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Project Mix & Move: Our First Joint Checking Account

by Meghann on March 17, 2011

Now, before conclusions are jumped to, and my future financial stability is criticized, I want to make clear that Derek and I are NOT combining our money. We still have our very separate, personal bank accounts. So – no worries – neither of us have access to each other’s life savings. :)

We simply opened a single joint checking account that each person will contribute XX amount of dollars to each month. This small account will cover household expenses, groceries, dates, future vacations (hopefully!), etc.

The idea for the joint checking account came after speaking with other couples who are also trying to figure out this whole ‘living together while dating’ situation. It seems there’s a big difference between living with a significant other and living with a roommate.

When I lived with roommates in college everything was separate. We had separate leases, separate schedules, separate groceries, separate meals, etc. Nothing was combined and in a roommate situation that worked out perfectly.

Moving in with a boy has produced an opposite effect. Instead of everything being ‘mine’ (my bed, my peanut butter, my laundry, my dog), it all of a sudden became ‘ours’ (our bed, our peanut butter, our laundry, our dog scratch that – somehow Maddie is still my dog, especially when she does something naughty).

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The biggest issue was our meals. I love to cook and Derek loves to eat, but how do we purchase the food needed for those meals without stepping on each other’s toes? Everyone had a different solution.

One couple I talked to split the weekly grocery bill right down the middle and everything was fair game. Another couple took separate shopping trips and cooked their own meals based off of those trips. Another took turns paying. And yet another divided everything up. She paid for the groceries and he covered all the utilities that month.

Each way seemed logical and made sense, but Derek and I didn’t want to hand over different credit cards to the cashier every week, we didn’t want to argue who ate whose carrots, and we really didn’t feel like keeping track of whose turn it was to pay for what.

What made the most sense to us was opening a joint checking account where each of us could attribute a certain amount to on a monthly basis and have 100% access to it. The plan is to use that account for all those fun expenses for ‘our’ house and – eventually – anything left over could go towards a sweet vacation.

At least, that’s our goal. We just opened the account on Saturday and haven’t even received the debit cards that go with the account yet.

While opening the account, our bank was great at providing each of us with as much liability protection as possible. We declined the overdraft protection, so when there’s no money left in the account the card will simply be declined. We have our own separate access points to the online account with our own user names and passwords. We, also, have our own debit card with our own unique PINS.

This is a big step in our relationship and I’m curious to see how it all turns out.

Do you live with your significant other? How do you divide up household expenses?

{ 134 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Carolyn @ Lovin' Losing March 17, 2011 at 1:19 pm

Before my husband and I were married we allocated each person’s responsibilities for household bills based on how much the pay difference was. 50/50, 40/60, whatever. He would then deposit his share into my account (since I took care of all that stuff).
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2 Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat March 17, 2011 at 1:20 pm

That’s a great idea! I don’t have a sig. other at the moment, but I do rent 2 rooms of my place to my roommates, and we sort of have a joint account in that we all contribute money to a jar each month and anything we need to buy that all of us use (think toilet paper, paper towels, kleenex, detergent etc) comes out of there. Groceries are different because we all eat different things (and they’d probably kill me because I’m sure I eat about 5x the amount of produce that they do!)
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3 Mimi March 17, 2011 at 1:24 pm

That sounds like a good approach! I think it’s important to realize that different people will do this different ways, but it’s all about finding something that works for you and your significant other. Personally, my fiance and I will combine our accounts after we get married — I think having individual banks accounts aren’t good for a marriage. I am lucky, though, that my fiance and I have VERY similar views on spending.
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4 G March 17, 2011 at 1:24 pm

Super interesting – I lived with my boyfriend temporarily this summer (I’m away for school right now) and there were definitely some arguments over food… he didn’t want to buy certain things because they were too expensive but then just ate mine! He’s also a tall mascular athletic MAN so he eats SO MUCH – splitting 50/50 would just not be fair for me. If/When we ever move in together permanently, we will probably end up doing the same thing as you and Derek – it will just make things easier!

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5 Holly @ Couch Potato Athlete March 17, 2011 at 1:24 pm

Jason and I didn’t live together before we got married — but if we had, we probably would have done something like you and Derek did.

Sorry if you mentioned before, but how do you guys pay for everything else? Do you split rent and other expenses 50/50?
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6 Holly @ Couch Potato Athlete March 17, 2011 at 1:25 pm

And I realize that is a personal question, so please feel free to ignore :)
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7 Natalie @ Will Jog For Food March 17, 2011 at 1:25 pm

When I moved in with Jay (who is now my hubby), the deal was that he would pay for groceries and rent, and I would pay all the other household bills. Luckily that deal worked out PERFECTLY for us and we still do the exact same thing. We’ve been married for almost 5 months and still don’t have a joint checking account. Probably need to get on that though!
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8 jen @ taste life March 17, 2011 at 1:25 pm

Very interesting post! I’ve been with my boyfriend for over four years now and we’ve lived together for 3 years and 9 months (I had to count, didn’t know that off the top of my head). We do not have any joint accounts. Basically, we split all utitlities down the middle. Groceries are different – we eat pretty differently, so we usually just kind of buy what we want to eat, but sometimes we shop together, sometimes I eat something he bought, sometimes he eats something I bought. Once it’s in the kitchen, it’s all fair game.

Suze Orman suggests that couples pay based on their income. So, if your monthly income is 1000 dollars and your partner’s is 2000, you’d pay 1/3 of the utilities, etc, and he’d pay 2/3, because he makes twice as much. I’ve never done it that way, but that’s what she suggests.

Good luck! And when the heck are you guys getting hitched?
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9 anne March 18, 2011 at 3:52 am

The Orman idea seems like a practical approach. However, just to play devil’s advocate, I imagine it might create a power dichotomy within the relationship. The partner who makes me could potentially use that against the one who makes less and vice versa. Relationships should be equal partnerships and shouldn’t have to power hierarchies.

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10 Amanda March 17, 2011 at 1:25 pm

This was a big topic for us when we moved in together because one of us made a lot more money than the other one – but we still wanted to keep things equal. For the first few years, we designated certain “bills” to each person. I was in charge of groceries while he was in charge of utilities, etc. We put all the amounts in a spreadsheet (My side vs. his side) and when they didn’t balance out, we would write the other person a check. Just now we are combining accounts, because we are getting married, but we thought the spreadsheet worked pretty well. It was easiest for us to organize because HE LOVES EXCEL and organizes everything onto a spreadsheet and he was also dealing with additional expenses, like student loans. We also had the conversation a lot about splitting 50/50 vs. splitting percentages. We stayed 50/50, but I watched a Suzy Orman show the other day that recommended percentages. Ok, I’ll shut up now…
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11 Megan March 17, 2011 at 1:26 pm

Regarding money, do what feels best for you two. It’s not like there’s only one right way.

Still enjoying your move&mix posts!

P.s. super cute baby on my blog wishing everyone a happy st. Patrick’s day on my blog! Go look :)

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12 Lauren March 17, 2011 at 1:26 pm

This is a little too formal for me and my bf, but whatever works for you is what you should do! We just take turns paying for groceries/dinners/movies/etc, I’m sure we forget and someone pays twice in a row, but it’s no biggie. We both usually offer to pay and try to make it even, but we don’t make a big deal about it. Neither of us have ever gotten upset about it or feel ownership toward the things we bought, so it works. I think your plan is a lot better than actually sharing all finances before you’re married, that could get messy.

