Splitting Expenses With Your Significant Other
Before RD and I moved in together, we had a talk about how we wanted to take care of our household expenses. It was an interesting conversation as we chatted about what did and didn’t work in past relationships when it came to money.
In relationships, there are generally three ways that couples split costs:
- Split evenly – expenses are split down the middle, or you take turns paying.
- Split according to income – expenses are split proportionately, based on income.
- One person pays for the majority – well, self-explanatory.
While I’ve lived with boyfriends before, there was always a pretty significant difference in income. In college, I lived with someone who was already established in a career. He paid for most things because he knew I couldn’t really afford to. But once I started working, our incomes aligned a lot better, and we started splitting things evenly (to the point where we had a very detailed spreadsheet of expenses).
Then there was an ex-boyfriend who I financially supported during the last year of our relationship when he quit his job to go back to school. And Nic, who was a student – I paid for most of our dates, and while we lived in Germany, he paid for a bigger portion of our rent. We probably ended up pretty even in terms of splitting expenses over the course of the relationship – it just fluctuated based on each other’s income level at the time.
My relationship with RD is unique to me because I’ve never lived with someone where we’ve been in the same place financially (he makes more at his full-time job, but I make up the difference with my freelance income). Not only that, but we have the same sorts of spending habits. So it seemed logical that we split our expenses evenly, right?
What I didn’t want was to have a spreadsheet going and track expenses down to the penny. I’ve done it before and it really seemed to take the romance out of “treating” your partner to something. But I still wanted our expenses to be fair since we have no plans to combine our finances anytime soon (I like the idea of combining certain aspects of your finances together, but always want to keep some things separate – even after marriage).
Here’s what we’ve come up with:
- We split rent 50/50 ($1,650/month)
- I pay for the internet bill ($65/month)
- RD pays for the hydro bill ($50/month)
- We take turns paying for groceries, and reconcile our receipts once a month
- We take turns treating each other to meals out
We don’t track every dollar we spend and I like it that way. Our day-to-day spending is quite relaxed. If we need something for the house, I’ll pick it up on my lunch break – or he’ll grab it on his flex day. We don’t keep track of the little things. It also means I don’t feel bad if I put a $10 bottle of kombucha in the shopping cart, he doesn’t mind picking up our bar tab when we’re out with his co-workers, and I can feel good treating him to a dinner out with my friends.
Being able to contribute equally makes me feel empowered. In 2006, I had to borrow bus fare from my then-boyfriend because I didn’t have enough in cash or credit to pay for it on my own. That was nearly 10 years ago, and seeing how far I’ve come makes me feel really good. I like that I don’t need someone to support me financially, and I like knowing that I’m financially equal to the person I want to be with.
That being said, I know that what works for us might not work for another couple – and it might not work for us forever. But for now, I’m happy with how things have been working out so far. :)
How do you split shared expenses with your significant other?
Author: Krystal Yee
I’m a personal finance blogger and marketing professional based in Vancouver. I’m a former Toronto Star (Moneyville) columnist, author of The Beginner’s Guide to Saving and Investing, and co-founder of the Canadian Personal Finance Conference. When I’m not working, you can usually find me running, climbing, playing field hockey, or plotting my next adventure.