The money question is probably one of the most important –or THE most important- thing you have to discuss with your partner when you start to consider moving together for the first time.
Sharing expenses in a relationship is no easy but it is essential to do it right in order to preserve the couple, that is why I want to introduce you the idea of sharing bills based on your income, a method that will make sure that both of you are contributing with a fair amount of money but also allow you to save money for your individual projects.
In this article, I am going to share with you the benefits of splitting bills based on your income, teach you all the tips and tricks to do it right and help you to make sharing expenses in a relationship something easy and not a hard talk.
Benefits of splitting bills based on income for couples
The main benefit of splitting bills based on income when you are in a personal relationship is that you can make sure that both of you are paying according to what you can afford.
This financial method makes sure that, after paying your household expenses, you can save money for personal projects.
Imagine that Rebecca earns $8000 per month and Avery $5000. If you are renting an apartment for $4000 per month and split the rent in half, Rebecca will have $6000 left while Avery will only end up the month with $3000.
While splitting joint bills in 50/50 is great when you are living with a roommate or a friend since each of you should be able to enjoy the benefits of having better salaries, in a love relationship you have to factor other different things such as the commitment with the person you love, the space to let both of you have personal goals and projects, and the long term projects that you can have in common when planning a financial future together.
Now imagine that Rebecca pays $2480 of the rent and Audrey covers $1520. At the end of the month, Rebecca will have $5520, which is still more than her partner, but Audrey will end up with $3480.
That money difference although it is not huge, will give more independence to Avery and will allow him to have his own money outside and commit with not only personal plans but also with a couple project.
When it comes to expenses, the person who is earning the most will probably want to enjoy the money, whether it is hiring a service such as cleaning help or living in a nicer apartment. While it is not fair that the one who earns a good salary cannot enjoy the perks of having a nice job, it is also unfair to demand the significant other who earn less to commit with a level of expenses that she or he cannot afford. So, what is the solution to this? Divide the bills according to what each member of the couple brings to the table.
How to split bills based on your income
Dividing household expensed based on your income is actually easier than you think. While this method sounds complicated, it doesn’t involve complex maths and can be automatized with a simple spreadsheet. In fact, I will share you below one for free that you can use with your partner, but let’s dig first in how to calculate it manually.
Formula to divide bills based on income
The following formula will show you what percentage of the bills should each member of the relationship pay with this method:
Person A salary + Person B Salary = Total Income
Person A salary / Total Income = 0,XX
XX= the percentage that Person A should pay for each bill
100-XX= the percentage that Person B should pay
Sounds complicated? Not at all! Let’s go back with our Rebecca and Avery example and you will see how easy it is when you put it in practice
$8000 (Rebecca) + $5000 (Avery) = $13000 (Total Income)
$5000 / $13000 = 0,3846
Rebecca should cover 38% of the expenses
Avery is in charge of paying the 62% left of the bills
Spreadsheet for splitting bills based on income
I created a free spreadsheet that you can use to easily calculate how much each one of you should pay. The only thing you have to do is add your salary, list all your expenses and you are ready to go.
Tips for couples dividing expenses based on their income
- Don’t count personal expenses as part of the shared ones. You love going to the gym and she takes theater classes after work? Great! Let’s take care of each activity individually
- Subtract personal debts and student loans from the salary before calculating what percentage you should pay. While it is not fair to pay for the loans of your significant other, it is also true that these payments can take a substantial amount out of the monthly salary. I recommend you reading Juliet Del Rio’s sad story about how this discussion led her to a breakup at The Financial Diet
- Consider opening a joint account. It can be easier to simply transfer money from your personal account to the one you share with your partner and use it to pay shared bills.
- Relax about it. After all, you love each other and you should trust that your loved one can watch your back. If your significant other is in charge of paying the 35% of everything and the apartment utilities represent 32% of the whole expenses, choose the easiest way and let him pay that while you pay the apartment rent.
- Talk about this. If you want to build a future together you should be able to talk about hard topics and willing to debate it as long as it takes until both of you are happy with the resolution.
Have you tried to split bills with your couple based on your income? Let us know how did it work for you! If you haven’t, this is the time to start talking about it, you may end up deciding that it is not the best method for you but you can also end up loving it.