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13 Hallie March 17, 2011 at 3:40 pm

That’s how we do it too. Sometimes he pays sometimes I do for most things. He pays the cable bill but I pay the rest, because I’m working full time and he’s part time. When he graduates and starts working full time I guess we’ll have to re-evaluate. I’m also planning on doing a joint checking account once we get married in a few months, but I’m not too concerned about it.
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14 alison March 17, 2011 at 1:28 pm

I think that seems like a great compromise. I didn’t live with my husband before we got married so we never had to deal with this issue. However, even when you’re married, money can cause all sorts of tension. You just have to do what works for both of you and it looks like you’re on the right track.
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15 Callie March 17, 2011 at 1:28 pm

Personally, I think this is a great idea to help prepare you for the “WE” instead of “ME” mentality of marriage (someday). :) I know different things work for different people, but Nate and I pool all of our money together – that way there is never any issue with whose money belongs to who or anything like that. It is “our” money. Trust me, in some times of financial strain, this mentality has helped us get through it together!
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16 Elizabeth@The Sweet Life March 17, 2011 at 1:31 pm

This is great. Just wrote a post this week about my fears with money and how my husband and I keep everything separate. Sounds like you’ve thoughtfully approached how to best make this work for you!
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17 Ashley March 17, 2011 at 1:32 pm

I think I like your approach better than the other ones you mentioned.
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18 Leah @ L4L March 17, 2011 at 1:32 pm

I always find how other couples do things very interesting. My husband and I got married last year and still have everything completely separate, but mostly out of laziness of going to the bank and updating autopayments. He also makes 2x as much as I do. But we generally know who pays what and how much each other has available – full disclosure at all times. We even know each others pins and log ons but don’t ever really use it.

He pays:
Rent
Netflix
Internet
Groceries/Dining Out
Utilities
His credit cards

I pay:
My Student Loans
My Car payment
Insurance
Cell Phones
Gym Membership
My credit cards
Gifts/Extras like the vet

We each have our own savings as well but it is usually just for a buffer and airfare for trips.

WHEN we do merge everything, we will have separate and joint and put equal PERCENTAGES of our incomes into the joint account for household expenses and still have our own separate fun money.

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19 Anne @thefitbridesmaid March 17, 2011 at 1:34 pm

My fiance and I have totally separate finances. I pay all of the utilities and most of the dog expenses. He pays rent and I pay him whatever balance is needed after splitting utilities and dog. We take turns with groceries and eating out. After we get married (in TWO MONTHS! ACK!), we will have a joint checking and savings, but keep our own separate accounts, too. We are both very independent and like to just spend our “own” money without feeling scrutinized by the other person.

I’m the money person though. I keep an excel sheet with all of my accounts (and eventually our accounts) to keep track of expenses and help plan/make goals for savings.
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20 chelsey @ clean eating chelsey March 17, 2011 at 1:34 pm

I didn’t live with my husband before we got married, and we didn’t have a joint checking account until we were engaged. Now, we strictly have our one joint checking account. I know other couples have their own “personal” accounts, but it just doesn’t work for us. Everything is “ours” regardless of who is making more, who bought what, etc – I like it this way! It’s far less stressful!
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21 JessicaEn March 17, 2011 at 1:58 pm

This is the same as me. Some call me old fashioned but hey :)

Before I married my husband we split all the bills 50/50, and any personal bills/extra treats we would pay with our own money. After we married, we have one joint checking, one joint savings and share everything.

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22 Erica March 17, 2011 at 2:28 pm

Old fashioned here, too. ;-) We are a one account family here.
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23 Megan (Running Foodie) March 17, 2011 at 9:22 pm

Yep, us too!
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24 Hope March 17, 2011 at 1:34 pm

My boyfriend and I have been together for almost 5 and a half years and we have been living together for almost 2 years. We have a joint checking account that is used for all of our joint bill paying such as rent expenses, our cell phone bill, and utilites. It works for us. We cover each other too if we are unable to contribute to bills, etc. We have never fought over that luckily. As far as the supermarket is concered, the both of us eat very similarly and usually split the bill in half. I am obsessed with couponing which I mentioned before so I am good at saving us a ton of money at the supermarket usually.

The most important thing is to do what works best for the two of you. There is no right or wrong way to do it. You will come up with a system that works for you as a couple. The most important thing is to communicate. :)
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25 J March 17, 2011 at 1:36 pm

Sounds like a very logical solution! :)
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26 melissa (fitnessnyc) March 17, 2011 at 1:38 pm

very interesting, I may be keeping this in mind someday…
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27 Amber from Girl with the Red Hair March 17, 2011 at 1:39 pm

Right now I make twice as much as my fiance so I do tend to pay for more. Also, all of our payments (like mortgage, car payment etc.) come out of my bank account. So every month on the 1st he gives me a large sum of money (usually in cash) I deposit it in the bank and that covers his half of things!

As for groceries, we are trying this new thing where we budget $400 for groceries (this does NOT include eating out) a month. We keep the cash in an envelope and every time we go to the grocery store we use it. So far it’s working REALLY well for us. If we run out early we can always dig into the depths of our cupboards or freezer for a few days worth of meals :)

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28 [SMASH] March 17, 2011 at 1:44 pm

Amber, we have a similar situation and we do the same thing [your 1st paragraph]. It really works out well.

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29 Ash @ Good Taste Healthy Me March 17, 2011 at 1:39 pm

We have our own separate checking but also have a joint account for our mortgage and emergency fund. We’ve split it so he takes care of certain things and I take care of certain things. It’s really great and works beautifully for us.
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30 allison @ thesundayflog March 17, 2011 at 1:40 pm

we dont live together, but my new apartment is 2 blocks from my boyfriend’s place. i cook all of the meals and we eat together at least 5 nights a week. we both buy groceries and then i just make meals based on what we have. it seems to work for us, and if there is something special i want to make, normally i am the one to buy it. his food isn’t what i would normally eat anyways, so he has it all for lunch :)
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31 amanda @ fake ginger March 17, 2011 at 1:40 pm

Love the Mix & Move posts! I’m married with kids now but it’s still fascinating to me. We’re a military family and we’ll be looking at a move soon so keep the decorating posts coming! :)

My husband and I have shared a checking account since basically day one. No lie, I asked him for gas money a few weeks after we met and he said, “Why don’t we just add you to my account?” And we’ve had 1 account ever since. We’ve just always had that “What’s mine is yours” mentality which I know doesn’t work for everyone but it works out well for us.
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32 Jena March 17, 2011 at 3:43 pm

My Husband & I are the same way. We’ve been together for 6 yrs on Sunday and we’ve had a joint account for about 5.5 yrs of that. We’ve never split anything 50/50, 60/40. We have the “what’s yours is mine” mentality.

I can understand how that would not work for some couples, but for us it has worked out. At the time he made twice what I made and splitting things was not possible.

(I will say that we broke up for about 5 months and the money situation was weird, but we worked it out)..
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33 [SMASH] March 17, 2011 at 1:41 pm

Good for y’all! The BF and I lump our money together in my checking account since my bank is closer. We’ve talked about doing a joint account but we’ve been too lazy to go up to the bank to do it! I manage all our money, pay our bills, etc.

