If you decide it's time to move in or even marry your significant other, think about following these ground rules for managing money. This can help keep your relationship happy and healthy.

So, things are getting serious?


Whether you’ve decided to move in with your boyfriend or girlfriend, planning a wedding, or recently tied the knot, it’s time to talk about money.

Sexy, huh?

Maybe not. But if you don’t figure out a system for managing money together as a couple and splitting expenses with your spouse/partner fairly, then sexy time is going to be the last thing on either of your minds.

Personal finance is personal, and there are few places that’s more apparent than when it comes to how couples split joint expenses.

So know this: There’s no right or wrong way to split expenses with your partner. The key thing is to actually talk about money with your partner (here’s how).

Once you’ve done that, you can choose one of these common scenarios to split expenses (or make your own):

Separate but equal

Most common, unmarried (and many married) couples keep separate bank accounts and credit cards but split the big household expenses, like rent and utilities, equally. One partner may pay out of pocket for everything and then collect a check from the other, or each partner may pay different bills that can be reconciled once a month.

Here’s a useful spreadsheet that can help you track those joint expenses.

The free-for-all (not recommended)

It may be OK if one person pays the rent while the other person pays the electric, cable and water bills…as long as you track how much each partner is contributing and figure out a way to reconcile it.

Too often, one person will pay a big bill like the rent or mortgage while the other is expected to pick up everything else. Depending on how this shakes out, one partner may end up paying a lot more each month. This may be OK—for example, if one of you earns significantly more—as long as you talk about it and are both OK with the arrangement.

Proportional to income

If one partner earns significantly more than the other, you face a difficult decision:

Should the higher earner pay a larger percent of the monthly expenses?

Again, it’s personal, but here’s a suggestion. If your lifestyle together is modest—that is, it doesn’t strain the income of whoever earns less—a more equal approach might be fine. But if the higher earner has more expensive tastes—for example, she wants to live in a bigger home or dine out more often—then it might be time for her to kick in more than a 50% share.

The dos and don’ts of splitting finances before you’re married

Marriage provides certain legal and financial safeguards for both couples. Obviously, however, many couples are managing a joint budget without being married. So here are some things to watch out for.

DON’T share assets

Do not buy anything together. That goes for houses, cars, and furniture, and especially checking accounts. Yes, you love him or her. But if things go sour, each takes their own.

DON’T share debts

As tempting as it often is, I would recommend that you don’t cosign a loan for your partner.

Whether you stay together or not, if he or she defaults, you either pay up or lose your credit. Cosigners should be family members. End of story.

DO share expenses

Avoid the “free-for-all” approach to budgeting that I mentioned above. Before you move in, decide whether you will share expenses fifty-fifty or proportionately based upon salary. You may consider opening a joint checking account just for paying expenses. This should only be for bills and groceries.

DO plan for the worst

Although unlikely, consider the possibility that one of you could die. You’ll need to choose beneficiaries for everything from insurance policies to retirement plans.

What about health care proxies?

Do you want to be the ones to make health care decisions for each other if you should become incapacitated?

Living together can be an exciting step in any relationship, but follow these steps to protect your finances first. If you don’t, without the legal protection of marriage, you’ll be on your own in more ways than one if things don’t work out.

Read more: How to manage money before marriage with your boyfriend or girlfriend

What about when you are married?

Your financial situation legally changes when you get married.

With few exceptions, there is no longer “mine and yours,” only ours. This is why wealthy people make their betrothed sign prenuptial agreements; it’s a legal way of saying “some of what’s mine is still mine.”

So whether or not you merge bank accounts or keep them separate, understand that marriage merges your money in the eyes of the law. Many couples still keep their own accounts for making small guilt-free purchases or buying gifts, but the more you think of your marital finances as one instead of two, the less problems you’ll have.

Related: How to merge bank accounts after marriage


Finances for couples, married or not, need to be discussed. It’s best to have a plan in place. A plan can help keep your relationship happy and healthy and lets you spend your time thinking happy thoughts about your significant other instead of being bitter about your finances.

What about you? How do you split expenses with your partner or spouse?

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About the author

David Weliver
Total Articles: 353
David Weliver is the founder of Money Under 30. He's a cited authority on personal finance and the unique money issues he faced during his first two decades as an adult. He lives in Maine with his wife and two children.

Article comments

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Withheld says:

Ive been married 6months. My husband is earns 40K per month (in our local currency) while i earn 7K. When we got married, he had a mortgage, 2 credit cards, 1 personal loan over 250K, cable, internet 1 advance over 70K, and he receives rent worth over 6K while i just had 1 loan less than 20K left to be paid. We are married in community of property (what his is ours and whats mine is ours). He has gaven me one of cars, and both cars are over 10yrs old. He owns both cars and does owe them. Earlier this year my husband received a payout and managed to pay out his advanvce and my loan.

How we split our money, he pays mortgage, utilities, im under his medical insurance, he pays both our insurances. While i pay for groceries of over 2K and the maid which is 1K, and we each give our moms 500.

Recently he asked me to take out a car loan as our cars are starting to give us issues. The monthly repayments are 2.3K which he says he will credit my account each month. I trust that he will. This is basically 60% of my income, and i am left with about 2.5K, while is is left over with about 15K. He pays on all our dates and he will pay for all car repairs, mini excusions etc. No doubt my husband takes care of me and spoilts me but i feel i feel my income is over committed to do most of the stuff i want to do like home improvements. I moved into his house from my moms house so i basically came with a bag full of clothes – and that it. While he has has all this furniture, linen, curtains, his own clothes etc for over 10yrs. Im trying to make significant home inprovements but with my 2.5 spending money i can only do so much. I do not want to seem ungrateful for everything my husband contributes to our home. But what i am left with is simply not enough. He doesnt shop for himself at all, but buys tools and other DIY equipment. And will occasionaly surprise me with gifts i cannot afford him. So how do ask for money to better improve our day to day living like new clothes (he owns only 1 decent pair of sneakers), new furniture. Just giving a feminine and homey touch to our home. Other than that, we are happy and look forward to trying for a baby in a few months.

Carol says:

You are in a much better situation than I am right now. I am seriously considering divorce right about now. I have been married for almost 18 years, I have 4 children which 3 will be in high school this year. I use to handled our finances for about 10-12 years and then my husband had the “great idea” to close our joint account and open separate accounts. I didn’t think much of it then as he gave a good reason for it. He wanted to see if he would be able to safe money by having separate accounts. I didn’t think much of it then as I asked for access to his account online. I was able to transfer money into my account when paying bills, I just had to tell him how much I was taking out. Well then 2 years ago, we threw my daughter her big Quinceanera in a banquet hall and all of the bells and whistles. The summer before the big party we both decided that I should quit my job, I was involved in car accident about 8 months prior and was getting a big settlement and my job was shifting in different directions. I quit my job and received the settlement money (20K). I told him that I wanted to go to the hall and pay it in full to get it over with but he convinced me to hold off as we might need the money with me not working. When the b-day go closer I realized that I still owed 4k and the hall would cancel if I didn’t pay before the big day. I asked him for the money since he had the money (his car was stolen and he received a settlement from our insurance) and he simply said no. The party was my idea, we argued as he had not spent one cent. He told me that he was calling the bank to take the online access from me. When I heard that I right away grabbed my phone, logged in to his bank account and transferred 2K to my account, which I took to the hall the next day. Since then, I have to access to his bank account. We have argued in the past about it and he makes promised but nothing changes. We even opened a joint checking account about 6 months ago but also kept our separate accounts but he never did deposit as he said he would. He pays for the mortgage, and the cable. I pay for everything else. Car payment, utilities, car insurance, credit card debt. (he occasionally pays for the water or electric bill). He claims that my credit card debt is my debt, even though I have used the credit cards mainly for my kids, buying groceries, shoes, clothes, etc…. I approached him tonight as I have just been hearing many different stories lately and I feel like they are red flags. I know that the mortgage is maybe 2 of his paychecks, I don’t know what he does with the other 2. He claims that he spends them on us but there is no way. I usually pay bills semi-monthly when I get paid and do some grocery shopping, the other 2 weeks he will give me cash or his card but I usually limit my self, I don’t feel the freedom to spend the money because it’s his. When I get home the first thing that comes out of his mouth is “how much did you spend?”. I asked him to print out the last 6 bank statements for me to see where the money is going and he refuses. He tells me that he is not giving me the pleasure of doing what I ask of him. I told him that if he has nothing to hide then what is the big deal. I told him that I would file for divorce if he want’s to continue having separate accounts and he pretty much said he doesn’t care, he is not changing the accounts nor adding me to his. I don’t know what to do anymore. I know he is saving money. He came with a $500 phone last week that he was supposedly going to re-sale and magically he broke the charge port on his other phone and can’t find the portable charger. “If there is no money, how did you manage to buy a $500 phone”. I felt good to let it out. Thanks for your time.

Elizabeth says:

My husband and I split everything 50/50 before we got married, including trips and the funds needed to buy our home. This despite the fact that I earned a bit more and had some family money as well.

