I was recently at a dinner with friends when someone asked me “what’s the best way to manage money as a couple?”
The question really got me thinking about the best way to manage this and the truth is, there are several different ways you can manage your money as a couple, it’s just a case of finding the method that suits you both and the stage of your relationship.
When you first start dating someone there is always the awkward stage of who pays for the date. As things progress in the relationship you may split the bill or take turns at paying for joint expenses.
But things become a little more difficult once a couple move in together and decide to share the cost of living, especially if one half of the couple leaves the workforce to raise children or is unemployed for a period of time.
From my discussions with friends and clients I’ve formulated a few of the main money management styles for couples. If you aren’t currently happy with the way you and your partner are handling your financial affairs maybe, it’s time to sit down and discuss the other options available to you.
Individual account and 50/50 split
This is probably the simplest method for handling your financial affairs as a couple. Typically, this involves individual bank accounts and regardless of what each person earns, both people pay the same amount towards any joint expenses 50/50.
Pros: It’s the least complicated way to share the financial burden of day-to-day expenses while maintaining financial independence.
Cons: Splitting the rent and groceries once a month is manageable but splitting school fees and loan repayments and holidays could get tiresome very quickly.
The blended income
This is when two incomes are directed to the one joint bank account and it’s a race to see who can spend the money the fastest!
Just kidding! This method works well for couples who have a mortgage and other large joint expenses. They can simplify their mortgage payments with a single direct debit from the same bank account. Merging tends to happen once couples buy property, get married or have children.
Pros: Easy to set up all bill payments and direct debits from the one account. Easy to have an overview of where you are spending money as a couple.
Cons: Having to explain to your partner why you spent $300 on your wine collection this month!
The merging of your income means that it’s a joint pool of money and your joint budget becomes very important tool to ensure no embarrassment at the checkout when your account is $300 less than expected.
The percentage split
I have had friends who used this method and were happy with how it worked for them. Essentially this means that if one member of the couple earns significantly more than the other then they contribute extra to the joint expenses.
Pros: This method can give the lower income earner less financial pressure when it’s time to pay large bills like rent or mortgage. It stops them from trying to keep up with the higher income earner.
Cons: It can create more financial administration, which can be stressful.
Learning how to communicate and be honest with one another is extremely important in a relationship and when discussing money concerns. Although there may seem to be many ways to manage your finances there is no right way to go about it. It comes down to what you and your partner are comfortable with. If you earn more than your partner and want to contribute to the bills more than let them know. And the same goes if you earn more but don’t want to pay more, they should know that as well. The most important thing is to discuss your feelings, and not bottle it up and become resentful about it.
We have all heard of relationships breaking up due to money issues, and all I can say is by keeping the communication lines open you have a better chance or coming to a joint agreement on how you wish to manage your finances as a couple.
Change is always an option
There is always the option to switch methods if you are finding the 50/50 split of bills isn’t working for your relationship, you can always pay by percentages or merge your finances. However, if you have merged your finances and it makes sense to separate them, then give that a go.
There is no right or wrong way to split your expenses when it comes to being in a relationship. If your honest, flexible and responsible when dealing with your finances as a couple you are more likely to find a system that works for both of you.
If you need help with your relationship finances, give us a call on 9232 6800. We’re always here to help.