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34 Cara March 17, 2011 at 1:42 pm

that’s exactly how me and the husband do our bills and deal with groceries. It still freaks me out having entirely combined accounts and I am married. haha.
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35 Sarah March 17, 2011 at 1:43 pm

my roommates and i have a joint account and it is awesome. we pay rent with, bills and are able to pay eachother back for things. i think it is a really smart move when living with someone. writing checks is annoying…online bill pay is so much better! hope it works out for you guys…sounds like you really thought about and have a plan so i think you will love it!

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36 Rachel @ Fit Fun and Fabulous March 17, 2011 at 1:43 pm

Him:
Rent
Dates
All of the rest of his own, personal bills (student loans, car payment, etc)

Me:
Most household chores (in exchange for not paying rent)
Water/Sewage
Electricity
Cable/Internet
All of the rest of my own, personal bills

Lately we’ve been splitting the grocery bills but in the past I’ve covered that.

We have a joint checking and savings account for rent, utilities, and wedding savings (which in the past has been a vacation savings account). Then we have our own personal checking and savings account that are 100% our own.

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37 Fit Chick Britt March 17, 2011 at 1:44 pm

Before my hubby and I got married we would just split everything. We were the couple that handed the cashier 2 credit cards when we checked out and then all the groceries are fair game (worked out nice b/c he eats junk and I eat healthy). We haven’t quite put all of our money together since we got married we each just kind of take turns paying for things and don’t really worry about it since the intention is to put it all together.

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38 Stefanie @TheNewHealthy March 17, 2011 at 1:44 pm

This sounds like a great idea! I’ve lived with my boy for about 2 years now and we each still have our separate banking accounts. He pays all the bills since I’m a student–but once I have a steady income, I think we’re going to do something similar!

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39 Dori March 17, 2011 at 1:45 pm

When I find a boy, the plan is to have him pay for everything.
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40 Emily G. March 17, 2011 at 2:30 pm

I like you’re thinking!! That’s my strategy, too!! :)

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41 Teacher Girl March 17, 2011 at 2:44 pm

Me three!
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42 Amy March 17, 2011 at 1:47 pm

I totally agree with you. I lived with my boyfriends for 5 years before we became engaged, and now we have been married for 5 years. And we still have separate checking accounts in combination with one joint account, from which all joint expenses (mortgage, groceries, bills and even daycare) are paid. It is the best way to do it – we have NEVER fought about money!

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43 Stacy March 17, 2011 at 1:47 pm

I think this is a terrific idea! I moved in with my boyfriend two months ago, and as we were moving I made the exact same suggestion to him. It meant *the world* to him that I trusted him that much.

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44 Katie G. March 17, 2011 at 1:48 pm

I live with my bf. He owns the house and I just pay the same amount for rent each month (including all utilities and my cell phone). I do all of the weekly grocery shopping, and occasionally when we take a big Costco trip, he will pay or we’ll split the bill. He does all of the yard work and is home a lot more than I am so he has taken on the indoor cleaning most weeks as well, so I figure I don’t mind the weekly grocery bill to cover the manual labor. It’s worked for us so far and I hope it continues that way. I thought about a joint account but why fix what ain’t broke!
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45 Jillian @ Reshape Your Life March 17, 2011 at 1:50 pm

When I moved in with my Fiance (he was my brand spankin new boyfriend at the time!) I moved it because of necessity… I had no where else to go and financially I couldn’t afford to live anywhere on my own. I did end up getting an apartment with some friends but never actually moved in, but I paid rent and utilities there which left nothing for bills where I was actually living. Luckily my fiance was very understanding and I picked up my financial slack by doing more around the house. The arrangement worked out well for us, and now it’s much less “his and hers” everything is basically just ours, if I have money to buy something (usually groceries) I will use my money, if I don’t I can ask him for some no questions asked… Although getting a joint account would be much easier.
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46 Sarah March 17, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Before my husband and I were married we lived in “his” house that he had bought before we met. He paid the mortgage and I paid everything else. It just ended up being even that way. We still have separate checking accounts and one joint one now that we’re married but they are linked.

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47 Stacy @ Every Little Thing March 17, 2011 at 1:51 pm

I make a good deal less than my boyfriend, and because I like to buy more expensive grocery items and experiment and stuff, I pay for all groceries and household items, and he pays for all utilities. It seems to work out with our salaries and I like it so far (we’ve been doing it about 6 months). We take turns paying for gas (we share a car), dinners out, etc.

Good luck with the joint checking!
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48 Paula @ Eat: Watch: Run March 17, 2011 at 1:55 pm

I think the way you’re doing it is smart. That’s something I wish I would have thought of.

I’m married and my husband and I still share the bills and have NO (nada, none, not one) joint account. When we first moved in together, I was moving into HIS house and he was adamant that he wanted to pay HIS mortgage. (I offered to split it in half with him.)

So, instead…he pays the mortgage for the house and I pay for everything else (phone, internet, cable. power, water, and groceries.) Overall, I end up paying a little less than he does a month.

We take turns paying for dinners and night’s out. Sometimes we go dutch. But we never keep track of “who payed last.”
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49 Christina March 17, 2011 at 2:01 pm

My fiance and I also have a joint acct that we use for household expenses including rent and sometimes gas for the car. We each put the same amount in when we get paid so it’s split down the middle.

Now I like to cook and he likes to eat so I go food shopping and make what ever and he doesn’t seem to complain, he actually loves it. A lot of times I’ll ask him if he wants anything in particular from the market and he usually replies that he’s fine with whatever, every now and then he’ll ask for something specific like chips or avocado. For the most part it works out. I try not to over complicate meal planning, I just make healthy yummy dishes and that’s it! Take it or leave it! lol
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50 Jessie March 17, 2011 at 2:05 pm

I moved in with my boyfriend about two years ago and we do the exact same thing. We have one joint checking that we each contribute the same amount to each month, and every thing we do together comes out of that (bills, dinners out, groceries, decorative items for the apartment, even birthday presents for friends). We keep our own separate savings and checking accounts. It has worked out really well for us! No arguments over money, ever.

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51 Jessica March 17, 2011 at 2:07 pm

Ryan and I just split the bill down the middle. Most places (Target for ex) will let you pay with two cards really easily.

When we are married next year and get a house we will open up a joint checking account and automatically transfer (direct deposit) x-amount from our paychecks into it.
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52 Jess March 17, 2011 at 2:07 pm

Great post! My boyfriend and I have lived together almost 4 years. We bought a house together (joint mortgage) about 2 years ago. When we did this, we also had to take out a loan to get the roof fixed. So, we opened a joint “house” account to which we both contribute and out of which comes our mortgage payment, loan payment and any house related purchases. We split up other bills (he pays water, cell phones, and cable–I pay gas/electric and internet). When we go grocery shopping, we generally split the purchase right down the middle and split it between both of our credit cards…of course if one of us has to run out and get random stuff we just take care of it ourselves and don’t worry about payback…It works well for us!!

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53 Liz March 17, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Our situation is a little different. When we moved in together, I already owned a house and my DH moved in with me. He gave me so much a month and paid for all groceries. I made my mortgage payments and my debt payments (cc, student loan, car loan). DH didn’t have any debt, lucky guy.

