From figuring out who pays on a first date to setting a wedding date, the way you handle money in a relationship changes over time. And no two couples split the bills or manage their accounts in exactly the same way.
So I asked the TheNews.Top Community to share what works for them when it comes to managing finances with their partner. And the responses were full of practical tips for dealing with your cash as a couple.
What works in one relationship might not work in yours, but even just seeing how other couples manage money might inspire you and your S.O. to fine-tune your system.
Here’s what people had to say:
1. If there’s a difference in your incomes, you don’t have to split the bills 50/50.
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“The way we manage shared expenses has changed in the 12 years we’ve been together. One thing that hasn’t changed is that we maintain separate checking accounts. Initially, while still in school and making less money, we split necessary expenses right down the middle (rent, utilities, groceries) from our separate accounts and used those accounts to buy our own discretionary things.
Now, my spouse makes significantly more money than me in his field. We still split rent down the middle, but all other expenses and utilities tilt with him paying a bit more. We share two credit cards — for the points — for most expenses, and each month we split paying those off (him to me) 60/40 or 70/30. We’re both still able to save too.”
2. And if splitting every bill isn’t your thing, you could try taking turns paying.
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“My boyfriend and I are both in our early twenties, in college, and have been together one and a half years. We make it a priority to switch off when paying. Sometimes I pay, sometimes he pays; he pays for dinner, I do the tip (or reversed); or we split the bill.”
“Dating for a year and living together for six months! For things like food (groceries/takeout/etc.) we typically take turns paying. Or if one of us buys coffee in the morning, the other will pay for snacks in the afternoon kind of thing. As far as rent, student loans, car payments, etc. we always handle those on our own. We do check in with each other and if money is tight, we help each other out and pay each other back after the next paycheck. Communication is key people!!!
Don’t be afraid to tell your partner if you need help. If you communicate and hold each other accountable, money doesn’t need to be an issue!“
3. Opening a joint account before you get married can be a good way to make sure you’re financially compatible.
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“For a long time, we balanced things out. If I paid ~$25 for something, he’d pay ~$25 for the next thing.
We actually decided to combine our finances after about six or seven years.
We knew at the time we wanted to get married some day, and we thought it was smarter to combine finances and be sure we were compatible financially before getting married. We’ve been married for three years, together 12 in total.”
BTW, if you’re not sure how to talk about money in your relationship (or what to even talk
about about money) one of these money conversations might be a good jumping off point.
4. Setting up a shared account for any bills you’re splitting can streamline the payment process.
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“We have a shared account for all shared expenses (mortgage, car insurance, groceries, utilities, etc.) that we both transfer a specific amount [into] each paycheck we get.
It makes it easy to make sure we have enough to cover all our bills and necessities, while still having our own spending money.“
5. Shared accounts can also make it easier to be super transparent about where all your money goes.
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“We got together when I was at uni and he was working. He’s eight years older. We actually bought a house together while I was at university 200 miles away as I had inheritance as deposit. So always a joint account. I see personal accounts as against marriage.
We share everything and no secrets about where money is going.“
6. If you do share accounts, it might be helpful to set a spending ground rule, like always talking about purchases over a certain amount.
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“Married eight years this year!
We have a joint account for everything and we consult with each other before we spend $200+ on any one item. We are 100% on the same page regarding saving, investing, etc., so we’ve never once had a fight about money. We also don’t police each other’s nonessential purchases; we trust that neither of us will spend more than is reasonable. I know that our way doesn’t work for everyone, though.”
7. Or you might prefer setting an allowance for personal spending.
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“My partner has always made more than me and we put everything into a joint account.
We used to fight about personal discretionary spending and eventually settled on a strategy where we each get an ‘allowance’ every pay period that we can spend on whatever we want without having to justify it to the other person. I tend to save mine up for months and then splurge; he tends to spend his as he gets it. Sometimes things will be bought with a combo of joint and personal money. Like winter boots are a need that are paid for by the joint account, but if we want fancy expensive ones that exceed a reasonable limit, the balance is paid with personal money. Lots of discussion and communication is key!”
8. Keeping separate accounts can totally work, but communication 👏 is 👏 essential! 👏
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“My husband has his account. I have mine. I pay for only a few small bills (my car payment and my credit cards) and he pays for everything else. (I work part-time; he works full-time). He buys the majority of the groceries, but I help out with that occasionally. He usually puts gas in my car unless he’s not with me when I need it. And whatever money is leftover from bills and needs, we spend on whatever and save. He doesn’t really care what I spend my extra money on since it’s my money.
