Should you split bills 50/50 with your spouse or partner?

How do you know if you should split bills 50/50 with your spouse or partner?

Couples should split bills 50/50 if they make similar incomes and split resources equally. You are both sharing resources equally and may even have a joint bank account.

Alternatively, some married couples split finances when living together by:

  • Income percentages. Perfect for most couples who want to pay for expenses based on a percentage of their income. If your combined expenses are 30 percent of your combined income, then you each pay 30 percent.
  • Highest income earner pays. Generally, this is not the recommended method for paying bills. The high income earner may choose to pay if they are feeling generous or their income substantially outweighs the other.
  • Separate responsibilities and expenses. Agree on a rough split between expenses. Next, assign each person expenses that match your rough dollar amounts. Maybe one person takes the mortgage while the other person takes utilities and groceries.

Managing finances in a relationship can be tricky. How can you manage your expenses so that everyone is paying their fair share?

Even better, how can you come to a peaceful agreement on who pays the rent or bills? After all, fighting about money is one of the leading causes for divorce.

Luckily for you, I’m going to show you multiple ways married couples split bills. If you have separate finances when living together, these guidelines can help you find a solution for paying bills.

Should you split bills 50_50 with your spouse or partner

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How should married couples split finances?

Ultimately, how you determine to split your finances as a couple will be up to you. There is no right or wrong way to split bills, if you both come to an agreement happily.

That being said, there are a variety of methods for splitting bills with your partner. However, before you can split expenses, you need to know the breakdown of your expenses.

You should know how much money is owed each month for rent, utilities, groceries, and other shared expenses. Write them down before you proceed (e.g. Rent – $900, Electricity $ 85, etc.).

Generally, husband’s and wife’s pay the bills using one of four different strategies when they have separate finances. These methods include splitting bills 50/50, income percentages, high earner pays, or dividing separate expenses and responsibilities.

I’ll show you each method below.

Regardless of your choice, owning a joint bank account is always a good idea for paying similar expenses. Starting a budget to manage your finances is also something you should consider.

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When should you split bills 50/50 with your spouse or partner?

Splitting bills 50/50 with your spouse or partner is very common. Generally, just agreeing to split 50/50 will alleviate the headache of finding another method.

50/50 works great when both partners have similar incomes and split resources equally. Your husband might eat more food while your wife might use more water. No one cares about the difference.

You are both working as one team, very similar to families who combine finances. However, you maintain your individual finances but pool together equally to pay bills.

When should you split bills based on income percentages?

Splitting bills based on different incomes is common when one partner earns more than the other. Alternatively, you can split bills based on income when one person is considered low-income.

For example, maybe your rent, utilities, and other shared expenses total $1,500. One partner earns $3,000 per month while the other only earns $1,000. Splitting expenses 50/50 wouldn’t work well because the low-income earner would only keep $250 per month after expenses.

In a lot of cases, the higher earner might want more liberties (more expenses) because they can afford more. Therefore, the low-income earner may live more of an extravagant lifestyle than they could afford on their own.

So how do you split bills based on income?

First, tally up all of your shared expenses and determine your total income. In our example, the total expenses between the couple was $1,500 per month while they earned $4,000.

Now, we can determine expenses as a percent of total income. This couple has an expense ratio of 37.5% [=($1,500/$4,000)*100]. Therefore, each couple should pay 37.5% of their income towards expenses.

The low-income earner would place $375 (37.5 percent of $1,000) into the couple’s joint bank account. The high-income earner would be responsible for $1,125 or 37.5 percent of $3,000.

Everyone pays the same base percentage. Both parties should be happy that it’s cheaper than living on their own and paying for the same expenses.

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When should the highest earner pay for all expenses?

Very rarely should the highest earner pay for all the expenses. Unless, you have a very generous partner that doesn’t mind paying for all expenses.

You’re splitting bills in a shared house for luxuries that you’re both using. Therefore, both parties should pay something.

Generally, the highest earner might pay for all the expenses when they earn a substantial amount more than their partner. For example, someone who earns $10k per month when their spouse earns $1k.

Otherwise, one partner might temporarily pay for all the expenses if their partner lost their income. Relationships are about supporting each other, not taking advantage of a situation or income difference.

Again, having one person pay for all the expenses is uncommon, but that’s up to you to decide. Your family will need to figure out what works for you.

Separating expenses and responsibilities.