Once we got married, we got a joint account and now we recently went back to separate accounts because we both have trusts set up. Dh now gets so much a month in cash and then I pay all the bills out of my account. We work together now so all money is joint. This is working for us so far as long as DH isn’t charging stuff on his CC that I don’t know about.

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54 Jaime March 17, 2011 at 2:12 pm

Sounds like you two have communicated really well about what might work for you…that’s the biggest step (IMO)!

My ex-bf and I owned a house together and we split everything 50/50 which actually drove me insane because he made substantially more money than I did. I was often scrambling to have some savings or pay for a big ticket item…and he had no problem basically just throwing his money around. He figured if he chose a pricey restaurant for dinner and paid for it (even if I would have been happy with a pizza!) then it was all good because he’d treated me (to something HE wanted!).

I guess there’s a reason we aren’t together now, hmmm? :)

Thanks for sharing your new life’s endeavours!!
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55 Heather March 17, 2011 at 2:12 pm

I’ve been married and my husband and I still bank exactly the same way you do – we have a joint checking account that receives most of our paychecks and pays for just about everything but we still have separate bank accounts for our own personal things like clothes, student loans, etc.

We just made our first purchase together – a car – and so more of our “separate” money is going to the joint checking account now…
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56 kirsten March 17, 2011 at 2:18 pm

My husband and I lived together for 3 years before we got married and the way we did it was to open a joint credit card and charge all groceries and household expenses to it, then we would just split the bill down the middle each month. Once we got married we combined all our checking and savings accounts which I like but it does make it hard if you want to buy one another a gift or something like that.

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57 Jess March 17, 2011 at 2:18 pm

When my now husband and I moved in together we opened a joint checking account for household expenses. We figured out the ratio of his paycheck (he made way more) to mine and we each contributed the same percentage each time we got paid.

After our wedding we just combined it all.
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58 Sarah for Real March 17, 2011 at 2:18 pm

My husband and I moved in together when we were engaged, so starting to share our finances seemed very natural, leading toward marriage when everything would be shared. We kept our own checking accounts and just tried to split most things informally. I can see how that might produce arguments in some relationships, but my husband felt comfortable picking up the slack when I ran out of funds at the end of the month. Neither one of us bought anything major without discussing it first, and we always budgeted trips together in advance. I think it speaks to a level of commitment and mutual respect when finances can be shared without keeping a tally, which is why you aren’t doing it 50-50 roommate-style I assume :)

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59 Erica March 17, 2011 at 2:20 pm

I am in the exact same situation and the joint account works beautifully! We lived together for a year (!!) without one and it did cause a lot of fights. I FELT like I was paying for all the food and household stuff and it caused resentment. Now that we have the joint account (we both have our own separate checking and savings accounts) it makes living together so much easier. I can’t remember the last time we argued about money – it’s just not an issue anymore. :-)

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60 Lee March 17, 2011 at 2:22 pm

My husband and I just have a joint account that we pay everything from. We normally ask each other before making a big purchase.

Before we were married, we lived together and it was much more complicated. I would pay all the bills and then deduct half of what I paid from my portion of the rent and he would pay that. For groceries, we’d alternate who paid for it, but I ended up buying more groceries just because I like to cook and eat at home more than he does.
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61 Kacy March 17, 2011 at 2:24 pm

I’ve never lived with a bf, but I think that makes a lot of sense!
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62 Courtney March 17, 2011 at 2:25 pm

My husband and I got married in August, but a year ago [in March, five months before we got married], we combined all of our money into one bank account, and I put his name on my credit card and ordered a second card [he didn't have a credit card of his own before that].

Neither of us believe in divorce [as weird as that sounds, it's completely true] and so we plan on always sharing our money. Especially for the next three or four years while at least one of us is in school, it just doesn’t make sense for us to have separate accounts; only one would have money in it anyway!
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63 Amanda March 17, 2011 at 2:28 pm

I’ve lived with my boyfriend for the past year. We talked about setting up a joint account, but never really got around to it (Ha!) We split all household expenses down the middle – tv/internet, utilities, rent, groceries, etc. Since I’m an accountant and money isn’t really his strong suit, the tv/internet and utilities bills come in my name. I also pay for groceries, and every few weeks I tell him what half of the total is and he cuts me a check. For rent, we mail two checks to our landlord. It works well since I’m so organized, but I still think the joint bank account is a good idea :)

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64 Lindsay @ The Lean Green Bean March 17, 2011 at 2:28 pm

my then boyfriend/now husband and I first got a joint checking account when we moved in together after we graduated from college. we used it just like you guys are planning to…to buy groceries, pay our bills, go out to dinner….we calculated how much those expenses cost us over a few months, then based on our total respective salaries, figured out what percent of that amount we would each contribute to the joint account each payday. we do the same thing now that we’re married. that way we have an account to pay bills with..but also have our own personal checking and savings accounts to buy whatever we want, and help keep presents a secret ;)

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65 D March 17, 2011 at 2:34 pm

At this rate you two might as well get married!!! Whats the wait about?

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66 jo March 17, 2011 at 9:09 pm

Agreed. Sharing money but no marriage. Not a good idea from past experience. have you read The Rules?

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67 jessica March 19, 2011 at 9:51 am

Why does this question always get directed at the woman in the relationship? She’s not the one proposing! Besides the fact it’s none of your business.

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68 Jennifer March 17, 2011 at 2:40 pm

I guess I’m old school (and I’m not old!). I wouldn’t live with someone and agree to anything without some sort of contract or written out rules/guidelines. If it’s serious enough to move in together, then get married. Eliminates all the he/she/ours crap, if you ask me. If getting married isn’t agreeable to both parties then exactly why do you live together? Aren’t you essentially roommates and then would split everything 50/50 (or accordingly as to obligations)?

Hasn’t everyone watched Judge Judy & learned some lessons???

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69 Becca March 17, 2011 at 10:44 pm

If it’s serious enough to move in together, then get married.

^ This.
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70 Mac March 17, 2011 at 2:41 pm

I don’t live with my significant other yet, we are planning on that to happen when I am done with school this summer, but this is good insight on the issue!
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71 Rachel Wilkerson March 17, 2011 at 2:44 pm

This is something I’ve been thinking about for a while since I’m about to make the move as well, and the exact way you guys are doing it sounds like exactly how I was hoping to do it! Curious to hear how it goes for you, as I think I’ll be in the same boat in a few months!
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72 sweeter salt March 17, 2011 at 2:49 pm

I’ve lived with my fiancee for four years. As soon as we moved in together we opened a join credit card, that our individual checking accounts are linked to. We use that card to pay utilities, groceries, car insurance, restaurant bills, etc. For rent we’ve always written two separate checks, though recently we opened a joint checking / savings account. That’s what works for us, but everyone is different. I do believe having some sort of joint account or card is important, keeps everything equal and avoids money fights.
Laura
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73 Ashley March 17, 2011 at 2:51 pm

The BF and I live in a house together that we’re renting (only $250/person/month, same as an apartment would run us – country living has its advantages!) We split rent and utilities down the middle, but our food situation is a bit more unique as we receive food stamps. We only get $120 a month total, but that really helps us out. He makes a list of what he wants and I have the list of what else we need, and I do all of the shopping. Granted that we can really only get monthly essentials such as fruit, veg, bread, OJ, dairy/almond milk, beans, rice, etc. If I want something that’s not in the budget (I’m *addicted* to Amy’s meals for the convenience after work), I have to front the cash for it. Same goes for him – if he wants a case of Coke Zero, he’s ponying up the dough.

