Sharing Financial Responsibility in a Relationship

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Sharing Financial Responsibility
Sharing Financial Responsibility. Image by Wayhome Studio @

It is not unusual in a marriage or relationship for one person to take on the responsibility of the household finances. The job of ensuring that the bills are paid on time, that the savings account grows and debt is paid off more often than not falls on the shoulders of one person, while the other is blissfully unaware. While this can be convenient it can also be problematic as I have recently discovered.

Despite the fact that I take care of all aspects of our household budget, I assumed that DH also knew about the important aspects of our finances. I was wrong.

We recently decided to make a few changes to our home loan. As it is a joint account, both DH and I had to answer a few questions for identification purposes. Questions like: What financial products do you have with us? Have you recently made any transfers to your account? As DH doesn’t handle our finances he couldn’t answer the questions, failed the identification test and we were not allowed to make changes to our loan as a result. While I’m glad that the bank doesn’t let any old person have access to our banking details, it was also very annoying.

It made me realise that if, heaven forbid, something happened to me, DH wouldn’t be able to access our savings, would have trouble making changes to our mortgage and wouldn’t know where our financial and other personal information is filed.

It was exactly this type of situation my mother found herself in when my father passed away a couple of months ago. My father had a habit of hiding important and valuable things when they travelled, in case the house got broken into. It took mum weeks to find the things that dad had hidden.

There are a few things that you can do to keep your partner in the loop and ensure that should anything happen to you, your other half will be able to take over the household finances with minimal difficulty.

  • Take time to discuss your finances on a regular basis. Things like upcoming expenses, financial goals and financial health.
  • Organise your financial documents and information well. Have a place for important papers and ensure that everyone knows where they are filed. Clearly mark them so that they are easy to search through if necessary. I know that it may be a security concern, but have a safe place for bank account details so that everyone knows how to access the household accounts if necessary.
  • Inform your other half. I’m not suggesting that you prepare an entire PowerPoint presentation for your spouse (although you could if you wanted to) but if you’re the one tracking the bills, watching the debts and the savings accounts and keeping a budget, it’s a good idea to sit with your spouse and go through some key points on a regular basis.

One person taking on the financial responsibility in a marriage can ensure bills don’t get forgotten or double paid and the household finances run smoothly. If you do have the sole responsibility of the household budget, ensure that your spouse is kept in the loop so that they are able to help make financial decisions and if something should happen to you, they don’t find themselves at sea with the household finances.

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  1. Thank you for talking about this, I have often wondered how involved your partner is with your budgeting. My husband, well does not want to be involved, but interferes.

    He refuses to look at the budget, refuses to help with big decisions, but questions “where is the money?” when I tell we cannot afford something. He wants me to pay off the mortgage quickly, but also save for projects around the property, trips interstate etc. It is getting to the point where I want to withdraw $1 in 10 cent pieces and put 1 in a jar for each thing he wants so gets the idea of how little money we have spare.

    It really is a horrid situation to be be in, I could on for ages about it. I swear he thinks that normal mathematics does not apply to anything with a dollar sign in front of it. He really things he can earn $5, spend $6 and still have $2 in the account and has little understanding as to how $5 here, $20 there adds up to $100’s over a month.

  2. Kiner CPA says:

    The bottom line is that financial communication is essential for a fiscally responsible marriage.

  3. Thanks for this post, you have put into words all the things I want to talk to hubby about, when he gets in from work I,ll have him read this.

  4. I asked DH what he thought about how we work our finances out and he said “I just do as I’m told” – he was being facetious (and was trying to watch TV and just wanted me to leave him alone). Note to self – pick better times to talk about our finances :).

    I would like him to be a little more involved so that he is on the same page as I am. Things like “why don’t we have a weekend away?” and I’m the one who has to say, “well, because I’m still saving up for the rates and the electricity due next month, and then there is the body corp fees…. and we can’t afford it now.” I hate being the one who is the financial wet blanket all the time.

  5. I get you there Melissa. It is emotionally draining constantly being the one to say “no” and then having to 2nd guess any purchases, as you know it will be used against you later on. “Why can’t we afford it, you bought xxxx last week? Sucks that they think buying the kids singlets for winter means they can buy a computer game.

    Just wish he would cooperate on the pocket money front. I have pm for him, along with petrol money. He wants me to “hold” it for him, till he wants it. Complete pain for me to keep track off and nothing worse that planning a day off the computer only to have him call up asking for an urgent petrol transfer. All I want to do it transfer the money once a fortnight and be done with it. Then it is up to him to fill up the car, then do what he wants with what it left over.

  6. Men and computer games?! DH is a gamer too, although he hasn’t bought any for quite a while. If only I had the time to ‘play’.

  7. Ditto on many fronts. The challenges also include being the one responsible for superannuation, health and property insurance, and anything to do with the car (since my husband doesn’t drive). The common response is “well I don’t understand any of that, and you do”. Only because I force myself to research it, and I don’t enjoy the process!

    On the matter of identification, these days most companies will only allow accounts such as phones, gas to be set up under one name. This can be problematic if the other person is then required to produce a bill with their name and address for identification purposes.

    1. I could be wrong, but I think that when a company only has one account holder, you can elect to have someone else put on the account to make changes etc. Our phone and electricity are in DH’s name only but I am an ‘authorised’ person – after all, I’m the one that does the ringing.

  8. Some providers are great with “authorised persons”, but I have found Telstra will allow me to do some things, but not others like set-up additional services.

    My BIL was stuck after my sister died and Optus cut off his phone, they just could not understand that she was dead and could not talk to them. The last thing someone who has lost their wife needs.

  9. Too true. I’ve heard of quite a few instances of this type of thing happening. A little compassion goes a long way.

  10. God Melissa, I so know what you mean. I am from India and my husband is no different. He just hands over the money to me on his payday and expects me to keep giving him whenever he needs. He very proudly proclaims in front of his friends that he has a clever wife and doesnt have to worry about paying mortgage/bills. Everything i am trying to do to involve him in budgeting is just not working :(

  11. I’m glad that he realises he’s got a clever wife – and tells people.

  12. Benjamin Bankruptcy says:

    Astrid in contrast to all the women here I thought this was a husband problem:) I manage the finances, I saved the money we used to buy our house before we met and she just doesn’t understand what I took A) to save it and be B) what it takes to keep our house etc. Than calls me a cheap skate for not wanting to spend money.

    At least you get your partners pay checks I’ve never seen my partners, I’ve not idea what she spends it on.

    After paying all the bills we have $7 left over a week.

    I’m have a hard time convincing her that we need to become a one car family, I want to sell my car and cycle. I’ve done it before but she’s refusing to consider it. ARGH!

    1. I was just saying to DH the other day that we needed a male point of view on this post! Thanks for providing it.

  13. Great post! Really good insight. It’s always difficult to discuss finances and share money in relationships. Thanks for your advice. I recently stumbled upon this blog like I stumbled upon yours. I think they offer some good points and laughter about the topic:

    Thanks for the post! I’d like to see more like it.

  14. Hi Pete, thanks, I enjoyed reading that!