On Tuesday I wrote about discussing money with your partner. These discussions should be about:
Your shared goals.
Your shared values.
And understanding money is a tool.
I stayed high-level, because once we get into tactics, those tactics change, depending on our values.
Which is okay. Our relationship to money is very personal.
But… I can’t resist getting tactical today.
I love the details.
A few friends have asked me, “How do you and Amy handle your money together?”
I want to get very specific.
After reading this post, you’ll have your own ideas on how you and your partner can manage your money, just by seeing the tactics Amy and I use.
Money Management for Couples
This is what works for us. Is it perfect?
Hardly. However, we’re getting 90 percent of it right, because we’re:
So, take what’s useful and discard the rest.
Do you pool money? Do you use a joint account?
No, we don’t.
We don’t see the value in a joint account right now.
I think a joint account is useful in pooling together resources to pay shared bills, but if we’re tracking who’s spending how much on what, then there isn’t much point.
For us, keeping separate accounts keeps things simple.
How do you split fixed costs, like rent and utilities?
We split fixed costs 50-50. For each individual fixed costs, we designate one person’s account. Then, the other person owes their half.
Fixed costs include: Rent, Internet, Gas, Electricity, Renter’s Insurance, Cell phone, Car insurance, etc.
For example, I pay the rent. At the end of the month, Amy owes me her half of the rent.
Amy, on the other hand, pays the car insurance. So we deduct what I owe from how much she owes on the rent.
It may seem like tracking the tab would be a pain. You’d be right.
Fortunately, I created a spreadsheet that tracks this for us. I’m making it shareable, so if you’d like to download it from Google Drive, just click the link below, and then go to File > Download As > .xls.
(If you find this spreadsheet useful, please share. Also, sign up to receive posts in your inbox for free — tons more of this material to come.)
How do you split household expenses?
We split household expenses 50/50.
For example: groceries, furniture, household supplies — we share all the costs.
We keep the receipts in an envelope and review it at the end of the week. I’ll go through and enter what we spent in the spreadsheet, and it calculates who owes what.
If at the end of the month Amy spent more on household expenses than I did, it deducts what she owes me, and vice versa.
Click here to download the Fighting Broke Shared Expenses Spreadsheet.
It’s got a couple of major advantages:
It’s faster and more accurate than adding by hand.
Reviewing once a week keeps all your finances manageable.
Both partners can review their spending at any time.
Who pays when you go out?
This is always a good question. Honestly, it’s who gets out their wallet first, unless one of us is specifically taking the other “out.”
This can be a loaded topic. We all know how to get defensive about our spending (or lack of spending), on chivalry and feminism. And I don’t want to get into any of that right now.
It goes back to what I said before: if your values align, it doesn’t matter.
For Amy and I, we don’t look at it as spending her money or my money, or buying what she wants or I want.
It’s spending our money on us.
What if one person spends more than the other?
It’s all about the values (anyone else sensing a pattern here)?
If your partner spends more than what you’re comfortable with, or more than you’re able to afford, this can be a difficult conversation.
Which is why it has to be about your shared goals.
Are you on target to meet those goals? Where do you have to cut back in order to do so? Are your goals still the same?
How often do you and your partner talk about money?
We review our expenses once a month.
But when it comes to talking about money, it’s something we do pretty often.
For us, conversations about money aren’t dreaded. It’s something we can bring up between jokes about my snoring or our respective rants about work.
This took time.
It started with questions like, “what are you saving for?”
Are we both saving for a house, someday? For a family?
This led into how much we hoped to save, which progressed into how much we made, and so on and so forth.
What I’m saying is — we built our comfort around this topic over years, making every subsequent conversation about money less and less uncomfortable.
The Tactics Are Constantly Changing
This works for us. For now.
Just because these are the systems right now doesn’t mean they’re the best, or that they won’t change.
For example, this spreadsheet to track your household’s expenses — by all means, tweak it to meet your needs. Take what’s useful and discard the rest. Create your own.
At the end of the day, tactics come and go.
The strategy and the values, however — those remain constant.
What’s your process or system for managing money with your partner? What’s worked for you in your relationships?
A better question: what didn’t work for you? 🙂
Photo Credit: Auzigog