But once we were married we considered everything joint (even though retirement accounts are still separate and we have different bank accounts due to our employers requiring direct deposit into different banks). All our bills are paid out of one bank account, and we make joint goals and make spending plans together. I can’t really understand how couples do it differently. You may think things are separate, but if you ever divorce you’ll realize that legally that’s not the case. Plus what are you going to do if one racks up debt or saves less than the other – have separate vacations, separate retirements?

Jen says:

My boyfriend and I discussed our finances before we moved in together (renting for now). We decided to split rent and utilities 50/50 even though I bring home more net pay than he does. We’re responsible for our own personal bills, and we take turns paying for food, toiletries, etc. If he’s short or I’m paying the groceries more often he usually makes up for it. The most important thing is that we discuss everything and are open with each other about how we spend/save our money. I’m also a lot more financial savvy than he is so he pays me half of the bills for me to pay 100%. We have talked about once we are married to have a joint account, but still have separate accounts for gifts, personal spending, etc. We plan to invest together and make decisions together even though I’m the financial guru.

welf says:

We use an app called splitwise to track all expenses. This allows us to keep track of how much each one of us is paying for. We typically keep it +-100$ on either side.

Mike says:

Married since May 2015 my wife and I have separate checking accounts. My paycheck goes to my account, and her paycheck goes to her account (at the same bank). If one or the other of us need money to cover a bill, we transfer money from one checking to the other, as needed. We also have a bunch of joint savings accounts to save for big expenses like a house or vacation, and more accounts to save for unexpected expenses like house and car repairs, and even more accounts to save as “sinking funds” to cover big annual or bi-annual bills like car insurance, home insurance, and property taxes.

We have budget meetings at the beginning of each month to review how we did the previous month, and to setup a budget for the coming month. It works well for both of us, and the monthly budget meetings keep the lines of communication open.

Marital Bliss 🙂

Chris says:

So most people argue about money it seems..

I earn £1100 a month, missus gets (note, not earns, gets) child benefit and tax credits, disability living allowance for her son, carers for looking after her son and maintainence from her sons dad. This amounts to approx £1000 a month. I pay rent and council tax £500 a month, running the car, approx £200 a month plus a garage at £50 a month and debts which is approx £50 a month. I also buy my own lunch food which no mater how I do it whether buy it daily or weekly works out to about £80 a month.. I’m usually left with approx £200 a month spare that is used when missus runs out of money or has a bill to pay.

The missus pays for food, kids clothes, TV,/telephone and utilities.. However she has no clue how to manage money and is paid weekly but knows how to spend it whereas I’m paid monthly so I budget monthly..

We argue about everything money, how I should contribute more with bills, kids stuff, shopping etc yet when I actually work it out I usually only really have £50 a month to myself as there are always things that need to be bought come payday (my clothes, car repairs etc etc). I already work 50-60 hours a week so its difficult to get another job and even if I did I would end up working 16-18hour days..

Missus does not work because working around kids who are at school..

Jack says:

Married for 10 yrs..I have been paying my sons
Medical since he was born in 2009
Wife agreed to have 2nd kid only if I take care of expenses which I agreed .. U have to have sibling for 1st and it is more than money
I bought house ans she does not want to pay any mortgage .. Both names are on mortgage ..she works and we split tax return 33 to 67 ..
II split grocery what she brings .. I pay utilities
And don’t ask to split –I don’t like putting spreadsheet in family .. Life is more than money right
Whenever I ask to pay some mortgage she fights and tells to give her money back what she paid me
During initial marriage days ..
I pay 2500 mortgage .. 500 utilities and I don’t split
She pays 250 medical for me and my son and i pay her back every month
She also made me pay for her parents flight to come to US so they can take care of baby .. She draws line on finance and does not carry emotions after we had
Second child .. I earn more but there is no participation
To raise family .. She puts all her money to a investment house she is buying .. I tell her pay basic needs and she says I ca keep house and continues not
To pay any share towards mortgage
I also bring grocery milk and take care of entire kids
Extracurricular activities cost .. She says she will pay
But never comes forward to take initiative ..
Her idea is to make me spend and then when I ask share she says I don’t need it
Truth be told she did help while we bought first house but I told her if I ever sell she can have all the money she paid
What I am today is due to my hard work
I studied . I came to US alone .. And have bought house and car .. She joined later after we got married
Her parents support her to keep finance separate and do not be sentimental … They always interfere in her finance … Life is short to draw line but she just does not understand me deep enough

Rick Rollins says:

This is a good question. Maybe you could refinance once you become married and move in together. That way both names are on the deed and both families are taken care of.

HW62 says:

My girlfriend has refinanced her house. After getting married I am planning to sell mine to pay off debt. When I move in with her how do we share the mortgage note? We have talked about a prenup so her and her kids are protected. If I spend the next 15 years helping pay the mortgage I beleave I or my kids should benifet from my part if the married ends or she passes before me. Is there a standard document that will help us twith this issue?

John C says:

This is often a sore spot for us.
We’ve been dating for 3 years, and it’s very likely we’ll get married.

She’s in school (for another 3 years), but has enough savings/help from parents/loans to cover half of all expenses if needed.
I’m working full time and am making enough to pay all expenses with a good amount left over.

I pay about 75% of rent (her parents pay 25%). We keep our spending pretty low, but at the end of the month, we tally up all shared expenses, and whoever spent less has to pay the person who spent more to equal out the spending (I don’t count 10-20% of shared expenses). I plan on going to a shared card, though.

Is it fair for me to ask her to cover 30-40% when she’s not making any income and I can afford to cover it? This does cause her some anxiety as her loan money starts to dwindle.

My justifications are:
– If I paid for everything (shared), she would certainly spend more of her personal money on things she didn’t need
– If we did separate, it wouldn’t be fair for me to have carried the entire financial burden
– The money I’m saving now will probably end up paying for her loans and the down payment on our house
– I cover the majority of the chores, too

On an unrelated note, we do plan on going about 80-90% shared when we do get married.
(So we would take 80% of our total income, then if she earned 60% of the total and I earned 40%, she’d cover 60% of the 80%, and I’d cover 40%. Once we have kids, one of us may be stay-at-home, so we’d have to revisit this)

k8ty says:

I think one of the most important factors left out of this equation is who is doing the following:
cooking & menu planning
grocery shopping
bookkeeping for joint accounts
yard maintenance

Are these things also being taken care of 50-50 or a percentage split dependent on income?
In the event of death or split, is the jointly owned home of the living together couple going to the surviving partner?

TRACY says:

My husband and I had a similar experience when we first moved in together. I make about 30% more than he does and he came into the marraige with many loans and a big chunk of child support. Combining our accounts became a nightmare and only lasted a year. I became a little uneasy with me having a ton of disposable income before we joined households and felt I was getting the short end of the deal. I understood he could not afford to pay 50% of our expenses so what we decided to do was add them all up and he would pay things that equalled about 35-40%. He pays the mortgage and car insurance…and all his personal bills (support – car payment, loans), and I pay all of mine and the utilities and food. This was the best option for us. Now, I don’t have to worry about what he’s buying all the time, and I can still save money. It’s not as much as I was before, but I feel better about the whole thing now. SEPARATE YOUR MONEY!

Liz says:

So – my boyfriend and I moved in together recently. We used to have a long distance relationship while I was wrapping up my bachelor’s but once I graduated I moved out to Hawaii where he is stationed. Fortunately I was able to transfer my job so I have been employed since I moved out here…..however money is quickly becoming an issue between us.

Ideally, he would prefer that we split our expenses 50/50. I would love to split everything 50/50 if we made the same amount of money but right now he’s banking twice as much as I do. We opened a joint checking account for rent/groceries/cable/electricity and other miscellaneous items that would pertain to the BOTH of us.

Initially we decided to both deposit $1,000 into our joint account monthly — turns out 2k doesn’t cover our months expenses so we revisited our monthly contribution. Since $1,000 is 40% of my monthly salary, I asked if he could put 40% of his —- his response: “Then I would be putting in too much” — so he decided to deposit $1,400 monthly — so even though he makes 51% more than me, he contribues 11% LESS than I do. I’ve tried bringing it up again but it doesn’t seem he is willing to budge.

I once asked him for cash for the laundry since I didn’t have any on me — $20. Had it been the other way around I would have given it to him and wouldn’t have thought twice about it however the next morning I saw he had taken it out of our joint account. $20 when he’s making twice as much? — I don’t really care about the $20 withdrawal, that’s irrelevant. The principle though….it just bugs me.

After reading a few comments I added our total monthly income and he makes 66% of our total income, whereas I make 34% — if he can’t put in 40% now, I HIGHLY doubt he would even consider putting in 66% — which I think it’s too much anyway.

What happened to the guy that said he’d take care of me? I mean I really don’t want someone to support me, but something just doesn’t feel right about this and I don’t know what to do about it. I have a good amount of student loans to pay off — part of me wishes he’d take that into consideration since he would always say how he would help me pay them off (I never asked nor did I expect him to do that nor did I really want him to do that) – the principle is what mattered to me — but that is all gone and out the window……now I’m in Hawaii where my salary is less than it would be in NYC and I feel like an ass for believing he was being genuine.

