We May Be Living Together, But We're Not Sinning Financially

One of my readers, Blair, asked:

I have a question – Do you and Lloyd have a joint budget, or do you keep them separate? How do you split bills… is it even, or is it based on salary?

Thanks for your question, Blair!  I meant to write a post about this awhile back, but never got around to it…

As geeky as it is, Lloyd is even more obsessed with his finances then I am (we’re a match made in PF heaven!).  Before we moved in together, we had several talks on how we would split the costs.

All Things Equal

In my humble opinion, I think each man and woman should pay the same amount for the same things and should not be penalized for making more money.  Lloyd feels the same way.  We actually do make about the same right now, so that makes things even easier.

We split everything – rent, utilties, cable, water – right down the middle.  I think this is the right way to do things, but I know that some people split rent differently based on income, size of bedroom, etc.  Splitting expenses down the middle works the best for us.

Bonus:  I get some pretty nice credit card rewards, so all the utilties actually flow through my credit card.  However, we take that into account when we pay rent.  My actual rent check is always smaller than Lloyd’s since I’ve already paid for the utilties.  When you add each of our total expenses up though, they come out to the same amount per month.

We Eat A Lot

The first month or so that we lived together, we attempted to grocery shop seperately.  When you’re living together as a couple, this does not work.  We quickly realized we need to start splitting the costs of dinners and other household essentials.

We go to the grocery store every Sunday and have three orders: joint order, his order, and my order.  The person that foots the cost for the joint order switches from week to week.  But, we still keep a spreadsheet of how much each weekly joint order is so one person doesn’t end up paying more than the other in the end.

Lloyd and I like to eat pretty healthy, so weekly grocery shopping is a must for us.  We prepare breakfast, lunch, and almost all our weekly dinners at home (as much as it pains me since I’m not a fan of cooking).  We have the joint grocery shopping down to a science now, but it’s still pretty annoying!  But…that’s coming from a person that dislikes grocery shopping in general. 😉

Joint Budget

At this time, Lloyd and I do not share a joint budget.  There are many reasons for this, but mainly because our finances are not combined.  We plan to combine our finances when we’re married, but I do not think we should until then.

How do you share the finances with your significant other? 


In other news, I particpated in two carnivals this week!  Please click on over and check out these carnivals!

**Carnival of Personal Finance hosted by Money Crashers

**Carnival of Money Stories hosted by PT Money

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  • We have a joint budget (I’ll be posting details later this week). We talk in general about getting married someday, but for us moving in together was making that commitment. So while we have separate bank accounts, our financial life is completed integrated. We decided who would pay what and we each have things we’re responsible for, rather than splitting each down the middle. We’re aiming to have things split equally. That being said, because I have about $700/month in student loan payments, we decided that he would foot most of the household costs for now and we would focus on using my income to pay down my debt (hopefully increasing the $700 to a greater sum when my income settles out).

  • We split everything except rent down the middle.

    In theory the 50/50 makes sense, but when we moved in together, I was paying probably 45% more than he was on my old rent, and it just didn’t seem right that his rent would only drop by $200 when we moved in together while mine would have dropped by, oh $700 or something. So we came up with a split we found fair.

    We don’t have a joint budget, and we just share all food in one big lump order

    • SP, we’ve considered doing our food in one big order as well since splitting it up can be so time-consuming! 😉 We may just start doing that eventually.

  • It seems to make sense for you guys to split your bills evenly. Do you think it would be different if say, you were making 75k and Lloyd was making 40k, or vice versa? I always find the ways that couple split bills to be really interesting! That is, unless someone is complaining that the other doesn’t ever buy tp, or something silly like that… 🙂

    • @Laura, Good question! I actually don’t think it’d be different if we were making a different amount. Just based on our views, we think everything should be equals no matter what. LOL – I’m actually always stealing his TP, so he does complain about that. But, I swear I always reimburse him. 🙂

    • I’m with Laura, I find it TERRIBLY interesting how couples split bills.

      I think it does make sense when people make the same amount (or roughly the same +/-$10k) to split everything 50/50.

      But at the same time I’m pretty sure that if there was a large disparity in the incomes (like the 75k/40k Laura mentioned) that I would want it to be percentage-based. Or more thoroughly combined.

      ie either split all the fixed bills 65/35 in the case of 75k/40k incomes


      everyone pools their money into one account that everything goes through

      I dunno… having never been in a situation that requires joint finances, I’m not sure what I would be comfortable with. But I find reading about what other people do so intriguing. It seems like there is no perfect system, just a system that works for the two people involved. =)

    • Ah, yay. I’m so happy so many of you are interested in topics like this….maybe I will write more in the future on the topic.

  • We’ve tried a million different ways, but since we’ve only ever had one income at a time (he worked while I was in grad school, now I’m working while he is) whenever we kept things separate, we just ended up needing to borrow from each other, which I hated. Besides, most of what we buy, we both have access to or benefit from (takeout or meals out, home stuff, video games and electronics, beer and wine, toiletries, cleaning stuff, etc), so it started to get complicated and to feel like we were keeping score when we tried to balance out who paid for what. Currently, we keep all of our money in one account except what’s needed to pay our separate bills (loans, insurance, credit cards); as long as everything’s covered and we’ve got some buffer in our joint account, I also take a little extra out as an allowance to myself so I can buy clothes, makeup, gifts, or whatever without feeling like I have to be totally accountable to him for it; when he’s got extra income, he does the same. It’s nice because it feels a little more like “what’s mine is yours,” and I know that over time our money will bounce back and forth enough that we’ll be pretty much even; it’s just a lot easier for us to not have to think about whose money is whose and what it’s being used for. From each, to each, all that. 🙂

  • We do it a bit different. We keep a joint checking account and joint savings accounts (although I’m the only one who manages them) and have our own checking accounts with savings attached. We put his entire paycheck from his full time job in savings so we’re only living off one income. My paycheck goes towards the bills, my car payment and any personal payments (plus savings). The income from his part time job goes to him only, and he uses it to treat us to a movie or dinner, or save it for something he wants on his own. I know a lot of people wouldn’t feel comfortable having combined financials so thoroughly, but it works for us. We’ve been together for 6 years, so it’s something that doesn’t even phase us.

  • I think if there’s a big disparity in income, it makes more sense to split things in proportion.

    At the moment since I’m bringing in all the income it’s a little awkward – I feel bad when I spend on myself (which isn’t often), but at the same time feel I’m here to provide the basics for T and not the luxuries, esp. as I’m not making a lot right now.

    We’ve always pooled our money though, which makes the headache a bit less – I can’t imagine what it would be like trying to coordinate spending with him! I’m jealous of you and Lloyd, sounds like you’re definitely a PF match!

  • Thanks! I’ve been wondering how to work out our finances now that my boyfriend and I are living together. I make a little more than him, but it does seem to make sense to split things evenly.

  • We’ve pretty much combined all of our finances – except our credit cards and various bills depending on who gets the best deals or for tax purposes.

    We work off a budget and I do what Savings do… I put his paycheck into our savings account and use mine to pay off all our expenses for the month and whatever’s left goes into savings.

    For those who are interested (I find it interesting too how couples split their bills and why), there is the large disparity in pay between us, him making almost double to me but that’s never been an issue. He earns the big bucks and I manage it and so far, it has work out really well.

    • I think that’s a really good point. He makes the big bucks and you contribute to managing the finances. That sounds like it works out really well for you guys!

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