The Importance of Sharing Finances

Like many other amazing women in the personal finance blogosphere, I was lucky enough to get invited by Chelsea over at Mama Fish Saves to join her 8th of March women’s day blog collaboration. All about empowering women and money and how women rock money!

International women’s day is a strange occurrence in Norway. Not least because of all the mansplainers jumping out of the woodwork to complain about how women in Norway are already equal and have nothing more to fight for (sooo not true), and why, oh whyyy is there not an international men’s day?? So unfair!! (There is, by the way. It’s 19th of November.)

Phew. Glad to have that out of the way. Without further ado, let’s dive into it.

But first, a story.

Trigger warning: This blog post contains spousal abuse and violence.

Why Sharing Finances Is So Important

Once upon a time, there was a young woman who met a young man. He was considered handsome, and after some initial courtship, the two got married.

This being back in the 60s, it should come as no surprise that the young man was the primary breadwinner. The young woman worked, but her income was not enough to cover the mortgage on the house, or to feed the three little boys that came one after the other.

Over the years, the young man grew older. He drank more, played cards with his buddies and got violent. Physically and mentally. Sometimes fists, sometimes threatening with the dangerous end of his hunting rifle, sometimes telling her hurtful things.

Still, the woman stayed. She told herself she had no place to go. Her boys needed her, she could not take care of them on her own. What if he came after her? What if he hurt her and the boys more than he already did?

So she stayed and became a shadow of her former self. Her boys grew up and left home, one by one. But she stayed.

The boys med girls and started forming families of their own. They would visit with their grandchildren. Carefully. She was there, like a shadow, sometimes offering cake or coffee, but no personality.

Then, after almost 40 years of her precious life, her husband got cancer.

They gave him six months to live, but only a month after his diagnosis, he was gone.

And Breathe

Many of you have probably heard stories like these before. The woman in this particular story is my grandmother. There are few details because it is personal, but I think the essence of it still gets through.

Another reason I chose to exclude details is because this could be anyone.

My grandmother could not leave because of three things, fear, money and habit. When my grandfather died, it is difficult to describe the transformation that took place. Over the years that followed, she blossomed. It was as if we all finally got to know the real person my grandmother underneath the cowed exterior. She fixed up their draughty old house, she went on vacations, she got a personality again!

Although it had the tragic loss of years of her life, at least this story had a happy ending after all. My grandmother is now rocking the single life and looks happier every year.

What a tragedy it would have been if she, for whatever reason, had died before my grandfather, and she would never have experienced that freedom and happiness?

Share Your Finances

That is why I implore on you, please, please share your finances.

Do not let one person have all the control, and do not let someone pull all the shots just because they happen to earn the most money or because that feels easier. Be involved, be proactive, and for all that is good in life, have plans if anything was to happen, or if things don’t work out the way you thought they would.

Write it out if that helps you, and put it someplace safe. Make sure you both (or three, or four, we don’t judge) agree to what it says, and hold each other accountable.

Because I have seen what can happen up close if you don’t, even if I was too young and naive to realise the full extent of what I was seeing.

Equal Parts

Mr. E. and I have not given charge of finances to any one of us. We are both equal partners in paying our shared bills, suggesting holidays, and we both have access to a shared account from which all our shared bills are paid.

If one of us passed away, or got sick/fell into a coma, there would be no nasty financial surprises waiting for the other one. No unpaid debt or secret credit card splurges.

When it comes to finances and almost anything else in our relationship, we practice radical honesty.

If it turned out Mr. E. had been racking up credit card debt behind my back, that would make me seriously reconsider our relationship. Not because of the debt, but because it would be such a serious breach of trust to how we run our finances in this household.

Proactive Choices, Not Habits

Even if you like leaving your partner in charge of everything, and that is how you both prefer your relationship to work (that is also ok!), please make sure you have talked about “what if” events. Death and illness are only two factors. What if you decide ten years down the line that this relationship does not work for you? Would that leave you with nothing but the clothes off the back because the house, the car, and everything else are in your partner’s name?

Some financial advice I’ve read in Norway actually suggests that if one partner becomes a stay-at-home-spouse, the breadwinner should contribute a set amount into a savings or pension account for their spouse, because they are sacrificing thousands in potential income for their shared lifestyle choice/children.

I think that is marvellous advice.

Don’t get trapped in an abusive relationship because you feel like you have nowhere else to go.

Having a “what if” plan, does not mean you are not committed to the relationship. It just means you are prepared.


If taking equal charge of the finances seems like an insurmountable task to you, start in the small. If you’re in charge of the groceries, start tracking how much you spend on them. Start saving a chunk of your paycheck or a tiny slice of the grocery money and track that. Feel empowered as you see the savings grow, week by week, and know that you can take control of your life.

Ask to be included in the finances. If you moved in with your spouse because they had a house, ask to get signed in as a co-owner of the mortgage. Start to pay attention to what comes in and what goes out in terms of income and expenses.

Money is too important to let yourself be ignorant about it.

You can do it, we can do it! Happy women’s day!

the importance of sharing finances

21 Comments on “The Importance of Sharing Finances

  1. What a sad story of abuse. You touch on such a delicate topic–how hard it is for women in abusive relationships to get out. I’m sure your grandfather made sure she didn’t have enough money or a job to continue to control her. I think it would be really difficult for someone in that situation to figure the money part out on their own. Luckily there are organizations out there to help women (and their kids) who do leave. I think it’s one of the reasons we have such a responsibility to teach our girls good money habits growing up, so that they can have their own jobs, money, checking and investing accounts before marriage. That way they can have the ability to leave and not feel stuck. I’m so glad this story has a good ending and that your grandmother has gotten some years of happiness!