I’d appreciate some help and advice.

Note: I do not want him to pay for EVERYTHING, I just want both of us to contribute 40%. Meanwhile he has his military buddies telling him how now that I’ve moved out here I’m going to suck his bank account dry like a large portion of military wives/girlfriends. What do I do?

Victor Stimans says:

When splitting expenses with your significant other, the most fair split is based on a percentage of earnings as a whole.

if you only make 40% of the total net income of the household then you only owe 40 cents on every dollar of expenses.

you also have to understand that his obligation then would only be 60% of the “house” bills. If you go out and buy $600.00 shoes, he is not obligate to pay any part of that expense.

Your school loans are also “not” his obligation. You have those expenses based on your life and not your life with him.

if this guy is already squawking about the split of expenses before you are even married, i’m sorry to say i don’t have, or hold, much hope that expenses won’t be a large source of issues within your relationship and your eventual marriage.

Celene says:

If her husband made promises to her, he should keep them. My husband is also in the military and make a majority of the money. You moved your whole life to be with him, he needs to do his part and provide like a husband should. It is time to start telling him you can’t afford it. That is your husband…he asked to marry you, so stop treating him like a glorified boyfriend. You can call his commanding officer and say he is not taking care of his financial responsibilities…also, his BAH and BAS should be taking care of most the bills. Don’t acept any less..the only things you should be paying towards is car and insurance unless he pays child support which my husbad does. I consider some, but the overpaying, I refuse to cover. Stop thinking you are being money hungry or greedy when you expect your husband to provide for you. That is his job…especially if you moved your whole life for him.

Ebony says:

Me and my boyfriend arent married yet. but if we were it would still be like this:

We pay for our own car and phone
He will pay the apartment rent.
I will pay for utilities and food.

Stuff like random items for the house, going out and doing stuff, we will take turns paying for.

Jess says:

I’ve been w my fiancé for about a year and a half…I’m his longest relationship, first girl he’s lived with, he’s almost 5 yrs younger than me. We just fought about money. While he does pay for me when we go out (subway, restaurant, snack at gas station), we split rent and utilities, he pays cable (we just got it-cuz he just HAD to have Internet and sportscenter!), and then we each pay our own bills (credit cards-we each have our own, cell phone, car insurance, etc). If we actually make it to the grocery store, he usually pays. He makes more than me (prob about $350 more per week-I only bring home $400 a week). I have issues because he still thinks in terms of my money/his money. I try my best to split everything, but have been in a hole I can’t seem to climb out of. Am I wrong to think my man should want to take care of me? Or at least help without making me feel worse than I already do? I love him, and want to get married, but need some financial advice so we don’t fail before we even start. I don’t want him to resent me, but feel like we are glorified roommates…maybe I’m old fashioned thinking the man should provide if he can? I work 40 hrs a week, as does he…but he feels I need to make more money(I do! I have a degree and make $13.50 an hour!). Please help me make this work!

jack says:

Hi, Been dating this girl for over a year an a half. I was going thru a divorce at the time. we are both in are 60’s. We talked about moving in. Months later she sold her home and both this very nice Town Home. I had no say so it in. Months later, she start talking about the money aspect of moving in. She is self employed, doesn’t make much, about $25K, but has lots of cash. She been married 3 times. I been married once, for 34 yrs. It was sad. Anyway, she wanted me to pay for 80% of all expenses, (Mortgage, hoa, etc, etc) Also, since she self employed I would put her on my health ins, and pay it. Saves her close to $500 a month. Because I always been a home owner, I offered to be an owner. (dumb I know) She put down a substantial Amount, $130,000. So she wanted me to come up with $65K plus those expenses. 6 months later in March, (Oh I make 100K) All IT personnel found out we will be shipped out to a 3rd party O/S company. We have no choice. If we refuse, it would be considered as if we quit. No servance, no unemployment. Also, the new company will not gaurantee employment over 6 mos, and we know they will word the contract such that they will not be liable for unemployment. Stinks!!!

So I told her in March , that I can not commit that $65K, as I might need that. She was furious, and wants to break up. Says her cash flow is poor and needs this. I don’t understand, She would be saving $20,000 a year by me just paying the 80%, and her health ins. To me, to be with your love, and save $20,000 Sounds great to me, but she wants both. I obviously, save nothing, but of course be with the one I love, now I am think, it’s not love for her, it’s all about the money, and she playing hardball. This doesn’t sound like love to me. Oh see also says I am the recepien of all her furnishing Comments?

Sally says:

I am married. I owned my house with no mortgage when we married last year.

My husband is not paying any rent. I feel where else could he live rent free.

He expects (and I do) me to split all utilities and food. Entertainment too.

right now my roof is leaking and I am afraid to ask him to help me with cost. because of his temper and because I think he will never agree.

He owns a condo which he is renting out. he does not share that income with me.

I have considerably more assets than he does. He is retired and I am working full time. I want to retire. I am workign on that.

Hw will say that because I do not have a mortgage to pay, it is not costing me any extra for him to live here. I fell this is very very unfair.

He is paying his alcoholic son’s rent, food everything

I know ……. WHAT!!!!

Basically I want to recieve some rent money and I want him to have no claim on my assets. as a single parent I brought my daughers up very frugallly,,,they went without bigtime. They can at least get something when I am gone.

He spent his BIG salary on his ex wife (gave her the house) and gave property to both his daughters. Where do I fit in? to provide a roof over his head because he was so unsaving and spendy?

I think if we got a place together that would fix things but in the meantime something is very wrong with this picture in my mind…. or am I way out in left field?

He is a good person but I think the alcoholism in his family has triggered some very strange $ behaviors in him. I think HE SHOULD OFFER TO PAY RENT. He should be doing it without me having to ask. OMG

Kelly says:

Did you sign a pre-nup before getting married? Also, if you don’t want him to have any claim to your assets, you may want to consult an attorney and create a trust. Without a trust, if you die before your husband, most state laws dictate that all your assets go to your husband, which could mean that your own daughters receive nothing. Good luck.

Totally Lost says:

I am feeling so bad after reading all this. I have the mortgage, had it before I met my boyfriend. We both have grown children, mid 50s couple and everything is on me! He makes good money, I think because won’t disclose that to me and we have been together for almost 5 years. My son lives there with his gf and baby, chips in $ 200 to 350 a month, sometimes. Boyfriend picks up the feed bill for my horses and hay, which is about $ 380 a month. Now the problem: Mortgage 1300, Electric 175 TV 125 and groceries which I pay for all plus any bills that are mine over and above, car insurance, gas, food out, what ever I feel we need. I have a two car garage and between the two of them my car has never been in the garage, ever! Feel like I have part use and pay just about all. If I complain I am told to ask my son for more money or it’s not his house. It’s mine, an investment for me, contrary to popular belief considering property is down the tubes and I am just renting it from the mortgage company. I am tired and don’t feel like the burden of paying everything should be on me.

Victor Stimans says:

we split our bills based on monthly income split. Income in May pays for June’s bills. We square up every 2 weeks when my wife gets paid.

Barbara says:

My Finance and I have been living together for 4 years. He moved in with me to my house. He is a builder and do to the economy is currently not building. I have two jobs. He is living off of a construction loan and some money from his deceased father. He pays bits and pieces. I always have to ask him to help me pay for the electric or water bill etc. He never wants to sit down and discuss finances. He sold his house and invested in property where now he can’t sell. He does do maintence work around the house. By law what should he being paying me to be fair. My house is currently in Modification. It drives me nuts not knowing from month to month where the money is coming from to pay bills. We live well below our means. He always claims that I have two jobs so I should not have any problem paying bills. My two jobs are part time, because my full time job was outsources to India, and then I got cancer. So all I could do at the time when I got cancer was to get a part time job. Being responsible I knew that wasn’t enough so I picked up another. I feel he should give me “so much” a month so I can count on that income. What is your thought? Desperate.

beachgirl says:

Barbara I feel for you. That is a tough situation that you are in. If he isn’t working then what is he doing to earn money? he can go around looking for free stuff or buy cheap items at thrift stores to sell on eBay or craigslist. You can also cancel the cable/ tv . Get a Roku box & get all the tv you want. There are a lot of free channels or you can pay netflix $8/month. you can also watch tv for free on your computer…projectfreetv.com, hulu,com
you may also look into magicjack to cancel your phone bill. it is a one time yearly charge. you will need a high speed internet for it to work. the cable company will lower your bill if you start canceling services.
heat on 50 -60 degrees & just use a radiant heater (harbor freight sells these & other places under $70) in the room you reside in the most. I hope some of these things give you both ideas. I wish you the best of luck.

Amateur Economist says:

Regarding splitting bills as a % of net income:

It makes sense in a certain way for a husband and wife to split bills in this manner. However, if you look deeper into it, it doesn’t do a good job of distributing the incentives to make more money and get a raise.

For example, we have two earners, Susan and Tom who spend 4,500/month.

