Money is a feminist issue — and yet, women are still reluctant to talk about it. According to a recent Bustle survey of more than 1,000 Millennial women, more than 50 percent of people said they never discuss personal finances with friends, even though 28 percent reported feeling stressed out about money every single day. Bustle's Get Money series gets real about what Millennial women are doing with their money, and why — because managing your finances should feel empowering, not intimidating.
Money is a tricky subject for any couple. Whether you make exactly the same amount or one of you makes significantly more than the other, money will inevitably become an issue at some point in a relationship. Maybe you really believe in buying organic food, but your partner is trying to save money. Or maybe your partner has a thing for expensive shoes and you’d really prefer they’d put that money away for the vacation you’ve been planning. But regardless of your differences of perspective when it comes to money, one of the first things you’re going to have to figure out once you move in together is how to split your household expenses.
You’ve probably had some practice at this because at some point in your adult life, you’ve lived with roommates. But one thing I learned after transitioning from living with my partner plus roommates to it being just the two of us is that the systems don’t always keep working once you’ve made that shift. That’s because it’s a lot easier to keep the emotional part of things out of the equation when you’re dealing with roommates but when it comes to your romantic partner? Not so much.
1Each Take On Specific Expenses
“Some couples take on different elements of the household,” McCurdy tells Bustle. “As new debt accrues, one partner or the other agrees to take responsibility for paying the bill.”
So, for example, you handle the rent and your significant other pays for utilities and groceries. Or they pay for all meals out, and you pay for all meals in. Just make sure you've calculated how much each one is and are willing to check back regularly to make sure your system is still working for both of you.
2Split It By Percentage
If there’s a big difference between what you’re making and what your partner’s making — or vice versa — you might want to consider splitting your joint costs by percent so that the impact of the amount spent is similar for both of you.
First, determine which of your expenses are going to be covered this way. Then, calculate your total joint income. Figure out what percentage of your joint income each of your incomes is, and then agree on an amount to set aside each month for expenses. You can use this system for one big joint expense — like rent — or for a variety of expenses, depending on how much independence you want to keep from your partner.
3Contribute To A Joint Bank Account
Regardless of the system you choose, opening a joint bank account is an easy way of keeping track of your joint money. Definitely consider keeping your own account as well for personal stuff
“Another common way to split expenses is to have a common account into which each side contributes a set amount,” McCurdy says. “This amount might be different if incomes are different. From this account the regular monthly bills are paid, anything extra rolls over. The excess at the end of the year is spent on something fun for the two of you to do.”
If you make a similar amount of money — or you just like the idea of keeping things very even — you can decide to go 50/50 on all joint expenses. It’s also easier, math-wise, than some of the other options here. However, if there is a big earning disparity between you and your partner, there’s also the possibility of resentment on the part of the person who earns less.
5Track Spending On An App
There are apps that can help you track your joint expenses — my significant other and I used Splitwise for a really long time. If you’re the type who likes to keep track of everything and who really cares about fairness, it’s a great way to make sure that both of your spending is balanced. Set up a time once a week to balance it out. You can even Venmo each other what you owe!
6Decide Who’s Going To Do What
In some couples, there’s a person who’s down to do the money management and a person who’s cool with just knowing that it’s being taken care of. That’s totally fine to split the labor that way! Just make sure to talk it out so that there’s no resentment about doing more or less.
And, of course, there’s always the option of just not giving a f*ck. Like, you each do you. But I’d say two things about this approach: 1) if that’s how you feel, the relationship may not be that serious and, 2) it can only last so long.
Ultimately, the most important thing to remember when you’re figuring out how to split household expenses with your significant other is that you have to talk about it. Money is a tricky enough as it is, and you’re going to have to deal with it whether or not you talk about it — trust me. Why make life harder for yourself?
Check out the “Get Money” stream in the Bustle App for more tips and tricks on how to save and spend your money.