How Do Couples Split Bills?
If you're in a relationship and thinking about splitting bills with your partner, you have options. Learn about the variety of ways couples share and pay expenses so you can pick the one that works best for both of you.
Romance is wonderful, but have you tried splitting bills as a couple yet?
If you share expenses with a partner, you might be thinking about how to plan for and share costs. This could range from splitting expenses right down the middle to paying a percentage based on your financial situation and income.
Learn about which everyday expenses you might consider splitting and get ideas about how to split bills in ways that work best for you and your partner.
Do what works for both of you: There is no "should" — only what works for your relationship and each partner.
Establish a process: The basic process involves agreeing on which bills to pay jointly, setting up a system for payment and delegating responsibility for each bill.
Consider different approaches: Methods include splitting bills in half, using an income-based percentage, a roommate approach, a joint-account approach and assigning specific bills to each person.
Agree on who is responsible: Make sure you know who is responsible for making payments so you don't risk paying late and accumulating fees, losing services and damaging your credit.
Is it normal to split the bill in a relationship?
I've seen couples use a variety of ways to split expenses in my time as a financial educator. There isn't any right or wrong way to split bills. It's all about open communication and what's important to each person. It's perfectly normal to split any bill, whether an electricity bill or dinner bill. However, make room in your relationship if one person wants to treat the other to a dinner out. You don't have to split every bill, every time.
How should married couples handle bills?
If you're married, you could be financially and legally responsible for your partner's spending and debt. However, if you're keeping your finances separate and it works for you, there's no reason to combine your finances once you're married.
Decide Which Expenses Are Joint Bills
Before moving in together as a married or unmarried couple — or otherwise merging two people's finances — make a financial date night at home. Order take-out and go through joint bills you'll have to pay, when they're due and ways to manage and split expenses.
These are some examples of expenses you might consider splitting:
You might want to discuss but hold off on splitting bills that only one person has brought into the relationship — such as student loan payments or other debt payments.
Note: Some monthly payments may have tax benefits, such as mortgage interest. Whether you're filing separately or as a married couple, speak with a tax professional to get more information about how to manage your taxes.
- Housing payments: Rent or mortgage
- Insurance: Homeowners, auto or health
- Household utilities: Electricity, natural gas, water, garbage, sewer, internet, cable or satellite
- Streaming services: For TV and music
- Subscriptions: Magazines and newspapers, online or print
- Jointly acquired debt: Joint loans or joint credit card
- Child costs: Child care, medical bills, insurance
- Pet costs: Food, pet sitters, dogwalkers
- Phone plans: Such as family-plan cell service
Review Joint Bills
Review the bills you agree are joint expenses and look over several months of these bills before moving on to the next step. How much does each account come to? Is it paid monthly, every other month or annually?
List the due dates for the joint bills that are due in the next several months. Put these dates on a paper or online calendar so you can both see when joint bills are due.
Next, you'll need to decide how to split the amounts and who will take care of payments.
5 Ways Couples Split Bills
Methods of splitting bills range from the straightforward 50-50 approach to creative methods, such as proportionally. In households where one person stays home with the kids and provides household labor, the other partner working outside the house might pay all the bills.
Here are some approaches couples use:
1. 50-50 Bill Split
The easiest method, in terms of figuring out the math, is to split shared bills down the middle, with each person paying half. This is a straightforward approach that makes budgeting consistent. Each person pays half the rent, subscriptions or insurance from individual accounts.
This method isn't always easy from a payment perspective. Some service providers might not accept multiple payments or might not let you set up multiple account owners, and if one partner pays late, it can get complicated figuring out how much each person owes when the next bill comes around, especially if there are late fees involved. If only one person's name is on the bill, that person's credit might suffer if the other person pays late.
2. Income-Based Percentage
In some relationships, one partner's income might be far higher than the other partner's income. It may feel unfair for the lower-earning partner to contribute equally. If Partner A makes $60,000 and Partner B makes $40,000, you might split bills using a 60-40 division. If, for example, the water bill is $100, Partner A pays $60 and Partner B pays $40.
3. Roommate Approach
In more complicated situations, consider splitting bills as if you were roommates. That's what I did with my boyfriend. I own a three-bedroom house. My sons take up two bedrooms. My boyfriend and I share another bedroom. So, when my boyfriend moved in, I asked him to pay one-fourth of the monthly mortgage payment as rent. I pay the other three-fourths to cover my family members.
4. Joint Account Approach
You can also use a joint account to pay household bills using one of the methods above. Add up your shared bills, then each partner adds money to the joint checking account according to an agreed-upon amount. Automatic bill deductions can come right out of that bank account so you can set it and forget it.
Another option is to put all income from both partners into one shared account instead of individual bank accounts. This approach will require budgeting for spending, saving and conversations around your joint and individual financial goals.
5. Assign Bills to Each Person
If splitting each bill is a hassle every month, you can divvy up bills into "yours and mine" piles. Partner A might pay for water, sewer and garbage while Partner B pays for electricity and streaming services. You want amounts to be somewhat even if you're going for 50-50 equivalents. This approach might need more fine-tuning from month to month.
Important: With any of these ways of paying split bills, discuss your backup plan for bad news. What if one or both of you gets laid off and loses income? Do you each have an emergency savings account or do you have a shared emergency savings account?
How To Pay Joint Bills
To do the math for splitting bills, you can use a free website like bestbillsplitter.com or an app like Splitwise or Honeydue to track accounts and bills you split. You can also keep track of joint monthly expenses in a spreadsheet and track payments.
You can use payment apps like Zelle® to repay or send money to your sweetheart. My boyfriend and I use Zelle to reimburse each other for bills we split.
Agree on Who is Responsible for Payments
Sometimes, one partner in a relationship is better at paying the bills, managing money and meeting deadlines. Another person might be better at finding ways to save money. Discuss strengths and weaknesses in advance and how bills will get paid by the deadline from your shared bank account or personal accounts.
You may decide one person is "in charge" of paying all the bills, or you might split duties with each person responsible for specific bills from a joint or individual account.
It's a critical step to decide this and ensure bill paying happens. After all, forgetting a bill or not budgeting for a bill could lead to a missed rent payment or getting your utilities turned off. You might also have to pay late fees or fees to reconnect service, and late payments can damage your credit.
Check-In With Each Other Periodically
Try using your bill-splitting approach for several months, then schedule a check-in to see how things are working. You might decide to merge everything in the future since it can be easier and less stressful to manage.
Continue to have conversations and create a system that works for you, no matter how you split the bills. It's important to avoid hiding information, purchases or missed payments from each other.
Zelle and the Zelle related marks are wholly owned by Early Warning Services, LLC and are used herein under license.