Susan nets $60,000 per year.
Tom nets $30,000 per year.

Their monthly breakdown would be:
Susan pays $3,000 per month. She is left with $2,000 per month to spend.
Tom pays $1,500 per month. He is left with $1,000 per month to spend.

This seems fair, as Susan makes double what Tom makes she pays and is left with double what Tom pays and is left with. But let’s see what happens based on two different scenarios:

#1 Susan gets a $10,000 raise (16.67%) in her annual net income. Expenses and Tom’s salary remain constant:

Susan pays $3,150 per month (5% more than before). She is left with $ 2,683.33 per month to spend (34.17% more than before).
Tom pays $1,350 per month (10% less than before). He is left with $1,150.00 per month to spend (15% more than before).

#2 Tom gets a $5,000 raise (16.67%) in his annual net income. Expenses and Susan’s salary remain constant:

Susan pays $2,842.11 per month (5.26% less than before). She is left with $ 2,157.89 per month to spend (7.89%% more than before).
Tom pays $ 1,657.89 per month (10.53% more than before). He is left with $1,258.77 per month to spend (25.88% more than before).

These scenarios show that while a raise for one is essentially a raise for both, the lower earner has less of an incentive to try to get a raise than the higher earner. This makes sense, because the higher earner’s raise is more than likely going to mean more money than would a raise for the lower earner.

Another issue with having a budget like this would be the lower earner being subsidized for larger purchases, introducing moral hazard into the relationship (“I’ll just go ahead and buy a new big screen TV since I’ll only have to pay 1/3 of it!)

The severity of these issues depends on the couple, their financial responsibility and their character (maybe they’ll both want to get a raise or they will consult with their spouse before buying that TV). But judging by some of the issues here on this thread, it looks like some people need to take these issues into consideration.

Shannan says:

At the moment my boyfriend and I split the bills 50/50, but I also pay for most of the groceries which he keeps track of on a spreadsheet. He doesn’t actually pay me back the money for groceries. He makes $80K/yr and I make $26K/yr – He expects me to pay half of ALL the bills including repairs on the house, which I have no ties to. His wife (he’s still technically married), is still on the house. My argument is that I shouldn’t have to pay half for the new roof or having the house tented or for other home repairs because the house is HIS investment. If we broke up I’ve lost all the equity I’ve put into the house. It’s a win, win situation for him and a lose, lose situation for me. I take money from my paycheck every pay period and have it directly deposited into his account. We do not have a joint account. I have my own account and he has his. There is no sharing of money at all. We’ve been together for 5 1/2 years – lived together for 2 and the money situation is not good.

Roody says:

Shannon. Would it be better if you moved out into your own place to get away from the crazy talk of paying into his investment. Or would it have been cheaper over the years to stay with him?

Anonymous says:

Not only are you paying into his investment, but his wife’s. If they ever get divorced she’ll get some of the equity you put in. Roody brings up a good point, it might be better to move out and get your own place and stop paying for all the groceries. If your married boyfriend cannot afford the house on his own, he needs to get out of it instead of having you and/or his wife subsidize it.

At the very least, you should be splitting the bills in proportion to your income; his share should be roughly four times yours.

I dated a married man once and refused to pay a dime until he started divorce proceedings. He is still married (four years later now) and really can’t afford his own life separate from his wife. He was making a lot more money than me and his wife, but because their separation was so painful, he spent a lot of money getting into the bachelor lifestyle, and now he and his wife are broke. I’m very glad I didn’t pay for anything, because it would have made it possible for him to have a girlfriend and a wife.

Had he gotten a divorce and gotten together with me, he would have had a ton of debt and had to pay alimony and child support, in which case I might need to subsidize our new relationship. Which is ridiculous if I had to pay for his mess.

I think you can see where I’m going. If you and your boyfriend can’t come to a more fair situation, get out and put the money into yourself. Heck, you and his wife should get together for drinks, you might become best friends!

Roody says:

Anon, you are a fool (getting together for drinks…lol). But yea, even bring proportions into this situation is a bad mix simply because the guy is still married and all of the monies you’ve put into this will be gone if at worst case, him and his wife were to reconcile. Again, my suggestion is that you get your own place and leave that investment to him and his divorce. I say that because even if you all come to terms to handle the expenses by proportion, you’re still putting into an investment that doesn’t and most likely won’t have your name tied to it. Good luck on your decision miss!

beachgirl says:

5 1/2 years & he isn’t divorced yet & your are helping pay his mortgage? He isn’t committed to you. He is just taking your money & not being fair back. I would move out even if it is a small place. If you really love him let him know when he straightens it all out & gets the wife off the mortgage , divorced & you are on the mortgage then you will move back. But remember you will only get a small percentage if you don’t stay together a long time. best to speak with a lawyer. some do free consultations.

money smart now says:

You’d be improving the equity for his wife and him. How generous of you-NOT!

andrea turner says:

My husband and I split all bills the motgage is in his name only I pay half but get no credit for this. My credit is poor and I’m sure no company would add me but I can’t improve my credit if I can’t show that I pay this bill. His credit is greatly improved by the mortgage being paid and on more than one occasion I have paid the entire mortgage. I don’t know what to do. All our bills are either in his or my name, we have no joint accounts we don’t even share toothpaste. I think this is more of a roommate situatuion. He has two children 9 and 13 one of which lives with us full time(100%) and the other 60%. Why should I pay half the mortgage and bills for a house he and his children need and take up 90% of the space in? I think I should only have to pay maybe 1/3 of the mortgage and bills, then I can concentrate on fixing my credit. Does this seem fair? I also wouldn;t have to work so hard if I didn’t have so many bills to pay.

beachgirl says:

stop paying a mortgage that doesn’t have your name on it. you need to be on the mortgage loan companies records as half owner and see both names on the account & that you have open access to the mortgage as co owner. If he really cares about your paying half he will make sure you are on the mortgage once you stop paying. but of course you have to discuss it with him ahead of the mortgage due date. If he won’t put your name on the mortgage then he shows he doesn’t trust you & that is a marriage commitment I would worry about. He should be very happy you are willing to pay 1/2 & run to the loan company to straighten this out. Then you are equally invested in the marriage. I would make sure you either do not have a joint account or get a personal account if that has already been done. Let him know you are serious about how unfair this is.

money smart now says:

If you are married, it is most likely that you co-own the property. Ask an attorney, but in most places, once you marry, property becomes jointly owned. So does debt for that matter, so get smart, take a money class now.

Anna says:

My partner and I have just started living together a month ago in the house he inherited from his parents. He is currently unemployed and working on his postgrad degree. I am working and in the process of finalizing a divorce – a chunk of my salary goes to previous marriage pending expenses (like mortgage, until the previously co-owned house is sold). My partner is short of money at this time, left only with presumably some (less than 5K) in the bank to live with until he finalizes his degree, est. Q1 of next year. I’ve been doing the home shopping, pay for most of our nights out, especially at expensive places, he takes care of basic utilities. I wanted your opinion on sharing bigger expenses. Like heating utilities where we now have to pay in advance 1K and he’s asking me to pay the whole amount because he will be left without money earlier – I suggested 50-50 and he wants me to pay more. He’s also talking about fixing some things on the house for the winter season and he wants me to cover that too. Suggestions??

Garret says:

My girlfriend and I have been living together for 2 years. Up until recently, I was paying all rent and half utilities and groceries as she was making significantly less than I. Now we are making the same ($35k/anum) but she complains every time I bring up paying half rent ($485) plus utilities ($80). Due to circumstances, she must get a new car soon but we both have student loans to pay. Am I being unreasonable in asking for half rent from her on top of utilities and groceries? If not, how do I bring this up without her getting mad and not talk about it?

barbara says:

Well here is my situation. My boyfriend and I are living together and have been since 2009. I pay all bills, buy all the gas, pay for the laundry, he pays cable TV (80.00 per month and consistently threatens to have that disconnected if he doesn’t get his way), He chips in 125.00 in food stamps he gets since he hurt his back and can’t work 40 hours and has applied for SSDI. He works PT (20 hrs) at wally world and barely makes more then min wage. I make 29,500 per year and pay all my daughter and I’s insurance and copays. He gets to go to VA for his medical. NO engagement ring, constant threats about leaving, he even called catholic community services about getting help with a place because I asked him to give me money to get my car tags last payday because I had to pay the rent. I ask my self am I being used for 3 hots and a cot because I am the person holding all this together.

beachgirl says:

I would let him call his bluff. Order a Roku box & you will have all the television you want. in fact it would be wise to cancel your cable bills if money is such an issue. honestly you aren’t married yet & it’s probably a good thing. If you marry & divorce he can make you pay his monthly living expenses as you entered the marriage with a larger income. Best to move on. Remember, people are actually at their best prior to marriage. you would probably end up paying for your own ring. I know that happened to a lady I know. Wasn’t cheap either.

money smart now says:

Let him go, the sooner the better.

Hi. I am recently married my husband and I split all the household bills I put out all the money and he then pays me back. He makes way more than me I was wondering the best way to figure this all out in a fair way but I’m thinking that he should be paying more than me. Can you please help me figure this out.

