Sharing Expenses with Your Partner or Roommate – How to Be Fair and Keep Everyone Happy
Money makes the world go round, but it can unfortunately be the reason for conflict and frustration in many households. Our quick guide on discussions to have and how to be fair when sharing expenses can prevent many unnecessary frustrations.
Sharing a house with someone can help you save a considerable amount each month. But, whether it’s with a roommate or a life partner, sharing expenses isn’t all fun and games. A misunderstanding or disagreement about money can quickly escalate and ruin the dynamics of your home environment.
Finding a way of sharing expenses in a way that’s fair to everyone can be tricky. Roommates may have different viewpoints, or one party may feel too vulnerable to share his or her financial details with others. But communication is essential to make these living arrangements work.
Use the tips below to start conversations, create guidelines and find a way to manage your budget in a manner that everyone feels comfortable with.
Start With Your Goals – Short and Long Term
Before you decide on what your budget looks like and who will shoulder which financial responsibilities, do you have financial goals in place?
Whether you’re sharing an apartment with flat mates or building a future as a couple, you must agree on the lifestyle your budget needs to support. Goals you can have—as a couple or as flat mates—include:
- Saving as much as possible in order to move to a bigger place one day
- Prioritizing savings that can fund your next travel adventure
- Funding your retirement plan
- Living in the moment and living paycheck to paycheck
These goals determine which items will be on your budget. Also, it tells you how much you’ll prioritize saving money each month and whether you need to help each other live as frugally as possible.
If people have different goals, they’ll make vastly different choices when it comes to spending their salaries. So, agreeing on monthly and long-term goals help to create a guideline on what you’ll view as acceptable items to spend money on.
From there you need to discuss and agree on how you’ll go about sharing expenses.
Couples: Pick a System
There’s no one perfect system when it comes to managing a household’s money. Experts suggest various approaches and you can try them out to find what works for you. We discuss a few options below.
Pick a Percentage
When you need to decide how much each person will contribute to the budget for household expenses, you can decide on a percentage of your salaries. This works for couples, rather than flat mates where everyone needs to contribute equally.
Pick an Expense
Certain couples simplify the process by allocating different expenses to each person. One may cover the rent or mortgage, which is a substantial amount, while the other party will take care of utilities and groceries.
Different Strategies to Benefit the Budget
All households have their own dynamics, so don’t be afraid to try something different. If it’s a major priority for your household to save money and find ways to live more frugally, that can be one person’s focus.
For example, it takes time to search for items on sale or implement rainwater systems to be less reliant on the grid. If one partner commits to these important tasks while the other spends more time at work to earn a little more, both are doing their share to make the household work.
With this approach you may also decide to sacrifice one person’s salary and have them work part time, so he or she can look after the kids. You’ll save on schooling or babysitting expenses. If one person’s salary wasn’t that big to start with, it may be the financially sound decision to make your budget work and is an indirect way of sharing expenses.
Pay Your Partner a Salary
Here’s another very original—some would say controversial—option for sharing expenses and managing your budget: pay your partner a salary.
If one person takes responsibility to earn an income while the other person is at home full time—handling chores like cooking and cleaning, looking after the children and so much more—it can be seen as a full-time job, right? And since you’re saving a lot on cleaning services, childcare and other expenses, you may be able to pay your partner an allowance. This gives her or him a little financial freedom, even though there’s no real paycheck coming in.
And that’s exactly what should be the goal when talking about your budget. It’s not only about sharing expenses but finding a dynamic that gives all individuals the best possible quality of life.
Everyone: Set Down Some Rules
Whether you’re discussing sharing expenses with your partner or with your roommates, rules are essential. Without some guidelines you’re bound to overspend or experience conflict about an expense you don’t agree on.
Have a Discussion
For a flatmate setup you can make the guidelines part of your general house rules, but also have a discussion when you have roommate interviews. Ask for input and suggestions, so your guidelines work for everyone. People will feel more willing to follow rules if you consult them on the topic.
An important discussion point is how you’ll split expenses that aren’t part of your usual budget. For example:
- Takeout food
- A new piece of furniture or an appliance everyone uses
- Throwing a party
Some households choose to split costs based on how much each person earns in comparison to the other individuals. In other scenarios it may seem fairer to share costs evenly.
Furthermore, when there is a big purchase outside your usual, planned budget, when is it necessary to consult your partner or roommate before buying? To prevent disagreements, decide on the maximum amount anyone can spend without talking to others about it. Anything above that requires a house meeting.
You can also decide to rather discuss certain types of expenses. Partners may want the freedom to spend their entertainment budget any way they see fit. But if it’s an item for the house—like a new coffee machine that must suit everyone’s preferences—you’ll review options together.
Easy Ways to Manage Your Money Together
Money matters are some of the leading issues that lead to divorce—and it can create tense situations for roommates too. The more conflict you can avoid, the better for everyone. This is why it’s valuable to find an effective but easy way to manage your joint financial obligations.
Set Up a Budget
Don’t stop at having the discussion. You need an agreed upon budget in black and white, that any party can use as reference when planning purchases. Seeing your plan visually also helps prevent overspending.
Get the Apps
For everything from creating a budget to splitting bills, you’ll find efficient apps, of which Enzo is one of them. It will save you time by automating certain processes. Also, having information on hand makes it easier to make smart financial decisions, whether you’re browsing an online shopping platform or visiting a local market.
Use Simple Payment Methods
Also make it easy on yourself to settle outstanding accounts. Use banking apps to pay bills on time, so your balance gives you an accurate representation of what you have left to spend for the month. Furthermore, use apps like Enzo to determine what you owe someone else in terms of sharing expenses. Some apps can even help you get payments sorted in less time and with less effort than before.
Use tech wisely and a task you dreaded before can become streamlined and help you live life more carefree.
5 Ways Enzo Helps Households Manage Money Better
The Enzo chore tracker app is robust in its offerings to couples and roommates, with features that even assist with household finances. For example, you can add expenses that others need to help you cover.
- You can upload documentation of an expense for others to view
- The app helps you split expenses to ensure everyone is treated fairly
- Users get reminders about their outstanding amounts, to prevent conflicts about unpaid debts
- You can share house rules, so everyone understands their responsibilities, even regarding bill payments
- Anyone unsure about what they owe can check on the app for real time calculation of what they need to pay
Every household is unique. So, what will work for YOUR setup?
The starting point in managing budgets and agreeing on how you’ll share expenses as a couple or as roommates is communication. Open discussions to set the ground rules will have you well on your way towards having the same financial goals.
Then, remember to make it easy to maintain what you agree on. Enzo can assist with various aspects of a household’s money management. Our planner app is available on iPhone and Android. Talk to our team if you want to know how best to utilize it for YOUR home.