I've got something to share with you.  I don't own a credit card.  Or any Store Cards.  Not one.  And I don't have an overdraft either.  Everything I pay for is paid for in cash, usually via my VISA Debit card, with monies readily available in my bank account.

Now, before you start to quake under the pressure of an inferiority complex at that reminder you received the other day about your overdraft limit having been exceeded, or that you latest Credit Card statement is overdue, let me shed a little more light on this seemingly perfect scenario.

I haven't always been good with money.  In fact, I've been rather bloody terrible with it.

Four years ago, I found myself sat staring at a pile of monthly statements reminding me I was due to pay what I knew I just simply could not afford to. Over a period of around 10 years, I had managed to amass whopping great £75k of debt.

*let's pause for a moment whilst your jaws drop*


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Yes, you read that right.

Seventy Five Thousand Pounds.

Shocked?

So was I.

For the ten years prior to this, I had been frittering all my hard earned money away on total rubbish; expendable fashion that became unfashionable as soon as I had purchased it, store cards that encouraged you to spend willy-nilly on stuff you neither needed or wanted, nights out, general crap that I never actually ended up using. You get the picture. 

Perhaps the most shocking of it all was that, when I scanned my financial horizon and tried to reconcile this huge spend against all my shiny new material purchases – I couldn't actually see anything of any value.  There were no sparkly Louboutins to be seen.  No wardrobes full of designer clothes and no fancy car. I had nothing, really, to show for all my wreckless spending. It was shameful. And believe me. I felt deeply and utterly ashamed.

I'm not quite sure why I ever ended up being so rubbish with money – my Mum taught me from a young age to respect money and my Grandpa – the other entrepreneur in our family, would forever be reminding me to 'look after the pennies, and the pounds will look after themselves'.

In all honesty, I think the rot set in when I was dating an ex boyfriend who decided he wanted to spend all my money.  And I mean, quite literally.  I was working as an administrator at the time {we're talking around 14 years ago here} earning peanuts from the day job, but bringing in a nice bit of cash on the side whilst I dabbled my entrepreneurial fingers into website design – something I had taught myself to do and would fill all my spare evening time doing {infact, one of the first sites I ever built it still live!}.  I remember being paid £3,000 for one job I completed and feeling over the moon. I was beginning to believe I had the makings of a real business owner.  Over the course of the next couple of months, my 'boyfriend', proceeded to insist we spent most of these earnings on wreckless weekends away; club entries, hotel fees, fancy meals out and drink.  I went along with it because I was infatuated.  He left me when the money ran out. You live. You learn.

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On meeting my now Husband, who is quite possibly the most frugal of all
the people I know in the world, I was in for a bit of a culture shock.
He couldn't have been more different to the ex, who had shown scant
regard for my money and had sent me spiraling out of financial control.
Here was a man who would rather grow his own vegetables than go out and
buy them.  Organic too. We're talking the real good life deal here. 
Here was a man who encouraged me stop frittering spare cash away on high
street fashion I felt I had to have, and invest in more key, timeless
pieces.  As a graduate in fashion, he taught me to understand garment
construction and recognise when I was paying over the odds for badly
produced tat.   My husband is a man who knows his financial capacity and
lives within his means.  He has taught me so much about the value of
material things and money in general, though he may say I'm still
learning :)

Very recently, we've started to discuss the idea of having a shared bank account, and I have to be honest with you, I'm not sure how I feel about this?  I love the idea of sharing something as important as this with my husband, but part of me feels terrified too, and I'm not sure why. 

I'm so used to managing my own finances now, it feels kind of weird to
consider that we could potentially just have the one account to manage,
but then, we're married, and so, what should be my problem? Surely,
sharing a bank account is one of the greatest acts of trust we commit to
as a married couple?  Or is it more complicated than that? Is it that I'm holding on to my one last symbol of independence? Am I being selfish?


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What's mine is already his and all that. It's not a case of me feeling tight arsed about my money, I give freely and share with my husband.  But a bank account? It feels different somehow. Maybe I should stop pondering and just do it – but why, when everything is running tickety-boo smoothly now would I change anything?

I'd really love to seek the advice and experiences of my readers. Do you share a joint bank account and does the arrangement work comfortably for you? Or have you chosen to manage single bank accounts and how and why does this work better for you?

For the record, my husband is full aware of my abysmal financial past – I don't keep any of that from him, I have always been up front about it.  Four years ago, the idea of sharing what a mess I got myself in
financially with my readers would have sent shivers down my spine. But I
feel very differently now.  I realised that the only way to get myself
out of the position I'd made for myself, would be to work my absolute
socks off and actually start clearing some debt.  Going bankrupt was not an option for me.  For me personally, that would have felt like the ultimate failure, though I know for others it is an important lifeline out of a crippling world of financial hell.  I decided I'd personally rather teach myself a lesson and work hard to reverse my financial situation.  And so I did.  I'm very proud of that now and feel much more comfortable sharing my experience to encourage others.

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I
contacted Stepchange (formerly, and at the time known as The Consumer Credit Counselling Service for advice and I'm
now 3/4 of the way through clearing that £75k.  I agreed to reduce my overdraft to zero and cut up all my credit cards.  And now, it feels amazing seeing the balance come down every month when I
get my statements through.  My credit rating may be less than perfect but that's resolvable over time, and frankly, I feel liberated that I've been able to free myself from the psychological need to carry around several bits of plastic in my wallet that offer a false sense of financial freedom. I just don't need it anymore. I get way more of a kick out of paying on my debit card. And cutting up your credit cards with a pair of scissors is a cathartic experience like no other.  Like my husband, I've learned to pretty much live within my means.  Well. Shoes might be the exception to that rule.

There is such a stigma associated with personal financial failure.  Let's face it, who wants to share over their coffee break that they can't afford to make the minimum payment on their credit card this month, or that they are worried about their mortgage and bills?  Failure to manage personal finances is a social indication that you are somehow failing in 'life', isn't it? It's a vile situation to find yourself in and it's so easy to suddenly find yourself overwhelmed with financial demands you cannot meet. Even wealthy people or those running successful businesses can be caught out unexpectedly.