Thank you


Wow.. says:

Married- 3 years, 1 kid- late 20s. We are married, hence we’re together, one in of the same. We don’t do this % mess….we add it all together, take out the bills and agree on a ‘blow’ budget for ourselves, house improvements, etc. Its the way we’ve done it since we’ve been married and don’t have any issues with it. We don’t do our ‘own’ accounts except for the minimal blow money we both get (equally) each month.

Its sad to see all of these new/additional marriages and all of these complicated % of ‘my money and his/her money’…if people would live more like a couple/equal, then maybe they’d have less money issues as it is the #1 reason for divorce..!

basically 50% says:

So bascally, you are splitting everything 50%. There is a percentage going on in your marriage.

M says:

Totally agree with you!

Gee says:

So here’s the scenario:

There’s this couple that’s been together for years and they have a child together. The couple is still together but they don’t live together and the only expense that they have together is the child. The issue is both parties don’t agree on how each other should split costs for their child. One party says 50/50, the other party suggests to go off of % of total income. One party makes about 2x of what the other partner does. Can you all please share your suggestions on how this couple should go about providing for their child financially?

Jill says:

Here in TN, If the courts handle it, it will be according to income. The person with the larger income will pay a larger percentage.

First they add both parents’ incomes.

Then they find the amount of child support for that income and for one child.

Then each person is given a percentage according to income.

Of course, there is a consideration on who has the larger percentage of custody as well.

But all other things remaining equal, the person with 2X income will pay more of the child’s expenses. In this type situation, it can only be fair.

People don’t necessarily earn more these days by working harder. It depends on what their profession is. You can’t place a hardship on a person who decided to be a teacher instead of an investment banker.

But I’ll be honest here. It’s rather sickening that the person with the larger income would not willingly step forward to cover the child’s expenses in a larger proportion.

Since they can’t agree on this matter, they likely would not agree on the itemized list of expenses, either. Thus, I would handle it in court.

WHoa says:

This seems like it can get confusing. A child is not an item so I don’t think a kid should be displayed as one when it comes to finances. And the custody warfare can be just as damaging if “she” doesn’t agree. In conclusion, I believe that the expenses for the child should be split 50/50 because of participation from both parties. And on top of that, the stores that sell goods for children don’t raise their prices specifically adjusting to the parents income.

Glo says:

Married for 6 years, 4 children; 2 together and my two from my previous relationship. We have separate bank accounts.Just recently for the past 3 months, we decided that he pay the mortgage of $1,900.00 and his own monthly bills that add up to $187.00 & His own gas. I pay all utilities such as cable, gas & electric, water, daycare, cellphones, car insurance, groceries, my gas and any clothing for the kids which can add up to 2,147.00 and just this past month plus $600 for kids sports. That is not including kids clothes. I get no help financially from my first 2 children’s father. Now my husband makes double what I get paid plus he does alot of overtime recently. I can’t do overtime b/c i have to take my kids to sports practice. Is this right? I feel like a single mother? I wouldn’t dare to ask him to put gas in my car, buy groceries or pay a bill. I’d rather borrow b/c then i’d get questioned like a little girl. I need some advice.

Gee says:


I would suggest you two visit the financial table and take a look at splitting the costs you two incur together by the amount of income each of you produce a month. There are many examples above that break down how much of an expense will be paid by each party.

Tracy says:

My husband and I have been married for two years. We each have two children that we have joint custody of. We each have our kids for one week at a time. for us the complication is that he pays his ex a significant amount of child support. We have a joint account but I also have a sepaRate account that he didn’t know about. Until recently. He is pretty upset and we are struggling to come up with a fair amount each of us will contribute to our bills. I make more than him and feel that’s it’s fair for me to pay more. However I do not feel that I should contribute anything towards the ridiculous amount of child support he pays his ex. It seems fair to me that we add up our joint expenses and we each pay a percentage. He doesn’t agree with this method and i would like some feedback on what is fair.

Darren says:

His child support is not a ‘shared expense’ and needs to come out of his money just like any other bill he has that is not a shared expense. On the flip side, if you are getting money in child support for your kids, I would consider that ‘income’ on your side – which would increase your shared % of the ratio if you were to apply the ratio-division approach to dividing shared expenses.

You should be able to have whatever accounts you want – he has no say in it, he’s not entitled to have access to your money. Likewise, he can do what he wants with his own money. The thing that counts is how you two come together over shared expenses.

Your NET income (including support) + his NET income = TOTAL income.

TOTAL (divided by) your NET = your % contribution
TOTAL (divided by) his NET = his % contribution

Add together all shared expenses, then apply the ratio of the individual % contribution to that shared expense.

For example

You make $1000 a month, NET.
He makes $600 a month, NET

TOTAL = $1000 + $600 = $1600.

Your contribution = 62.5%
His contribution = 37.5%
Ratio= .625:.375

Shared expenses are $800

Your ratio of shared expenses = $800*62.5%= $500
His ratio of shared expenses = $800*37.5%= $300

Liz says:

We live in the UK. My partner &I have been together over 12 years & have one son. We argue constantly about bills & housework. He pays the utilities & mortgage & I buy all the food, clothes, son’s hobbies , tax & insure the car and do ALL the housework & cooking. He works 5 days I work 4 . He gives me he’ll because he says I don’t pay any bills ???

Shana says:

If you do ALL the housework and cleaning and still work almost full time then your partner is a lazy man. Find someone who will help around the house a bit.

cheryl lynn says:

I found my college bf on FB last summer, after 30 years. We did the long distance thing 9 months, he moved here and took a cut in pay for a job. My kids are 10 and 14; his are 20 and 22 (son just grad college). He still pays his son’s car payment, car insurance, clothes, extras (the kid doesn’t have a job yet)…I’m disabled on SSDI so can’t earn extra $$$; we bring in $6,000/month, but there’s a lot of debt. We’ve been married 4 months and money is ruining this new marriage – he can’t get to the mentality of coupling re: money – it’s him and his 22 y/o son against me and my kids. Help – I’m going insane…the adult kid is sucking him dry!

Erin says:

I’m 27, living with my boyfriend. He makes more than me, so we split our rent 60/40. We split the rest of the utilities, but not exactly 50/50. He pays for the cable/phone/internet. I pay for the gas, electric, renters’ insurance, and our dog’s health insurance (don’t laugh, it’s saved me a bunch of money in emergency vet bills!).

When we go grocery shopping together, or if he goes alone, he pays. When I go by myself, I pay. This isn’t a hard rule that we figured out in advance, just something that we have kind of fallen into, and it works.

We each pay for our own separate expenses. I pay for my own car insurance, car payment, student loans, gas for my car, etc.

As far going out to dinner, we’ll take turns paying. He always assumes he’s paying, but I don’t think it’s fair for him to pay all the time! Plus, I enjoy taking him out, too…. so we usually switch off. Or, if we’re out all day and he pays for lunch out, I’ll pay for dinner. I think that part is pretty even.

We each have our own bank accounts, and a joint checking account that we use to pay the rent (and I assume any other real ‘joint’ expenses that may come up).

We’ve been living together for over a year now, and we periodically revisit the fairness of how we split our expenses. We’ve made some minor adjustments here and there, but we’re at a place where we both feel comfortable with what each of us is contributing.

Darren says:

My spouse and I apply a ratio to all shared expenses. The ratio is a function of our individual incomes. We add our individual income amounts to formulate the total household income, and we then each pay a ratio based on individual income/total household income. We’ve found this to be the fairest method to divide shared expenses.

John Boy says:

Why do I find this conversation so Alien?
I’m Married and I’ve never thought about if or how to split bills?
I am the only one earning at the moment so I pay for everything but when my wife works she just puts her salary in the same account we use for all bills.

I Must be missing something? Why wouldn’t a ‘married’ couple do it this way?

Sandra says:

You say it’s weird. The fact is that there are people that continues to be “unemployed” knowing that the other person can pay for everything. Even if they start getting some money for some work like my husband and I, he’s not “motivated” at all to pay for anything cause he feels that he doesn’t make enough and what he has he just pockets and pays either his own car pmt or personal shopping and never the house. You are just lucky that your spouse doesn’t think that way. Sure you may say, then why marry that person. People can put up a totally different character while dating and then change. Also, with my husband, it started as him paying rent cause I needed help on paying mortgage and he saw my posting and we became roommates then after that weed dated and I wanted to help “some” on him finishing his college so I said he can just pay 200 on utilities. Well big mistake, he knows now that he doesn’t have to pay for house cause I can. I pay $1500 on house and that doesn’t include 3500 on taxes at end of year and insurance and me also paying for his car insurance and most of food. there’s not much I can do now since we are now married and if I want to force him to pay more than 200 or mention half, we would have arguments. I would have to get a divorce for him to move out and “learn” to pay for his living costs on his own. So there, not always that we can tell how the spouse would be after marriage until you actually marry the person. 3 years later and he is going to graduate and still no job lined up. So don’t make it that what we say on here is so foreign to you. Better hold on to that wife cause the next one may not be that great and may have you go through what we go through here.

