{ "media_type": "text", "post_content": "For those who make significantly more money than their partners and don’t have kids — how do you a handle money? What are the tension points? Anything you’d do differently?", "post_id": "5feaaa7224387a0020dc8343", "reply_count": 27, "vote_count": 7, "bowl_id": "5da60c126e5f0d001f32f497", "bowl_name": "Women in Law" }

For those who make significantly more money than their partners and don’t have kids — how do you a handle money? What are the tension points? Anything you’d do differently?

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We have joint finances and have for years - since I was in law school and our earning levels were flipped! - and have had very few tension points. We put everything in our joint account and then each take out a set small amount per month (equal) as an “allowance”. We have really open lines of communication and generally discuss any joint account purchases that are outside the ordinary course of business, so to speak. The tensions we have had are around major decisions (whether to buy a house in our HCOL area) and to a lesser extent, what expenses should come out of allowance accounts vs the joint account. I’m sure our system wouldn’t work for everyone, but our values around finances are fortunately very aligned so it does for us.

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@A3 - totally relate to your husband’s guilt. I did a JD/LLM (so 3.5 years of school) and then worked at a small firm for two years making next to nothing before I lateraled. FWIW, my husband’s attitude during that time (not caring what I contributed, recognizing that the time was an investment in our future, and ultimately caring more about my happiness then the $$ I brought home) made such a positive difference in our marriage and my mental health.

likefunny

I make much more (4x) than my husband. I pay for more things, but he takes care of the “difficult” payments (payments that can’t be automated). We purposefully live well below our means, and my husband is pretty frugal, so as long as I can “buy what I want to buy” (I don’t have expensive tastes, which I think is truly the key and not the case for everyone) without worrying about money, I have found that keeping careful track of expenses to be a waste of time and breeds resentment - if my savings ever start to decreasing month to month, we have a chat about where our money is going - maybe too much delivery; maybe we just bought a bunch of new furniture, so we talk it out.

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I make about 2x my husband’s salary, but we joined our finances a long time ago. We do not split up who pays for what. Bills come out at different times, I buy most of our household items, and we tackle everything together. We each have a separate checking account where we transfer a little every month, but we mostly only use that money when we want to buy something for the other person in secret. We keep a pretty strict budget spreadsheet to help with paying down our debt and we are very open about our finances.

likeuplifting

This is great! I want a marriage as open and honest as this!

likefunny

We’ve been splitting expenses mostly proportionally (as a % of salary), and plan on keeping mostly separate finances after we get married. We have a joint account for mortgage/household expenses as well as a joint investment account, and it’s mostly been working out.

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I feel like this is going to be unpopular, but my husband and I have essentially entirely separate finances, which works really well for us. When we got together 14 years ago he made like 5x what I made, and then in law school I had almost no income (save grad plus loans) - we split bills 50/50 but all "fun" spending came from him. When we got married we just kept it the same way. I now out earn him about 2x, but the gap is steadily widening (no qualms from him on that; he's really supportive and proud of me). I have a financial advisor to help me manage goals/income/law school debt. We continue to split bills 50/50 but more of the fun spending comes from me, and I throw a ton of money toward loan payments. I also just cashed in some equity from a previous job, and we certainly think of that as "my" money to do what I want with. We live in California, so in some ways keeping separate finances is a fiction, but it works well for us.

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I honestly think "joining" our finances might be more challenging at this point; I think it would be harder to un-separate them. We basically just do what we've always done: he has his bank account and cards and his paycheck gets deposited in his account and he spends from that, and same for me. He pays the rent/mortgage and I transfer money to his account every month with my other bills. If any adjustment needs to be made, it happens then. I usually end up being the one who fronts money for bigger expenses (eg hotel rooms on a trip) so I'll take his half out of what I transfer to him that month. We're not particularly scrupulous about it, or anything. We tend to trade off who pays for, say, dinner out, but neither of us would care if we paid out of turn. The only time our finances are truly joined is when we file our taxes. 😆

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I make at least double what my husband makes. He has never resented it or felt guilty about it, and I don’t make a big deal about it, which makes things very easy. We joined our finances when we got married (13 years ago) and don’t even have separate checking accounts (which I’m now realizing may be unusual). We live well below our means and save a ton. Neither of us spends extravagantly, which means that we trust each other to spend as desired. We buy stuff when we feel like buying stuff and for more expensive items (like a Peloton), we discuss whether we are in agreement in spending the money.

likefunny

Thank you for this thread! I make about 5x what my partner does (I’m in BigLaw and he’s a ski patroller) and we’re inching towards marriage. I’m about to make shareholder next year, so that gap will only widen and I’m secretly worried about how to handle it. The initial stages of the relationship took some adjusting (he really struggled being okay with me paying for dinner if I wanted to go out on a Tuesday night), but everything’s out on the table in terms of income, debt, spending habits, etc. We’ve discussed a joint account for household expenses, but I wasn’t sure what that looked like in practice or how people apportioned things like fancy vacations. So thank you to everyone who disclosed how they approach this - I tried to get some guidance from my parents but they were extremely unhelpful because my mom stayed at home to raise the kids. In some ways, a single income would make this issue much easier.

