Is it Fair To Split Bills 50/50 in a Relationship?
In any committed, healthy relationship, partners treat each other as equals. There’s give and take on both sides. When it comes to money, things get a little tricky.
Early in a relationship, you might split restaurant bills or take turns treating each other on dates. As the romance moves from dating to more serious stages, like living together or getting married, paying half of everything won’t always make sense or seem fair.
It’s not just coffee, restaurant meals, and movie tickets to consider anymore. It’s rent, utilities, groceries, and other living expenses. There’s also whatever debts or financial baggage like back taxes or child support each person brings. Going from separate finances to merging your financial lives is complicated.
- Is it Fair To Split Bills 50/50 in a Relationship?
- Should Couples Split Bills 50/50?
- Alternatives to Splitting Expenses 50/50
- How Do You Split Bills Based on Income?
- Relationships Are 50/50 But Should Couples Split Bills 50/50?
- Should Couples Share Their Finances?
- Does Money Affect Relationships?
- How Important Are Finances in a Relationship?
Should Couples Split Bills 50/50?
When significant differences in income, spending, or obligations exist, 50/50 feels grossly unfair to one person. When one partner struggles to keep their head above water, and the other is barely impacted or benefiting, it’s hard to view that as equality.
What if one person has thousands of dollars in student loans and credit card debt while the other is debt-free? Dividing expenses evenly might make paying bills on time or getting out of debt difficult for the partner with more financial obligations.
Income differences also matter. If one partner brings in $6,000 a month and the other is earning only half that amount, divvying up every monthly expense 50-50 is a much worse deal for the one bringing home $3,000. The bigger the income gap, the bigger the potential problem.
When the relationship gets serious, different attitudes toward money need to be ironed out. Maybe you want to be frugal and aggressively save money, while your partner would rather spend more. How will you feel if your partner assumes you’re paying for half of that new television in your living room even though you never wanted it in the first place?
In addition to being unmanageable long-term for some couples, splitting everything might negatively affect the person carrying debt or having a lower income. One partner’s credit score and savings rates could take a big hit, but they aren’t the only things impacted.
Money problems are a significant source of stress for many people. And stress causes all sorts of physical and mental health issues.
According to this Kansas State University study, fights about money are also the top predictor of divorce “by far.” That’s why you must come together on a plan that works for both of you.
You would think splitting everything 50/50 would simplify your finances and make the relationship feel like an equal partnership. In reality, it often does the opposite. A couple might find it difficult and unfair, then start fighting over money.
Alternatives to Splitting Expenses 50/50
If your partner wants to split everything 50/50, think about it before you agree. With a 50/50 split, if there is a significant income disparity, one person could spend their whole paycheck on shared bills while the other has money to burn. That’s not fair.
Thankfully, there are alternatives to splitting every expense right down the middle. There is no reason to have one partner end up in worse financial shape or stressed about money.
You could open a joint bank account where each person deposits their entire paycheck. You then use that account to pay for everything. You will see where every dollar goes, whether good or bad.
If you’re not married, your spending habits are not aligned, or you’re not sure your relationship is solid enough, you might not feel comfortable with someone having full access to every penny you earn. Another option is to split bills based on income.
Splitting bills in a relationship based on the percentage of income each person contributes to the total household income is not as easy as a 50/50 split or both partners throwing 100% of every paycheck into a joint account. It is fair, though. It also allows you to keep separate accounts.
How Do You Split Bills Based on Income?
You split bills based on income by having each person pay a percentage of each shared bill based on what they earn like so:
- Keep your existing bank accounts, but open a joint checking account for paying joint expenses.
- Add your net incomes together to get your total household income.
- Calculate the percentage of total household income each person contributes.
- Add up all the shared expenses and bills you’ve agreed to split.
- Multiply the total from the expenses you’re splitting by the income percentages from step 3. The result is each partner’s share.
- Every month, both partners transfer their shares into the joint account.
Relationships Are 50/50 But Should Couples Split Bills 50/50?
Unfortunately, there’s no single best way to split expenses in a relationship. Every relationship and each person’s financial life are different. If you’re a dual-income couple and not living on a single income, finding balance is critical to the health of your relationship and your financial matters.
Pooling money works for many couples. Keeping everything separate except common expenses works for a lot of couples too. 50/50 might work, or it might cause financial and relationship problems.
That’s why it’s crucial to develop a plan together through open and honest communication. Starting a budget to manage your joint finances and shared goals could help you get past any differences in your attitudes toward money.
You always want to be on the same page with your partner regarding money, no matter how you decide to handle expenses. Agreeing is far more important than splitting everything 50/50 for the sake of being equal.
Should Couples Share Their Finances?
A married couple should share their finances. It promotes trust, transparency, commitment, and teamwork. When you share finances, income differences, and deciding who pays for what are non-issues. Couples can alternatively keep individual accounts and a joint account both fund for paying shared bills.
Does Money Affect Relationships?
Money affects your relationships in several ways. Differences in income, obligations and spending habits can cause problems. Sometimes money is used for power or control. Couples must be on the same page about money to avoid arguments and stress. Disagreements over money can ruin otherwise good relationships.
How Important Are Finances in a Relationship?
Finances are very important in a relationship. Arguing about money is one of the leading predictors of divorce. Not being on the same page about spending, saving, financial goals, and priorities leads to fighting and unhappiness. That’s why it’s important to agree on money matters.
Image Credits: Pexels
Jerry is a personal finance enthusiast, side hustler, and freelance web developer who began his career in financial services. He co-founded KindaFrugal.com, a personal finance and frugal living blog. His insights have appeared on MSN, Newsweek.com, HerCampus.com, Mashed.com, and many others.