College Relationship says:

my gf and I have been together for nearly 3 years in July. We are both college students, but I graduate this may and she has another year and a half yet. We both struggle with money, but I have more due to my parents putting money in my account when I need it. We both work jobs on Campus, but she spends more money than I do as she is a graphic design major, and so all of her money goes to her art supplies for class. I always buy her things and she doesn’t really buy me much, but returns the favor with love and compassion; being there for me. i am getting resentful of this. I maybe called stingy and greedy, but how do I still save money and still not go broke without buying her things all the time??? She does call me greedy becuase we havent been on a date in a while and whenever we go out and buy food at a restaurant with friends I always pay for her as she has no money, and I make a big deal out of it, even though deep down inside I wish i wouldn’t make a big deal out of it. Someone help me???? How do i talk to her about this without getting her angry at me. She is paying for college all on her own and I understand that. I still love her and overlook the fact she she really doens’t have money, but still bothers me. i just want to nib this in the bud before we move in together when she graduates. It seems as though I buy her alot of things, granted she buys me things sometimes, but it seems I have more money than her, as I spend money alot and am trying to cntrol my spending habits, buying her things doesn’t help me. I wish she would have money herself.

Penny says:

My partner and I have been living together for 2 years. In that time I have been earning nearly twice what she does, but I have three children that I share custody of. I own my own house and I am still paying off the mortgage. She pays a set amount for rent and utilities – $100 per week, which is pretty low in my estimation. I have a tenant living downstairs and she pays $110 before utilities. The story is now I am studying fulltime and not earning anything, she didn;t see any problem (for her) at the supermarket when I paid for the food and had to ask her for money – even though she sulked last time that happened, like I asked her to do something terrible. I am now really worried that she sees me as a free ticket and didn’t realise that she was using me financially. Things have changed and she needs to step up to the plate – I am only expecting that she pays the going rate for rent + bills + her portion of food, am I crazy or is this reasonable?

Uncommonreader says:

My fiance and I are planning to live in New York this summer because he has a summer job there. I’ll be moving up with him, continuing my research while I’m there. I earn $1,500 per month, and his job will pay him $12,000 per month. We are looking for advice on how to divide/share costs this summer. Any suggestions on how to handle the division of rent payments and other expenses like groceries?

Erin says:

If your fiancee is making $12,000 a month and you’re making $1,500 per month, there is really no way to divide that equally without putting a significant financial strain on the person who is making less, ESPECIALLY in New York.

$12k a month is WAY more than enough to support two people, and I really don’t see any reason why he shouldn’t pay for both of you on that kind of a salary.

katie says:

do % to total income.

Pulling too much household weight! says:

I am 27 yrs old, a homeowner of 5 years, making just under $80K yr. I’m involved in a new relationship that rapidly & unexpectedly blossomed and led to the birth of my first son 2 months ago. My partner is 25 yrs old and she makes about $70K yr. We have decided that marriage is something we will have to wait for and see if that is truly what we desire, as everything happened so fast. We both are working to grow together with all these life changes.]

I asked my partner to move in about 7 months ago, and the initial agreement was that I would continue to pay my mortgage, taxes, and condo fee, while she would take on the utilities, groceries, and toiletries. We lightly discussed going 50% possibly on baby expenses several months back; however, we never made an agreement. We did not feel it was best that she help pay my mortgage, as again, we are still trying to build upon our relationship and did not want to get into the detail about % of shared ownership down the road. We would rather buy a house together in the future.

With that said, our combined monthly expenses (before the baby) are roughly $1,900, with a 68% vs. 32% ($1,292 vs. $608) split in responsibility (I have the higher %/$). Before she moved in, I lived comfortably in the $1,500 range by myself, so I am only saving about $200/month at this time. Prior to this change, I was on a 24-month plan to eliminate all student loan debt I had incurred over the years.

Now fast forward to the baby; my son is on my health insurance ($110/month) and I pay his medical bills. My partner has just returned to work from maternity leave, and does not want to use daycare, but instead suggested that we pay her mother (who works at home) $600/month to watch after our son. I’m very grateful for the family help and potential savings, but still cautious about the approach and its funding, since the $600 amount was just tossed in the air and not looked at in comparison to other local at-home facilities; some are in parity with better ergo-friendly I think $400 is more reasonable considering that we are family and just starting out.
Our baby expenses would be about $1000/month (including the $600 daycare, diapers, formula, etc); however, due to the inequality in our household expenses, and the fact that I only make about 10% more income, I asked my partner if we could that we apply the same ratios (68% vs. 32%) to these expenses, to make it more fair and reasonable. That would leave us paying $1,288 and $1612, which is roughly a 20% difference. She broke down, cried, called me names, and said she should move out.

Is this a fair approach? If not, what is? I hate for this to be so technical and detailed, but I’m having some stress here, as I am being told that I do not “buy enough formula”, and am challenged about taking the Head of Household deduction for 2010, when I clearly paid more than 50% of the household costs last year.
Any feedback is greatly appreciated, thanks!

Cynthia says:

I think that if she is the type of person you’ve been able to reason with before about life matters, then maybe this just came up in inappropriately. Try setting aside a time when you are most at rest and connected. (For me and my partner, this is after dinner and after having had some time to decompress from the day, usually right before sleep) It might be that her feelings around taking on the baby expenses have to do more with symbolism than hard cash. Your higher percent for the household expenses comes out of your thinking that she should not be paying mortgage because you don’t want her to own part of the house. Well, if the area of your life she is expected to take on in higher proportions is the care your baby, then she might feel that you are not owning up to being a father. I think your method is really messy because you are using so many different streams of logic to make choices. I’d suggest striving for a deal closer to 50/50 across the board, not just at the end of spreadsheet. You could call what she gives you to help with mortgage “rent” and make it clear that it doesn’t lead to ownership. I recently lived with a roommate who owned her home and we did this and I never expected that because ultimately money went to the loan that I had some sense of ownership.

Whysocomplicated says:

50/50 is a good baseline on expenses in my opinion and just because you pay the mortgage doesn’t mean that she split mortgage costs. I think going 50/50 on all mutual expenses is the more reasonable approach to splitting expenses for the simple fact, she will need somewhere to stay and chances are she would be paying higher costs in rent/mortgage monthly if you all didn’t live together. We’re all adults here and unless you’re staying with your parents, you’re going to have to pony up money for living expenses, regardless of where you stay…geeeshhh

Say for instance, your mortgage is $1500/mo and rent/mortgage for her, if you all didn’t live together was the same. She would immediately be saving $750/mo. She should see that would be a substantial saving from paying rent/mort on her own in addition to child expenses, personal expenses and whatever other expenses that pop up throughout the month.

Also, I would base the budget off of whoever has the lower salary and budget to where that person still has space for saving and is completely with that budget. That way everyone is okay and there shouldn’t be any financial hardship when it comes to splitting things 50/50.

Pulling too much household weight! says:

Thank you both for the great feedback; I appreciate it.

I’ve been trying to talk it through with my partner, but she just does not get it; she continues to believe that in some way she is helping me pay my mortgage, which is clearly not the case. Now with it being tax time, she is not understanding why I want to claim head of household, when I carried well over 50% of the household last year. I’m not trying to nickel and dime any one, but I provide for the household and my son, and I’m not saving the same % rate my partner is.

Even with my mortgage interest deduction, my tax return is no where close to the $20k+ she will be saving a year. My case to her is as long as I’m paying more to the household, I should be able to take the HOH exemption; the $1,000 child credit is not life or death for me, but it certainly helps, especially since I just bought a new furnace to keep us warm this winter. She is inclined to think that we need to split the $1000 credit; I do not believe that is fair and reasonable, until we truly are 50/50 on expenses. I’d rather just take the $1K, and put it into a 529 plan for my son. Any thoughts here??? Being single was so much easier 🙁 I’m trying to talk about money with my partner, and she just makes it a big confrontation, not a collaboration.

katie says:

Have you tried telling her you want to put the 1K towards your sons 529? It seems like such a win-win because then it’s not necessarily going to one or the other but benefiting your best asset!
As for everything else, I would continue to try to reason with her with collaboration as you said and maybe even seek out a (good, fee free) financial planner? They can help unmarried couples too and really lay it out there and possibly explain things in a non-biased 3rd party way. Good luck!!

Darren says:

She’s bring greedy. That ratio your apply for other expenses should apply to ALL shared expenses. Thats totally reasonable. The only reason she gets dramatic seems to be because she’s money hungry. If the child is living in your house over 50% of the time (the child is apparently there 100% of the time), you get HOH. If she has an issue with her contribution on the mortgage and the taxes, just watch out if she leaves – she’s going to try to claim a division of your assets, including the house. But also, you are not paying “more” on the house if you are applying the ratio to shared living expenses. You are both paying an equal share based on your individual contributions to household income.

Jill says:

I think you are too fixated on the dime for dime aspects of this arrangement. It’s as if she is someone you took in off the street. I don’t know where you live, but where I’m from, $150,000 combined income makes for a very comfortable life for 3 people.

