Combining finances as a couple is always an interesting topic. North Americans are generally pretty hush hush about how much money they make, and generally where they spend that money. However, we are friends with a number of couples and it’s a topic of conversation we’ve had many times: how do you work out finances as a couple?
The first thing to remember is that no way is the right way, it depends on what works for you. Just because one couple is comfortable doing things one way, that doesn’t mean you are as well. People are always so different when it comes to money management so make sure you sit down and have this awkward conversation because it’s an important one.
We’ve broken down the different ways we have heard of couples combining and sharing finances to help you figure out what that looks like for you.
The all-in approach
We know a couple that puts all of their money in one pool. They share a joint banking account and have their paycheques and all of their bills coming in and out of this one account.
Pros: Having money all in one pot makes it much easier to monitor and there are no secrets. You can keep tabs on each other to figure out who is spending what and where. It also means you’re going to be paying less in monthly account fees because obviously the more accounts you have the more you’re paying for.
Cons: The drawback of this approach is that you won’t be able to have your own spending money. If you have a spouse that’s critical of where and how your money is being spent, it could lead to quite a few fights. Some people need to know that they have their own bit of freedom to do with money as they want.
The 50/50 approach
We also know a couple that splits their finances and everything right down the middle. They workout what they spend in a month, divide it by two and there you go.
Pros: This is probably the easiest of all the approaches to finances. You know exactly who owes what and when. There’s also no room for error or finger pointing because both people are paying the exact same amount for everything and still having their own spending money to do what they want with.
Cons: If one person is earning more than the other this leaves room for resentment because there’s always going to be one person with more money left over at the end of the month then the other. Unless you’re in the same industry and doing the same job, there’s likely going to be one ‘breadwinner’ and one person making a little bit less.
The % approach
This is something Ben and I do where we work out what each of us is earning and then put that percentage of what we owe for bills and living costs into our joint account each month. So we work out what our overall costs are every month and figure out the percentage of 100 that’s paid by each person.
Pros: This was the fairest way we saw of splitting finances in the beginning. When Ben first moved here I was earning more than him so naturally I would be putting in more money to the joint because the percentage of what our monthly costs were deducted from my wage would naturally be higher.
Cons: This still leaves room for error because you’ll still have one person with more spending money at the end of the month than the other. It could also lead to resentment because one person will always have more spending money than the other.
The pay whatever approach
Another couple we know does something a bit different where they just split up the actual payments they have instead of dollar amounts. So for example, one person would pay for the mortgage where the other would pay for the groceries.
Pros: You’ll always know who is paying what and that way they can take care of their own personal bills when it comes time to pay them.
Cons: I can imagine this would be quite annoying if the overall spending was uneven. Mortgages can be a lot more than monthly grocery bills but if that’s what works it works!
At the end of the day, there’s no set format or way for you to share finances as a couple. In fact, money is the number one issue that people fight about. Ben and I are no strangers to that. However, if you figure out a system that works best for you than stick to it! Hopefully this helped to give you some ideas on how to combine money and finances as a couple!