    • Thank you for reading. I am such an advocate for teaching financial literacy to everyone for this reason. An informed decision can never be compared to an uninformed one, and knowledge truly is power in many cases.

  2. Oh wow, that is heartbreaking. Learning to co-manage finances has been one of the best decisions my husband and I have made. It gives us the ability to connect and communicate, as well as work towards common goals. Plus- we have the safety net of knowledge if one of us is no longer in the picture. ~Mrs. AR

    • Absolutely. Sharing finances, as you say, also makes us communicate about different things. There is not just one person who makes a decision and then informs the other. Common goals are so much more fun!

  3. Thank you for sharing the personal story of your grandmother. I am glad that she is now enjoying her life.

    It is so important that finances are shared. Too few women seem interested in learning about personal finances and are happy to leave it to their husbands or partners. In our house, it is the other way round- although my husbands earns the majority of the household income, I take care of all of the finances, including investment decisions. BUT I keep clear records of everything in case something happened and he needed to access it, and my husband agrees that any savings and investments we make should be split equally between accounts in both of our names.

    • I agree, far too many are happy to just leave the control of the ship to someone else. I know that for some, it is a decision that works for their relationship. But in those cases, the responsible person should really leave thorough instructions in case they pass away or become unable to handle the finances for whatever reason, just like you’re doing.

  4. Radical honesty is a key tenant in our relationship as well. I think this partially comes from beginning our relationship long distance, where all we had was our words, but it would have been easy to hide things from each other at that stage as well had we gone down a different path.

    I’m so glad your grandmother is getting a second chance to really live – but it is a powerful reason for anyone in a relationship to make sure they really could leave – and finances are a HUGE reason why so many don’t.

    • Yeah, long distance really has a way of doing that. You have nothing else to do, so you talk!

      Finances can be such a tangled mess to extract oneself from. We aim to make out finances simple and easy to understand for that reason!

  5. Thank you for sharing this personal family story. This brought up such a good point as I think about planning co-finances for the future. For various reasons, it will be easier and a necessity for me to have control over the finances. I didn’t stop to think about what that would mean for my partner. I like your suggestions about how to have both partners involved.

    Thanks again for sharing such an important message! Happy International Women’s Day!

    • Happy Women’s day to you too!

      I have seen relationships where they make it work with only one person in charge. I think the important thing here is to make sure it is an informed, conscious decision, not just something you “fall” into.

  6. “Some financial advice I’ve read in Norway actually suggests that if one partner becomes a stay-at-home-spouse, the breadwinner should contribute a set amount into a savings or pension account for their spouse, because they are sacrificing thousands in potential income for their shared lifestyle choice/children.”

    This really resonates with me because I am a stay at home mother and I feel like people don’t really consider it a sacrifice to come out of the workforce. I, for the most part, enjoyed working and I was proud of being able to earn a paycheck. Now I have the opportunity to earn only very nominal amounts of money on the internet doing “side hustles”.

    I think a lot of people look at it as “oh, you don’t HAVE to work”, or “you GET to stay home”. It doesn’t always feel that way.

    • I think it is both a lifestyle choice and a sacrifice, not to mention a risk. What if anything was to happen to the breadwinner and there were no safety measures for the spouse and children?

      I am happy it resonated with you. ?

  7. Thanks for stressing the importance of sharing finances. It can seem like an overwhelming task when you first get married (especially if you both have several credit cards, bank accounts, etc.), but the resulting equality and transparency of money is well worth the time and effort!

    • Absolutely on the overwhelming part! We talk about this kind of thing regularly as well, which really helps.

  8. This is so beautifully and sensitively written Kristine! It also truly brings out how money can also be synonymous with power.

    While reading I was frowning when you said it is ok to out source all things finance to your partner (personally, I am an extremist here who believes it is a responsibility to not do that) but when you mentioned the baby steps of how to get over a seemingly unsurountable idea of managing money, I was back on track with you 🙂

    One thing I completely agree with you is the idea that in a single bread winner family, there should be a constant monthly sum deposited in the other partner’s account. My father used to do that in cash with my mother. Sadly, now that he’s retired, my mother has given up trying to understand the processes around money, more and more :(. Anyway, I digress.

    All in all, fantastic post!

    • Thank you Aparna, it was a difficult post to write.

      While I don’t think I could thrive in a relationship where the other partner pulled all the financial shots, I felt I had to mention in my post that I have seen relationships that makes it work. But the key thing there is that it has to be a conscious, informed decision, and not just something you “fall” into. Feminism is about finding what works for you, after all. And if you’re truly happy being a housewife/stay at home mom/whatever, there should be room for you in the feminist movement too. 🙂

      I know many people who just let finances slide as well or don’t think it’s worth the effort to get a really good grip on it. It is sad, but we can’t force financial literacy on anybody.

  9. What a poignant story, tragic, but lovely that your grandmother is really living now. I agree with your thoughts about the breadwinner contributing to the stay at home parent’s retirement fund too. After just one year off on maternity leave and 18 months of part time work, mine is woefully behind my partners. Imagine if I didn’t work! Our solution to this will be to increase how much I contribute to mine. It will mean less in our pockets for today, but it will be better for the both of us when we retire.

    • Yes, I think we need to have the courage to have these difficult money conversations with our partners. It’s all about our future, and that is kind of important! I think your solution is a good one, especially if you’re covering your basics. 🙂

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