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 expenses.
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.
— 🆑 Christophe Langlois (@Visible_Banking) February 6, 2021
Does the amount of income affect how a couple splits 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.
More and more couples are choosing not to get married but for some there are massive financial benefits. If you are a cohabitee, would you consider tying the knot for if it helped your finances? firstname.lastname@example.org pic.twitter.com/I35sA2Nx2N
— BBC Money Box (@Moneybox) October 30, 2019
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.
— Tim Young (@plake777) August 11, 2015
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 finances, get combined.
When you are married, you don’t really split anything. Everything is shared in one joint bank account – income, debt, student loans, 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.
— mish (@winteogalden) January 7, 2017
How can I contribute to a relationship other than with income?
Cooking, laundry, grocery shopping, and cleaning the house are a few ways to contribute to the household other than with income. 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.
Would you set up a joint account with your boyfriend/girlfriend? Is it a good idea to put your savings in one join account? #NRGBreakfastClub @charliekarumi @nataliegithinji @deejay_shawn254 pic.twitter.com/alN3321Z6I
— NRG Radio (@NRGRadioKenya) June 30, 2020
How to split expenses when living together (but not married)
When just living together but not married, do not share bank accounts or credit cards and split bills 50/50. The reason for that is simple. Unlike married couples who get divorced, there are no legal protections in the event an unmarried couple breaks up.
That can make it very hard to separate financially.
But it can also make it impossible to sell or refinance a house or car without the other person’s complete agreement and signature. And their actions, even after the breakup, can potentially damage your credit score.
So here’s the best way for unmarried couples in a committed relationship to handle things.
1. Evaluate total expenses
Unmarried couples living together should evaluate and keep track of their total household expenses to ensure that both parties are contributing fairly and that the budget is balanced.
This can be done by creating a spreadsheet or budgeting app to track all expenses, including rent, utilities, groceries, and other miscellaneous items. But each partner should have separate accounts.
Then once a week, the partner not paying the bills can transfer or Venmo money to the other.
It is important to discuss the budget with each other and come up with an agreement on how much each person will contribute. This could be based on income levels or simply an equal split of the costs. It is also important to set aside money for savings and emergency funds in case of unexpected expenses.
If one partner’s income changes or if they decide to purchase a large item such as furniture, they should adjust the budget accordingly. They should also consider setting up automatic payments for recurring bills such as rent or utilities so that they don’t forget to pay them on time.
2. Talk about what each of you thinks is fair
Unmarried couples living together should evaluate what is fair in terms of sharing expenses.
That is especially if one partner makes more than the other. It is important to be honest and open about finances and to come up with a plan and long-term goals that work for both partners.
Ideally, each partner should contribute an equal amount of money towards shared expenses such as:
- other household items and bills
But if one partner makes more than the other, they may want to consider contributing a larger portion of their income towards joint expenses, and then just take on extra non-monetary household tasks to offset that.
It is also important for unmarried couples to keep their finances separate.
This means that they should not have joint bank accounts or credit cards. Each partner should maintain their own individual accounts and credit cards and be responsible for paying their own bills. This will help ensure that each partner is financially responsible for their own debts and expenses.
3. Make a plan for paying bills
Unmarried couples living together can pay bills and monthly expenses without having a shared bank account.
One partner can be in charge of paying the bills, while the other partner can transfer money to them weekly (if they use the same bank) or use a payment app such as Venmo to cover their portion.
This way, both partners are still responsible for their share of the bills, but without having to open a joint account.
The partner in charge of paying the bills should keep track of all expenses in a household budget and make sure that each partner is contributing their fair share. This could be done by creating a spreadsheet or budgeting app that both partners have access to.
This will help ensure that all bills are paid on time and that each partner is contributing what they agreed upon.
4. Get together monthly to assess progress
Unmarried couples living together can benefit from setting aside time each month to discuss their finances and household budget.
This will help them stay on track with their long-term goals.
During these meetings, couples should review their short-term goals and discuss any financial issues that have arisen since the last meeting. They should also review their household bills to make sure they are up to date and that they are not overspending.
Additionally, couples should review their income and expenses to ensure that they are staying within their budget. Finally, couples should discuss any investments or savings plans they have in place to reach their long-term goal of financial independence.
What issues can come up with unmarried couples who split bills 50/50?
1. Feeling taken advantage of
One of the most common issues is that one partner may feel like they are carrying more of the financial burden than the other.
That’s especially true if one partner has a higher income than the other. It can create an imbalance in their financial contributions, and this can lead to feelings of guilt or resentment from either of them, which can damage their relationship.
2. One partner being out of the loop on expenses
Another issue is that one partner may not be aware of all the expenses that need to be paid.
This could lead to one partner feeling like they are paying too much or not enough, which could cause tension in the relationship.
3. Different spending and saving habits
It is also important for both partners to be on the same page when it comes to budgeting and saving money. If one partner is more frugal than the other, it could lead to disagreements about how money should be spent or saved.
This could create a rift between them if they don’t agree on how their finances should be managed.
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. And money problems don’t always end when you split up. Sometimes wives try to lay claim to their husband’s 401k years after a divorce!
Talk about money now to set yourself up for success in the future. It’s the best thing you can do for your relationship.