So, I say this very seriously, what I have come to learn through addressing
my own personal money management issues, is that the inability to be able to cover your
basic outgoings can lead to some very serious and stressful situations.  If any of my readers are in that place right now, PLEASE don't
suffer in silence. Please please be brave and pick up the phone to Stepchange
- it will be the best thing you ever did.  Learn to be in control. Learn to love spreadsheets and budget in advance. Spreadsheets aren't scary, honest!  Martin Lewis's Money Saving
Expert website
is also a fabulous online community for finding out ways
you can save the pennies…

 

"No debt problems are unsolvable. It mightn't be easy or quick,
but there's always a route. Debts are urgent. They grow rapidly over
time, and speedily spiral into trouble. The earlier you deal with ‘em,
the easier they are to deal with."

www.moneysavingexpert.com

 

I'd love to hear back from you on this one.  I must admit I felt a tiny bit nervous hitting the publish button, but Love My Dress has always been full of authentic and honest content and I'm certainly never going to pull the wool over your eyes about how amazing everything is once you're married and how everything falls pefectly in to place.  Money management is just one aspect of the rich tapestry that is married life – I'm sure many couples on the come down after their wedding have huge debts to face. It's sooo easy to throw caution to the wind and spend spend spend for your wedding day – so many of us develop a care free attitude towards money when it comes to our nuptials. Just please be careful my friends; don't start out your marital life in debt and turn your blind eye to the
situation. Do something about it now and make the first step to a much
happier and financially secure future.

And on that note, I'm off out to fritter my cash away on a wedding magazine.  Because you know what, we won a Perfect Wedding Magazine award last month and all the details are in the brand new shiny issue sitting on the shelves at a W.H.Smiths near you RIGHT now – hooooorah! ;)

Much love all,

Annabel

Heart

Leave a Comment!
  • http://www.pocketfulofdreams.co.uk Vicki DeBlasi

    Hey Annabel,
    this is such a well written and honest post. Whilst I don’t have the experience of the debt, I do have the experience of the ex who happily spent all my money (including using my entire inheritance money from one of my grandparents to pay off his credit card bills).
    As a result, I am a little cagey with money and whilst my husband is incredibly sensible with his cash (he loves a spreadsheet and can account for all his spending), we don’t have a shared bank account…I just prefer to have the total freedom and control of my own account. Not because I don’t trust him but undoubtedly because I’ve been burnt badly in the past.
    About the same time we got engaged, I agreed to get a joint credit card which we would use for joint spending like food shopping, going to the cinema, eating out – any joint expense basically. I was pretty reluctant at first but for us it’s been a good compromise – we know that way we equally split the cost on things we do together but I get to retain control of my own money.
    I guess I am fortunate to have a husband who is so understanding!
    Vic xx

  • http://www.claudiarosecarter.co.uk Claudia Carter

    Wow Annabel. You are such an inspiration in some many ways. I love how heartfelt you are and how much of yourself you share throughout this blog.
    When we got together we pooled our money. We have separate bank accounts but we have the cards and pin numbers etc for both. It suited me much more than G because he’s older than I am so he came into it with his own money but we worked to create OUR money and that’s exactly what we’ve done. It can be tense and it does take a sense of independence away in some ways but the positives definitely outweigh the negatives.

  • Dani

    I too am in a similar situation in that my other half is very frugal and if you don’t have the money don’t buy it.
    I cleared my debt and although I still have a little bit it is a lot more manageable on a month to month basis than it was.
    We have what we call our “joint account” which is basically all in his name. I personally feel, at this point in our lives, that there is no need for both of us to have access. Despite it being in his name I’m responsible for the household bills, paying them, organizing them, doing the paperwork. I get the card out of his wallet when it’s needed but I don’t have the temptation to spend and I know that in his hands it’ll be ok.
    Good luck! :D

  • Kate

    My sister and her husband have what appears to be a very sensible set-up in order to off-set the large gap in their salaries.
    Each month they each contribute an equal amount to a “house” account. This pays for mortgage, bills, groceries, nights out etc. They then each put a % of their salary into a joint savings account which is used to pay for bigger things (new sofa, holidays etc.) and what remains in their personal accounts is theirs to do with as they wish.
    It seems to be a great middle ground, and means that she can buy all the shoes she wants (with her much larger salary. You didn’t think he was the bread-winner did you?!) and there’s no complaining!

  • http://www.artcadia.co.uk Vici-Jane Kohring

    Thanks for such a brutally honest post Annabel, I can imagine how hard that was. The day after we got married we went to the bank and got a joint account. Like you I’d gotten myself into a horrendous amount of debt, more so when I was care free and single. As soon as I got a job that paid well every month, I went out bought a car on the drip which I could barely afford, bank loans and a bloody DFS sofa! (which I hated as soon as it was delivered, weeks later sold on Ebay for £300 (cost £1750). When I met Richard I was paying out the majority of my wages on various repayments and the stress was getting to me. Over time I came clean with him about the situation (I recall tears at one stage) and he sat down and worked through my finances, I found this incredibly shameful and embarrassing. I’m almost debt free now and I’ve got him to thank for it. I’ve got no problem with having a joint account or Richard having access to my personal account/online banking etc. If I’d been with someone who like me was crap with money, I’d probably have felt differently! xxx

  • http://www.katylunsford.com Katy Lunsford

    Brilliant post Annabel, so important to address issues like this, thank you for your honesty and bravery, I’m sure it will help anyone who is struggling with this. As for joint bank accounts, we have one which we pay into monthly from our personal accounts, and that covers the mortgage, bills, food, holidays and other joint things. Whatever is left in our personal accounts is ours to spend as we wish, although we do discuss big purchases with each other… (excpet, perhaps, the exact price of shoes…!) xxx

  • Sam B

    Hi Annabel! Wowzers… 75K! Well done for getting it sorted and paying some of it off. The biggest financial problem at the minute for me is the wedding! I have to admit we haven’t picked the cheapest of venues, honeymoons etc… but we have tried to make all the things we can and we are getting a bit of help from the parents. The problem is, after getting a bit carried away, we wrote the figures down on paper and the result wasn’t so good! We are going to have to save and scrape for a whole year, overtime – the works! Just to nearly be able to pay everything off. Oopsie!! its so easy to get swept along. I’m hoping we can do it without being too stressed. My job is a bit unstable at the minute, the company haven’t been able to afford to pay us! Fingers crossed for a lottery win. xxx

  • Michelle Hailey

    A fantastically honest and realistic post Annabel, kudos for addressing both your own situation and a difficult subject. I had a boyfriend who left me in lots of debt a few years back and likewise my now husband has taught me to be more frugal. We have a joint arrangement where everything we earn goes in to one account and everything is deducted that has to be paid out and saved (including pensions and life insurance, yes he really has made me sensible) and then from there we each get paid equal spends in to our own bank account, a nice little pot (some months!) that is then ours to fritter on whatever we so wish that month. Works really well.

