When my girlfriend and I got together we were at different stages of our lives. I was working in the city and she had just been travelling around the world. While I was working a boring nine to five job, she had just landed in London with a glowing suntan, full of optimism... but broke.
She moved into my London flat while she looked for a job and so began the ongoing battle of our finances. When you’ve started dating for the first time there’s lots of things that can put the other person off: forgetting their birthday, snoring, never cleaning up...I could go on. Asking your new girlfriend to pay you money she doesn’t have is another surefire way to make her resent you.
I went about things in a more stealthy way. While I was playing the role of the easy-going, generous guy who was happy to pay for everything while she looked for work, I was keeping tabs on how much money she owed me in the hope if we stayed together long enough, she might pay some of it back.
Fast forward eight years and we’re now married with a house and a baby, I’ve still got three spreadsheets of money workings that all live in a folder called SARA OWES. The last time I opened it was a couple of years ago. All those hours I spent calculating utility and shopping bills turned out to be a waste of time and energy.
I’ve learnt to accept we have a chaotic and ad-hoc way of managing our finances. If she does the weekly shop, I’ll do it next time (If I remember.) If I buy drinks at the pub, she’ll pick up take away on the way home. We sometimes write stuff down on scrap pieces of paper and pin receipts to the fridge, but nobody really keeps track. We’ve left it up to the money Gods, crossing our fingers and hoping it’ll somehow balance itself out.
One thing I will confess is we’ve had our fair share of arguments that started with the words “you still owe me.” We didn’t have the luxury of things like money managing and bill splitting apps, transferring cash wasn’t as easy as it is today. We didn’t get alerts sent to us when rent was due or we were creeping closer to our overdraft limit. The only things we relied on were an Excel spreadsheet and a flaky memory.
My advice to you now: make you and your partner’s life easier by using technology to manage your money. There’s heaps of solutions out there, including VibePay, which will do the hard work for you and save you hassle in the long run.
PS - I have just been reliably informed I still owe my wife £600.