We never fight about money. We have an understanding about who pays for what. And even if I somehow couldn’t pay my bills, he’d make sure they get taken care of.
Sometimes we do have to talk about where we need to cut back spending when money situations change or when we notice we’ve been spending absentmindedly and get behind.
But we never argue about money. It’s never been a problem in regards to our relationship. I find it’s simpler than having a joint account.”
9. A combination of joint and personal accounts can help you tackle shared bills and goals, without necessarily having to share eeeverything.
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“We’ve been together for almost 10 years now. We have a joint account which both of our paychecks go into; after each pay period we pay bills, our mortgage, get groceries, and other necessities (we still leave money in this account for other joint expenses).
After everything has been paid, we transfer money to our joint savings, our daughter’s college account, and transfer a little to each of our personal checking accounts for personal expenses. We’ve been doing this for years now — works out perfect for us!”
“We’ve been together five years now. We’ve never fought about money.
We have separate accounts for things like presents for each other so we don’t give anything away and any independent purchases. (I buy a lot of Kindle books so I don’t need the judgment from him 😂.) And then a joint account for everything else. We communicate about our spending if it’s something unusual.”
10. If one of you is a spender and the other is a saver, keeping some money separate might work better for you.
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“My husband and I are in our thirties and have been married for almost two years. We have separate checking accounts but have a shared ‘home’ account that all shared bills come out of.
My husband is a gambler and not prone to saving. I tend to save more but have certain things I like to spend money on. I would have a heart attack looking at his personal checking account.
So by just sharing the home account, at least at a minimum, I know our bills are paid. What he does after that is his problem lol.”
11. The way you balance finances in your relationship can change with your circumstances, like if one of you is in school.
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“I graduated last year and during the six months between finishing uni and finding a job, he let me stay with him without contributing anything. Now I’m fully employed. I pay the rent and bills while he finishes his unfunded write-up year of his PhD. He recently got a tutoring gig so has started to pay for his share of the bills when he can.
Once we both have steady incomes and have decided our next steps in our careers, we’ll knuckle down and start a joint account to maximize our efficiency.
We’re also very clear that while we share joint purchases, our money is very much our own and we may buy what we please, whether that’s a fancier coffee, extra treats, clothes, or games, etc. We are also quite frugal as we shop the same way, like the same food brands, and are big on saving the planet, which nearly always means saving money!”
12. Find ways for both partners to be involved in financial decision-making, even if you’re living on a single income (like if one of you becomes a stay-at-home parent, for example).
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“My husband earns all the money for our household because I’m a stay-at-home mum at the moment.
But every week when my husband gets paid, I log into his bank account and transfer all his money into my account, leaving him just enough for his bus fare to work and a small amount extra just in case. Everything else goes in my account and I pay all the bills and buy food, etc.”
13. Making a budget together is a great way to make sure you’re both on the same page.
14. Help each other out, and play to your strengths! If one partner has special knowledge about something, like investing, then they can take the lead in that area.
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“Together 25 years, living together for 18, married for 12.
We never bothered to get a joint bank account. Even though he has always made substantially more than I have, we figure out who pays what bills based on how even the split is. He pays car insurance, water, electric, and telephone. I pay mortgage and internet. Then if one of those changes, we rebalance. We rarely transfer money to each other. Whatever is left after bills are covered is our own concern.
The one exception is our investments.
I manage our joint non-retirement account, and sometimes, if I know he has extra cash sitting in his checking, I ask him to send it to me to invest. If I didn’t, he would lose his money to inflation rather than letting it grow.“
15. Talking about your goals and making a financial plan together can actually be a great way to bond.
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“We’ve been together four years and lived together for three. We have a joint account and split from it everything evenly, which is super easy.
We also sat down and had a big talk about how we plan our future and finances together, which was amazing. We shared our goals and habits, and set up investments and pension. Even though money is complicated, it was great to see we can handle it together 💪🏻.
16. And finally, there’s no right or wrong way to handle money a relationship. The best approach is to just do whatever actually works for you and your partner.
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There is no ‘right’ way to do things; you do what’s best for you and your partner (and don’t let anyone tell you differently). Personally, I would find it hard to have separate accounts once married because I would always try to keep things balanced between the spending (like he pays for dinner one night and I pay for lunch the next day), and that might be a little too exhausting to remember when you are in line to pay for the next thing. But, that’s just me. I know a couple that does that and is perfectly fine. As long as the two of you are on the same page with your finances and debt, then do what works for you.”
Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.
Do you have another tip for managing money as a couple? Share it in the comments!
Now that you’re on a roll, check out more of our
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