Should Relationships Be 50/50 Financially?

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Moving in together is a big and exciting step in a relationship. However, moving in together does have its challenges. You also need to talk about money. But should relationships be 50/50 financially?

Prior to getting married, split expenses 50/50 as roommates would and don’t get joint bank accounts or credit cards. When married, however, finances should be pooled together regardless of income, so income, expenses, and debt are all shared.

But there really isn’t a right or wrong way to split expenses.

It’s all about what works for both of you, and there are many ways to contribute to a relationship that isn’t financial. So if one of you makes significantly more, and the other is doing additional things for the household to offset not being able to pay as much, that’s OK.

So, in this article, we’ll explore why you shouldn’t combine finances before marriage. But we’ll also explore alternative ways to contribute if one of you doesn’t make as much money as the other.

Just keep reading!

Should the man pay for everything in a relationship?

As a general rule, the man should not pay for everything in a relationship. It is fine to pay for dates at the beginning of the relationship, but as it turns from dating into a relationship, have a conversation about splitting costs.

After all, it’s not 1952 anymore.

A relationship should be a fair division between two partners. It’s simply not fair to expect the man to pay for everything in the relationship. This is especially true if you are going to be moving in together.

Early in the relationship, the man may feel compelled to pay for the first couple of dates. But that’s also assuming the man asked out the woman.

If the woman asked the man out, or if we’re talking about gay and lesbian couples, it’s not clear cut. In those cases, whoever asked the other out should pay.

After all, in those early stages, you aren’t sure of each other, and you’re probably trying to impress each other. So, one of you will reach for the check at the restaurant more than the other. That is perfectly fine. But that initial generosity doesn’t need to turn into an unfortunate, financially breaking habit.

The dynamic between men and women has changed dramatically over the last 50 years. 

Men and women often both work and have money to spend. They should both be paying for things, including dinner dates. And if you are living together, they should both be contributing to the household income and expenses.

So, before you even move in together, you need to have a conversation about splitting the costs. This can be a difficult discussion to initiate, but if you are grown up enough to live together, you are grown up enough to talk about money.

Right from the beginning.

Does the amount of income affect how you split bills?

For a non-married couple, income would ideally be irrelevant with splitting bills, just as it would be with a roommate where expenses are split 50/50. However, if one makes significantly more than the other, find alternate ways for the lower-income person to contribute. 

Discussing how to split the rent and other bills is vital before moving in together.

You’ll have rent to pay, groceries to buy, and utilities to pay for. You’ll want to do all of the things you did before you moved in together, like go out with friends and go out on dates.

You may want to send your laundry out to a laundry service once a week.

Your partner may want to have a subscription to watch all the sports they can watch. These things may not have been an issue before you lived together, but they can become a source of tension when you are splitting the bills.

You can split rent and expenses 50/50 if you want. Or you can do it based on income – whoever makes more money pays a higher percentage of the bills.

You could also split it so that you each pay for what you want and what you can afford. If you can’t afford to send your laundry out to a service, then you take it to the laundry mat instead.

However, if you decide to split rent and expenses, it’s important to be fair about it. And never commingle funds.

To read more about splitting expenses when living together, check out this recent article. I get into why it’s crucial to not share bank accounts or credit cards before marriage, including the 1 deadly mistake I made that cost me $40,000!

Just click the link to read it on my site.

How do you handle finances when one spouse makes more?

As a married couple, all income should go into 1 bank account, and all bills should be paid from that same bank account, and there should be no regard if one makes more than the other. All aspects of life, including finances, should be combined for a successful marriage.

It just makes things that much easier when everything everyone earns goes into one account. All of the bills come back out of that account.

If one spouse makes more money and the other one makes less or doesn’t work and stays home with the kids, they still provide value to the relationship. It just shows up in different ways.

If everyone contributes to the relationship, either by bringing in income or by taking care of the house and the kids, there is no reason to keep score.

Over 50% of married couples share bank accounts. They understand that when you get married, you are joining together. And when couples keep their finances separate, they are essentially keeping part of their lives separate from one another.

If you want to live a separate life, you shouldn’t get married to begin with.

Married couples should pool all of their money together and share income and expenses. Regardless of how much each person in the relationship makes.

When you get married, everything becomes “ours”, including the income. When you combine income, bills, and debt, you are partnering with your spouse to take on the world. 

To read more about why married couples should share bank accounts, read this recent article. I get into specifics on how and when to do it. But I also cover the statistics that clearly show why couples that don’t are more likely to divorce.

Just click the link to read more on my site.

Do you split bills differently in marriage compared to just living together?

Yes. When married, you not only share income, but you share all bills and take on each other’s debt as well. All aspects, including financial, get combined. However, when just living together, do not share bank accounts or credit cards and split bills 50/50.