If the birth of this child did not soften you up just a bit–at least to the point you would go out and buy a year’s worth of formula at once, then I really believe she should move out. Everyone (including the child) would be better off .

I mean, why doesn’t she begin keeping a spreadsheet tallying who last cleaned the toilet and assign a monetary value to it?

I’m sure she can adequately support this child herself, but she just wants to see you treat them as more than a passing fancy.

Pulling too much household weight! says says:

Thank you for your response Jill. Let me clarify a few points for you, so that you can understand where I’m coming from. FYI – we live in the Tri-state area (northeast US)

1) We got pregnant only after (2) months of dating; I will not go into detail here, but for me, we never got the chance to fully emotionally bond before the birth of our son, let alone talk about financial health/habits, etc. MONEY is the #1 cause of divorce/breakup in the US; people need to be very comfortable and clear about their financial situations before embarking on any legal commitments (house, cars, and marriage). Being financially independent is a priority for me; building a financial plan for household expenses with someone you hardly know (with a baby on the way) is a very awkward situation, especially when you’ve offered the person to stay in your home. Its almost like investing in a business with someone you do not even know. I’ve gone through all the “common” financial experiences; living solely on my own, managing a home/mortgage (for 6+yrs), renovating a home, etc. She has not; she has lived with roommates and family, and does understand nor appreciate the hustle and struggle I have endured to get where I’m at.

2) I had financial priorities planned before we were involved (to be consumer/student loan debt free by 30). I can still make this target, but since we don’t operate as a team financially; I feel like I’m being used, as she does not pay household expenses that a majority of people in their late 20s would pay, especially those in their late 20s making $70K and not living at home. I’m not saving at the same rate she is, because she does not have all the family/household expenses I do, yet, she thinks she should claim HOH and the tax credit for our son. I feel more like roommates, and it really just sucks. I would rather be alone and raise our son with 50/50 custody.

3) Last, but most important, I love my son; he has changed my life in a positive way. I want to be the best dad I can be, and that he needs/deserves. However, I’m not in love with my son’s mother; I am trying to be responsible and take care of my child, as I’m not a deadbeat. I even had job opportunities overseas and out of state before he was born, but I did not pursue because I’m not one to run from responsibility.

In short, I feel that you cannot successfully “Split Expenses with Your Partner or Spouse” unless you have already established a loving and committed relationship well before you decide to live together.

Jill says:

Thanks for the clarification.

If all is as you say (there are always 2 sides), then you really should approach her with the intent of maintaining separate households and sharing custody.

I’ve been married 22 years so it’s hard for me to speak to your specific complaints, but I think you realize it’s not a sustainable arrangement if you don’t care for the mother.

And to be honest, after more than 2 decades of sharing income and bills, I can say the money is not what it’s all about. There have been much larger issues with much more complicated solutions. If money is coming between 2 people, it’s a symptom, not the disease. For instance, if both of you could communicate well enough to talk about the HOH designation, it would be a non-issue. One of you would decide it’s not a major sticking point.

money smart now says:

First of all you are being responsible for your son and I admire that. I know it is hard to see each others perspectives, so you should remember that you have ownership in the home, and you are going to be building equity that she will not have a right to unless you get married. Remember to add that to your calculations. I hope you can grow the relationship together. There is a Czech movie called Kolya, that tells of a unlikely relationship, I think we can get too caught up in the money fights and forget to be loving people. Don’t let a little percentage of money get in the way of having a happy family. All that said, I am entangled in a 9 year relationship ( 2 years living together) and we can’t find our perfect money balance, it can get out of hand at times and be very toxic to an otherwise wonderful relationship. I am on the other end of the spectrum, nearing retirement. Good Luck to you both

Adey J says:

You GF cried because you asked her to pay $1,200 a month out of a $70K salary. She’s a joker and a user.

TRACIE says:





TOM says:

Been married for 5 years, living together for eight and we have our own accounts. We pretty much divvy up the monthly expenses as such:

I take mortgage and home/auto insurance
She takes all utilities (cable phone water trash etc)
we split the grocery bill 50/50
we each pay for our own car payment
and we treat one another to dinner constantly.
Any big expenses we discuss a plan accordingly

Initially after being married we argued about this as my wife was embarrassed that we swiped two cards at the grocery store. After that ordeal we added one another to each account, but really that is purely for the event of an emergency. Truth be told we have never bounced a check, never felt like we were strapped and have been able to mutually save a lot.

Stemve Mumbovsky says:

My BF and I fight alot. I make twice what he makes but, he can still afford splitting half the expenses. He is not maximally employed due to his own choices. I feel that if we split proportionally I am being taken advantage of. We have discussed pooling all the money and paying expenses out of that .. but he refused since some of the expenses are for my car and my life insurance. I agreed with him on that. I proposed that he decide how much rent he could afford and then I would find an apartment which costs twice that amount. I was willing to live in a less nice place in order to keep the rent 50/50. I am still saving to buy a new car and an apartment in NYC. I dont feel its fair for my savings goals to be impacted if he is not fully employed. He says I am being cheap. Besides breaking up, any advice?

greg says:

I don’t know the whole story behind his work habits but if he is truly a slug and is taken advantage of a hard working girl get rid of him. If you truly believe he is working to his ability and love him dearly ma by you should start with this.
Work out the expenses on a percentage of income bases. Divide the expenses up of a percentage of each income. If he pays 50% of a bill out of what he makes and you pay the same, in dollars it is 1/2 but it really is not 50 percent because he makes less.

Gloria Rodriguez says:

Forget the 50/50 take for example 60% or 70% of eachothers pay and put it into a joint account to pay for all household expenses. Keep separate accounts as well to pay for your own personal expenses such as clothes, gifts and etc.

Steve says:

My girlfriend and I have been living together for 3 years. She feels it’s tthe man’s responsability to pay for everything…rent…utilities…food.
Our rent is $1000 per month plus the other necessities required to live.
She is paid weekly about $450.She is upset when I ask her to split everything….to her we are just “roomates” and not in a serious relationship. I explained to her even married couples split expenses and this offends her. Am I asking for too much here?

Tonka says:

No! You are not asking a lot. Get rid of her!

greg says:

Steve dont put up with her selfish ways, there are plenty of good honest women out there. Dump her As…..

One Fly says:

Well, if she expects you to take care of all the financial, she better be ready to take care of all the housework. I don’t think it’s wrong for a woman to want to be taken care of somewhat. It has been the arrangement for millenia! But since times are changing, it’s important that she be with a man that has the same traditional values. If you do not see eye to eye now it will just get worse unless you can communicate with each other and find a balance.


No you are not asking too much but also think she may be getting upset because she doesn’t make much money. Maybe you can find a way to split bills based on what you each make?

Mel says:

I would like to point out in your statement that she says your not that serious and are just roommates. Roommates split their bills 50/50. I think a percentage based on pay differences probably wouldn’t be asking to much if you are an item. But you definitely need to work this out if you don’t agree on how to manage finances. Disagreements in money management can and will lead to divorce.

Adey J says:

As its 2015, I doubt you are still together… I hope you have recognized this person was a taker and a user.

Paula says:

Female, 22, married for 5 years.

My husband and I have all joint accounts. He has one credit card, and I have one credit card. We are each authorized users on each credit card. It isn’t my money or his money; it is our money. It may work for some people, but I would feel really odd “billing” my husband. Personally, I feel like there are emotional/psychological advantages to this (for us more specifically clear and clearly communicated financial, educational, life goals, feeling fully invested in each other and the relationship, etc). I don’t know if I’d feel the same way if he wasn’t as frugal as he was or if we didn’t have kids. Because he is frugal and we do have kids, I can’t imagine doing it any other way. My parents had separate accounts for separate purchases, but would tally up and split child/mutual expenses at the end of the month. Doing things that way weirds me out, but hey, that’s just me, I guess.

Slinky says:

My fiancee and I (going on 6 years now!) manage things separately and split all mutual expenses 50/50. I made a spreadsheet with a page for each of us and we basically ‘bill’ each other for half of whatever we paid for that month. The spreadsheet then tells us who owes who and how much. (it’s kind of slick!) So we do things separately (because we’re both budget nerds with our own systems), but we usually work on our finances at the same time and talk about our progress and goals and such while we do it. I actually love it this way because neither of us has to worry about the other’s day to day individual spending, but we still collaborate and back each other up and work towards mutual goals. And that’s the really important part.

Slinky says:

My fiancee and I (going on 6 years now!) manage things separately and split all mutual expenses 50/50. I made a spreadsheet with a page for each of us and we basically ‘bill’ each other for half of whatever we paid for that month. The spreadsheet then tells us who owes who and how much. (it’s kind of slick!) So we each just spend money however we like and it doesn’t matter

Tasha says:

My husband and I have our salaries deposited into my checking account. Everything comes out of that account and he has my debit card for that while I hold on to the atm card. That way any spends are tracked in one account, which is basically having a joint one. We each get $100 fortnightly for allowance as we get paid in that schedule. We call it our sanity money. We have a budget spreadsheet on Google Docs that is updated daily and has all outgoing spends already accounted for for the entire 2009. Savings also are accounted for in that budget and they come out of my checking. When we started tracking our finances, we didn’t bother getting a joint checking because I was the one very eager to track our spending. I’m the finance person in the family and he trusts me with his money so it works. Everything else we own and owe are joint.

