UK woman with 'high-earning' fiancé who refuses to pool finances sparks fierce debate

Composite: Background stock image of money jar, shared cash - inset photo of arguing couple in bed
The woman said she is earning a salary of around £40,000 ($84,000) in her current role, while her fiancé is sitting on £160,000 ($337,000) - "at least". Photo credit: Getty Images

A young woman has been urged to break off her engagement after revealing her fiancé refuses to pool their finances, despite earning four times her salary.

Taking to the forum Mumsnet earlier this month, the bride-to-be said her partner has flatly rejected the notion of ever combining their earnings - even if the two decided to have children in the future. 

The woman said she is earning a salary of around £40,000 ($84,000) in her current role, while her fiancé is sitting on £160,000 ($337,000) - "at least".

"I'm under no illusion that I'm a low earner, however he is making a significantly higher salary. I asked how our finances will be combined once married and he has said that it will be the same as it is now," she wrote in the 'AIBU' (Am I being unreasonable?) feed. 

"We currently have completely separate finances however he does pay more for general expenses due to being a higher earner."

While her partner was open to having a joint account if she went on maternity leave, he made it clear he would only be depositing specific sums of money into the account, rather than pooling their finances altogether, she said - adding that the concept of him "dishing out" cash as he sees fit might put her in a "vulnerable" position. 

"I asked what would happen if we decide to have kids in the future and I went on maternity leave, he said he would set up a joint account that he would put amounts in but our finances would not be combined and that he needs to keep surplus money for savings," she went on. 

"I don't know why but something about this doesn't sit right with me! I feel like I would be the person ultimately losing out, particularly if I have a period of time out of work whilst he controls the money and dishes it out to me when he sees fit.

"I know I'm not entitled to his money but I can't help but feel I'd be putting myself in a vulnerable position! AIBU?"

The woman's predicament has split the online community: while a number of women urged her to maintain financial independence, others pilloried her partner for refusing to share his wealth and questioned the point of having personal savings in a marriage. 

"Don't marry him. That is not what marriage is," one said, with a second agreeing: "If you're married you're one unit. My DH [dear husband] earns 4x [as much as] me, tops up my ISAs [individual savings account] and pension contributions every year so we have the same amount of savings. We have one joint account and both our incomes go in it. End of story."

"I cannot understand why anyone would get married and expect their spouse to have a lower standard of living [than] them, simply due to their earnings," a third weighed in, with a fourth adding: "We each get some money that we can do what we want with or buy gifts with - but the rest is joint spendings and savings. I would want to know why he needs to save all that cash. 

Those who sided with the fiancé advised the woman that a joint account each party can add to is a more sensible option than fully combining finances, noting the account can be used to cover shared expenses, such as bills, rent or mortgage repayments, and contributions can be split based on differences in income.  

"It's very important to me (and my OH [other half], and everyone I know) to have my own money. You also avoid arguments about money, because once living costs are paid, you're both free to spend your money as you please," one pointed out. 

"I'd be asking other questions: how are childcare payments e.g. nursery going to work when both of you are working again? Will they be split according to income?" another suggested. 

The Bank of New Zealand recommends all couples considering combining their finances discuss five key points beforehand, primarily the fact that pooling money means any debt becomes a shared problem, but also being aware of the repercussions down the line - such as if the relationship fails. 

"For instance, if they have a large overdraft, you're going to want to know about it before you move all your life savings into the same account," said an article by BNZ on the topic. 

"There are lots of different approaches to money… Contrasting approaches to money management can become an extremely contentious issue in any relationship, so it’s always worth considering your partner’s spending style before combining your finances," it added.