  • Katie Saxon

    My fiance and I have a joint bank account for bills, mortgage payments and all other joint financial things. The rest of our money is ours, which means he can buy Xbox games and I can go for cocktails without feeling like we’re spending each others’ money.
    To be honest, I’m not that great at not spending, so I have to put loads in savings, just to stop myself frittering cash away. He is much more restrained and I can see that causing problems if all our money was linked.
    On a practical level, if you have a joint account with your husband it may affect his ability to get credit if you have a bad rating. If that’s not a concern for either of you, go ahead, but it’s worth knowing in advance and not finding out the hard way!

  • http://www.fabulousmissk.co.uk Fabulous Miss K

    Annabel
    A truly honest post and very brave, there are many people today in the same position as it is so easy to “get money” so you will help many of them to confront their own debt so good on you.
    As to the joint account – my husband and I have our own accounts but as we run a business together we have a joint business account and another account which is our “fun account” – when we each have spare money or a little extra bonus it goes in that account and when we have some saved we have a treat ie meal out or weekend away.
    So my advice – keep your own for your personal expenses but have the household together??
    Karen aka Fabulous Miss K

  • Kerry Anne

    How refreshingly honest of you. A lot of people are more than discreet when it comes to money.
    None of my friends and most possibly my family have any idea about what I earn but if they asked, I would tell them.
    I am currently engaged to be married and two years ago myself and my fiance bought our first house together and to make things simpler, we decided upon a joint account. I have no regrets.
    Dont get me wrong, we have a credit card and an overdraft and in times of need, we use them. We were lucky to enter our relationahip with neither of us having any debt but over the period of buying a house (the boiler packing in etc) we now have a small amount.
    Having a joint account makes me feel more whole and I couldnt imagine not having one as a married couple. It is so much easier to look at our financial situation when it’s all in (and mainly out) of one pot!
    Each to their own though, I know people that would rather die than share an account and one of my best friends has been with her partner six years, lives with him and doesnt know what he earns!
    To be it’s just pounds and pennies.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/dottyvintage DottyVintage

    We don’t have a shared bank account yet but it’s something we have considered doing. It’s one of those things we discuss every now and again but not on our list of priorities. My other half is starting his own business early next year so at the moment, it kind of makes sense for us to keep things separate. He’ll have a business account for it, linked to his personal account. Adding in a joint bank account just confuses things. I guess it’s something we’d like to do eventually but in the meantime, we might set up a joint savings account so we’re both contributing to a communal pot.
    Regarding the debt, it’s great that you took the brave leap to sort your finances out. My dear old Dad who passed away in 2010 had kept over £25k of bad debts a secret from my Mum. It wasn’t until we began to pull out unopened post hidden away in his cupboards when we sorted through his things, that the scale of his financial issues became clearly apparant. He was on last warnings, facing CCJ’s, baliffs – the lot. And my Mum, and us, were clueless.
    Although they were far from traditional and what I would class as ‘cool parents’, their financial set up had always been extremely one sided. My Mum had always allowed my Dad full control of their bank account. She was left with hardly anything, plus inherited all of my Dad’s debt too. Mum, Dad and their friend had a three way partnership in a restaurant business, so her financial position is still tied up with that for now, and we’re not sure what she’ll come out with at the end.
    My Dad passed away unexpectedly – an unhealthy lifestyle, working as a chef plus the awful stress of the secret debt problems resulted in a deadly cocktail. It’s an extreme example I know and two years on, there’s no negative feelings towards my Dad – to be honest, there never really was.
    But if you are in a pickle, don’t hide it from your loved ones.

  • http://www.kerrycooks.wordpress.com Kerry @ Kerry Cooks

    Wow – 75k – my jaw did drop! I’m so happy that you’re making such great progress towards getting to 0 – brilliantly inspiring! I’ve just made a commitment to be more sensible with what I’m spending so your post just reinforced that for me
    By the way – a few pointers on how to recognise the overpriced tat for what it is would be appreciated!
    x Kerry

  • http://www.littlelovenotes.co.uk Nikki

    We’re not married yet but we have a joint account for bills and the things we do together as a couple. We each have standing orders that go into the joint account each month, which we use for the mortgage, bills, food, and ‘dates’ – like if we go to the cinema or to a restaurant (when neither of us is treating the other, that is.) But we also still have separate accounts, which we use for our own personal luxuries… clothes, beauty products, social lives with our friends, etc.
    If we only had our joint account I know I would get worked up if J went and spent money that I thought wasn’t worth it, or vice versa – for example I might feel frustrated if he spent too much at the pub, or he might moan if I splashed out on expensive shoes. Keeping a bit of our own money separate still gives us a bit of freedom and financial control, while all the important things are paid from our joint account.

  • http://whimsicalwonderlandweddings.com/ Lou ~ Whimsical Wonderland Weddings Blog

    Annabel, this is such an inspiring and honest account.
    G and I have been together for 7 years and still have seperate accounts. We have discussed it many a time, but it works for us. Im going by the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ philiosophy hehe ;-)
    Whatever you decide to do i am sure it will work brilliantly for you both.
    xo Lou

  • Lauren

    This is such an excellent post! Just a quick response to say that I actually found the most fruitful element of getting a joint bank account to be discussing whether we should have one and what we wanted it to involve now and in the future.
    We currently have personal accounts for most things, but all house bills and wedding payments go through the joint account. We realised that savings, which we still see as our own, were a sticking point, although in the future we’ll be merging hopefully and basically whatever we save will go on joint things – it was just the process of seeing the money mount up that we preferred to keep as an individual joy!
    Weird I know but definitely worth having a conversation about how practical and how things might feel now and in five years. There’s always a half way point – and we were surprised what we agreed on and what we didn’t. Good luck!

