One of the largest challenges couples will face when they get married or move in together is how to handle the finances that they both become responsible for. When my wife and myself first moved in together while we were still dating, we created a specific way to handle both our joint finances and our separate personal finances at the same time. There are a number of ways to handle finances as a couple and the way that we handle it has worked greatly over the last four years and it is a way that we will continue to use. It is important to note, however, that this method is only useful if both people have a regular stream of income and can afford to pay half of all finances that will be used fairly equally by both people (i.e. rent, utilities, food, etc). Situations in which one person makes a large amount more than the other person, or if the other person has no form of income, would not benefit from this form of finance handling.
First, all joint finances as mentioned above must be calculated on a monthly basis. On categories such as food, an average monthly budget would have to be calculated and factored into the total amount. Once the total of all joint finances is calculated then each person must contribute half of that amount on a monthly basis (i.e. $2000/month total for joint finances). If each person gets paid on a bi-weekly basis, it may be easier to calculate a “per paycheck” amount that would be automatically contributed to cover the joint finances. Once that amount has been separated from each person’s income, the remaining amount each month is then used for their personal finances (i.e. car loan payments, student loan payments, gas, etc).
What Should Be Done With The Money For Joint Finances?
After you divide your joint money from your personal money you both have to decide how to keep this money separated. In our situation, we decided to open up a “Joint Checking Account” along with a “Joint Savings Account” that would hold the money that we each contributed to each month (part of our monthly joint finances also contained a savings contribution for future large purchases). Having a joint checking account makes paying joint finances a breeze because you can pay all joint bills from just one count without worrying who will pay for what. Each person will have their name attached to the account and receive a debit card in their name to access the funds on the account. The joint account option is only for situations where each person has 100% trust in each other to honor their agreement to use the joint account solely for joint purchases.
Again, this option is a great option for couples who want to live together and can each afford to contribute equally to joint finances, but it is not a one size fits all plan. We have had great success with this method and having the separation of joint and personal finances has led to zero arguments over finances because we are each contributing to the monthly bills in a fair and equal matter. The money that we each have left over can be spent however we want , again, as long as the joint account is funded first.