17: How to share expenses in a relationship

Relationships. We are all in one, whether it be with a significant other, friends, family or even the relationship we have with ourselves. Some relationships are good, some bad, some are toxic and some are wonderful. Today we are going to discuss relationships and money and how to navigate managing money in a relationship.

1.Communication

It’s no secret that good communication is essential to a successful relationship. We might feel comfortable telling our partner we would like them to leave the toilet seat down but do we feel comfortable telling them what we want when it comes to money.

Setting time aside to discuss money and how you want to manage it with your partner is a great place to start. This sets the stage and creates a great starting point for transparency and trust when it comes to money.

Do you have a plan for who pays the bills?

Does one of you spend more than the other?

Do you have a shared budget or do you keep your money separate?

Does one person end up spending more than the other?

When it comes to relationships and money there is absolutely no right way to do it except for the way that you want to do it.

This is the beauty of adulthood. You and your partner can decide together how you want to mange your money. For example I know some couples who share the same bank account and others who don’t. Both are the best option for that partnership as long as both parties agree and like their reasons.

2.How to split your expenses
There are many options when it comes to splitting your expenses. You can split everything 50/50 or one partner might pay for everything while the other person’s wage is used for saving. But what do you do if you are splitting everything and one person earns more than the other. One way to do it is to work out your total expenses and then each person pays an amount based on the percentage of their wage. For example

Lets say Sarah earns $85000 and Tony earns $64000 that’s a total household income of $149000.

Let’s say their monthly expenses are $4100

The proportions of their household income in percentages are as follows:

Sarah: $85000/$149000 = 57%    Expenses: $4100 X 57%= $2337

Tony: $64000/ $149000 = 43%    Expenses: $4100 X 43%= $1763

When you work it out on a calculator to multiply the percentage put in 4100 x .43 = 1763 this will give you the percentage.

Working out the proportions of the expenses like this makes for an equitable division of expenses rather than the lower income earner paying a much higher percentage of their wage on expenses.

3. Get on the same page with money
This point goes hand in hard with communication. Often one partner can be more proactive or interested in managing the money than the other and that is fine. You don’t have to have equal participation when it come to managing the money but it makes life a lot easier if you can come to a shared agreement with how the money is managed.

For example in our household I manage all the money. Louis has never really been interested in it, where as I am. However, I never just go ahead and make sweeping decisions or do things with our money before discussing it with him first. For example when we bought our second investment property I organised all the finance and purchase. When it comes to investing, in comparison to Louis, once I have made a decision about an investment I like to charge ahead because I have studied it more, where as he tends to be put the breaks on with questioning and analysing, which, I think ultimately makes for a good combo.

What if one person wants to spend more than the other? If you are on the same page with money this is actually no big deal. Let’s say one partner likes to buy coffees everyday while the other thinks it’s a waste of money? Or one likes to spend a lot on shoes. You can choose to spend your own money however you want, and let your partner do the same. This might look like spending or saving your portion after expenses how you please or if you are in a money arrangement where all the money is shared you can decide on an amount you each get weekly to spend as you please.

For example you might allocate $400 each a month as personal spending. Some people are spenders and there is not much you can do to change other peoples’ behaviour. Believe me I would do it if I could. It’s much easier to find solutions like deciding on a personal spend amount and then each person can spend or save it as they please and everyone is happy.

4. Joint accounts: Should you have one?
There is no right answer to this question. You can have all your income going into the one account or you can have separate accounts. Both options work with sharing expenses.

Having all the money in one account certainly make life easier for paying bills and having equal access to the money. However, what if you want to buy your partner a present? You can still have your own accounts that your income goes into and then set up a separate joint account for the expenses. You can each contribute your percentage of the expenses and pay all the bills from that account. What is left over in your own account is yours to spend as you please.   Or you may decide that each person gets to have a personal spend amount each that you mutually agree on and the rest of the funds are used for saving or other shared goals.

Ultimately when it comes to relationships and money there is no one way or the right way. You get to decide with your partner how you want to manage your money.

The barefoot Investor Scott Pape gives some pretty practical advise for managing your money as a couple in his book. He suggests a regular date night to discuss your money. His book is a fabulous starting point for beginners and keeps things really simple. I would highly recommend this book if you want some guidance to work out how you are going to manage your money and what to consider when managing money with your partner.

You can also find out more about organising your bank account in episode 4 Allocate and automate your money.

Did you know there is a Money Mindful Ladies’ club? To join the club and be part of a community of financial femmes who are working towards kicking ass with their money and life you can sign up by clicking below.

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