Sharing Finances? Here are 5 Ways to Do It Right

In April of 1975 Judy Hendren Mello created the First Women’s Bank in Manhattan. It was the first bank in the United States to be run by and operated for women, during a period where women were highly discriminated against by banks. Betty Friedan had an account there. Just one year prior, banks required single, widowed or divorced women to bring a man to co-sign any credit application, regardless of their income.

Much has changed since then, and more women are household breadwinners than ever before, as well as finding ways to creative ways to split costs. With wedding season fast approaching (or is it already here?!), we wanted to share 5 different approaches to sharing finances that have worked well for couples.

2: 1 Approach

This is where you keep most of your finances separate, but have one joint account that you both contribute to equally. You can choose to contribute a dollar amount or a percentage of monthly earnings to that account. With one joint account, you are taking baby steps to trusting your significant other with your money. You get to see how they spend and if you’re comfortable giving them purchasing power with your hard earned cash.

Most often couples who live together and are fairly evenly matched when it comes to income and debt favor this approach. That way the joint account is what you use for household purchases-- everything from toilet paper to a new couch.

The Solo Dolo

Some couples keep all finances separate, and it works for them. If each of you are financially independent, and have no desire to share finances, but rather split household expenses in a way that makes you the most comfortable, that’s always an easy option. Sometimes that’s 50-50. Sometimes that’s not. And it it’s not, we suggest having a conversation, especially if one side of the equation makes a significant amount more. What you don’t want is to commit to a living or a financial situation where you feel taken advantage of, or where you resent how much the other person is making and contributing.

If you really like keeping everything solo, but your incomes are vastly disparate-- we suggest the next approach to avoid future disagreements.

The Pick and Choose

This approach is best for couples who share everything, except comparable salaries. When you don’t want to let one person “handle it all” (which, is certainly another way to go), but rather want each party to contributing their “fair share,” each person picks certain bills and expenses.

These don’t have to be equal shares.

For instance, if you own a house together, one person pays the mortgage and the other fills the fridge. Or perhaps, one of you pays the rent and the other handles electric, gas, and the wifi situation.

This works for both unmarried and married couples. The most important part of this arrangement, is that each person is getting a fair shake, not a shake down.

With the pick and choose, and all above options, individual debts remain the responsibility of the indebted, however this could (and often should) be considered when splitting up costs.

Spend One, Save One

This is an interesting approach being taken by couples who have not yet made those major life purchases, but are working toward them.

They will live on one salary-- typically the larger-- and save the entirety of the rest. This is also a useful approach for couples who haven’t yet been able to put away that rainy day money, or save for retirement. It typically involves living below your means, but is a smart investment to make in your future.  

Merge It All

This is an approach most often used by married couples who combine their lives, finances and all, entirely.

Most often neither party is entering into the marriage with significant assets--like a house, as this is a purchase that will be made together. Or debts, like student loans, that need to paid off. However, even within “merge it all” it isn’t uncommon for couples to share one joint account, while keeping individual checking accounts. What you put into those individual accounts? It varies. Bonuses or checks from grandma and grandpa could be considered “fun” individual money. Cash that doesn’t have to go toward life expenses and allows each person to feel like they’ve got some disposable income.
Do you have a different or unique approach to sharing finances? Share with us in the comments!