5 Ways To Split Expenses Without Splitting Up

Living Together Means Splitting Everything

However we may like to think about it, living with a Significant Other is different from living with a roommate. Oftentimes, roommates are brought together by common denominators, such as being students or working jobs with salaries that prevent them from living alone. With a partner, though, we have (or think we have) more say over how things around the house should go—it is not “your room” and “my room,” “your space” and “my space,” everything is “ours.”

Ours. Our couch, our room, our swelling door frames, our sink full of dirty dishes, and our bills. Where with roommates rent and bills are often split evenly, things become more complicated in those “our” scenarios.

Maybe one of you has a higher paying job. Maybe someone stays home with kids while the other works. There are a number of factors that make sharing expenses with a Significant Other much harder than sharing them with a roommate.

Tricky Does Not Mean Disastrous

So while it is true that it is tricky, do not let it be disastrous! Talk with your loved one and come to an arrangement that you both support, then decide not to let finances come between you. Here are five options:

money and expenses
Money matters between couples

 1.   Take turns paying for things as they come up. I think this may be one of the more popular methods simply because nobody wants to have the tough “money talk.” But I also think this is the method that leads to the most issues. In this way, every time you get a bill, one of you randomly offers to pay for it, the idea being that you are both chipping in without obligation, because you want to give your life together a chance. Peachy keen. The problem is, it is all too easy for one party to feel that they are paying for more than their share and start feeling resentful, which is the last thing any relationship needs

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2.   Take turns paying for things. Perhaps the next logical step up from the “grab bag” approach is to take turns bearing the financial burden. This month, you pay rent and bills and let your SO cover groceries and miscellaneous things. Next month, switch roles. This method can be difficult if one or both of you does not make enough to cover an entire month’s worth of expenses. It can be especially difficult if one of you can and the other is barely making it. Be sure the one who is paying the bills for the month is actually able to do so, lest you end up begging from each other.

3.   Split the bills 50/50. This is the easiest option on paper. Both of you pay half of everything and just be done with the mess. What this method does not take into account is the income variation that may well exist between the two of you—just be sure you are both able to bear your half. Remember that fair does not always mean equal. Just as taking turns with the bills does, the 50/50 split will affect more heavily whomever makes less money. So if there is significant variation in your incomes…

broke woman
Don’t be the one counting coins

4.   Income-based bill pay is your friend. If you make $4000 a month and your SO makes $2000, maybe you opt to pay for rent and the more expensive bills and he or she can pick up two or three of the lesser ones. Again, be sure no one feels taken advantage of. Furthermore, if one of you takes incredibly long showers and drives the water bill up, perhaps they should be the one covering the water bill.

5.   Consider having a joint bank account. This can get ugly if the relationship ends, but let us try to think positively. It is not necessary that you pool ALL your earned income together, but maybe you both contribute the same portion of your paycheck to an account each month from which bills are automatically withdrawn. You both pay for half of your life together, but you may not both pay equally for the same things.

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In The End…

There are a dozen different ways to organize a bill paying system. The important thing to remember is that bills are a necessary evil, something you can combat together. Saving toward joint goals is more motivating than bickering about who should pick up the grocery tab, so try to have a supportive, team-oriented attitude. Also keep in mind that you both have your own expenses—student loans or other debt, phone bills, car payments, insurance—which have to also be accounted for.

You can choose to pay for everything together, as with a joint account, to pay for only bills which you share and pay for your own expenses separately, or to pay for things based on income. Choose what makes you both most comfortable. Wouldn’t you rather argue about where to go to dinner than who’s going to pay for it?

Claudette P. Esterine blog
Katelyn Roth

Katelyn Roth is a student the Pittsburgh State University where she is pursuing a Masters in Poetry. She also teaches freshman composition and has served on the staff of the campus literary magazine for several years.  Katelyn resides in Pittsburg with her boyfriend and their husky mix, Inara. Check out her most recent post, “10 Crazy Easy Way To Wellness,” and Subscribe to receive updates of her articles and that of the other Contributors.

