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Cash Chronicles: Vivi, 29, Seeks advice, First time sharing a bank account

The aim is to encourage people to start talking about their money in real life. What you buy, when, and how you FEEL seeing it all recorded at the end of the week.

This series allows us to think about money without all the stresses of confronting our own finances.

No one is perfect with money. But talking about money makes us smarter.


Warning: Confronting themes.

When Sarah and I started The Footnotes we wanted it to be a place where people shared real stories about their lives that could offer sage advice for readers, or act as conversation starters for intelligent discussions about study, careers and money.

We chatted to Vivi* before publishing this piece and she said,  “If your partner gets upset whenever you spend money — whether it’s their money, your own money, or shared “couple” money — take it as a sign that there may be financial control in your relationship – especially if you’ve begun to live in fear of their reaction; however when you commit to a savings goals together and overspend individually, it is also OK for your partner to be disappointed.

Sharing money is new for me and I wanted to publish this piece because I think there is a fine line between the realities of sharing money and being controlled financially; I would like to see how people interpret my situation. I think it is a really healthy and important discussion to have.”


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Note from Sam:

I know we all live in the comments section of CC… and this week I want to raise a discussion that addresses shared finances with couples. There are a few questions that I have (or thought starters) and I would love to hear people’s opinions and experiences, in the hopes that this provides a lens for intelligent discussion.

Does your paycheck go directly into an account with your partner that you share? How do you manage your financial independence when you have shared income? Is it normal to seek retribution for a purchase you made, when you have shared saving goals with a partner? Do people hide credit cards? What is level of transparency you have with your partner around spending? Even if you don’t have shared finances, how do you think you’d like to approach the situation?

Head online and share your thoughts.

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  • This was a really interesting read, and good to consider. Happy Birthday for last week!
    Personally, love the idea of shared goals but someone constantly watching every spending moment doesn’t seem ok. Other couples I know have a shared account and agree on the amount to go in, which has clear saving and spending rules. It is important to still have your own funds. Anxiety caused by a partner over shared money does not seem ok, but each relationship is different.

  • The boyfriend is definetly over stepping!!

    Me and my fiance have just bought a house and organise our finances in the following ways:
    Joint expenses account: we both deposit an equal predetermined amount of our salary into this for mortgage, utilities, house maintenance and groceries
    Joint savings account: both deposit 20% of our salaries
    Personal account: whatever is left, to be spent at the discretion of the individual on whatever they want (though I’ll often use my personal money for house things because I know I make more and have more expensive taste so I choose to spend it out of my money)

  • I am a big believer in having your own bank account for your pay check and then transferring money (certainly not my entire pay check mind you) into a joint account. I cannot imagine feeling scared or worried about what my partner might say about my spending habits. He would never shame me or send passive aggressive bill emails to me. We have a joint savings goal for our joint account and use this for rent etc, and then keep a bit of money aside in our own separate accounts that we choose to spend how we please without either of us needing to justify those purchases. There are a number of unfortunate situations that can result in you not having access to your joint account for a period of time, it’s important to always have that separate account to ensure you are financially safe.

  • I’m sorry to be blunt but there are huge red flags here. The worst of which are your own panicked thoughts before “Ollie” has actually even said anything. It shows that you’re not able to make your own choices (that are entirely valid in their own right) without fearing him using it against you. There’s having a savings target together and then there’s feeling unable to access and spend your own money. I’ve had a joint account with a partner before and we put a portion of our pay in to cover communal expenses, but the remainder of our pay is ours to spend. I find this is a functional way to contribute equally to things but still have freedom. I would seriously suggest reviewing this arrangement – the fact that on one day you actually didn’t buy lunch because you were worried he’d be annoyed is heartbreaking. Good luck to you, I hope you find a comfortable middle-ground where you don’t need to be afraid.

  • Wow, I think there are some this in there that are concerning and I think Vivi sees that. While I get that having shared savings goals means keeping each other accountable, without some discretionary spending you get a situation like this where someone feels they have to justify every purchase.

    What happens if she takes time out to care for young children or study? Will she have to ask for money just to get a coffee?

    I think it’s important that you both have your own money to spend, without having to justify. Decide on the amount and transfer it weekly to a separate account.

  • I think you need to claim back some independence and have a plan in case things don’t work with Ollie. Even the strongest relationships may not last. I think it’s easy to see this article from a woman’s perspective (which I am) and think this is controlling, but Ollie is just focused on the end goal and savings and maybe doesn’t see the reality of needing to spend – I can relate with a tight arse no spending partner – it’s why we bought our house so young and buy new cars with cash every year – we don’t spend money on much.

    My partner and I bought a house and dog and still don’t directly put our salaries into the same account though – we put the majority of our money in to the mortgage, have a joint credit card we use for groceries, petrol and other household spending but we keep $500-1000 in our own accounts each month and I use that for coffees, lunch occasionally, online shopping etc – he doesn’t need to know how much I’m spending on certain things like that when I’m still transferring the majority of my salary into the mortgage anyway. It’s my money and I can choose how to spend it, I work hard for it.