Noel says:

My husband owns his 2 family home with his parents who live upstairs. The home was purchased before I was in the picture. The situation we have is not ideal for me and I would like to purchase a home with my husband as soon as we save enough for our down payment. Currently I pay half my husbands portion of the mortgage and half of all the bills that we incur. We split everything 50/50. For example, cable, food, car insurance, car, electric. The rest of the bills are sort of wash b/c we both pay for everything. Although honestly I feel like I end up paying more b/c I am not a penny pusher. I’ll get take out a couple nights in a row and not think anything of it or I will go food shopping and not ask him for it. My name is not the house and my husband will not add it. I think the main reason is b/c it’s little tricky with his parents but he also says that since I was not there from the start and this was not my investment I am not entitled to have my name or get a share. Lately he has wanted to do work to house like re pave the driveway and re do the bathroom. He believes I should pay half for all these renovations but I just don’t think that is fair? I also don’t get a tax break on the house even though I pay half my husbands mortgage. I told him recently I am not willing to split the house renovations b/c I don’t think its fair since my name is not on the house and he say’s I get no say in the sale or the proceed of selling the house. This has caused fights. I want to be fair here. Am I being unreasonable?

Mike says:

Noel, I do agree with your argument and I truly believe this is one of the times where both parties should step each others shoes for a moment. This situation is like you’re investing in a company that won’t acknowledge you for a ROI. I’ve seen similar situations before like this but with kids as in whoever claims a child receives the tax break even when both parents contribute equally. In conclusion and as a fair person, I wouldn’t feel right asking someone that didn’t begin the investment with me to incur charges with me unless the numbers were worked out to where I am entitled to the said investment.

You have the right idea though. Buying a home together should square away the possible problem of having your name placed on an investment that was present before you were. I would think that everyone entitled to the home title would have to agree on the terms before doing so and its apparent they don’t. Good luck in your decision!

jeani macbride says:

I hope his parents are in good health as you will most likely be the one to have to take care for them. Everyone will then wish they had taken better care (monetarily) of you.

Jim says:

Noel, you have a valid argument and should be receiving 50% of any deductible items you pay for, such as the mortgage. You should not have to pay anything related to the property maintenance, mortgage, repair or improvement unless you are receive a share of the value of the property. Because you are co-mingling funds related to the property your husband brought into the marriage, you very well could have a legal claim to 50% of the property.
I have a situation where my wife inherited some property. She and her siblings decided to build a rental property on some of it. None of us spouses have a realistic voice in decisions, even though we are invited to give input. No spouses input has ever been accepted. At the beginning I gave a thought but was told to quit trying to control the situation and essentially to shut up, with no support for me from my wife. My contention was that we spouses were being asked to be financially responsible for the project but have no voice in decisions. This has lead to serious problems for my wife and I. Not because of the lack of decision ability but because of the lack of respect that has been shown.
I am a sharing person, I have shared my income, all of it, and shared all financial decisions. My wife always had access to all our information. Now she is very private (secretive) about dealings with anything she deems hers alone. She hasn’t shared with me information I would need if she ever became incapacitated or worse.
Why am I sending this information? Because I see a similarity and if it can help someone see what can happen, good.

Kelly says:

Have you consulted with your own attorney and a good financial advisor? In addition to other people’s comments, the 50/50 thing is very unfair. It’s unlikely that you and your husband have the exact same income. Instead of 50/50, it should be based on your respective percentages. i.e. If he makes 60K a year and you make 40K a year, he should chip in 60% of joint expenses and you should chip in 40%.
Anything that doesn’t go towards shared expenses should be kept in separate accounts, one for you and one for him.
It also sounds like you are filing taxes separately, in which case you should account for your respective tax deductions, which he sounds like he has more of.
You may want to consult with a good estate planning attorney too, to see if you do have legal claim to the house, and so you know ahead of time if you have claim to anything else. I’d be concerned because if your husband won’t put your name on the house, his estate plans may leave you out in the cold too. Make sure your retirement account is set up the way you want it.
Hopefully all this gets sorted out before you buy a house together, and by gosh, before you have kids! Good luck!

money smart now says:

You should talk to an attorney in your state to better understand how your marriage contract affects your ownership of property. My understanding in MN is that unless you signed a pre- nuptial regarding individual ownership prior to marriage, once married, property becomes joint ownership. An attorney can be more specific and help you understand your situation better, don’t be afraid to ask, even a financial planner might be able to explain how things in a marriage are shared, or should be understood as shared property.

Adey J says:

“My husband”… legally you already own half of his share of the house because you are married. So yes you should pay half. That’s what a marriage is… joint, shared assets and debts.

Rite says:

Watch out for sharing credit card accounts. If your partner has bad credit habits, it can pull you both down. Best to have separate accounts…Good information about what can happen in this article.http://www.creditcards.com/credit-card-news/taking-charge-survey-relationships-1276.php. Have you heard of revenge rage? When the relationship sours and the other person goes on a vengeful spending spree to purposefully trash your credit.

Thanks for all the feedback, everybody. My fiancee and I have been discussing how to handle joint expenses now and in the future—and you all helped us out—and hopefully future readers, too. Cheers!

Greg says:

I have been living with my significant other for over 5 years. We recently just purchased our first home. I pay the mortgage and she pays all the utilities. All other activities together get paid by whomever wants to pick the tab up. We have not had any problems doing it like this. As long as I can swing the tab without having any problems I pick it up and vice versa.

CC says:

Greg I love this!!! Im trying to sell a similar arrangement to my BF but he is a 50/50 person…..any advise??

katie says:

CC- My fiance and I divide bills based on our % of total income. For example, if we combine our income, he makes 70% and I make 30% therefore he pays that percentage of the mortage, etc and I pay my percentage.

Adey J says:

Its fair that you pay your half until you are married, unless he thinks otherwise. Its really handy to do a % split, though why should your BF pay for you… he’s not your husband. If you can’t afford it, find somewhere to live that you can and live within your means.

Carrie says:

My husband and I have a joint checking account and joint savings accounts, all of our regular bills go out of joint checking. We do maintain individual credit cards for business travel and other miscellaneous expenses (both cards get paid off in full each month; we use them for the rewards points). We established a set limit for purchases that we won’t exceed without discussing it with the other. We don’t have an established budget per se, but have established savings goals.

Amy says:

My husband and I have one joint account which our paychecks go into and then all the bills and everything comes out of there. We don’t really get personal spending money right now but it’s something we want to start doing in the future. Right now we just gauge how we’re doing with our budget and if we have some extra room we’ll hit the ATM for $20 and split it (Yes, ::shock:: I know of an ATM that doesn’t make you get things out in $20 denominations, it uses $5 bills! ).

We only have one joint credit card which we keep cause I’ve had it since I was 18 and have never had a late or missed payment so it helps the FICO score. I also use it for business travel occasionally.

We usually do our spending with the money we give each other for Christmas or our birthdays. Each birthday and Christmas we give each other a set amount of money to spend however we want. Sometimes we split that as well. For instance, this Christmas we both wanted the new Guitar Hero so we split that cost 50/50 from our Christmas money.

Kara says:

My husband and I have everything joint. We have a budget that we’re both pretty good at following, and we both agreed on savings goals, etc. We don’t use credit cards much, so nearly everything comes out of our joint checking account.

Adam says:

+1 for Keri. That’s how my partner and I roll. Not married…yet.

T says:

Married. Doesn’t matter, all joint accounts. Set budget & goals together ~ once a year, stick to it pretty well. Both pretty frugal / financially conservative, so not much conflict.

I’m engaged now but through our relationship, I never ask her to pay for anything. Every once in a while she insists and I let her but normally, my traditional values take over and I pay. Everybody is different.

Grant says:

Not married, but living together. No joint accounts, we each buy our own things and then haphazardly split other things like movie, eating out, groceries. I try to pay for more since I earn more, but I do pay about 80% of the mortgage and she chips in the other 20% as rent plus half the utilities each month.

It seems to work out OK, but there are times when I’ll get flack if she feels I’m not paying for enough.

Keri says:

We each have our own checking account, and a joint account. Same thing with credit cards. Any joint household expenses are charged to the joint credit card, but anything that’s just for one of us (clothes, gifts, etc.) go on our personal cards. At the end of the month, we calculate the total cost of rent, joint credit balance, utilities, insurance, and then each of us transfers half of the amount to the joint checking account and then we pay everything out of that.

It works really well for us!

25, Cohabiting with BF.

BF pays for everything (rent, food, utilities) and invoices me at the end of the month. Then I review the expenses and cut a cheque for the amount.

As for parking (he pays), or birth control (I pay), or other personal expenses, we take care of them on our own.

Fabulously Broke in the City
Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver.

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