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27 thoughts on “5 Ways To Split Expenses Without Splitting Up

  1. […] have talked about money, finances, relationships and even sex generally and sex in the context of those who sell it. Depending on […]

  2. This is a great tips, my hubby and I Living together just a month ago, this is great to read. Thank for the helpful tips.

    1. Ms Claudette

      Oh, congratulations!!! You are most welcome…it’s our gift to you both. How’s that? 🙂

  3. […] her most recent article, “5 Ways To Split Expenses Without Splitting Up,” and Subscribe to receive daily email updates when she and other Contributors post on this […]

  4. We moved in together the day after we got married. Makes life a lot simpler. What was mine was hers and vice-versa. I think though for people who are living together its a good suggestion to split bills according to income and to take turns paying for things as they come up. I’m not sure I’d have a joint bank account though.

    1. Ms Claudette

      No joint account if you are not married? Is that what you are saying? Every couple will have to find the method or mix methods that works for them. Thanks for joining the conversation! 🙂

  5. This has been a huge issue with my fiance and I. I make a lot more money than he does and I am paying all the bills and he ends up with the extra money. I feel resentful sometimes. But we have been discussing the financial issues and trying to come up with a plan that fits both of our needs.

    1. Ms Claudette

      Oh Jennifer, I am sorry that you guys are going through this, however, I am heartened that you were able to talk about it. I know a few people going through this situation and having “the talk.” I don’t offer opinions if not asked but here goes – you cannot pay ALL the bills. Even just from the point of feeling responsible, self regard, etc your partner needs this. Not take away his extra from him but he must contribute to the household – even a bag of grocery! Sorry for butting in. 🙂

  6. […] The end of a long, peaceful and restful Labour Day weekend and every minute of it was enjoyed and savoured – at least in my household of one. One of the many things that was accomplished was simply relaxing. Two days and minimal ‘work’ was done here, aside from posting one article a day, including yesterday’s, Katelyn Roth’s on “5 Ways To Split Expenses Without Splitting Up.” […]

  7. My husband gives all his income to me. It’s always been like that since we got married.

    1. Ms Claudette

      I know another lady – several in fact – but one who is currently in my life who has that same arrangement and it works well for them as well. 🙂

  8. great suggestion. I absolutely love this article. Husband and wife need to support each other and learn how to spend money wisely

    1. Ms Claudette

      Thank you and we could not agree with you more! 🙂

  9. Elizabeth O.

    I think it’s good to not make money an issue since it’s something that you both can earn. You’re right taking turns is good and so does having a joint account.

    1. Ms Claudette

      Money becomes and issue when there is not equity in how its spent in the home. Yes, both these suggestions can help solving the challenge. 🙂

  10. These are some great suggestions! People always bug my hubby and I because we do have a joint account, but we also have our own money as well! It just works for us! No having to ask for permission for things.

    1. Ms Claudette

      Exactly! I know couples where one is wearing designer clothes while the other is asking other people for money! 🙁

  11. My husband and I have had more than one argument over finances. I think it may be the number one reason relationships don’t last. It is very important that you work together.

    1. Ms Claudette

      Indeed it is very important to work and budget together. I feel you might be right that it is the #one issue for couples.

  12. Great suggestions I think for younger couples starting out for sure. My daughter may be moving in with her boyfriend next year and they are already thinking ahead about these matters. I will show them your blog post!

    1. Ms Claudette

      Oh, thank you and I do hope it gives them some food for thought. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  13. Those are good suggestions on how to build a life together when living in the same house.

    1. Ms Claudette

      Yes, our Katelyn is one smart young woman. 🙂

  14. Even though we’re married, we still keep some of our finances separate. Since we got married later in life, this works best for us. I think you have to do whatever works for you as a couple.

    1. Ms Claudette

      I agree that you have to do what is best for the couple. However, I agree with Katelyn’s point about expenses being split according to income, that is the most “fair” split that I see.

  15. Robin Rue (@massholemommy)

    When my ex husband and I got divorced, splitting the money was tough. But that was because we had a house and kids.

    1. Ms Claudette

      Yes, I know exactly what you mean about splitting jointly owned property. Not just the monetary value but the emotional ones as well. 🙁

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