Moral Money: ‘I was given £2,000 to save for my daughter, aged nine, but I’ve spent it and can’t easily repay it’

Moral Money: ‘I was given £2,000 to save for my daughter, aged nine, but I’ve spent it and can’t easily repay it’

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Hand holding fan of twenty 20 pound notes

One reader has taken money from her daughter – should she fess up?

In Moral Money this week we  pose a new question from a reader, this time about whether to admit when you have taken money that was given to or intended for a child.

We also publish your responses to the dilemma raised last week about whether couples should have joint finances or keep their money separate. Please keep your responses and questions coming.

  • Reader Service: Give your children / grandchildren a financial headstart with a Telegraph Investor JISA.
    Capital at risk.

This week’s question

‘My mother-in-law gave my daughter, aged nine, £2,000 as a gift. That was 18 months ago. It was a difficult time for me as I had debts to pay, and so I spent it. I could, eventually, replace the sum, but this might take several years. My daughter has thanked her granny and both of them believe the money is in an account overseen by me (my partner and I are separated). Should I be honest with all involved?’

Readers can send their responses to each week’s questions by emailing [email protected]

Put any question to us (and you can do so anonymously) and each week we’ll publish a summary of the best responses. At the same time we will also pose the next week’s question.

Last week’s question…

 ‘I’m newly married and my wife doesn’t want a joint account for our money. Am I right to be offended, and a bit suspicious?’​

LH, via email

‘Now I can just appreciate her shoes’

With my first wife we had a joint account for all our money.  It led to arguments, resentment on both sides and divorce. With my second wife, we have a joint account for joint household expenditure, she has an account for her money and I have an account for my money. We are both happy with this arrangement.  

If my first wife bought shoes I can clearly remember saying: “How much were they?”.  Now I say to my second wife: “I like those shoes.”

John Burwood, via email

‘Grab this with both hands’

Dear God man, thank your lucky stars! Maintaining independent control of your money is essential, so much the better if she has insisted on it now.

A few years down the line and you will be very relieved that she has. Whether she feels the same way is less certain. Grab the chance with both hands and ‘give in’.

Corin Vestey, via email

‘A history of gambling makes me wary too’

You have a right to feel hurt but this may have nothing to do with her trust or feelings for you but about something else entirely. I met my husband 17 years ago and we have been married 10 years, we have a joint bank account (originally his) and yet I also still have my own account.

We have complete transparency of all spending and make all financial decisions together but due to my childhood and living with one parent who gambled and drank I have a need I cannot shift for ‘financial independence’ from my husband.

He understands that this need is not a reflection of my feelings for him but a comfort blanket for me. My suggestion is ask why she doesn’t want a joint account and  the answer may surprise you.

WM, via email

‘You have bigger issues than money’

The question is, why wouldn’t you? The answers indicate more serious problems in a relationship that should be addressed.

If you have committed to spend the rest of your life with someone, you should be able to trust them with your money, trust that you can both come to a joint agreement that you will both respect. If you can’t do these things, you have bigger issues than just money.

VS, via Facebook

‘It’s just not practical’

From a purely practical standpoint, it seems a little bizarre.  I have a personal account, Mrs J has a personal account, and we have a joint account.  We both pay a monthly amount into the latter sufficient to cover bills for that month and potentially towards any known upcoming big expenses e.g. a holiday.  

The contributions are via an agreed formula relative to our respective earnings.  All that is leftover remains up to the individual to (privately or publicly) spend or save as they wish.  

Makr James, via comments

‘You should have agreed this before marriage’

We’ve had a joint account for 45 years, sometimes I have earned much more, sometimes my wife has, but that is beside the point.

Personally, I would have thought it was self-evident. It is humiliating for one party to have to ask the other for things like clothes or holidays or gadgets, and I know couples where this is the case. The wife (e.g.) wants to go on holiday with my wife for a week, but doesn’t have the money in her own account, although her husband’s loaded.

Of course you have to have a tacit agreement that you won’t spend money recklessly, and possibly an explicit agreement that expenditure above a certain amount should be discussed. And of course you should agree all this before you get married.

MS, via comments

‘You partner cannot give you everything’

A joint account for household bills etc that you both pay in to and everything paid by direct debit or standing order. Separate accounts for the rest.

You can be married and still be individuals, in fact, it is important to be so. All of your needs will not be met by being married, so have other people around too to pick up the slack. For example, I love opera, hubby didn’t so I went with a friend, he went rock climbing with his friends… no one person can be everything for you, so be individuals too.

Deborah Green, via comments

‘A joint account doth not a marriage make’

My husband and I married 37 years ago at a time when, as teachers, we were seriously underpaid. We kept separate bank accounts, at different banks, so we could both have overdrafts as necessary.

We saw no reason to change to a joint account when matters improved. He paid the mortgage. I paid for shopping and household bills.

Now that the mortgage is paid off, he pays the household bills and I still do the shopping, pay for meals out etc. Car loans over the years were discussed – we each sorted our own car. Credit card bills were our own responsibility.

It’s worked for us. A joint account doth not a marriage make.

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