How to manage money as a couple ?

how to manage money as couple

Managing money in a relationship can become a source of conflict if it is not treated seriously. Here are 5 simple steps to successfully manage money in your relationship:

  • Discuss your financial goals and habits
  • Open a joint account
  • Agree on a division of expenses
  • Agree on joint expenses
  • Use methods to help you manage money as a couple

Discuss your financial goals and habits

Money is the engine of our capitalist societies. Your whole life, including your relationship, will be based on your income, your expenses, your budgets

To be sure that you are moving in the same direction, it is essential to put things on the table and discuss everything with your partner about your relationship with money.

Defining financial goals

As individuals, you may have different financial goals: one may want to build up wealth throughout their career and save for the future, while the other may want to focus on their daily wellbeing and happiness by making the most of the money they have.

There are no right or wrong financial goals, but it is essential as a couple to set a common goal.

Be sure you are on the same road when it comes to money. If not, you may run into money problems at important stages in your lives: buying a property, spending money on children, budgeting for holidays, etc.

Open a joint bank account

In the collective imagination, opening a joint account is reserved for couples who have already lived together for decades or for married couples with real financial plans.

This is not true.

It is perfectly possible to open a bank account that will be shared by you and your partner regardless of your relationship status.

This will help you manage your money more easily than having to think about how much you should each allocate to your relationship from your personal bank accounts.

Opening a joint account allows you to bring your agreed financial goals and habits into the real world.

The idea of the joint bank account is to give each person access to this account: you all have a personal bank card linked to the account. You also have personal identifiers to access the bank account and make transfers, consult the balance, etc.

Agree on a division of expenses within the couple

This is a very important and sensitive stage for many couples: it is the famous question of “who pays what“.

Who should pay for what in a couple?

If at first sight the question of how to divide expenses inspires the simplest of answers, namely “50-50”, you will see that this is not always the right solution.

Dividing everything by 2 is simple and useful for couples earning exactly the same amount of money, but as soon as one spouse earns more money than the other, this model is challenged.

Very few couples earn exactly the same monthly income, so often there is an imbalance.

Avoid financial imbalance in the couple

So why is this not working ? Simply because the one who earns more than the other will probably have higher standards of living: the desire to live in a bigger flat, to drive a bigger car, to have more expensive leisure activities…

To avoid frustration on the side of the higher earning spouse it is smart to agree on a more equitable distribution: it is up to the couple to define what percentage of the expenses and the common budget will be taken care of by the higher salary.

A simple way to determine this percentage is to compare the weight of the higher salary in the couple’s combined salaries.

For example: John earns $1,500 per month and Matilda earns $2,500 per month. Together, they have a combined income of $4,000.

We just need to determine the weight of Matilda’s salary in the couple’s total income:

(2500 x 100) / 4000 = 62,5%

The solution is therefore as follows: Matilda has to pay 62% of the couple’s expenses. Thanks to this pro rata calculation, a financial balance exists in the couple.

Of course this calculation is only a proposal, free to each couple depending on their relationship, to decide on the exact amount and the distribution that suits them best.

This method of fair financial management for each spouse also helps to avoid disputes in the event of separation: the idea is not to leave one of the two partners (or the family) in a delicate situation.

Agree on the couple's joint expenses

This is the next logical step after opening a joint account: agree on the expenses that will be made with this joint budget.

This step is crucial for the good financial management of your couple.

Opening a joint account is all very well, but if you don’t decide what you can and cannot do with the money, you may soon find yourself in conflict.

How to manage your budget as a couple?

To validate this step and move towards good money management in your relationship, you must do two things:

  • List the items of expenditure authorised in your joint bank account.
  • Establish the maximum amounts and budgets for each of these items.

For example:

  • You decide that with this joint budget you are allowed to use it to go to restaurants.
  • You also decide that the monthly budget for restaurant expenses will not exceed $150 per month.

This is a fairly simple, if time-consuming, exercise, as you have to repeat it for all the expenditure items you may experience in your married life.

If you’re worried that you’ll be overwhelmed by the number of calculations and operations you’ll have to do to keep track of all these outgoings, then read the last step of this article, we may have the miracle method for managing your couple’s money better.

Use methods to manage the couple's money

Keeping track of all expenses on a day-to-day basis is not an easy task. It becomes even more complicated if you are in a relationship, having to keep track of another person’s expenses.

What about the state of your accounts on a given date? We are often unable to admit exactly how much money we have left, so when we check our banking applications we find ourselves looking at the remaining balance.

Fortunately, there are several tips and applications to help you keep track of your expenses and budget.

Using the Lydia app

The Lydia app is a money management app that allows you to manage your money quickly and easily. It allows you to track your spending, set budgets and set financial goals.

What’s the point of using Lydia in your relationship?

Lydia offers you the ability to simply create shared accounts with your partner. You can see why the app can be useful for couples: it allows them to track their finances in real time and makes it easier to communicate and collaborate on their spending.

You can add money to your joint Lydia account from your bank account or credit card, and use that money to make any payment online or in-store.

You have the ability to track your balances and receive notifications when you are approaching your maximum budget, conveniently.

Using Lydia, you can easily track your spending and make sure you stay within the budget you both set, very useful for managing money as a couple.

Introducing the 50 30 20 method

The 50 30 20 method, or rule, is a principle applicable to finances that is explained in one line:

50% for needs, 30% for leisure, 20% for savings.

When we talk about percentages, we are of course referring to the proportion of your income that will be allocated to these expenses.

This method is often used for individual financial management, but the rule can also be applied to a couple’s life. You and your partner can agree that your joint expenditure should be based on this principle for as long as you are a couple.

While the 50 30 20 method may seem simplistic at first, it is an effective way of setting a budget framework with your partner: without having to go into complicated calculations, these three percentages help you to know quickly whether you are on track in terms of spending.

The question of money in a couple is an issue that needs to be solved as soon as possible, in order to be sure to move in the right direction with your partner and avoid financial conflicts. By following these 5 steps you now have all the cards in hand to optimise money management in your relationship.

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Jordan Houi
Article by

Jordan Houi

Passionate about savings and investment topics. I modestly try to offer you simple, sometimes not so simple, solutions to beat inflation.