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Same with the paying for dinner/treating each other when incomes are so different. I think the allowance idea helps with the feeling of doing something nice for your partner/letting them do something nice for you because it allows them to treat if it comes out of one person’s spending money, regardless of earning.

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I think open communication is key. My partner and I have been married 15 years I have almost always been the breadwinner. We have give ourselves and allowance to play with individually and set our other financial goals as a team. Sometimes there is friction over what should take priority in our team spending. That's when the open communication really helps.

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Right now I make about double my husband’s salary. We treat money as joint in our minds, even though we mostly have separate bank accounts (our only joint one is for our mortgage/car loan). We just said down one day and figured out how much we wanted to spend on regular life stuff, how much we felt was reasonable for “fun” stuff, and decided to save the rest. It’s cut down on pain points because our priorities are the same.

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I make about 2.5x my husband. We started our marriage 13 years ago with joint checking, savings, and credit cards. We’ve never looked back. We both get a very small amount for “fun money” each month that goes into a separate checking account linked to a debit card we each have (and we have shared access to the account). This works well if I want to buy him something without him seeing it in our check register or online bank account.

likesmart

No matter which approach you take (separate, joint, hydrid...) communication is key and respectful communication is paramount. Try not to “throw in your partner’s face” that you make more money. Remember that you are a team and each member is providing or has provided support in many ways at different times during your relationship, and hopefully, that will continue.

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My husband and I married 7 years ago. I make 4x his salary, but we’ve had joint checking/savings/credit cards since the very beginning. The one thing Ive never added his name to is the line of credit because I don’t want him to get stuck with paying it if I were to die suddenly. No tension points - it’s worked out great for us. But, were broke students when we got married, so the decision to share everything (ie. nothing) came easily then. We have similar spending habits and make big purchases together.

likeuplifting

This post has been super helpful! I’ve been with my partner over 11 years, but most of that was while we were both in school. Then, when we got engaged we started talking the big purchases (though we always talked long term goals before) and we started a joint account to save for a house. We bought and moved into our house while I was in my third year of law school and he was making the money. Now, I make more than him and he is also doing more grad school. We use our joint accounts for nearly everything, but still each have our own accounts that we had opened when we were younger. He is in finance so he maintains a spreadsheet of our budgets and goals that we both have access too. Biggest thing is we have similar goals, talk about money openly and freely, and have similar frugal lifestyles. I know it slightly bothers him that he makes less (not as resentment toward me, but rather that he wants to contribute more) but his financial background will be immensely helpful when we move on to our next purchases/goals and he will finish grad school soon. So, I make sure to show my appreciation for his skills and effort in managing things (also because I don’t want to do it) and know that we are a team.

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This is great!!

When we got married we both earned about the same. Now I earn about twice what my husband does. We have always had a joint checking and savings. Everything goes into one pot, from which all expenses are paid. If we are making any big financial moves (purchase, debt pay off, investments, etc.), we talk about them. We don't have a specific allowance, but we both are pretty equally yoked financially. Both of our goals are for debt payoff and then savings. So we both pretty freely spend as we want/need under a few hundred. If it exceeds that then there will be a conversation to make sure needs are met before wants. In order to have that kind of financial relationship with your partner, you both have to have similar values or it won't work.

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Y’all, this has been SO helpful! I appreciate all of your detailed and thoughtful responses!

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We’ve been married for 4 years, no human kids. I make 2.5x more than him. After we married, we opened a joint checking and savings (for our wedding gifts) but kept our individual accounts, which our paychecks go to. I pay for the big ticket items: mortgage, property taxes, auto and home insurance, HOA, etc. He pays for food: groceries, take out, fine dining, and also contributes to our joint savings each pay period. We split utilities where he’s in charge of paying some and I have the others, and vacation funds come from the joint account. I’m not gonna lie, it was rough the first couple of years. At times, I felt he wasn’t contributing enough financially and was spending freely (and not saving) because I pay for the big stuff. But, after having the same argument over and over again, I realized he contributes in other ways (since I work longer hours): cooking, trash, grocery shopping (which I hate), dishes, etc., and he does it on his own, no nagging needed. Echoing that communication is key. It’s important to know each other’s comfort level and compromise goes a long way.

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I make 5x what my husband makes. We have a joint account , my husband is VERY frugal and never buys anything for himself. I am not a person that concerned with money (yes It’s on my to-do list to care), but all our bills are paid, I buy what I want, savings goes up. The only tension is if I buy something my husband doesn’t think we need (like a pelotón) but at the end of the day, I make enough money to make those kinds of purchases (really my only splurge) so it’s not an issue for us.

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I avoided marrying a guy that would always be the beta. Now I am the beta. Overall, I like having a partner whose balls I’m not constantly afraid of squishing.

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I’m a senior associate in big law and made more than my husband until the last few years (not by that much though). And then this year he made double what I made. We each kept our separate bank accounts when we got married but also have a joint account where all the “excess” money goes every month. Investment accounts are also joint. We always discuss big purchases with each other and are pretty open about each other’s spending. Our main credit card is also joint. I do have a few other credit cards that I use for my stuff (clothes, etc) which I pay from my paycheck every month.

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