"I make more money than my boyfriend - it's not an issue but he does feel bad about it"


While there is still a large disparity between what women and men earn in South Africa (women still earn 27% less than their male counterparts over all according to a study there are women who manage to earn more than their spouses or partners. 

There are also still people who frown on women earning more than their male partners and some men who have an issue with it. There's even a study that was conducted over 20 years that shows evidence of men having more illnesses like lung diseases, ulcers and heart disease later in life if their partners are the breadwinners.

Dr Eugene Viljoen, a clinical pyschologist, told Huffpost that he's not surprised by the findings in this survey: "A big part of a man's definition of masculinity largely involves their sexual prowess, but add to that their 'ability to provide for their family'."

I earn more than my boyfriend. We’ve only been together 4 months and we don’t live together yet (but we’re saving up for it), but sometimes the subject does come up.

I’m a content producer in the media industry and he works as a security guard. He is currently looking for other work.

It’s not an issue per se, but he does feel bad about it. 

When we go out, I’m mostly the one who pays for things and sometimes I spoil him a bit and buy him something he wants or needs. He feels a certain pride about being able to pay his own way and not let his girlfriend buy him things, but seems to be slowly getting over it. 

So I asked other women if they have a similar problem, how they deal with it and whether they have any advice. 

READ MORE: Here's what you should do about money before you move in with your partner - according to people who have done it

This is what they had to say:


“While my husband and I are two professionals, we are also two very different bracket earners. He is a registered tour guide at a well-known tour guide operating company while I am a digital manager for a financial company. The fact that I come home with triple what he does has never been an issue for either of us. 

“Because I was divorced before we got married, I was used to paying for the lifestyle and bills for that of myself and my child. When we got married it was a massive financial adjustment for me as suddenly we had a busier social life (which we both cover), we needed a bigger car and he brought along an ugly divorce and very expensive lawyer’s fees that far exceed his expenditure and still do. The part that we argue over is that he would never ask me for financial help but I’d find out anyway – which would result in an argument because I like helping. 

“As we pay for our own respective bills, my nature means by the 15th of every month, I have my excel sheet ready with the list of bills I need to pay, shopping wish lists I need to fulfil and next list of payments needing to be made – while he has a mental list. It’s just the car that we co-own that we pay jointly.  

READ MORE: This easy-to-follow savings plan helped me save up for my dream holiday!

“The only added benefit he has that I don’t have is that over and above his salary, he gets monetary tips so he has cash when I am more cash strapped due to my own fault of my love for shopping. But he is sweet in that more than often he puts it in my wallet when I’m not looking."

Aamina’s advice for those women who earn more than their partners and it’s become an issue? “Have an honest, open talk when it comes to finances. It will get ugly but it is the only way to avoid future monetary woes.”


“I earn more than my partner. If the roles were reversed, it would have been no issue to anyone but some of my friends who frown upon it that I run the household and pay for things that a man would pay for in what they would consider [a] conventional [relationship].

“Between the two of us, it has never come up. It just happened naturally – and why not! We both know I earn more and we don’t feel the need to discuss it.  

“He puts petrol in the car and drives us wherever we go and I cover all food, drinks and household expenses. He pays the Wi-Fi and I pay the electricity. He gets bread and milk and I get ingredients for fancy dinners that we cook together. When we go out for expensive meals, he pays for the food and I pay for the wine.

Her tips on how to deal with things? "Relationships are stressful enough, when something just sorts itself out, don’t fiddle with it. And don’t date a guy who feels insecure about dating a woman who earns more!”

READ MORE: 4 important money questions you should never be afraid to ask


“I earn a salary but I also receive incentive bonuses which differ from month to month. He earns a salary only, so salary wise he earns more but when I receive incentive bonuses (which is all the time) its R2 000 or more, thus far as much R15 000 more. Not an issue at all. He loves it, when I do tell him, his response is always 'salute'.

“And salary wise he earns R1 500 more, but I think it's important to take note of deductions. His company subsidises his medical aid but mine doesn't. They also pay for his pension and mine doesn't.

“We split our expenses. So after that it's going to be a ‘what I save and spend a month’. We have and will continue to have fights about what we as individuals are saving when it comes to joint goals. Like paying our bond off.

"I'm in finance and he is in social development. When we started dating it was a point of concern, what has helped us is the fact that we keep our budgets separate, this way we're both contributing 50/50. If I can't afford to do something this month or he can't, we wait until both of us can and sometimes we even loan each other money, to be paid on your payday. No extensions or writing off bad debt. We have an excel spreadsheet too. It's worked really well for us as individuals and our relationship. There's no resentment, because I'm not held back,neither is he. We're both very independent people, so this does help. Accept your partner, financially too, work within his bracket, if you want to do extra, then own it as that. And don't keep on bringing it up, what I've done in the past and my partner still doesn't feel comfortable discussing money with me. Much better now though.”


"I’m a project manager in IT and my husband works in compliance. Money was a problem when we didn’t have a proper management system in place. But once we started to be realistic about our spending habits we could identify where we needed to have a system in place and that released a lot of the pressure where the biggest change was having a weekly allowance."

We still don’t stick to it, but at least we have a road map of where we’re going. So the emotional accountability changed once we realised that there isn’t a quick fix and that we won't have proprer savings in place over night. And that it’s actually a long journey and that we shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves. 

Amanda's advice to women who are having issues with their partners around money? "If you don’t see this as being a partnership, it won’t work, and never refer to ‘my money’ because there will be a time when roles are switched."

Do you earn more than your partner? What is it like for you? Tell us about it.  

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