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74 Amy March 17, 2011 at 2:51 pm

I dunno how I feel about the whole formula split… ie a 40/60 split… I know you didn’t write about that, have just seen it mentionned in the comments.

Just seems unfair to the person who is making more money. You know?
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75 Mel March 17, 2011 at 10:35 pm

I actually think it’s perfectly fair. My friend makes $35,000 a year and her fiance makes $100,000+. Paying half of the rent for a $2,000 a month apartment would be a much bigger deal for her than it is for him.

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76 Annalisa March 17, 2011 at 2:51 pm

Years ago when my husband and I started living together, we got a joint credit card for rewards points. It seemed silly to pay (or get nothing) for a checking account. We use Amex’s Blue Cash and get 5% on gas/groceries/pharmacy and 1.5% on everything else. We use it for EVERYTHING and get back nearly $1000 each year just doing what we’re doing. However, if you spend $600/mo. on food, that’s $30/mo for buying what you all ready buy. Just a thought — otherwise, good luck!

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77 Nat March 17, 2011 at 2:58 pm

Hmmm…Something to consider!
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78 christine March 17, 2011 at 2:54 pm

I’m married (2+ years) and we keep EVERYTHING seperate. It’s really annoying and we’ve always “meant” to open a join for household expenses only but never had. Our friends think we’re crazy because we even pay for our own meals when we go out, but in the end it prevents a lot of money fights. I think it’s all about finding out what works for the couple and what will ensure peace!
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79 Emily @FitandFreeEmily March 17, 2011 at 2:56 pm

Before my fiance and I just threw everything into the same checking account (and I make our monthly budgets for everything!) we did a similar situation to what you and Derek are doing!

Here was our solution to the “what happens when one of you makes WAY more money than the other” problem: Instead of each of us putting in X amount of dollars, we both put in XX about of PERCENT of our paycheck!

$100 to me, making 4x more than he was, was a lot easier to come up with than for him. So we each decided on putting in 10% of our weekly paychecks. I loved it – it was fair and balanced for both of us, even though it was different amounts! :)
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80 Nat March 17, 2011 at 2:56 pm

I love this post! I’ve been living with my man for 8 months and we take turns paying- but I think that a joint checking account where we allocate XX amount to each month is brilliant!

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81 LindsayH March 17, 2011 at 2:57 pm

My husband and I mostly keep things separate. We each have our own bank accounts (I actually have two of my own) and we each get our own checks deposited into them separately. My husband pays most of our living expenses because he makes about 3x as much money as I do! I do all of our household shopping (groceries, toiletries, etc.) and when we go out (movies, dinner, concerts) we usually take turns – though not formally like every-other time or anything.

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82 Shel March 17, 2011 at 3:03 pm

My bf and I live together, and we created a joint acct just like you guys…with the intention to put so much money into it…

Good intentions….

Eventually, one of us couldn’t make the payment, and so now we just do everything right down the middle. The joint acct seems so formal now. We still have it, but rarely use it. If we go grocery shopping, we split everything right down the middle…sometimes I’ll pay more, if he is strapped for cash or vice versa.

The wonderful thing about living with a significant other is that it doesn’t have to be so formal!

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83 Miranda @ MirandasJeans March 17, 2011 at 3:04 pm

Been married for coming up to 4 years this June, and with my hubby for a total of 11 years. We just last month joined our banking LOL.
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84 KaraQ March 17, 2011 at 3:10 pm

Since moving in together, my now-husband and I have maintained our separate checking accounts…and we sort of split the bills as much “in half” as we can. I pay rent, car insurance, phone & credit card. He pays most of the groceries, car payment & utilities. It does get annoying on date nights though, figuring out who pays…it annoys the hell out of me when the waitress ALWAYS hands him the bill as if he’s going to pay! psssh!

I think the “joint checking” for shared things though is such a great idea!!

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85 CindyD. March 17, 2011 at 3:13 pm

Money is so personal, and such a hot-button issue. My advice is to be HONEST about your spending/debt and follow your gut when it comes to combining households and finances. My husband and I moved in together shortly after we got engaged and pretty much started combining finances from that point on. We combined everything – bank accounts, cell phones, etc.,but we were both very comfortable with that. I currently make more than he does, but I also like to spend more. We tend to take the “it call comes out in the wash approach”. We save together and spend (mostly) together.

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86 Val @ Balancing Val March 17, 2011 at 3:24 pm

My boyfriend and I have been living together for over a year.

One of the first things we did was open up a joint checking account. We are responsible for each putting in the following every month . . .

$425 – Rent
$100 – Groceries
$100 – Apartment bills (electric, internet, cable)

The living expenses are split, but we each pay our own car insurance, gas ect. As long as those bills are paid then we dont have any reason to step on each others toes as far as what else we spend our money on.

As far as the groceries . . . we both eat very differently but since I am a chef in training, my bf lets me take the lead on most of the food we buy. We do make compromises for each other a lot, but in the end its easier to just spend the money together and not yell at each other for eating MY cereal or MY peanut butter ect.

It gets a lot easier and it is great training for the future :)

Keep us updated on how it goes !!

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87 Paige @ Moxie and Marmalade March 17, 2011 at 3:25 pm

That’s a really great idea. I’ve lived with my boyfriend for 3 years now and we just try to split things. But that is totally imprecise. I’ve been unemployed for the past few months and he’s being really sweet, so instead of paying groceries every other week, I’ll only pay once a month.

I do like the idea of a joint checking account and your plan to vacation is great!

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88 Chrissy (The New Me) March 17, 2011 at 3:28 pm

My boyfriend and I have been together for 8 years and co-habitating for 6. We have a joint savings account for big expenses and travel, and then we split all the other bills pretty much down the middle – I pay them all up front (I get paid once a month) and then he reimburses me half the amount. We take turns picking up the tab when we go out on dates, and we have our own money to spend on our own things. This has worked out really well for us so far, and unless we have children (highly unlikely) I think we’ll stick with this method even after we’re married. We’re both very independent and we make roughly the same amount of money (I make more, but I have more student loan debt so it evens out).

Basically, I think whatever you can live with that doesn’t cause you to fight about money is the way to go! Everyone is different.

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89 Andrea of Care to Eat March 17, 2011 at 3:37 pm

What you are doing is exactly what Chris and I did the two years we lived together before getting married (one year in an apartment and one year in a house we bought together). We had very different incomes so it just seemed more fair to each contribute the same amount to our joint account each month to cover bills, food, and misc. expenses, and then each person got to keep and do whatever with the remainder of their paycheck. As soon as we got married though, we combined our money – luckily we were both debt free so neither one of us had to assume the other’s debt.
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90 Amy March 17, 2011 at 3:40 pm

This is just what works for ME, so no judgment for anyone else:

My husband and I pool our money completely. We didn’t open joint accounts till we actually got married, but once we moved in together (after six months of dating), we just started thinking of our money as “ours.” We would sort of take turns paying for stuff, but it didn’t really matter, because in our minds, all the money in our separate checking/savings accounts belonged equally to both of us.

