real life

'As Kim K knows, the worst mistake a woman can make is a joint bank account...'

Regardless of whether or not you are a fan of Kim K, she’s suddenly become a very good role model for women confused about how money should be handled in committed relationships. She knows the golden rule, that love and money should remain separate.

Following on from husband Kayne West’s claim he is $53 million in debt (approximately $74M AUD), talk has turned to the fact that Kim and Kayne have always kept their money separate. That’s despite being in love, happily married as far as we can tell (they wed on in March 2014) and sharing two children together, daughter North West, 2 years and son Saint West, 2 months.

While Kayne has managed to rack up eye-watering debt, Kim is said to be worth approximately $52.5 million ($74 million AUD) which is just half a mil shy of her being able to bail her husband out and for them both to be flat broke. Not that she’s even considering doing that.

Times have changed and so have the decisions we make when it comes to love and money. While in the past entering a committed relationship meant the merging of everything including any money both parties have brought to the relationship, that’s no longer considered the norm.

Keeping your fiances separate is the only way that makes sense for many couples. Most couples I know have their own personal accounts and then a shared account into which they each contribute money towards joint bills and expenses. Even when children come along money is still often being kept separate.

Things begin to get more complicated the longer a couple is together. You know how it goes. You start bickering about how much you are contributing to certain bills, someone earns more or less than the other, you have kids, opinions about purchases the other has made.

That’s when money often becomes muddled, often to the detriment of women.

Image iStock.
While in the past entering a committed relationship meant the merging of everything including any money both parties have brought to the relationship, that’s no longer be the case. Image iStock.
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Keeping emotions completely out of the discussion, children could be considered a joint expense when it comes to considering how to manage your finances. If someone takes time off or begins to earn less to care for that child, they are entitled to compensation for that. That means money is still kept in separate accounts and decisions are made to compensate that person for their lost income.

When a partner loses their job and suddenly isn’t earning any money at all, the burden of expenses falls on the other and this causes even further confusion. You’re not going to kick your partner out of the house because they can’t pay their way. A relationship means commitment, care and concern for each other’s feelings and each other’s well-being.

In instances like this, keeping love and money separate would be virtually impossible.

My husband and I were equally broke when we met, both at the beginnings of new careers and we built our wealth together. We kept separate bank accounts and managed our own incomes, putting money into a joint account to cover our expenses. We didn’t always do this well. My husband had strong opinions on where he wanted to live and I couldn’t afford to match him when it came to contributing to rent and later on, mortgage payments.

However I made up for that shortfall in other ways, taking care of our home and assuming responsibility for majority of the domestic duties. It worked for us, until we went bankrupt. Then our finances became a complete mess and we lost our way for a while.

What is the last text message you sent to your partner? Article continues after this video.

After we went under, we put most of our money in one account that I managed. It seemed like the best idea at the time. My husband was broken and jaded after losing every cent he had ever earned. He felt guilty that his actions had led to the loss of our home. I didn’t see it at the time but his decision to have his income paid directly into an account that I controlled was an act of low-self-worth. I recognise it now because at times when I’ve earned less or taken time off to care for our children, I’ve done the same thing.

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Any money I earned wasn’t mine because it was never enough, so I handed it over without a second thought.

Now my husband is starting his own business again and is starting to manage his own money again. The change in him has been immediate. He has provided for us so well during some difficult years and he is the last person who should fell guilty over what happened. Now his confidence is growing as he makes daily financial decisions again, after an eight-year break.

I can only imagine how Kim and Kayne are feeling at this stage in their relationship. Kayne has chosen to go public with his debt, for better or worse, and is handling it in his usual over-the-top, dramatic Kanye way while Kim remains silent.

Not a comment, not a supportive Tweet, just complete silence.

Nobody is expecting Kim Kardashian to bail husband Kayne West out of massive debt, but I wonder if that expectation would change if the situation were reversed.

Married couple holding hands
Love is blind but it shouldn’t be when it comes to money. Image iStock.

When someone accumulates massive debt, any debt, there is a reason for it and bailing them out doesn’t help them in the long run. Often they will accumulate more debt. The only way to break the cycle is to leave them to sort it out for themselves so they can change the behaviours that led to the situation in the first place.

Kayne’s situation doesn’t seem to be the result of one, devastating financial mistake or misdeed but more a result of someone who has been living way beyond their means for a very long time. While he hasn’t publicly asked his wife for help, he does seem to be holding his hat out in hope that someone will rescue him (Mark Zuckerberg, maybe as a way to encourage fans to buy his new album).

That’s not a sign of someone who has learned from their financial mistakes but instead someone who is in complete denial about what it will take to fix them.

How do you manage finances in your relationship?

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