  • http://www.thebakingbandit.wordpress.com Inbal

    Hi Annabel,
    what a perfectly timed post and so honest. I am the frugal one in our relationship, having never had an overdraft, always paying of credit cards in full and always staying within my means. About 3 years ago I took a leap and decided to give up my well paid and very secure job to go and do a PhD. Fast forward and the PhD is about to come to an end, I don’t have a job to go back to, and we’re planning a wedding! My other half earns good money, but can’t support us both and pay all the bills, and save for the wedding, so for the first time in my life, I’m finding I’m using the credit card and not paying it all off, and I’m worrying about money. He tells me this is normal adult behaviour and I’ve done well to get to 30 before it happened, and I know my frugality will stop me racking up any great debts. However this doesn’t stop it being quite a worry for me, because I’m a bit of a control freak and not being totally on top of my finances makes me feel a little out of control. Something to come out of it though has been the slashing of our wedding budget/must have list which was rather cathartic. Initially an exercise in saving money, it actually made us completely focus in on what we want and removed the dross, thereby probably improving the wedding!

  • http://www.madeinmorningside.blogspot.com Ashleigh

    This is such a fascinating topic and one we discuss frequently. We have a joint account for house stuff, groceries and holidays and then our own accounts for everything else. My other half has some debts and once they are paid off I would like to be completely combined, he would like the freedom of having his own money.
    Thanks for sharing
    xox

  • http://www.calamiteajanesteaparties.co.uk Karen Whybro

    What an insightful & honest piece! I was in a very similar situation: supporting an ex in building his business, paying his mortgage etc. and soon found myself in around £20k debt and nothing to show for it when we split! Thankfully, after meeting my husband (who is also very frugal!) I managed to get that down to less than £9k is 3 years. We don’t generally use our joint account but just split most things and whoever has the money at the time pays for things! Debt is a very emotive issue which is often shrouded in fear and shame so well done, Annabel, for having the courage to discuss it! I bet there are so many people, like me, who can relate to this post!

  • http://www.iammagpie.co.uk Sera

    I applaud your post and although I don’t often comment I thought I might. Husband and I have had a joint account since week four of our relationship. We decided to save for a house and it seemed logical and it still does. Seven years later and I can’t imagine it being any other way. Money goes in bills come out what is left is ours. But I budget and list our money like a military operation. I have to. Husband loves his job and loves me being self employed. Some months I only earn £50 so we have to be prepared. He would rather I was running my tiny business and running the household and looking after our dog than earning loads because it’s what makes me (and him) happy. Having said that his wages pay for our bills and living so anything I earn is savings. We have debt that will be gone in march 2013. I can’t wait. It taught us a lot, but mostly that living frugally is great and frittering money on unnecessary purchases doesn’t give us anything but a full house! We have a tiny weekly budget for food and going out (£60!) but we eat well and enjoy ourselves. We have a small monthly amount for clothes and stuff (which we usually save for the better quality things rather than blow on junk). We save hard and have nice birthdays and lots of holidays (4 trips planned in the next year plus assorted weekends away). This year is our 6th annual handmade Christmas which is cheaper but so much more thoughtful. Some other couples we know spend money on the pub every night or shopping every weekend and think us strange for not joining in. But we spend with purpose not boredom or for the sake of spending. And we love that. We still have a nice car and a good tv (husband loves gadgets) and expensive clothes (we love clothes!) but we don’t sacrifice anything for it. Living frugally is great. I love money saving expert for tips. My best tip is in a supermarket don’t buy packaged food! If you look at the per gram weight on the price ticket you’ll see how much they charge for wrapping it in plastic! I never get plastic bags to put my veg in either and I don’t care how strange I look with one carrot 2 tomatoes and 5 mushrooms at the checkout. I buy what I need and eat what I buy! Its not for everyone but I can’t imagine living any other way! Sera

  • jo

    I wanted to keep my private bank account for one very important reason…Christmas
    It sounds silly writing it but when we discussed joining our accounts, that was the sticking point for me. We have a joint account (to cover living expenses, both essential and fun), a joint mortgage and two joint savings accounts and nearly all of my wages go into these. The only reason I wanted to hang on to my own account is for the joy of buying surprises…it would be rubbish if my husband logged on to our joint account in December (ok, October) and could see all of the places that I had been buying gifts.

  • http://www.urbanbridesmmaid.co.uk Louisa Coulthurst

    My husband and I have separate accounts, never occurred to us to have joint ones. My mum used to say to me as well look after the pennies and I always remember her taking me to the bank with my little piggy bank when I was small!
    I have always said to myself that I can buy anything I want, but I have to pay off the credit card in full each month and if I don’t I am just giving the bank free money! This has worked well for me to keep me in check!

  • Helen Jenkins-Knight

    Money, its the bane of everyones life. Ours too.
    When I first met Gareth he had over £10,000 of debt – was at university and had a part time job. He was in a mess. I was the one who had to go through it all with him. We planned to pay the high interest credit cards off with his student loan and try and live off the money he had from his part time job and my rubbish wage. But he did it and the only debt he now has is a small over draft and the student loan.
    When we bought our first house together (4 years ago) we opened a joint account. We each transfer most of our money into that account each month and leave a little extra in our personal accounts as pocket money! This has worked really well for us. The rules are pretty simple. Mortgage, household bills, food, fuel and joint meals out etc come out of the joint account. Everything we want personally comes from our own accounts.
    We’re now married (8 weeks ago) and the finacial set up still seems to work really well. Im so proud of him and everything he has achieved. I still hate money – but we support each other and speak about it all the time. Communication is so important, without that I don’t think it would work.
    Go for the joint account, if it doesn’t work for you then you can always shut it down. Good luck and congratulations on your achievements. I am truly astonished at what you’ve managed to accomplish.

