So, things are getting serious now!
Whether you’ve decided to say I do or have decided to move in with your partner there’s no doubt that the next big talk will be about money.
Maybe not. But the truth is if you don’t figure out a way to manage money fairly as a couple from the get go, your relationship might be heading to a place rockier than the Rocky Mountains.
As with most things in life, there is no right or wrong. The key is to talk openly about money with your partner (here’s a list of questions you should ask https://breathingabstract.com/money-in-relationships-financial-questions-to-ask-yourself-and-future-partner/).
Once you have done this, you can choose one of these common scenarios to split expenses. The best way to share expenses in a relationship is always by tailoring your financial capabilities to match with your desired lifestyle.
Always remember, what works for one couple will not work for all couples. Below are a few possible options.
Option 1: Combine Incomes
This is a more traditional approach and probably one of the most common options among traditionally married couples. Combining incomes stems from the notion, “What’s mine is yours” because at the end of the day marriage is a long-term partnership. By combining incomes, you and your partner maintain one account where you combine your earnings to pay bills and expenses together.
Remember a joint account requires transparency, mutual trust and a shared commitment towards a common goal.
Option 2: Do your thing, I do my thing
This is the opposite of option 1. In this scenario bills and expenses are basically free for all. For example, one partner can decide to pay the rent whilst the other partner pays for something else e.g. utilities or rent.
This may be okay if one of you earns significantly higher than the other partner. Trouble usually comes when one partner feels like they are picking up more than they should or worse yet, when the relationship turns sour. However, in this scenario, both partners maintain full control of their incomes and expenses as sometimes it just makes sense to each have a separate bank account.
Option 3: Separate but Equal
In this option couples keep separate bank accounts but then have a joint account that they both equally fund to pay shared expenses. It’s the least complicated way to share the day-to-day expenses whilst maintaining financial independence. Here couples combine their incomes and pay off expenses with the joint account. Whatever is left after all expenses are paid will be deposited equally in the separate accounts and each partner can do whatever they please with their share of the money. This works better for married couples.
Option 4: 50/50
One of the simplest ways to split expenses in a joint household when living with someone is 50/50. All you have to do is divide everything in half. One person pays for the full bill and the other will send their share to this person’s account.
You both still maintain your personal accounts and do not share the bank account. This however needs both partners to be on deck as you might find out that your partner is bad at paying back debts and in turn creates problems.
Option 5: Proportional to income
What if one partner earns significantly higher than the other? Sharing expenses 50/50 might not be easy to maintain especially for the partner who earns less as this will obviously hit them harder. Remember fair doesn’t always necessarily mean equal.
Depending on your type of relationship, fair approach will be to pay according to your income. For example, If partner A earns $6000 and partner B earns $4000 then partner A should pay 60% of the shared expenses and B will pay 40%.
In this scenario both partners have individual income accounts and one shared expenses account where they deposit their percentage share of income based on the expenses for that month. Be ready to adapt to changes and keep some money in reserve in your personal accounts to cover any unexpected overages.
Finances for couples, married or not, need to be discussed. Having a plan in place can help keep your relationship happy and healthy. We all know the happiest couples thrive the most as you and your partner spend your time focusing on other areas in your relationship than finances.
Remember, there’s no right or wrong way of doing this. It just takes both partners to agree on the same method.
What about you? How do you split expenses with your partner?