Money tends to be a sensitive, conflict-sparking subject for couples, so deciding how to split expenses can be tricky. There are several different options for dividing payments, each with their own benefits and drawbacks. Here are four of the most common methods for splitting expenses, plus the potential pros and cons of each choice:
- Divide all expenses 50/50. Splitting all costs in half is certainly a simple option, but the reactions may be a bit complicated. Sure, everyone's paying their "fair share," but the person who makes less money in the relationship may be frustrated that they're paying a higher fraction of their salary.
- Pay in a ratio according to both salaries. If one partner makes $50,000 and the other makes $100,000, then all expenses would be paid in a one to two ratio so that the first person covers one-third of each bill. Dividing costs to correspond with salaries ensures that both partners are spending an equal percentage of their paycheck each month. The downside? Things may get messy with pay raises or pay cuts, and the person with a higher salary may grow resentful.
- The breadwinner pays all. This is a good option if one partner stays home with the kids or has an artistic career with sporadic, unpredictable income. To prevent any bitterness, it's important for the nonbreadwinner to take care of other tasks around the home so that the responsibilities feel balanced.
- Different bills for each partner. Another way to divide is to simply assign separate bills to each partner. Does one person watch television more often? They can be in charge of the cable bill. Does the other take long, scalding-hot showers? The water bill is theirs. It may be difficult to split things equally, but this is a great way to step back and recognize which habits are costing money.
When it comes to splitting expenses — and feeling satisfied with finances as a couple — the key is communication. Both partners should encourage each other to speak up and be honest about their opinions. It all comes down to balance, so it's important to treat money like any other responsibility and learn to compromise.