  • Cath

    Fantastic article about a very difficult issue – I was/am in exactley the same situation as you have experienced, up until I met my husband I frittered literally thousands of pounds on nothing, I had absolutely nothing to show for it, I too was/am an administrator on a fairly regular wage and quite what I spent all that money on I will never know. When the day came that I had to tell my now husband the financial mess I was in I was so ashamed, but he supported me, and continued supporting me when I did it again and again and again, until the day came when he had to put his foot down as his money was running out bailing me out – these were dark days in our relationship but we got through it. You know what was the turning point for me, arranging our wedding. We sat down and worked out a budget, now it was much less than what I would have liked for my fantastic dream wedding in my head, but we had a mortgage now and joint responsibility for paying that mortgage and the penny finally dropped the spending had to stop and I had to keep the wedding in budget. It was a excercise in extreme restraint and also in creativity, when we spent more money than budgeted on one item, we clawed it back from another, we made our own stationary, we worked together throughout the whole process and ultimately had the most wonderful day and it all came in on budgeet, no loans, no credit cards, it was such an amazing achievement for me – given my terrible history. Then three months after we had got married the unthinkable happened, my husband lost his job, we had only my income to live on (not enough) and then I got pregnant – talk about it never rains but it pours, but I was so relieved and still am to this day we had not gone crazy on the wedding and got into more debt, believe me life was tough enough at the time. We pulled together, and agreed on a joint account to pay all our joint finances, mortgage, bills, mobiles, food and our combined historical debts (mine much larger than his) and we both have seperate personal accounts for our spending money, so it solves issues like birthdays and Christmas and we still have a little financial independence. We made a ten year plan to pay off our debts and we are well on our way, yes we have had lots of up and downs along the way but we are on track and now we are both looking forward to the day we are finally debt free. It’s such a terrible, hard, shameful situation to be in, and the rows we’ve had have been epic, but ultimately we pulled together, worked out a plan and stuck to it and we find the combination of joint and personal accounts works really well for us.

  • http://knotsandkisses.co.uk Nikki @KnotsandKisses

    Wow Annabel what a brilliantly honest post. Its something I think about all the time. My other half and I aren’t married but have been together over 6 years and I have several friends in the same position who happily share a joint bank account and can’t understand why we don’t have one. For starters it’s never really come up so obviously our current situation works ok! Secondly I, like you, have a bad financial past whereas my other half is amazingly restrained with money. If anything though I think it is me who would hold us back from getting a joint account. Even though I am now much better with money, run my own business and have no credit cards I still don’t think I would trust myself enough with someone elses money .. just in case.
    I hope you manage to come up with a solution that works for you both x

  • Rachael

    This is such a brilliantly brave post. J and I have decided to open a shared savings account which we will save from, and a joint current account which will pay our shared bills. We will both have an equal percentage standing order into each account each month. So hopefully, we will always feel equal! He is older and literally higher on the teaching pay scale than me. Thank you for sharing this, it really is inspirational to read such honesty. R xx

  • Naomi

    This is excellent, and I don’t think I’ve ever felt such relief reading a wedding blog post – ever!
    Your situation very much mirrors mine, except that I don’t have your bravery and haven’t addressed the issue yet. This has made me realise, I have to be strong and make that call.
    My fiance is better than me at saving but neither of us are careful enough with our money. This post could change that all for me, it feels so comforting to know I’m not alone. Thank you so much Annabell.

  • Naomi

    Gah!!! Sorry, I have spelt your name with too many L’s, too excited about leaving my first blog comment!!

  • http://profile.typepad.com/lovemydress Love My Dress

    Thank you so much Claudia for your kind words. My hubby will often correct me when I’m rattling on – he’ll say ‘ours, not yours, not mine – ours’. I forget that sometimes!! I’m so fired up to be independent and make my own way, it’s easy to over look the ‘us’ and ‘our’ at times, but essentially, that’s what a marriage is, isn’t it! ;) x

  • http://profile.typepad.com/lovemydress Love My Dress

    I would have done something like that once Vici, I was just so hopeless with money, no idea at all. Sorry to hear you have had issues too but so pleased to hear you have worked to sort them out – it takes a brave person to ‘fess up to the mess they are in and do something about it – it is so eeeeeasy to let it all spiral out of control.
    Here’s to a more sensible future and genuine reward when we’ve worked hard and can actually afford it, not when our credit cards convince us we can! :)
    xXx

  • http://profile.typepad.com/lovemydress Love My Dress

    Thank you Lou!
    I thought about writing this post at the weekend, then had doubts, as in – I worried no one would comment because they’d be too scared to wade in to the subject with me, so I’m so humbled to see so many supportive responses.
    I like your philosophy, but I’m going to chat more about it with Phil and make a decision this week :)
    Big love xXx

  • Charlotte

    When I was brought up my parents shared a bank account, they worked hard for what they earned and spent very carefully always paying for stuff up front with the motto if you cant afford it then dont have it or save up for it.
    Having just left my full time job and recently set up a business, we solely live on hubbies wage and its hard. We have a joint account, it was hard to get used to at first as I had been very independent but we’ve adapted and to be honest I wouldn’t have it any other way now. We’re in it together easy or hard, we work together x

  • Miss B

    Just want to say huge kudos and respect to you for sharing this. It’s reinforced some things today that needed reinforcing, and I’m really grateful for that.

  • Miss K

    Reading this was hugely inspiring and with 20k of debt now and a very similar situation I want to say how amazingly brave and wonderful it was you shared your experiences. I asked the bank about the joint account and they said my not so perfect credit rating would become associated with my partner and result in his not being so good either. As my partner’s is perfect I decided to keep seperate accounts for now until I am confident I won’t affect him. I think a joint account is good for helping control money issues as you always have to keep in mind the other person and that being the only pot when you spend so it is something I would consider in the future but for now just in case will be seperate.
    Love xx

  • http://wedinlondon.com/ Ciara

    A really brave and honest post Annabel, thank you for sharing. A few years ago I worked in the Insolvency Service and my job was to interview people following their bankruptcy to ascertain, amongst other things, the reason why they were in that situation. You might imagine that gambling, redundancy and other factors would be common reasons for a person to end up in bankruptcy but the vast majority of people were ordinary everyday people who simply got themselves into a financial hole that they couldn’t get out of.
    It is admirable that you were able to get yourself of this situation without having to resort to bankruptcy. It may seem that bankruptcy is an easy option (most people will now only be bankrupt for between 9 and 12 months) but it has long lasting effects on credit ratings that are impossible to reverse.
    As you have advised, the Consumer Credit Counselling Service are fantastic but I would implore people to stay away from those “Debt Consolidation” people that advertise on tv. The fees and charges they will add to your debt are usually horrendously high.