Truthfully, the concept of “my” money, or of somehow feeling scrutinized for what I spend, or scrutinizing what my husband spends, is incredibly foreign to me. I think it helps that neither of us are big spenders, and we spend most of our money on dinners and trips together, but it just never really occurred to us to think of our money as anything other than ours—regardless of salary (I worked while he was in grad school, and now I’m in grad school, and he is supporting us 100 percent). Once I decided to start sharing bodily fluids with this dude, money didn’t seem like a big deal. :)

Also, I second the commenter above re: AMEX Blue Card. We put damn near EVERYTHING we buy on our joint card (and we pay it off fully every month; we’re staunchly anti-debt, except for student loans), and we get at least $700 back each year—just for buying what we’d buy anyway. Nothing is quite as awesome as free money!
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91 Caitlin March 17, 2011 at 4:11 pm

I agree 100% with you that when you become married, it stops being ‘your’ money and ‘my’ money and should just be pooled ;)
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92 sarah (sarah learns) March 17, 2011 at 3:41 pm

eeek! i’ve never lived with a significant other before, but my fiance and i are moving in together NEXT MONTH!! :) we’re getting married in august and we’re planning to combine everything – i already set up a budget for us and we’re planning on adopting kath’s budgeting method she wrote about a couple weeks ago!
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93 Amanda Perry @ Sistas of Strength March 17, 2011 at 3:51 pm

What a great post! I think this can be super stressful for a lot of people. My husband and I did what you guys did when we first lived together. We paid for almost everything out of our joint checking account (groceries, anything for the house, wedding expenses, etc.). We kept material things like clothes and our own separate car payments separate. Once we were married we combined everything and it’s “our money” which I think works really well for us, but I know it doesn’t for others. We talked about it for a long time, but this works best as I truly think that once you’re married you need to be a team. :)
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94 Kelsey March 17, 2011 at 3:54 pm

My BF and I live together now and we split grocceries by switching who pays every other week but we plan and shop together to try and keep costs even. We divided up the bills when we first moved in together to a fairly even split (I pay a bit more because I make more, no biggie to me), and we split our rent payment right down the middle. I give him my portion in cash shortly before it’s due and then he writes the check. I pay for my own car and it’s a toss up when we go out. Usually whoever has more money in their acct at the time pays.

All that being said, we are about to buy a house together and are going to open a joint checking account. Although the way we’ve been doing things works, it would be much much easier to have one account for mortgage, bills, grocceries, etc. We said that we’ll probably both keep a personal account to put a set amount into each month that we can spend on things we choose (like clothes, pedicures, non-necessities)

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95 Ali @ Ali Runs March 17, 2011 at 4:21 pm

This was a great post! I don’t live with my boyfriend (we’re both finishing up grad school in different areas) but it’s hard to believe there is so much to think about. I think the joint checking account for shared expenses seems like a smart decision! I look forward to more posts about how the first time living with a boy is going :)
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96 Kim @ Kim Lives Healthy March 17, 2011 at 4:22 pm

I’ve been with my fiance for about 3.5 years, lived together for about 2.5. We have separate checking accounts, eat the same stuff (although he buys more beer), go out about the same amount with friends/coworkers, and earn about the same (he makes maybe 15% more?), so we’re equal with most things. At the end of each month or two months depending how lazy we are, we enter all our shared expenses in Excel and square up by electronicaly transferring the difference to the person who paid the most that month. That way it’s all 50/50. I know that won’t work one day when I’m not working (aka post-baby), but it works for now.

One thing I want to avoid is having our own personal accounts PLUS a joint account, because then we have to balance 3 accounts! And I worry about putting everything into 1 account because how do you know if you’re going to overdraft? Do you tell the other person every time you spend money so they update the checkbook? I still haven’t found what is the least stressful option, but we haven’t tried any shared accounts yet.

It helped us a lot to stop thinking of ourselves as two people with two jobs and shared bills, but instead as ONE family who happens to bring home 2 paychecks – so philosophically it’s all shared.
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97 Nacho Lindsay March 17, 2011 at 4:24 pm

I buy the nachos, Mr. Nacho Lindsay buys the drinks. What else is there? :)
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98 AffordAnything.org March 17, 2011 at 4:26 pm

Exactly — this is what I recommend to couples. Have one joint bank account, with one joint credit card connected to it.

Then each have your own separate bank accounts, with your own separate credit cards connected to it.

Joint purchases = paid w/ the joint credit card = paid from the joint bank account. Same goes for the seperate accounts. Easy as pie!
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99 Ellie @ The Mommyist March 17, 2011 at 4:29 pm

My husband and I have only joint accounts. I’m currently a stay at home mom who has a small income, but not much. My husband makes almost all the money and I handle all the finances. I pay our bills, buy our groceries and, because I always know what’s going on with our finances, decide what we can and can not afford. It works well for us. Having one of us raise our child was much more important than a second income to both of us so there is no resentment about me not having much of an income. I handle all the finances and decide what we can and can not afford for two reasons 1. I’m better with money and my husband trusts me fully 2. My husband doesn’t like to think about it and would rather just ask me if we can afford something he wants than figure it out himself. It works well for us but I can see how our system might cause tension with a lot of couples.
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100 Lisa (bakebikeblog) March 17, 2011 at 4:34 pm

Mr BBB and I combined incomes very early on. We found it much easier to contibute jointly to expenses etc instead of having to split them when the accounts arrived. I guess it worked for us as he was earning more than me at that time and a 50/50 split didnt seem fair :)
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101 mary March 17, 2011 at 4:37 pm

Thanks for this post. I am moving in with my bf this summer, and we were just trying to decide whether or not we were going to open up a joint checking account. the more and more I think about it, the more it makes sense. It seems to be the most rational way to split things evenly.
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102 River March 17, 2011 at 5:41 pm

Interesting post, hope it all goes well, and you can go on a vacation in no time :)
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103 Emily @ Savory and Savage March 17, 2011 at 5:56 pm

When I did live with a significant other – we did the same thing you are doing – have one joint account for most of the household fun expenses.

I worked well.
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104 Shanna, Like Banana March 17, 2011 at 5:58 pm

My hubby and I’d kill each other if we had a joint account! We just contribute equally and it totally works out.
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105 Anne Marie March 17, 2011 at 5:58 pm

I think that’s actually a very sensible thing to do!! When Hubby and I were engaged and living together, we shared all of our expenses and combined bank accounts, but we were also getting married in a matter of months.

All you need is a way that works for you, with complete and total open communication… money is the #1 thing couples fight about!!
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106 lynne March 17, 2011 at 6:24 pm

a joint checking account with my boyfriend definitely has saved many headaches for us. we are long distance so we opened an ING checking account that we each direct deposit XX dollars each month. from this pool of money, we buy plane tickets to visit each other and other big ticket activities (certain concerts, a really nice dinner). since i’ve never actually ‘seen’ the money in my own checking acct, it doesn’t have an impact on my personal finances. this way, we each are contributing half to the pot and have money to spend when we’re with each other. i hope you guys love it as much as we do!

