Dividing Expenses With Your Significant Other Can Be Infuriating — Here’s How These Couples Do It

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These three couples all have a different way of dividing financial responsibilities. Mike and Kim have found that over the years, keeping things separate has totally worked for them. Andrew and Mark had a hard time figuring out the equal parts of the things and activities they were sharing. Sarah-Beth and Reuben admit that they’re still figuring it out, but that having a joint credit card seems like the right start for them. 

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Following is a transcript of the video:

Kim: I mean, what’s interesting for us is that we’ve been together for almost 10 years, lived together for about 4 and been married for one and a half, and we’ve never gotten to the point where we feel like we actually need to actually combine finances. We still have completely separate bank accounts, because we just — I think from an early stage got used to like, alternating with the larger purchases, like if we’re going out to eat, or, you know, he’ll buy the plane tickets home, and I’ll rent the car, or whatever.

Mike: Yeah.

Kim: And so, we’ve kinda maintained that. It just works really well for us, because we each know exactly what’s coming into our accounts, and we know what we can afford to splurge here and there. We both — like, we talk about saving, like our own savings and stuff.

Mike: Yeah.

Kim: It’s just worked out well. So, there wasn’t like some huge change when we moved into together, because we just kept doing the same thing, like I write him a rent check every month.

Mike: Yeah.

Kim: And then, he writes the full check to our landlord.

Mike: Yeah.

Kim: We just kept doing that. And it’s just —

Mike: Yeah.

Kim: been easy. We like, never argue about money or anything like that —

Mike: No.

Kim: Because we just —

Mike: Yeah. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, you know?

Kim: Yeah.

Mike: We have our own, sort of accounting methods that we both use, and … yeah, we both make it work.

Andrew: I think the biggest challenge for managing our money when we first moved in together was how to split living costs, like, you know, rent is easy, utilities are easy, but like going out together …

Mark: Food and drinks —

Andrew: Yeah.

Mark: And all the other little stuff.

Andrew: Groceries, just the household necessities, just realizing that one of us, who might have taken on more of the day to day things that we do, started paying for more of them, but was making less money. So figuring out how to balance that and how to make that a little bit more equal.

Reuben: So, money is like the, since we got married has been like the hardest thing to figure out, and we’re still figuring it out. And, funny thing is is that, like, most of our friends who also have gotten married recently are also in the same boat, but I would say the smartest thing we’ve done is having a joint credit card together.

Sarah-Beth: Yeah, I agree with that.

Reuben: Where, like, we no longer get to the checkout counter at the grocery store and are like, “Oh, can you put half on this card, half on that card?” We have like this joint card. And I think that’s like starting us down the path of like, figuring it out, but it’s hard.

How This Couple Avoids Fighting About Money

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Sarah-Beth and Reuben’s rule is that they have to discuss any purchase over $100. This allows them to stay on the same page as they plan both the immediate future and larger-scale things further down the line.

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Following is a transcript of the video:

Sarah-Beth: Coming up with a savings plan has been the hardest thing for the two of us. Once we like, combine things together with the joint account and the joint credit card, trying to figure out how we want to meet those long-term goals, saving for a house, different things like that, maybe one day buying a car. Just all those long-term goals, you have to come up with a plan on how you’re gonna save and manage the month-to-month but also the year long and the two-year things.

Reuben: We came up with this number that was — we said if you’re spending over $100 on something — that isn’t a present — you have to talk about it with the other person, and it’s a conversation, and it’s not merely just like the other person can approve or disapprove of it, but it’s more of you can talk about it. Like I do a lot of running races and stuff, that sometimes get very expensive, and we  talk about like, you know, which races I’m going to do for the year, so that we can, you know, plan it out versus me just willy-nilly just like, registering for, you know, 20 races, and then all of a sudden I spent $3,000 on race entries, you know, without —

Sarah-Beth: Yeah, and most of the time we’re like “Oh, of course you need to spend, that’s what the cost of it is,” but it’s just having that conversation just keeps both of us in the loop, and there’s no surprises when the bill comes, and yeah, just keep the communication open.

Reuben: And I think also like, discrepancies in salaries between a couple is also a hard thing to navigate, because I mean we’re pretty close but if it was a bigger gap.

Sarah-Beth: We’re not that close. That’s not true.

Reuben: Okay, if it was a bigger gap I think it would be harder, and I think that navigating that where like, one person thinks they can spend more than the other, or whatever it might be, and like figuring out what is necess — is 50/50 the real — while your relationship should be a 50/50 partnership, the financial relationship — if one of you — if one of us — or one person’s making a lot more than the other, then it shouldn’t be a 50/50 relationship, because that’s not real.

Sarah-Beth: But also like, we value a lot of the same things in life, so, the way we look at money is definitely similar in that way where we agree to spend on certain things and save in other areas because that reflects what we value as a couple.

Reuben: Yeah.