  • http://www.paperknots.co.uk Lisa Butler

    Wow great post Annabel – and from above it’s clear that many of your readers can relate to this, including myself. I used to have 6 credit cards and 3 store cards pretty much maxed out. I didn’t quite have the same figure of debt as yourself but still into the 5 figures. I never spent ridiculous amounts on fancy clothes or shoes and looking back I don’t think I have one thing to show from it either. It was from not one but two ex boyfriends who took advantage of me being the breadwinner and always trying to convince me I could afford to by more. Meals, holidays (4 week exotic holidays!), nights out and it soon added up. When I split with the first everything was in my name and I was burdened with far more debt than i could take care of and ended up getting black listed. You’d think I’d have learnt a thing or two here but somehow ended up in the same boat again some years later (although not black-listed this time)
    Three years ago I split from that partner and decided enough was enough, I was going to get this under control and NEVER let it happen again. I got my debt down to just 3k when I met my current boyfriend and he has been amazing. Like your husband he is incredibly sensible when it comes to money and set out plans for me to tackle the final payments with clever ways to save money here and there. I paid the whole thing off by myself (although he offered to help) which makes me feel incredibly proud today. The day I made my last payment was the biggest relief I have ever felt!
    I am moving house / city next week to a new place I have with my boyfriend and knowing I have swapped my debt for actual SAVINGS makes me smile just writing this. Only last week we set up a joint bank account (the first I’ve ever done) but trust Chris 100% and know he would never do what has happened before. Saying that the account is just for house things even though this time he is considerably the bread winner I like to have MY money to buy my things, it’s a lovely feeling buying the odd treat knowing you worked for every penny of it.
    Thanks for sharing your story – it’s made me feel really good about mine once again!
    And a bloomin’ whopping high fives to you – 75k is an amazing figure to shift!
    xxx

  • http://www.meladegypsie.com/blog Amelia Rhea

    Dear Annabel, Thank you for this. It reminds me that there’s hope yet and there is a way to take charge of my situation. After dating a few months, my boyfriend, who is a little better at managing and saving money, suggested we open a joint account to try and save together for the future. Yes, we knew that we were in for the long haul in that short time. =P
    It was both scary and exciting at that time, but I saw the pros of the situation. We’d put in some extra cash that we can afford into the account together which will go towards things that we need in the future. Things like our wedding, future home, kids, etc.
    It doesn’t mean that I need to dump all my money there, I still have a separate account… (which also isn’t much my saving skills are dismal =S) But you get the picture.
    Good luck with that. I’m sure it’ll work out.

  • http://www.thetwicebitten.blogspot.com ruthie

    Annabel, thank you for such an honest and ultimately positive piece of writing. I think money is such an emotive topic and it is finding what works for the couple that is the important thing. Although I’ve only got a student loan to repay I’ve never had store cards or credit cards and my mind is all the happier for it. I think we are on the right track hehehe.

  • http://lovemydress.net Lígia Leite

    Annabel, I loved every one of the words here, its deep meaning and the urgency with which they need to be heard. My congratulations on this matter (and, for the entire site), for its honesty, simplicity and above all by the social responsibility that always has demonstrated.
    I liked you since the first time bumped into the site, it seemed clean, honest and unpretentious, even when it comes to matters of “vanities and related”, anyway, which are also part of our life and, that if well administered are not of trivial before any other which apparently can have greater relevance in everyday life – everything that is part of life and living is relevant and worthy to be discussed.
    As for the topic itself, I have to say that I have always been very responsible with money because above all, always respected how you gain and give value to what really value – my effort on it used has. So, it is always well used, with real sense of usefulness and respect. It should be noted, that I consider myself, and am considered, as a person of good taste, who likes to live well (in harmony and balance with the body and desire well educated), but always putting things in their proper place, never losing the perspective of my way still to go, aside from that, I don’t want to leave many waste and “droppings” in my road of life.
    With sincerity Annabel, have great respect for your courage in challenging standards and include here, what you think needs to be said, even if it is not so convenient.
    I understand also, your position reticent about a joint account, although having a husband with dignity of companion. I also live the same “dilemma”, except that my husband is not so responsible with money – I hope that with time and my way to act in this respect will help him grow with the maturity required.
    Try to see this joint account, not only as a deposit on trust in each other, but above all, as a firm purpose in your growth and LOVE, that love covers everything from children, joys, sorrows, projects, everything about life contingencies can be and there fit. It is a life lived together. This is how I try to soften my future decision.
    I wish you continue always elegant, as has demonstrated to be, do good wishes for this project “Love my dress”, that i love so much, both for the good qualities that we can find here, and by the beauty and sincerity with which you transmit your ideas.
    I will be always present
    Hug,
    LL

  • http://profile.typepad.com/lovemydress Love My Dress

    Thank you so much Vicki – so sorry to hear you have had a crappy time with an ex, but you went and found someone wonderful didn’t you? ;)
    xXx

  • http://profile.typepad.com/lovemydress Love My Dress

    Thank you so much Dani – sounds like you have it nailed down pretty perfectly if you ask me :)
    x

  • http://profile.typepad.com/lovemydress Love My Dress

    Excellent idea Kate. I am the breadwinner in our family and so get the ‘gap’ thing. A fair percentage of each other’s income though would really make this a viable option I think. Thank you for the suggestion xx

  • http://profile.typepad.com/lovemydress Love My Dress

    Thank you Katy, there seem to be a few readers who do the ‘we both put some to a joint account and whatever is left is ours’ thing, I really like the idea and am definitely considering it.
    Great to see we both share a shoe passion though. Why are they so damned expensive?? ;)
    x

