Couples finance. Yikes. Personal finance is, by it’s very nature, personal. If there is one thing people have trouble opening up about it’s money. Now throw another person into the mix. Another person who may have completely different ideas and ideals when it comes to money. Things can go downhill fast if you’re not careful. Now of course I can’t tell you what will work for sure in your own relationship, but I can tell you what has worked for us at different stages of our relationship. That being said, the biggest tip of all is to communicate. The only way we came up with any of these solutions was to communicate.
Episode 1: Boyfriend, girlfriend, living together – I pay half, you pay half. Separate bank accounts.
When my boyfriend (now husband) and I moved in together we didn’t have any joint bills, per se. We had rent and utilities but other than that we paid our own cell phone, car insurance, and other various bills. At the time our salaries were comparable so we agreed to split rent and utilities down the middle. He paid rent, I paid utilities, and then I wrote him a check for the difference. The reason this worked for us was because I was diligent about paying him what I owed. It would have gotten really awkward really quickly if he had to constantly ask me for my contribution. While we were dating this kept our bills paid and no one felt like he or she was contributing too much or too little. Here’s a little infographic of how it worked. (Numbers are fictional.) Hopefully that makes as much sense to you as it does to me. 😉 Things stayed pretty much the same for us until we were married.
Episode 2: Married couple – I pay some, you pay some. Joint and separate bank accounts.
Our little journey has seen us move halfway across the country, me be unemployed for 6 months, and then a career change which saw my pay nearly cut in half. It’s just not feasible at this point for me to pay half of our bills. However, as miserable as I was at my old job, we talked about it a lot before I made the career switch that will (for a while anyway) see me bringing home a much smaller paycheck. With that change in our life, the way we work our finances had to change as well. Now, we each contribute a predetermined dollar amount to our joint checking account from each paycheck. That account is used to pay bills, buy groceries, and buy a few various and sundry “house” things. In our family, once you’ve contributed your share to the joint account, the rest of your paycheck is yours to do what you please. Granted, we still consult each other on larger purchases, but no one has to ask for lunch money. Now our finances look more like this. 😉
We’ve kind of always been a Yours, Mine, Ours kind of family. It works for us and doesn’t leave anyone feeling like they’re contributing too much or too little. Sure, I contribute less to the bills than my husband, but his “play” money pot is bigger. I can only imagine that our finances will continue to evolve as our relationship and family grow and I cannot stress enough that none of these models will work unless you talk about money! It really doesn’t matter how your family manages their money as long as there is constant communication!
How does your family handle money?