Equitably vs. Equally: How Should Couples Split Finances?

Here are some insights and solutions to ensure both partners feel valued and secure in their financial journey together.

Mia Barnes
November 24, 2023
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Money often sits at the intersection of love and logic. Whilst love binds couples together, the practicalities of financialmanagement can sometimes pull them apart.


The concept of a 50/50 split sounds straight forward, but in reality, couples rarely earn the same amount. Many facethe challenge to balance the scales between what is fair and what is equal in financial contributions.


Here are some insights and solutions to ensure both partners feel valued and secure in their financial journey together.

1.   Maintain Joint and Separate Bank Accounts

The debate between joint and separate accounts often creates unnecessary tension. However, you can pick more than one. Couples who maintain joint and separate accounts report higher levels of happiness than those with only one or the other.


A joint account for shared expenses like rent, utilities and groceries allows for a centralised, transparent way to manage collective financial responsibilities.


This approach aligns well with the concept of splitting finances equitably. For instance, the person earning more can contribute a larger percentage to the joint account, ensuring both partners contribute according to their means.


Meanwhile, separate accounts allow each partner to manage their own money without consulting each other for every purchase. This autonomy is particularly important for women increasingly taking control of their finances for a sense of empowerment.


Having joint and separate accounts allows couples to enjoy the benefits of shared financial goals while preserving individual freedoms.

2.   Adjust Financial Arrangements Regularly

In most dual-income families, one partner earns more than the other. This disparity in earnings can lead to financial strain if expenses are split down the middle.


Avoid this by regularly discussing finances with your partner. Understand each other's financial goals, comfort levels andpotential strains. As careers progress and money situations change, you must revisit and adjust your arrangements as needed.


You may add up your monthly or annual incomes and use the total as the basis for your proportional contributions.


Another way is to calculate the percentage ofeach partner's total income. Use it to divide each shared expense. For example, if your rent is $1,000 per month, the higher earner would contribute $600, while the lower earner would contribute $400.


Adopting an income-based approach will ensure a more equitable distribution of financial responsibilities. It also prevents resentment that might arise from a rigid 50/50 split.


The key is always to keep the lines of communication open. If one partner receives a raise or loses a job, you must revisit and adjust each contribution percentage.

3.   Align Future Financial Goals and Security

Financial planning is a corner stone of a secure future, especially when two lives intertwine.Individual goals may differ, and couples often find common ground in shared aspirations, such as vacations or homeownership.


Discussing aligning these objectives and saving collaboratively can expedite realizing these dreams. For instance, pooling resources can make that dream vacation or down payment on a house more attainable in a shorter time frame.


While planning for the brighter aspects of the future, it is equally crucial to prepare for uncertainties. For instance, partners can save for health care costs and insurance plans separately as individuals or jointly as a family. Employment status, financial situation and personal preference can be determining factors for such concern.


Couples must balance their shared dreams and the practicalities of health security. Aligning onfinancial goals and staying informed about insurance options can help you build an aspirational and secure future.

4.   Understand Each Other's Financial History

Two in five Americans admit to hiding cash, minor purchases or even significant debts from their partners. Such financial infidelity can strain relationships.


Hence, being aware of each other's credit scores, debts and financial obligations is recommended.This can prevent surprises down the road. For example, one partner may have outstanding student loans. It might be equitable for the other, who might be debt-free or earn more, to contribute more toward shared expenses.


A low credit score from one partner might also affect the couple's ability to secure favorable loan terms. Knowing this in advance can help strategise and adjust plans.


Having monthly or quarterly discussions to review debts, expenses and savings can help ensure fairness. It builds trust, understanding and a united front in facing financial challenges.

5.   Discuss Before Spending on Big Expenses

Big expenses are not everyday occurrences but can significantly impact a couple's financial health.


The average American household spends $2,743 annually on vacations and travel expenses. Similarly, home repairs can range from a few hundred dollars for minor fixes to $18,000 for significant renovations annually.


Before making any large purchases or investments, sit down with your partner and discuss the necessity of the expense and its potential financial impact. Is it a want or a need? For instance, while a vacation might be a luxury, repairing a leaky roof is a necessity. How will this affect your joint savings, monthly budget or financial goals?


Discuss the implications if you are considering taking out a loan or using credit. Who will be responsible for the monthly payments? How will it impact your credit scores?


Before any significant expense, research options and set a budget. This ensures you get the best value for your money and prevents overspending. Allocate funds specifically if you're saving for multiple big expenses. For example, have separate savings for vacations, home repairs and investments.


Whether you choose to split these costs equitably or equally, the key is ensuring both partners feel comfortable with the decision and that it aligns with your financial goals.

Money is a tool, not the end goal.

Building a Better Financial Future Together

Handling finances as a couple requires more than just maths and numbers. It demands open communication, mutual understanding and informed decisions. It's not merely about deciding whether tos plit bills equally or equitably. The true essence lies in crafting a system where both partners feel acknowledged and secure.


Money is a tool, not the end goal. The real treasure is the life you build together. Proactively addressing financial matters fortifies the foundation of a resilient, enduring relationship.