When you are married, you don’t really split anything. Everything is shared – income, debt, bills – everything.

But before you get married, your income is yours and yours alone. Even when you move in together, your income remains separate from your partner’s. This means your debts and expenses remain separate, too.

If you are living together, you shouldn’t have anything shared. One of you will have the power bill, and the other will have the cable bill, just like if you were roommates. Because, essentially, that’s what you are.

And under no circumstances whatsoever should you share debts before marriage.

Don’t take on any big purchases together if you are not married. If you decide to cosign a loan or get a joint credit card, you end up taking on a huge risk as well.

Because if your partner skips out on the loan or racks up a ton of credit card debt, that leaves you holding the bag, responsible for figuring out how to get that debt paid off.

But when you are married, your spouse’s debt simply becomes your debt. You both work together to pay it off. You’re a team. No one is going to skip out on anything.

If one of you racks up credit card debt, you work through it to get it paid off.

And if you do split up for whatever reason, there will be a judge there to make sure that the debt gets split up fairly. They may decide to do it based on the income of each partner, or they may make whoever racked up the debt pay all of it.

But if you’re dating, there is no legal recourse if your name is on the credit card or the loan. You might be able to file a civil suit against your ex, but that could end up costing more than the debt itself.

Should a woman date a man who makes less money?

A woman can definitely date a man who earns less than she does. As a rule, a woman should date a man who she connects with on an emotional level and a man who is confident, decisive, and has a plan for his life. If his income is low, that is fine as long as he has a long-term plan to improve it.

If you are interested in dating someone, it’s important to look at the whole picture. People have ups and downs throughout their lives. Sometimes they have more money than at other times.

Material things bring temporary happiness. What is important is work ethic and passion.

Is he working towards a future that will make him financially stable? Is he going back to school or working on paying down debt? In addition to that, is he loyal and caring? How does he make you feel?

If he pays attention to you and makes you feel good about yourself, then you should absolutely date him.

Money is necessary to pay the bills and get (and stay) out of debt. It is not necessary to be in a healthy and happy relationship.

There are some very rewarding careers out there that simply don’t pay a lot of money. If he’s living within his means and is a generally good person, there is no reason not to date a man that makes less money than you.

How can I contribute to the household other than with income?

Cooking, laundry, grocery shopping, and cleaning the house are a few ways to contribute to the household other than financial. But yard maintenance and feeding pets are also ways to contribute to the overall running of the household.

In this situation, I’m going to assume that you are a married couple. Because if you are in a dating situation, one of you should not be supporting the other entirely.

If you make less income or don’t make any income at all, it can be normal to feel guilty or feel like you don’t contribute to the household.

You can play an active part in what happens to the money after it is deposited into the bank account.

You can take over all of the accounting for the household. Make sure the bills are paid on time, balance the accounts, and file the taxes at the end of the year.

By taking an active role in the finances, you are taking ownership of the financial well-being of the household. Next, just save money. Use coupons at the grocery store, shop for deals, and cut out unnecessary purchases.

To ensure that you know where all of the money is going, prepare a budget.

Budgeting helps couples be united on financial goals and choices. It means that you are in communication and agreement on those goals.

To read more about getting your spouse to stick to a budget, read this recent article.

Budgeting also gives you a clear vision of what money you have coming in as well as going out. It can help you find where you are spending unnecessarily so that you can reroute money to pay the debt down faster.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Can a boyfriend and girlfriend have a joint bank account?

A boyfriend and girlfriend should not get a joint bank account. Until married, avoid joint accounts, co-signing loans, mutual credit cards, or making any other large purchases together. 

The reason is that in the event of a breakup, you have no legal protections when you aren’t married.

Bank account sharing should be reserved for when you are married. If your boyfriend or girlfriend decides to clear out the bank account, there is no legal recourse for that.

I once made the mistake of buying a house with my then-girlfriend. Because we weren’t married, I couldn’t do anything with the house without her written consent when we split up.

There were no laws indicating what was to happen. And there was no judge or divorce decree saying what’s fair.

So, I was stuck paying a mortgage on a house I really couldn’t afford by myself. I couldn’t sell it or refinance it without my ex-girlfriend’s approval.

Eventually, I just had to buy her out, paying about $40,000 more than I should have.

Had we been married at the time, a judge would have divided the assets at the time of the split. But if you share a bank account and then break up, there will be nobody to divide the assets.

This could end up costing you not only a lot of money but a lot of heartaches as well.

Should couples split bills evenly? 💔

Final thoughts

It’s a really exciting time when you decide to move in together. Talking about how to split expenses is not exciting, but it is necessary.

Couples add stress to the relationship when they argue about money and money problems. They are also more likely to split up.

Talk about money now to set yourself up for success in the future. It’s the best thing you can do for your relationship.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels and
Photo by Wesner Rodrigues from Pexels

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