How to Handle the Income Gap Between Your Partner and You
Do you make more money than your partner or vice versa? Does one of you come from a family that is financially more settled than your partner’s family? Do you differ significantly in your financial choices and spending patterns with respect to your partner? With both the partners bringing their own financial baggage to the marriage, navigating money in modern-day marriages has become a challenging space. For an independent individual, who is used to having their own money and choices. Merging finances after marriage might sound like a daunting process. And for someone who belongs to a professional space that typical income is less than their partner’s profession, figuring out how to manage finances with their partner without feeling like an imposition all the time can be a nightmare. But don’t worry, we have some helpful tips for you to make things a little easy for you.
Cliche, but true: The Power of Communication:
It might sound cliche, but in your marriage, it is of paramount importance to talk about finances openly and honestly with your partner. Both before trying the knot, and after it too. Both of you must be aware of each other’s income, financial liabilities, financial health, spending patterns and financial hang-ups if any. Marriage, after all, is a partnership. Where you take care of each other and build a home and a family together. It entails you to have complete transparency about sticky stuff like money.
Talk about what kind of arrangement works best for you. What all do you feel comfortable spending money for? What all do you not feel comfortable utilising your monetary resources in? What are your financial goals over the next few years? If you have any debts or loans to be cleared in the next few years, your general investments and investment strategies, and develop a keen understanding of your partner’s financial bearings as well. This would make managing your money together a lot easier for both of you.
Go for Equity not Equality:
Often partners with lower income than their spouses struggle a lot when it comes to contributing equally for their joint expenses. While they want to pull their own weight in the relationship, the income gap often means that they end up way more burdened over expenses. Between not wanting to be an imposition on their partner and their own pride about being financially independent and capable. while also not wanting to rain down on everything that their partner might want to do. It becomes a monetary purgatory for the partner with lesser income to figure out how not to constantly feel guilty for not having as much money as their spouse.
The key is to look for equity, instead of equality in absolute terms. Divide your monetary responsibilities in proportion to the money you make. It’s not necessary to go 50-50 on each and every expenditure. You can divide the household/vacation/purchase expenses equitably based on what makes sense to you. If one person is taking care of the rent, the other can pay for utilities and other bills. If one person is salaried, whereas the other works on a freelance income. The monthly expenditures can be handled by the salaried partner, whereas the periodicals like big purchases and vacations can be picked up by the other partner. Remember to work as a team, not as competition.
Figure out an arrangement that works for you both
Whether or not you decide to merge your finances is a choice you can make only upto a certain point when you are married. Some amount of monetary merging will happen no matter how independent of each other you want to keep your finances. To make it easy for both of you, it’s best if you both discuss and decide the arrangement that will works. Have a joint account, contribute a part of your salaries/income to that account. From this account all the major expenses can happen out of that. If you want, each partner can have an allowance out of this account too. This amount they can use for anything they like. You can assign a budget for monthly expenses and for life goals which you want to fulfill in due course.
If one of you loses their job, you can set an allowance out of your joint savings. Another way is if the earning partner can set up a personal allowance to be effective until needed. So that the non-earning partner can use until they also are financially. Or, the earning partner can pick up additional financial responsibilities. This leaves the non-earning partner to utilize their personal savings for their individual requirements. Whatever you decide, make sure to discuss it with your partner. Work through it with compassion and care, and not guilt and stress. Remember, it is not your fault that you earn more or less than your partner. It is not their fault either that they earn more or less than you.
When in doubt- Don’t overthink it!
One of the major things we are guilty of in modern day relationships is overthinking everything. Of course some decisions need to be thought through really well. For example, the decision to get married, or to have kids. A lot of times, we make issues too big in our own head by constantly thinking about them. If you are the less earning partner in your marriage, don’t overthink. As long as you are doing everything you can to make sure your contribution to your family is equitable, its alright to let your partner pay for you sometimes, or buy you gifts sometimes. Don’t ruin these things coming from a place of love and care by making them all about money.
If you are the partner with more money. Be sensitive to the needs of your partner, but take care not to step on their self esteem. Dont constantly offering to pay for them everywhere, especially when you have company. If they insist on taking you out or buying you something as a gift, don’t resist always. Both of you should remember that money is only a facilitator of convenience. It should not be a source of stress in your relationship.
Being married means being stronger together and taking care of each other, in sun and rain. It means having someone to share your difficult days with, and having a hand to hold on happy days. Its not a business partnership where you have to maintain entries of each penny spent and settle everything to the last cent. Don’t let income create a gap between you and your partner. So, go easy on yourself, as well as on your partner, and thank us later!