Another option is to split responsibilities for certain expenses. First, you would figure out a rough dollar amount each person should pay. Then, you would pick expenses that you’re responsible for paying.

For example, your total expenses are approximately $1,500 per month. Each partner has an income around $2,500 per month, so expenses will be split 50/50 or around that ratio.

This couple pays a monthly rent of $750, which is approximately half of all expenses. Therefore, one spouse can cover the rent, while the other spouse pays the remainder of expenses.

Everyone owns an expense(s) and is responsible, on their own, for paying it.

Couples who keep separate finances love this style of paying bills because it maintains separation. You don’t need a joint bank account if you don’t want one.

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Should the wife contribute financially?

Every marriage is unique, which means some wives contribute financially and others may not. A large determinant of financial contribution is whether or not the wife is working. If both the wife and husband are employed, it is logical to assume that both will contribute financially.

But what if the wife is unemployed? Should she find a job to help pay the bills? Again, this depends on other factors. Many women work full-time and are not paid – full-time as mothers. Housewives who take care of the home, property, chores, and children are often on the clock 24/7 with few breaks in between. If this is the case in your marriage, the wife shouldn’t be expected to contribute financially. Of course, this is always a conversation to be had between the husband and wife.

A large factor to consider is the price of childcare. According to a 2021 study, the average cost of childcare is over $18 per hour for one child, increasing with each additional child that needs supervision. Hiring a cleaner can also cost you upwards of $20 per hour.

By staying home with the kids and taking care of the house, a stay-at-home mom is financially contributing by saving the household hundreds of dollars a month and thousands per year in childcare and cleaning fees. How’s that for a financial contribution?

Now, if you have a housewife with no children to take care of, she may be able to work and contribute a bit financially. Unless the marriage has a huge property or other assets to take care of, a housewife should have the time to work and help out with the family finances.

Some husbands prefer that their wives do not work. Whether this is a traditionalist form of thinking or a simple preference for bringing home the bacon themselves, it all breaks down to necessity and opinion.

Should a wife give money to her husband?

While plenty of stay-at-home moms and homemakers still exist, the 21st century has brought about more women in the workforce. If you are one of these women, you may make more money than your husband or all of the money in your household.

If you’re bringing home all of the money in your household, you may have to give your husband some to purchase necessities. Now, this would work the same way as if the husband was the breadwinner – we must first look at all of the other aspects of the relationship.

If the husband is taking care of the children and the home or contributing in some other meaningful way, you should share your income with him the same way he is sharing his efforts and actions with you.

However, if he isn’t working and isn’t contributing in another way, the wife shouldn’t feel obligated to give money to her husband. It’s important to consider whether or not he is actively searching for work or if, perhaps, he’s going through a difficult emotional time. People get married to have an effective partnership that will support them through tough times, including financial support.

So, if you think your husband is trying his best and you’ve made it clear that he needs to contribute, if not now, soon in the future, then there’s nothing wrong with giving him some money. Again, this is for necessities like food, gas, or maybe taking a class he needs to advance his career.

If he’s spending your money on beers or going out with friends without any financial or career goals in site, you have every right to cut him off… with a mature conversation first, of course.

What is financial bullying in marriage?

Financial bullying – also referred to as financial abuse – is when one partner controls the other partner’s ability to get, save, and use money or other financial resources.

Victims might be manipulated, put on a scarce budget, made to beg their spouse for money, or have to rely solely on their partner for any purchase or financial decision. Sometimes they are even prevented from working so that the dominant partner can continue to control them financially.

The financial bully or abuser in a marriage is the breadwinner in the family. This situation leaves the victim feeling helpless because they cannot seek out help, resources, or family members without money if they don’t live within walking distance of them. They may not have access to a car, bus fare, or even a cell phone at times.

I’m tired of financially supporting my husband

Just as there are hardworking people in this world, there are also lazy ones who mooch off the hard workers. If you are in a marriage with an irresponsible husband or are thinking to yourself, “Why do I pay all the bills in my marriage?” you may be tired of financially supporting your partner.

There is a line in every situation that can push someone over the edge. When is financially supporting your husband no longer helpful? Think through the situation, create your boundaries, and discuss them with your husband.

Should I support my husband financially?

