnings are vastly different?

Marriage and finance are two complex topics in their own right. If they are both not addressed well, they can cause a lot of friction. So what does it look like when one partner earns significantly more than the other? What happens when one partner wants to buy a car? Whether you choose to acknowledge, ignore or brush off the disparity in income, you will eventually have to deal with it in some way.

Finding common ground is essential to move closer to your goals of financial independence and freedom as a married couple. You will need to consider all the factors that contribute to your daily activities and roles within the house. Creating a financial strategy that works for both of you will help guide you in the long run. All of these factors are possible through communication – and the earlier the communication starts, the better.

This is a conversation that requires a sit-down, separately from the other general discussions. You could both consider yourselves equally disciplined when it comes to money only to find out at a later stage that one of you is actually reckless when it comes to saving and investments for your future together. 

With that said, here are some of the factors that you should consider when choosing to share your financial life with your significant other.

Both of you should be accountable for finances. 

No matter how little the other person earns, both of you should play a role in the financial responsibilities in the household. If not, then it starts to feel like the other person is burdensome, and not doing their part in the marriage. Both of you should agree on a financial planning process, which ought to be communicated before unhelpful behaviours become a norm in your lives. It can be challenging to be in a relationship with someone who squanders money, right? So always assume responsibility and take charge of your half of the relationship. 

Who pays for what in the household?

This is very important, especially if both parties don’t earn the same amount of money. If one person pays for the long- term expenses such as a home bond, it is considerable for another person to take care of small expenses such as groceries and  electricity bills. These conversations should take place well before the first bill arrives in the mail. 

Set up a financial goal for long- term plans 

If you and your partner want to buy a house in the next 5 years or if one of you wants to go back to school, you should set up a financial plan. Collaborate on financial goals based on a shared vision of your future as a couple. You don’t always need a joint account to plan a vacation, but having shared values and inspirations means you can work together to achieve them as a couple. 

My partner earns more than me therefore I feel inferior. 

Ignore gender stereotypes because gender doesn’t determine who should make more money or control the finances in a relationship. The decision to share bills should be based on how much each person can contribute, not because of their gender. If you earn more than the other person, it only makes financial sense to contribute to most of the responsibilities.

The bottom line is, as a couple, it is essential to take these steps when merging your bank accounts: 

Communicate early on in the relationship to avoid making mistakes and having disagreements.

Have a financial plan for long-term goals that you would both want to achieve.

Both parties should have a role they place in the finances, to make things easier for both of you.

Have an investment style which is suited for both of you and help each other reach those goals

We’d love to hear your comments or thoughts on the topic, so please drop us a line….   

The Wise About Life Team

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