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When Jane and I got engaged and moved in together, we had to figure out how to pay our bills. For the first time in our lives, we could work together to cover our living expenses. This was a great feeling, but how exactly should we divide up our bills?

It would be easy to just say that everything is divided 50/50 since there are two of us now. However, that wouldn’t have been fair to Jane. She was making less money and had more student loan debt. Making her pay half of our bills just didn’t seem right, so we came up with a system that works for us.

If you are a couple or newlywed, here are some ideas on how to split your bills to be fair to you both.

  • 50/50 split from separate accounts
  • Joint bank accounts with pooled funds
  • A combination of separate accounts and pooled funding

Why a 50/50 Split May Not Work

When you get married, you might be tempted to just say that you will split all of your bills in half. Sure, your marriage should be an even give and take. That doesn’t mean it should carry over to your finances.

Splitting your bills evenly probably won’t work if you make different salaries. If one of you makes significantly more than the other, it’s not really fair for you both to pay the same amount.

Also, take into consideration if one of you comes into your relationship with previous debt or other commitments, like a child. Credit card debt, student loans, and child support are all priorities that can reduce your ability to contribute towards everyday bills.

If you both have comparable incomes and the same amount of debt, a 50/50 split could certainly be an option. If you are not married but are living together, it may also make sense to split your expenses evenly.

Pool Your Money Together

When you get married, the saying is “what’s mine is yours and what’s yours is mine”. This just means that you should be comfortable with sharing everything now that you are a couple.

Financially, an easy way to do this is by pooling your money together in a joint bank account. This allows all of your income to go to one account. You can then pay your expenses from the same place to keep track of if all.

By using a joint bank account, you can avoid the your vs. my money issue. You both have equal ownership and have to work together to agree on what you buy as a couple.

As a slight alternative, you can transfer a set amount of money into a joint account to pay your bills. Anything left over in your personal accounts can then be put towards savings or whatever you want.

Sometimes, one of you is naturally more financially inclined or interested in managing your money. This is completely fine, but encourage your spouse to get involved, as well. It’s always better for you both to be on the same page regarding your finances. It is especially important to make big decisions together as a couple.

Split Your Bills Fairly

If you prefer to keep separate bank accounts, that’s completely fine. It’s actually how my wife and I manage our money, as well. The key is to be open and transparent about your account balances and what you are spending money on.

For your monthly bills, come up with a split that makes sense for both of you. Let the partner who earns less money scale back on what they pay. If one of you earns $45,000 while the other earns $55,000, you can split the bills 45% and 55%.

If one of you has more debt, the other person can pick up more of the living expenses. Your spouse can then focus on paying off their debt. Once their debt is eliminated, you can adjust who pays the bills more evenly, or have them save their money.

When we got married, I was able to cover pretty much all of our living expenses for both of us. Jane had more student loans, so she was able to focus on just paying those off. This allowed us to get rid of her debt faster than if we didn’t focus on her debt. We then readjusted who pays what after the loans were gone.

Decide What to Focus On

Now that you are a couple, it’s time to start thinking about what you want to save for. Determine what your goals are, like saving for a house, children, a car, or honeymoon. Look at all of your expenses to see how they fit into your goals. See how much money you can save each month to put towards those goals.

From this, you should have a list of expenses that can be divided up between you and your spouse. This should include things like mortgage or rent, utilities, food, gas, debt, and savings. Depending on what you can afford based on your income, you can each take certain expenses.

For example, you could take the mortgage, food, and contribute towards savings. Your partner could then be responsible for utilities, gas, and any outstanding debt. Treat it as a jigsaw puzzle to see who should pay for what.

Splitting your bills as a couple can be difficult at first but becomes easier with open communication. Come up with a plan for meeting your monthly budget together. Remember, you are now stronger together as a team!

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