  • http://profile.typepad.com/lovemydress Love My Dress

    Yes. To be precise it was a few pennies short of £75k but what’s in a few pence when you are in that much gargantuan amount of debt?!?
    I spent a lot for what was my financial capacity at the time on our wedding. Knowing what I do now, I’d have absolutely *definitely* done things differently regarding spend, but, you live and learn, and, our wedding day was one of the best most love filled days of our lives that I will treasure for ever, so in that respect I suppose, I’d not change a single thing.
    If you’ve already committed to the wedding spend now, I say just accept it and enjoy it, but brace yourselves as you say for a year of living more frugally after that. I really hope your job situation sorts itself out too – very good luck with that, I’m crossing fingers for you xxxxxxxxx

  • http://profile.typepad.com/lovemydress Love My Dress

    Thank you Michelle, I love this idea. I really do.
    It’s a shame some of us have to learn from inconsiderate ex-boyfriends, but it makes us all the stronger and more sensible I guess :)
    Big love xXx

  • http://profile.typepad.com/lovemydress Love My Dress

    Xbox games and cocktails. In our family that would be fishing gear and vintage frocks I think! ;))
    Totally serious and important point about the joint account and having my hubby’s credit affected too – you really do need to take this in to consideration if one of you has an imperfect credit rating, so thank you for raising that Katie.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/lovemydress Love My Dress

    Thank you for your kind words Fabulous Miss K!
    Great suggestion too – it’s just been added to my list to discuss with the husband! ;)
    xXx

  • http://profile.typepad.com/lovemydress Love My Dress

    Thanks Kerry, so kind of you.
    There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a credit card and overdraft – let’s not forget that in fact, credit can be a good thing – building up a good credit record can earn you brownie points for obtaining that bigger mortgage for your dream house etc, it’s about spending wisely on that credit facility isn’t it? I have categorically *not* spent wisely in the past, but feel so good with myself to think that for a good while now, several years in fact, I have paid for everything in hard earned cash – and the occasional short term loan from my wonderful Mum – I always pay her back.
    I love that you feel so comfortable having a joint account – it’s stories like that that encourage me too.
    xXx

  • http://profile.typepad.com/lovemydress Love My Dress

    I just want to say, clearly English is not your first language but kudos for writing this! Thank you Ligia :) xXx

  • http://profile.typepad.com/lovemydress Love My Dress

    Student loan? You would think one of them was wrapped up in that £75k wouldn’t you? No siree! {kind of makes it even more shocking!}.
    Store cards are horrible things. Obviously now I’m older and wiser I get how those big companies market themselves and prey on young vulnerable type like I was back then – the false sense of ‘I can afford this’. It’s awful. I really want to raise my two daughters to be smart and totally turned on/tuned in to this kind of manipulation.
    But regardless, you definitely indeed do sound like you’re on the right track – thanks Ruthie :) xXx

  • http://profile.typepad.com/lovemydress Love My Dress

    Hi Amelia,
    Thanks for your lovely comment.
    I think one of the most rewarding things must be when you first start out to save – that second month when you can see accumulative savings starting to add up – from every little acorn and all that! I currently don’t have any savings but it’s a topic that has been talked about considerably in our household over the past couple of weeks. I’m in a situation now where I can probably afford to put away a reasonable amount for security, for our future. I’m adjusting to the responsibilities of running my own business and having Tax and VAT to account for – which I’m dealing with but which just adds complications into the mix when it comes to personal finance management, but I’m getting there :)
    Thanks for your positive words xx

  • http://profile.typepad.com/lovemydress Love My Dress

    Thanks Lisa. I think I used to have about that many store and credit cards too!
    Oh love, it’s easy to fall into the ‘same boat again’ when love is concerned. Love blinds you to so many situations like that!
    Your boyfriend sounds amazing, I am so glad you’ve found ‘the one’ who you know you can truly trust and who won’t take advantage of you.
    I can’t WAIT for that day I make my last payment, It will be partaaaaay in the Beeforth household!!!! ;))
    And I can sense that smile coming through your words too :)
    Thanks for your lovely kind words my friend,
    xXx

  • http://profile.typepad.com/lovemydress Love My Dress

    Hi Lauren,
    I think you raise a good point there – even talking about it is a sign of a healthy relationship isn’t it?
    x

  • http://profile.typepad.com/lovemydress Love My Dress

    Hi Inbal,
    Right, your husband is correct, you are doing well, BUT, you know yourself there is a risk here, so just be aware of it and be sensible – I know you will be.
    And removing the dross from the wedding must-have list – best thing you ever could do. All you need is LOVE!!!
    {ok, and a lovely dress and shoes!!??} ;)
    xXx

  • http://profile.typepad.com/lovemydress Love My Dress

    Do it Ashleigh! This is a great, positive goal for you once everything has been cleared. Go you ;) xXx

  • http://profile.typepad.com/lovemydress Love My Dress

    “Debt is a very emotive issue which is often shrouded in fear and shame so well done, Annabel, for having the courage to discuss it!”
    Thank you Karen, that means a lot.
    The truth is, 4 years ago I was in a totally different space, I felt SO ashamed, I was so teary, felt I’d let myself and everyone down, felt like I’d never have any financial freedom or be able to enjoy life without any credit facilities. Looking back now I realise I was in denial really about the whole thing and that all that emotion I was going through was a process that absolutely needed to happen for me to be able to move on to a new phase where I could learn that I didn’t need all hat credit, that I could pay off my debt and that basically, I could retrain my mind to think about living more within my means.
    Don’t get me wrong, I *still* like to spend – I love clothes and pretty things, but I’m more careful about it now.
    Thank you so much for taking the time to comment and leave such lovely words :) xXx

  • http://profile.typepad.com/lovemydress Love My Dress

    ” frittering money on unnecessary purchases doesn’t give us anything but a full house!”
    Don’t I know it! I cannot tell you how much has been chucked out or gone to charity and we’re not all the way there yet!
    An annual handmade Christmas – I LOVE that idea. It’s funny – we have two daughters now, and with the first, we didn’t go bonkers like some folk do, but our little girl certainly never went without – she got the little trike, the bike, the dolls – thing is, we still have them all – and our now youngest plays with them – so, whats the point of buying the same thing all over again and bringing more ‘dross’ into the house? I swear to god, all my little one {she’s two tomorrow} wants to play with is little ‘bits’ – working out what hole she can post them through, collecting things from the garden and playing on one of her older sister’s scooters. What’s the point of going out and buying a ‘new’ scotter for littley just because we got her older sister one – she won’t notice the difference! It’s really made me think about how we spend money on our children and in so doing the materialistic dross you just end up cluttering the house with.
    My husband always ticks me off if I buy packaged food! He usually does all the shopping as he makes wise purchase choices but occasionally I will get things in.
    Thanks for your feedback and for commenting Sera, I really appreciate it xXx