If your husband cannot work, is in between jobs and searching for work, contributes to the home in another way (e.g., childcare), or is going through a difficult emotional time, then there is nothing wrong with you supporting him financially. In fact, it would be an incredible act on your behalf as his partner.

On the other hand, if your husband is not working because he doesn’t want to or keeps coming up with excuses as to why, you may feel frustrated and not want to continue to support him financially. In this case, you have every right to sit down with him and discuss the financial pressure you are feeling. Try to approach the situation in a caring way, offering him support to help him find work.

If this doesn’t work, you may need to be firmer in your approach. Come up with a budget and only allow your money to go towards necessities. Make it clear that if he wants to do more – which you hope he does – he will need to find an additional source of income.

How do I stop being financially responsible for my husband?

You can stop being financially responsible for your husband by discussing with him and giving him more financial tasks to complete day to day.

Financial responsibility usually falls on the shoulders of one person in a marriage. Two people cannot naturally handle the same set of bills, as it’s not practical nor efficient. If you’re financially responsible for your household and your husband’s personal expenses, this could get stressful.

First, talk with your husband about some tasks that he could take over to make things easier for you. If you both share a bank account, you may be nervous about letting him access the funds and manage them independently. You can take care of shared expenses and bills but have him make payments on things that are solely under his name. He should take it seriously if he knows this will affect his credit score, creditworthiness, and ability to pay for things moving forward.

Keep track of what he’s doing at first from the sidelines, and once he gets the hang of it, you can add on more tasks until he becomes more financially responsible.

My husband says his money is his

A husband who says his money is only his sees life from a selfish perspective. The basic vows of marriage have both parties promise to love each other “for richer or for poorer,” but it seems this husband missed the memo.

The best approach is to explain the situation from your perspective of working together as a team. After all, a successful marriage merges two people into one powerful entity. This includes sharing expenses and financial decisions. You should both discuss your expectations and be sure to compromise if you want it to work.

If an effective conversation isn’t possible with this man, you may have to resort to finding your own source of income. So long as you both pay the bills, your husband does have a say in how he spends his leftover money. Unfortunately, the only thing you can do is try to agree on the topic. For example, he could have X amount that he spends at his discretion every month, but the rest goes into things like savings, the house, or resources for your kids.

I’m scared to ask my husband for money

If you’re scared to ask your husband for money, this is a red flag. Firstly, your husband should never instill fear in you – he should make you feel secure and loved.

You next need to ask yourself why you feel scared. Do you think he will yell or become violent at your request? Will he belittle you? Or, maybe, you feel some guilt about your financial situation because you could be doing more to contribute.

No matter the reason, it’s important to communicate effectively with your husband. Make sure the money you need is for a good cause, see if there’s any way you can help out with the cost, and discuss it with your husband confidently and without fear.         

Having a husband that scares you or refuses to communicate is a big red flag!

What is financial infidelity in a marriage?

Financial infidelity is when someone in a marriage is dishonest about their finances. Usually, the finances are shared, so these lies negatively impact the spouse’s finances as well.

This could include when a spouse hides debts, accumulates debts on behalf of the marriage, spends money in secret, or has money coming in from an undisclosed source. If it involves money and lying, it’s financial infidelity.

Some individuals may not think it’s infidelity if the wife spends $1000 on a shopping spree without telling her husband. However, this may be the most significant act of financial infidelity possible for a couple who is up to their necks in debt and can’t afford the mortgage. It all comes down to personal circumstances and perspective.

Often, a good solution is to set a spending limit that each spouse can spend without consulting the other. For example, you might be able to spend $50 or $100 on a purchase without talking to your spouse. Anything over requires a money talk.

Why do spouses lie about money?

Spouses may lie about money because they’re embarrassed about losing money, because they want to spend money in a way their partner will scrutinize them for, because the money is going to a vice, out of guilt, or out of fear.

Some spouses lose money on investments they thought were a sure thing, filling them with shame when it comes time to come clean. Others spend frivolously, buying things on a whim, regretting them later on, or not caring about the financial consequences.

Certain spouses may lie about money because their partner is not very understanding. Perhaps one spouse is frugal when another enjoys fun-based purchases now and again. If they don’t see eye to eye on this, it would be difficult for the spender to share what they’ve spent with the frugal partner.

Other spouses may have dirty secrets they spend their cash on, such as an affair, gambling, or a different addiction. Most spouses lie about money because they feel either guilty or fearful about telling their partner what happened.