    You have to have some independence and not feel guilty for every move you make.

  • I don’t agree with consolidating your whole salary into a joint account – I think joint savings accounts/joint mutual spending accounts are fine, but even personally I find joint mutual spending accounts fraught with danger.

    I work with women who have experienced DV and often control is a first warning sign – maybe I’m too cautious and negative because of my work, but the fear and stress about his comments is not okay. You’re entitled to your own freedom in your relationship and that includes financial freedom.

  • it makes perfect sense to share an account in relationships for shared expenses: rent, bills, groceries and even to have a shared savings account.
    However, there are two key reasons that you should also have your own money.
    In other words, I recommend that women transfer some of their salary to the shared account but always keep some for themselves in their own account.

    1. for the sake of peace in a relationship it’s important for each person to have “silly” money – for both of you – that you can spend without justifying it to the other person.
    What my partner wants to spend his “silly money” on (whiskey, pub meals, online shopping) is different to what I like to spend it on (coffees with friends, markets, eBay, dog costumes lol).

    2. And then, for the sake of your safety, independence, dignity and and welfare as a woman you should always have some money that is entirely your own.

  • Shared goals are great, but you deserve to feel free and in control of your spending. It made me sad to read you didn’t eat lunch one day (only office fruit) because you were worried about Ollies reaction. That is not a healthy thought process and Ollie should not get angry for you spending in that way.

    What helped me and my partner was to use a two month period as a realistic gauge of spending, review those costs and set a realistic budget of our individual spending and saving goals.
    My husband and I have a shared savings account we both contribute to, shared spendings account for rent/groceries/bills/going out together, and each have separate spendings accounts. We have a $200 per week personal spending budget we are free to spend how we like (of course this would vary person to person). If we don’t spend it, it stays in there for future purchases we individually want to make. If things that come up we are free to buy them but discuss big purchases together. We track our spending and if we go over we try to be more frugal the next week to balance it out. We have a two year savings goal but also you only live once.

  • I’ve had a shared bank account with my husband for the past 4 years, and trust me it was hard to let go of my own one! The best things we’ve put in place to avoid tension over the money is to have a set weekly budget for everything (food, utilities, leisure, etc.) which we both compromised and agreed on. We also have a separate savings account with a set transfer every fortnight, which helps us save up for big occasional costs (eg. car rego) and put money aside for savings.
    The most important thing is to have honesty and grace. Eg. if I overspend on my weekly lunch budget at work I’ll tell my husband and he’ll be understanding (within reason of course). All of this helps us to avoid arguments where we disagree about what’s a reasonable amount to spend on an optional purchase.
    Talking about money is uncomfortable, but it’s the best policy in any relationship where you’re depending on each other’s finances. Thr boyfriend in this situation gives my bad vibes all over :(

  • I rarely comment on articles but felt compelled to – please be careful here. You are at the beginning of your relationship and this behaviour is likely to get worse. You didn’t buy food for yourself one day because you were scared of what your boyfriend would say! At the very least you need to get your own account so you have some financial freedom (and money you can easily access if you break up)

  • My partner and I put our salary into a shared account. We have big savings goals so this works for us, all bills and expenses come out of there. From that we have an allocation of shared “free” money so if we want to go out and do things together or buy something for the house and we also each get a weekly allowance. We are each free to spend our allowance as we want no questions asked so we still have freedom over some money but are responsible in reaching our goals. This works really well for us. I say red flags when it comes to Ollie.

  • The birthday dinner i kinda get, my partner would also be pissed if my sister expected us to pay for them to go out for MY birthday.

    I think you may be better off with different accounts and putting set amounts in to a savings account so that you are both contributing equally.

    I also think if you are unable to stand up for yourself that is the bigger issue, my partner and i do share a bank account but unless money is super tight ( we have kids) we dont really account to each other for day to day spending, any purchase over $100 i would probably mention before hand though. If he ever questioned me though i would sure as hell speak up and then we would discuss it and if i was spending in excess so we would not meet our savings goal then he has cause to be upset

  • You used the word “scared” to describe how you feel about your partner… I don’t think there’s anything else to say. I hope you’re safe and confident and do what is best for you, always. Good luck!

  • I swear he’s controlling by making her feel bad for even buying a coffee. Birthday splurges should be a non issue. I suggest re seperating your money & only having a joint account for shared bills, even saving seperatly & comming together on shared future purchases like a couch. She shouldn’t have to be shammed Everytime she wants to go to gym classes. If she wants savings advice, get a financial advisor.

  • Honestly I was shocked to read this, this definitely seems like controlling and financial/emotional abuse to me.
    If you have to feel worried about what he will think all the time I think something is wrong there.

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