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Role play – who manages the purse strings at home?

Go back 60 years and more often than not the man of the house would deal with the major financial decisions while the wife would look after the shopping and family spending. All very 1950s. But times have changed… haven’t they? A new survey suggests we’re all sticking to stereotypes, even in the 21st Century.

It seems that three in every five relationships see the man taking control of the majority of household finances, while two-thirds of women take on the weekly shop, according to research by

Does that sound familiar to you? We wanted to gauge if it rang true for our colleagues at the Money Advice Service so asked them: who manages the money in their relationship?


I think our handling of home finances was split fairly evenly, less because of our individual financial capability than by sharing the burden of something we both found a bit of a drag to commit time to. But since working at the Money Advice Service, I’m now expected to take control as the expert on squeezing money from the weekly shop, energy switching, insurance and mortgage applications!

That said, since having a child and trying to buy a home, we regularly discuss our budget and financial plans which feels like a healthy habit and means there are no secrets or surprises in our financial planning (as far as I know!).


To be completely honest that’s exactly how we run our house, totally 1950s.

I completely control 100% of the weekly shop; socialising; school related costs; presents; Christmas; holidays; family clothing (yes, I even buy my husband’s clothes); household items; DIY and garden related costs 

Husband: all household bills; all insurance; cars costs (excluding petrol), pensions; investments.

We are not a modern family!


We split stuff up. I do all household, shopping my wife does baby and most bills. It’s just worked out that way, not something pre-decided.

We talk about money quite a bit- it’s boring but essential. We know how much each other earns (I think it is crazy not to know this). I possibly look to drive down costs more as  –  generally speaking – I’ve not been a high earner!


It’s a pretty even split in our house. My husband and I split the monthly bills – he pays for the electricity and TV subscriptions, I pay for the gas and broadband – and we take turns to do the food shopping.

Every month, we each pay some money into a joint account to cover the bigger yearly bills like water and the TV Licence and any emergency outgoings.


We have a shared account we both pay into to cover the day-to-day expenses. The rest of our money we keep in our own accounts. We both use this when needed. Essential as we both do more of what we’re good at and enjoy more.

My other half does tend to do more of the big food shops, which makes sense as she does more cooking, but I do more of the DIY jobs and searching for major purchases.

In terms of the regular utility bills, I tend manage these as I set them up originally and because we rent out a room (to help pay the mortgage off quicker).

We review the suppliers each year and this year my other half took on managing of one of the utility bills. We’ve done this so we’re both equally involved and have a good idea how it works, plus it’s nice to divide up the time needed for the jobs. However, I’m better at researching so I tend to find which supplier we will move to next.    


We’ve found it easiest to manage with completely separate bank accounts as we both have very different attitudes to money and we prefer to keep freedom and independence over our personal spending.

My husband pays the mortgage and household bills and I spend more on the children, home and shopping.

For big purchases, such as holidays or furniture we agree in advance who will pay the bill and how much we’ll contribute and then one of us will pay their bit into the account of whoever’s paying.

Every now and again we sit down to review our savings and these days, we talk quite often about our pensions and how we can make sure we’ll have enough to live on in retirement.  

How do you compare? Let us know in the comments below.

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  • Rachel / 7 September 2015

    In an aged of supposed equality these posts appear to demonstrate there is anything but when it comes to family finances. I work in this field and often encounter couples where money is the biggest source of friction. Normally the trigger point is having a child where having to make a equal contribution becomes impossible as a result of an income drop due to maternity pay or reduced hours. I wish couples could see that talking about the real cost of running a home is essential in keeping relationships healthy.