  • http://profile.typepad.com/lovemydress Love My Dress

    That’s a good point Jo – someone said this on Twitter the other day in response to this post – that that’s the only down side of having a shared account – it makes getting surprises difficult! xxx

  • http://profile.typepad.com/lovemydress Love My Dress

    Thanks for your comment Louisa – you’re obviously pretty sensible when it comes to managing your money! I need to follow in your footsteps ;)

  • http://profile.typepad.com/lovemydress Love My Dress

    Thanks so much Ciara.
    I absolutely believe what you’re saying. So many people in debt today aren’t people off out binge drinking and spending, they have just found themselves in a terrible situation from making a few unwise choices or not having been educated in how to manage money sensibly.
    I want to emphasise your last paragraph too – this is SO TRUE. My advise to anyone reading this is ignore ANY of other company offering to help you ‘consolidate’ your debts {you see loads of adverts for these companies between the morning chat shows and during the afternoon TV, in an attempt to lure you in}. They are a con – waste of time. The Consumer Credit Counselling Service is – I think {correct me if I’m wrong}, government funded or accredited and it is utterly non-profit making – it is there to purely assist people out of their terrible financial situations. It was my God send, I can’t stress enough how it saved my life!
    Thanks again Ciara xx

  • http://profile.typepad.com/lovemydress Love My Dress

    Sage advice about the sharing of accounts when one of you has a less than perfect credit rating Miss K – than you – and thank you for taking time to comment too xxx

  • http://profile.typepad.com/lovemydress Love My Dress

    Pleasure Miss B x

  • http://profile.typepad.com/lovemydress Love My Dress

    No worries! ;))

  • http://profile.typepad.com/lovemydress Love My Dress

    Glad to be of help Naomi.
    Please, please please get some help. Contact the Consumer Credit Counselling Service today, or make it your goal to do it tomorrow. It is not half as scary as you might think:-
    http://www.cccs.co.uk/
    0800 138 1111 {freephone}

  • http://profile.typepad.com/lovemydress Love My Dress

    Thank you so very much Rachael, it is so good for me to read such lovely feedback.
    xXx

  • http://profile.typepad.com/lovemydress Love My Dress

    Recalling the lyrics from a song… “money money money, root of all evil”…
    Certainly, what I have been through, has made me both learn to respect money in a very different way, but value it completely differently too.
    Thanks for taking the time to reply and make suggestions Helen, I’m so pleased you and your husband were able to clear his debt and big congratulations on your recent wedding ;) xXx

  • http://profile.typepad.com/lovemydress Love My Dress

    I actually sighed a HUGE sigh of relief when I got to the end of reading your comment Cath – I am so pleased you have worked through this – this is testament for the love you share {true love conquers all and everything, including debt!}.
    My Mum has said to me in the past ‘when you’re this flat on your back, the only way is up’, basically – you’ve been to the abyss financially but you’re finding your way back up to the surface now. DON’T let *anything* put you off course. Keep at it and you will realise your 10-year goal eventually.
    When is baby due to arrive, or has he/she already made an appearance? :)
    Huge thanks for taking the time to share this Cath, I hugely appreciate it xXx

  • http://profile.typepad.com/lovemydress Love My Dress

    Thank you Nikki ;) xxxx

  • http://calligraphy-for-weddings.com/ Claire – Calligraphy for Weddings

    Annabel, no need to reply to this one but I have huge respect for you for posting this. Claire (EWB) xx

  • http://profile.typepad.com/lovemydress Love My Dress

    That’s so kind of you to go out of the way to say Claire, thank you xXx

  • Eve

    Annabel,
    What a brave and thought provoking post. I am not a ” bride” but love reading your blogs as my daughter is getting married in March 2013, and I have got lots of hints and tips which I pass on to her.
    Your post about debt and money management will strike a cord with lots of people, and thank you for your honesty and openess in discussing a ” sensitive” topic.
    Re your own dilemma of wheter or not to have a joint bank account, my husband and I are married 38 years now, and what we have is a ” shared” account that both of us contribute to, which covers all the household bills and other general outlays. We also both have personal accounts that we put money into which are individual, and I can use the money in whatever way I wish. It’s good for buying presents and things that I want to pay for. It’s worked very well for us and I hope maybe something like this might be an idea for you.
    Your blog is amazing, and I wish you all the luck in the world.

  • http://www.vintagebridaljewellery.co.uk Jackie Vintage Bridal

    Annabel have just come across this posting – so happy to see one of the ‘great last taboos’ being broken and an especially apt discussion for those planning a marriage – after a disastrous relationship on the money front too, I came late to the view that ‘financial compatibility’ is a really important consideration in a partnership – one that in the end, probably greatly outweighs those ‘youthful’ considerations such as shared taste in music, fashion etc..
    A very brave post and good on you for not choosing the ‘easy’ path back to solvency and well done to your partner for all his support (that’s when we really discover what love is……….)

  • Cath

    It was very liberating to share it – debt/money is still a very taboo subject, which is why this post was so fantastic and as you say when you hit rock bottom the only way is up.
    We had a beautiful baby boy called Dylan – he is a joy and the light of our life and makes all the struggle totally worth it :-)

  • http://profile.typepad.com/lovemydress Love My Dress

    Thank you Jackie, it hasn’t been easy at times, but you work hard for what you want to achieve if you *really* do want it that much – that’s what I’ve learned anyway and that’s how I’m bringing up my daughters xXx

  • http://profile.typepad.com/lovemydress Love My Dress

    Wow Eve, thank you so much, so kind of you to write such a lovely comment!
    I wish your daughter all the love and luck in the world and I hope you have a fabulous day watching her shine ;))
    Thank you again xXx