Simple ways to start combining finances

November 07, 2023 | Anne Purcell

The money talk, whether in a new relationship, long-term partnership or marriage, is a complicated topic to approach. Most people grow up with different opinions and habits around money, usually stemming from their parents and upbringing, that can sometimes conflict with their partners. But, even if the conversation is difficult, it is necessary, especially when you start splitting bills with someone else or saving for the future.

There are many options you can take when it comes to splitting bills or combining finances. Depending on your and your partner's situation, what makes sense now might not make sense later. Here are a few different approaches to take when it comes to dealing with finances in a partnership:

Split everything down the middle, 50/50

You don't need a joint account for this, but you will move money back and forth using resources such as Venmo, Zelle or cash. With this strategy, everyone contributes the same amount to the relationship. If you share an apartment, split the rent straight down the middle. Groceries? Split down the middle. Tuesday date night? Split down the middle.

This is an easy way to split bills and share finances for couples early in a relationship or those who have similar salaries. Splitting costs like this may seem fair because everyone is paying the same amount no matter what.

However, depending on the nature of the relationship, this method may not be ideal. Suppose one person in the relationship or partnership makes less. In that case, they may be contributing more to the relationship proportionate to their income and have less money to go towards personal bills or activities. Or, one may have preferences for more expensive things that wouldn't make sense for the other to pay for; if this is the case, one of the following strategies might work better for you.

Each individual contributes a percentage based on their income

If both partners work, they will rarely bring in the same income. If you are sharing a life and many expenses and making a smaller salary, it may seem unfair if you are expected to contribute the same amount. If this is the case, a different way to approach shared bills is by splitting them proportionally by income.

For example, if one partner brings in 7,000 a month while the other brings in 3,000 a month, their total income is 10,000. Since the higher earning partner brings in 70% of the monthly income, they would contribute that percentage towards the monthly shared bills.

If this is the case, but you don't want to have one person's name on all the bills while the other pays their partner back, you can set up a joint account but still have separate accounts. Each month, each partner will deposit their percentage of income dedicated to the relationship into the joint account for everything done together – from paying bills and date nights to saving for vacations or home renovations.

Combine financials into one shared account

Another option to consider is combining finances completely into one shared account. While this might not make sense for couples who are just starting their relationship or have very few shared expenses, the longer you're together or the more expenses you have, such as a mortgage, childcare and more, this might make the most sense.

The concept of this is simple: with all assets together and both parties having the ability to access them, couples feel a sense of unity. Having a joint account makes it easier for you to grow your money, work towards common goals and keep each other in check when it comes to spending habits.

It goes without saying, but every couple is different. What works for you won't necessarily work for someone else, and even what works for you now may need an adjustment later as your life together changes with life events such as buying a home or having children. Your financial journey with your partner can be flexible, and it's not a one-size-fits-all forever situation. Allow for change, especially as you grow and change within yourself and your relationship.

Read more about saving habits in relationships:

You might like

Sign up for our newsletter

Get even more personal finance info, tips and tricks delivered right to your inbox each month.