Monday, 2 January 2017

Why my partner and I manage our finances separately

My partner and I have almost separate finances.

The only item that is many under both our names, is the present home that we are living in. Our mortgage repayment is done 50- 50 and deducted directly from CPF. We have no joint bank accounts (except the one that the bank made us open for the mortgage for cash top- ups, if required. The value in it is $0 for now), no credit cards under both's names, or whatsoever. And we are living very well under such arrangement.

Both of us are working, and are able to support ourselves prior to the marriage. And both of us  intend to continue working after marriage. Hence, why should marriage change how we manage our finances? In addition, we understand and respect one another's differences. As such, the decision for separate finances.

One Ground Rule

We have only one ground rule regarding each others' finances -- Whatever we do, we must spend within our means (no debt, except for housing which we can be in debt for). 

Divide and conquer for shared expenses

My partner and I divide our shared responsibilities, and work on them individually, consulting each other when required. Our thoughts are that it is easier to focus on just a few items, and do them well, than to work together on every single thing.

For shared expenses, such as utility bills, conservancy charges, home broadband, and property tax, etc., we divide such bills among ourselves, such that overall, the total bills each of us pay is roughly the same. So my partner is responsible for utility bills and property tax, while I am in charge of conservancy charges and home broadband. The person who is totally in charge of the bill, is in charge totally on it, from paying its expense, to the choice of vendor, coming up with ways to lower expenses (especially for utilities, and so on).

For our functional home project, each of us is in- charge of (the expenses) of a few rooms. Of course, in this case, there are more discussions since we will both be using same rooms.   

For kids, I am in charge of childcare/ education, while my partner is in charge of everything else (insurance, food, milk powder, etc.).

As for groceries, eating out and so on, we never go dutch for each such trips. It will be a hassle. It's hard to divide and conquer this piece of expenses. Hence, we just take turns to pay, or the one who spends more pays. We never count the number of times or track these, but rather just go by gut feel. That's it.

Apart from that, we pay for our individual shopping, insurances, entertainment, outings with friends and whatever. How much each of us spend, save, and so on, is none of each of other's business, as long as  you don't get the other person into serious financial problems. Our net worth are also not related to one another.

Advantages of having separate finances

While marriage is usually a merger of two people's lives, keeping finances separate has its many advantages.

The couple may have different goals in life. One may want to lead a life like Mr. Money Mustache, while the other aspire to live a life a more luxurious life. One may want to retire as soon as possible, but the other may find working engaging and wants to work as long as he/she can. There is no right and wrong, as long as we live responsibly (i.e. live within ones' means). 

In addition, it is easier to have control of yourself than others. For instance, if you want to increase savings, it is easier to implement it by lowering expenditure and/ or increasing earnings.

I believe in fairness and being responsible for your actions. If both the couple are gainfully employed, why should one person spend another person's hard- earned money? If only one of person is interested in expensive hobbies like golfing or photography, it doesn't make sense for the other to pay for it. If you don't earn a lot, what gives you the right to spend your partner's money to satisfy your desires?

Finances is one of the most frequent source of conflict between couples, and it usually arise due to disagreement with how each manage them. By keeping it separate, and respecting how each of us manage our finances (as long as it is reasonable), it is likely to minimize conflicts.


  1. Hi Rena,

    "If only one of person is interested in expensive hobbies like golfing or photography, it doesn't make sense for the other to pay for it. If you don't earn a lot, what gives you the right to spend your partner's money to satisfy your desires?"

    I have seen this happen a few times in couples already. Good that you and your husband are able to work out your finances well.

    1. Hi Lazy Singaporean,

      Thanks for the comment.

      I have seen a few cases of one couple spending the other half's money like nobody's business sometimes. In these cases, I sometimes wonder whether the other half get married just to take advantage of the other...

  2. its interesting until one partner maybe get retrenched or may not be able to work. Or increasing income disparity.

    1. If one is not working, then this method will definitely not work. My thoughts are, as long as both are working, each should be responsible for his/ her own spendings, as well as each have some responsibility for the shared expenses.