When you decide to move in with your partner, splitting the bills effectively so that you’re both paying a fair (if not necessarily even) share is a great way to maintain the harmony.
It’s easy to just divide things 50/50 – but unless you both earn the same wage this will leave one person feeling out of pocket. On the other hand, if the higher earner is left shouldering too many of the monthly expenses, they’ll probably start to feel taken advantage of.
Start with an open conversation
Every strong decision in a relationship is made together, which means honest and open communication. If you’re somebody who finds it awkward or embarrassing to talk about money, you could consider writing down the points that you’d like to discuss ahead of time. This can help make it easier to stay on track when you actually sit down with your partner. It’s important to open up about any debt or credit issues that you have, as well as more positive things like assets and wages.
Then work through a list of all the bills that you share to come up with a realistic monthly total. Obviously, this can change as time goes on, so be prepared to revisit this conversation if your bills increase. Once this is done, you can decide on the best way to split the outgoings. Here are some different options – these are all reasonable, so it just depends on your preferences.
Option one: Combining your money into a joint account
Instead of having your own individual pots of money, you open a joint account and combine both your incomes in one place. This makes life simple – you both contribute whatever you can, and you both reap the same rewards. It works better for serious relationships, where you feel comfortable combining assets. It’s also worth noting that it’s not a good idea to open an account with somebody who has negative factors such as a CCJ or bankruptcy affecting their credit score.
You can still maintain independent pots of ‘fun money’ if you want to. Just work out how much you can each afford as an allowance after essential expenses and savings have been taken care of, and pay this money bank into individual accounts. That’s a good way to each retain some control over your spending.
Option two: Contributing a set percentage based on income
Combining incomes isn’t for everyone, and it’s perfectly healthy to decide that you’d like to keep your money separate. In that case, it’s a good idea to work out fair contributions based on how much you earn. To do this, add your salaries together and calculate how much each of you contributes to the total as a percentage. So, for instance, if you earn £25,000 and your partner earns £50,000, then you’re contributing 33% and your partner is contributing 66%. Then, simply apply these same percentages to the total household expenses: in the example given, you would pay one third and your partner would pay two thirds. This ensures that you’re both left with a reasonably similar amount of discretionary spending money.
Option three: Each taking care of certain, specific bills
The final option is for you to simply divide up the bills – for instance, one person agrees to take care of rent if the other person looks after utility bills. This is a more haphazard option, but could work well if one person earns a lot more than the other. For instance, we’ve heard of couples where one person pays rent and most bills, while the other person contributes to a couple of bills and groceries but also picks up some of the slack on household chores.
The most important thing is finding something that works for both of you. Don’t be afraid to do something completely different if you both agree. However, if you’re not sure where to start, these options could help you begin the conversation.