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107 Brooke March 17, 2011 at 6:42 pm

Since I’ve been finishing up my school, I’ve paid for electricity, he pays for cable/phone, then I give him a little bit more (~$50) a month than my technical half of rent…that way when we go to buy groceries, he just pays. But in the past week, we’ve decided since I’ll be graduating in the next month, once I land a job, we’ll open a combined account, but of course with our separate accounts. There’s no need for him to see how often I shop! ;-)

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108 Karolina March 17, 2011 at 6:49 pm

OOh, this is a great idea I think, and I’m glad you aren’t completely combining all your money! Sounds awesome!
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109 kathleen March 17, 2011 at 6:52 pm

I actually knew a married couple who kept seperate checking accounts. They did a, someone pays for food, someone pays for rent, the other one pays for x ultility. Etc.
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110 Jen March 17, 2011 at 6:54 pm

This is exactly what me and my man do — even after we got married. We each contribute X amount to the joint account every month, and out of that we pay rent, utilities, buy groceries, pay for any eating out or going to the movies or whatever. We each still have our own accounts so I don’t think he’s spending my money on video games or he doesn’t think I’m spending too much on shoes, for example. I know it’s “all in the same pot” in the grand scheme of things, but it’s really important to me to maintain this separation (although it should be noted, when one of us is out of work, the other person pays for everything, so it’s not a perfect system). Also, this means when we buy each other gifts it’s not with “OUR” money but with the partner’s money, so it feels more like a gift than “I decided to spend our money on this for you.” One thing we’ve talked about, is if one of us ends up making a lot more money than the other (right now, we’re pretty equal) that instead of each of us contributing a certain amount, we each contribute a certain percentage of our income. That way, one person isn’t individually saving up like tens of thousands more than the other person’s individual savings, for example.

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111 Erin March 17, 2011 at 7:17 pm

I’m married and we still keep separate accounts. Technically, they are both joint accounts (we added each others’ names to get approved for a home loan) so we can log into our bank web site and pass money back and forth with ease.
Food is still weird for us because we rarely eat together and don’t like a lot of the same food. We go on big grocery trips once every month or two and split the bill. Then we each do our separate little trips about once a week, but everything is fair game for anyone to eat.
I really like your shared account action. We intended to do this before, but decided that passing $$ back and forth online was just as easy.

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112 Carrie March 17, 2011 at 8:00 pm

I think that is a great idea! When I first moved in with my husband, then boyfriend, this was a huge dilemma for us. I was very concerned with things being “equal.” I hated the idea of going out to dinner and having to ask “are you getting this or should I?” I felt like it was uncomfortable. Also, it posed a problem for buying groceries and household items. I loved the idea of having one account that we both put x amount of money in each week. We ended up taking a different route (once we were engaged) and got a joint credit card. Obviously we really trusted one another at this point. This took the pressure off of having to guess who would pay for what. At the end of the month we divided that total bill.

Congrats on the big steps! Living together is awesome and it sounds like you two are going to continue to do well! :)

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113 Emily March 17, 2011 at 8:14 pm

I love learning about how different people handle money! It’s so interesting to me, so thanks for sharing. :)

I’ve been married for a year and a half now. We have a joint account where both of our paychecks are deposited. I make significantly less than my husband, but we treat all money as our money. We pay all bills, groceries, restaurant bills, rent, etc out of this account. We have maintained our separate accounts as well, and each month we transfer an “allowance” (for lack of a better word) from our joint account into our personal accounts. We LOVE this system b/c your partner has no say over how you spend this money. This is where all individual purchases that don’t benefit one or the other come from. I can spend it on lattes and he can spend it on beer brewing supplies and we don’t fight. It’s worked really well for us, and I feel an extra sense of security knowing that we have separate accounts that the other partner can’t access. I think talking about the fact that there is a chance we might not be together forever was one of the most important things we did before we got married.
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114 Laura March 17, 2011 at 8:26 pm

When my husband and I got married five years ago we combined all of our accounts. I added my name to all of my existing accounts, and we’d already opened joint accounts while engaged in graduate school. And it was great. And then two years ago my husband was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, was very very depressed and left. Disappeared for two months. During that time I was encouraged by my support system to open a separate bank account in my name only, and to move my paycheck deposits to it, mostly to protect myself in case he swung manic . Doing that was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. But now that he’s healthy (relatively speaking) and home, it turns out to be a great thing for many reasons. He opened up his own unique account, too, and while our paychecks both go into the joint account, I transfer an allowance to both our accounts each payday. We agree on the amount as part of our larger conversation about our budget. What I’m really trying to say is that I think you have a great plan, keeping separate accounts but also making it easy to pay for household expenses. (sorry this got so long!)

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115 Amanda March 17, 2011 at 8:34 pm

I totally love this topic! My boyfriend and I have been living together almost 3 years now, initially we talked about getting a joint checking and doing exactly what you are doing – but we never got around to it. Instead I transfer half of the rent to him each month and he cut’s that check. We each take an “extra” bill (cable/internet and electric/gas). As far as food – I eat the most and cook the most for me, so I do the grocery shopping and he generally pays for our target/walmart house stuff runs. We alternate meals for eating out! I sort of wish we did it the way you did, but it works for us!
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116 Marian Schembari March 17, 2011 at 8:51 pm

So funny you posted this! My boyfriend and I went through the same thing last year before we moved in together. We split everything down the middle (rent, utilities, food, etc), but when we moved from London to New Zealand we decided a joint account was in order. Mostly because we were just getting bored of writing everything down and splitting it down the middle each month. It much easier having one card that accesses “our” account and in it we pay for everything that IS ours. So far so good, I think it’s a good plan!

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117 Annette @ EnjoyYourHealthyLife March 17, 2011 at 9:16 pm

split bank accounts right now….but eventually we’ll join :)

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118 Wendy March 17, 2011 at 9:28 pm

Good post, it seems like a common approach to the first go at having a shared home. I’ve been living with my dude for 5 years, and we have one joint account that was set up once we bought a place together, depositing a set sum every pay period from our accounts (we make virtually the same) that goes towards the mortgage, insurance and utilities. Groceries we still just switch off every week and some general expenses, but it’s a give and take there and we don’t really keep track. We still keep our own separate accounts for personal spending, I feel guilty about spending my own money sometimes, I would probably never spend it if I thought of it as coming from his account!

I think as couples start to live together and as things change, any of the above circumstances may happen, so you’ll probably find things may change as time goes on, so just be flexible and open about the topic of money, no matter what approach you take!
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119 Erika March 17, 2011 at 9:30 pm

My husband and I lived together for 2.5 years before we got married and didn’t have a combined checking until we bought a house 2 years after we were married. I could spend way too much time explaining how we split things but I vowed that I never wanted to fight about money. So now I give myself 20% of my income as discretionary and I actually pay for our food because I definitely eat more or eat more of the expensive stuff…my husband never snacks!

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120 Kerry March 17, 2011 at 9:52 pm

Hey – my BF and I do the same thing that you guys are. We each have our own account and the joint. All the household expenses go into the join – we each contribute 25% a pay, so each pay half. This covers mortgage, bills, groceries. it took a bit of adjustment as the grocery bills changed but eventually we got it. I like having the seperate accouns as well so if you buy a gift or eat out, or buy those expensive shoes it is your money to spend … at least until there are kids. But that is later =)

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121 Heidi March 17, 2011 at 9:58 pm

probably a silly question but do people still use checks or is that just a turn of phrase? i am significantly older than you and have never used a check in my life, I didn’t even think they existed in this day and age of internet banking!! just curious….