While some lying doesn’t come from an evil place, all lying is dishonest and has no part in a healthy marriage.

My husband spends money without consulting me         

If your husband is spending significant amounts of money without consulting you, it’s time to sit him down for a chat. As a married couple, your assets are now one. This means whatever you both do affect the other in credit scores and overall financial well-being, even if he is the breadwinner.

Sit down with your husband and set an amount for purchases that each of you should discuss with the other before completing. For example, you may agree that any purchase over $200 should be discussed with the other spouse first. Make sure to include what you spend in this as well so that he knows it’s an even playing field when it comes to money rules in your relationship.

My husband gives money to his family without telling me

A sore topic of conversation may come up if your husband gives money to his family without asking you. This could be to help out a relative in need, as a loan, or even support siblings or parents.

Spouses must tread lightly here because the husband cares about his family, and you should want to help as much as you can. Firstly, examine your finances. Do your husband’s contributions to family make a significant dent in your accounts, or does he give out $20 or $50 here or there?

If it’s significant, ask your husband his reasoning for helping. Be sure not to ask only about emotional reasons, but about the facts and figures surrounding that relative’s situation. Make sure to refresh him on any financial goals or debts you are both facing as well.

If you’re figuring out how to deal with financially dependent in-laws, there is a lot to consider. Firstly, are there any ways to help those in-laws increase their income before they get too old? Consider your own parents and have a bit of empathy for your husband’s situation.

If your in-laws or relatives are taking advantage of your husband, it’s time to step up. Speak to your husband first, but you may need to speak to the relative yourself if that doesn’t work. Stay respectful and tell them how this is affecting your finances and marriage. Sometimes the only thing left to do is to be firm and stand up for your interests.

Who should manage the finances in a marriage?

As we mentioned earlier, both spouses can’t run the finances in a marriage. That would be inefficient and lead to things like double payments, errors in accounting, and faulty communication.

When deciding who should manage the finances, it should come down to skill. Who is more organized and better at keeping a budget? This person should take the lead on managing finances in a marriage, but always keep the other spouse in the loop and consider their suggestions.

Just because one person is managing the finances doesn’t mean you don’t both talk about the finances. Sit down at least once per month to discuss your budget, goals, and overall finances.

What happens if a couple doesn’t see eye-to-eye on finances?

Couples disagree about finances all of the time, which is why it’s one of the leading causes of divorce.

If you and your spouse don’t see eye-to-eye on finances, don’t worry – there are plenty of ways to get on the same page and continue on to have a healthy marriage.

The first step is to have open communication and truly try to understand your spouse’s point of view. What are they afraid of when it comes to money? What are their financial goals? What would be something that would upset them when it comes to your spending habits? These are great questions to start with.

If open communication around money isn’t easy for you two, get an intermediary involved. Plenty of third parties or counselors could guide you both into a productive conversation to finally agree about your finances and future.

Summary: Should you split bills 50/50 with your spouse or partner?

As you can see, there are many ways can split bills with your spouse or partner when you have separate finances. Living in a shared house doesn’t have to be overly complicated!

The four main ways to pay bills in a relationship with separate finances include:

  • Splitting 50/50. Perfect for couples who have similar incomes. You don’t care as much if someone uses more of one expense, like food, because you know it will balance out.
  • Income percentages. Perfect for most couples who want to pay for expenses based on a percentage of their income. If your combined expenses are 30 percent of your combined income, then you each pay 30 percent.
  • Highest income earner pays. Generally, this is not the recommended method for paying bills. The high income earner may choose to pay if they are feeling generous or their income substantially outweighs the other.
  • Separate responsibilities and expenses. Agree on a rough split between expenses. Next, assign each person expenses that match your rough dollar amounts. Maybe one person takes the mortgage while the other person takes utilities and groceries.

Regardless, you have to make your bill splitting an agreed upon activity. You are one team trying to figure out how to help each other.

I highly recommend opening up a joint bank account for the purpose of shared expenses. You can direct deposit your portion of cash directly into your shared account. Some banks will even have automatic bill pay which can make this process painless.

John is the founder of TightFist Finance and an expert in the field of personal finance. John has studied personal finance for over 10 years and has used his knowledge to pay down debt, grow his investment portfolio, and launch a financial based business. He is committed to sharing content related to personal finance based on his experience in his career, investing, and path towards reaching financial independence.