MoneyTalk for Couples: How should you split up bills?

Sunday, February 26, 2023

BECU Lead Financial Educator Stacey Black
When it comes to any relationship, aligning on money matters is important as it plays a pivotal role in every aspect of a couple’s life.

Although talking about finances may not be the most fun conversation to have, there’s no doubt it’s an important one that can have long-term impact.

To make defining your relationship with money easier as a couple, BECU Lead Financial Educator Stacey Black suggests that you continue the conversation with this question:

How should you split up bills? 

If you and your partner are moving in together, it’s important to discuss how bills will be divided

Specifically, sit down and review your accounts and bills. Figure out how to divvy up bills before you and your partner move in together. Will they be split 50/50? Will the person earning a larger income contribute more? Asking these types of questions prior to cohabitating will lessen confusion in the long run.

Then, of course, there’s the age-old question when it comes to long-term couples: to combine finances or not to combine finances? 

There are many ways to do this, such as pooling your income into one account, keeping them strictly separate or some combination of the two. “I once worked with a couple where one person was a spender and the other was a saver. For this reason, I suggested they keep separate checking accounts but have one joint account solely for paying bills,” said Black.

Additionally, some couples ultimately choose to keep separate accounts so they feel financially independent in terms of where they can spend their money and save as much as they choose. 

“My ex and I each had our own spending account, and each had a set amount budgeted to spend however we liked,” said Black. “We had our main account for everything else, but we weren’t on each other’s spending accounts.”

Consider date nights focused on a financial check-in. 

This includes reviewing your savings account(s), financial goals and budgeting aspirations. "Pour yourselves a glass of wine or drink of choice, make a later dinner reservation or queue up your favorite movie. 

Having your financial check-ins bookended by a fun date night activity makes them feel less tedious and more enjoyable,” said Black. With or without the wine, Black recommends scheduling a financial review once or twice a month, and first touching on lighter topics like financial goals before diving into the nitty-gritty of things like debt.

See previous MoneyTalk article


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