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122 Ellie March 18, 2011 at 3:45 am

I definitely still use checks – though it is so much less common now that debit cards are so widespread. I used to use checks more but now I use my debit card all the time. About five years ago debit cards weren’t accepted everywhere (and checks were) but that has changed since then. But the whole time I was growing up my mom paid for everything with a check (or cash).

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123 Duchess of Fork March 17, 2011 at 10:05 pm

You just have to do whatever works for you two. My husband and I have one joint checking and a few joint savings accounts. Nothing is separated….even though he makes more than twice what I do, we share everything. We’ve been married for two years and have yet to have a problem. I hope we can keep it up because finances can certainly be a tricky situation for a lot of couples.
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124 Lish March 18, 2011 at 12:34 am

This is definitely the way most of my friends do it and a way that I have found to be most successful when living with a significant other. I’m single at the moment, but I lived with my boyfriend in my last serious relationship a few years ago and we each would put $XX.XX in the account each week. We used it for household expenses, date nights, etc. and when our relationship did end, it was so easy to just split that account and have no fighting over money. I’ve seen some GREAT relationships crumble after they moved in together and had money issues. When he came home with the hot new gaming system or tech gadget at that time or I came home with bags of clothes I didn’t need, no fights ensued like with some of our other friends because our household expenses were covered and those splurges came from our own checking accounts.

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125 Alaina March 18, 2011 at 12:48 am

My husband and I do have a joint account that we put X amount in for rent, groceries, and bills. We still have separate accounts for our “fun stuff” and a vacation account and savings jointly as well. We moved in together once we got engaged so we joined up our income from the get go.
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126 Astrid March 18, 2011 at 7:36 am

We did the exact same thing: a joint account for all household expenses (rent, groceries, cats, vacations, dates, etc). We just tallied up what we needed for that in 1 month and each of us automatically put half of that in the joint account each month. Then we both had our own checking and savings account for our `own` expenses, like clothes, spending money, my gym membership, etc.
Works perfectly :-) I also like not havign to discuss who pays what and still having my own account and not having to justify what I spend my money on!

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127 Kristen March 18, 2011 at 1:32 pm

I love this! I think it is a fabulous idea for you to have a joint checking account for those things that are both of yours! I have been married 3.5 years and my husband and I just opened a joint checking account on January 1st. Everything was still “what’s yours is mine, what’s mine is yours”, but we tried to split things as much as possible – I paid for groceries every week and he paid the house bill and all the utilities. I would feel bad that I couldn’t give him money to split the bills but I just don’t make nearly the same amount of money as he does. Having the joint account has made everything 10x easier, and now I actually FEEL married since we are splitting everything (and I don’t have to worry about running out of money because I have access to the account)! So, I think you 2 made a great decision – it will just make things easier in the long run!
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128 Charise March 18, 2011 at 3:32 pm

My husband and I lived together for a few years before getting married, and we still do the same thing now as before: just split all the expenses proportional to our income. Basically, he pays the mortgage, condo association fees, and our health insurance (this has changed since getting married – it’s cheaper for us to both be on his to stay separate) and I pay everything else – utilities/bills (cell, electric, water, cable/internet), groceries, other household items. We take turns paying when we go out.

We’ve discussed getting a joint account for these shared expenses and still keeping the rest of our money separate, but just haven’t done it. I think secretly we both like the mental division of our money. It’ll probably stay that way until we have kids, when all the extra expenses would make it ridiculous to not have a joint account of some sort.

I think there are so many different ways that work for different couples, and it is just a matter of finding what works for you!

We do have a joint savings account for the new-house-fund
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129 Bria March 19, 2011 at 6:52 am

Interesting comments! My bf and I lived together last summer but I am currently back in my
hometown for a year completing my articles (required to become a lawyer in Canada) so I visit him on weekends now but were resuming cohabitation in August when Im done.

He had a house, made way more money (Im just starting out and he’s older than I am/more established). No joint checking account for us as he paid all bills. I’m lucky that way I guess! I just buy groceries when I can, and contribute what I can to our vacations (which he also pays for). Right now my weekend roadtrips to visit him are my main relationship expense haha. When I move back after articles and am making more money, no doubt I will be able to contribute more but this has been the way we do it. :)
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130 Meaghan March 19, 2011 at 10:12 am

My boyfriend and I are moving in together in about 2 weeks and are planning on doing the same thing :) We haven’t worked out the exact details yet, but are planning on opening a joint chequing and savings this spring. We will each contribute a certain percentage (probably about 80 % or so) of our paychecks into the chequing account for bills, grocerys, etc. And about 10% or so of what we put in the chequing is going to be transferred to the savings so we can start saving for “big things” – he says house, I say wedding :P Either one really works for me haha. That way most of the money is shared, but that left over percentage is kind of like our “monthly allowance” cause lets face it, I’d like to avoid any arguement over how much my hair appointments cost or those new shoes (or new games for him etc) cost.

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131 Kate March 21, 2011 at 2:32 pm

I live with my bf, and we split all “shared” bills equally: rent, electricity, Netflix, cable, gas, etc. We commute into work together in his car, so I pay for parking, he pays for the car, and we split gas. We roughly switch off who pays for groceries–we usually spend between $100-$200 at Costco every other week, so we try to remember who bought last time and the other person steps up. He pays more often when we go out to eat on “dates,” but he also makes 150% of what I make, so it makes sense. We’re fortunate that we both make plenty of money, so we don’t have to worry too much about what we’re spending–it’s worth things potentially being a little uneven here and there to keep the peace!

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132 Ally March 29, 2011 at 8:59 am

I live with my man and we don’t have a shared account. Our system for groceries is a bit all over the place – but at the end of the day, we basically split it down the middle. It works out because although he eats more, I eat expensive stuff (he he he). Our bills are included in our rent, so it’s a very easy single payment each month!

And, my two cents – this “you live together, may as well get married” talk is really quite sad. It’s 2011. Are we really still thinking like that?

Good luck with the rest of the move :)

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133 Jeff May 12, 2011 at 11:15 am

Meghann,

What an exciting time for you both! Now the tough part will be keeping track of the spending in that account. That was always a difficult thing for my spouse and I to do but we’ve recently discovered a website called Chext that has been a lifesaver! It uses text messages to send your spending to your partner as well as your new balance to both of you! So, for example, if I’m out and go spend $4.00 on coffee, I just pull up my phone and text in “4.00 coffee.” My spouse gets a text message that says “4.00 coffee” and then we both get a text with our new balance. It has saved us SOOO many arguments. You should check it out if that’s an issue for you and Derek!

Jeff

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134 Steph April 5, 2012 at 2:15 pm

I happened to stumble across this post and I’m SO glad I did. I moved in with my boyfriend in December (he bought a house) and we’ve kinda just been “winging it” him paying this, and me paying that until we actually get the time (and motivation) to sit down and create a joint budget.

This post has inspired me to get down to business and I’ve organized us into lean, mean bill paying and saving machines! Thanks for the push!

PS- Now that this is a year old, any seasoned advice?
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