How to Split Expenses With Your Partner

I was just chatting with a friend about joint accounts and splitting expenses with partners over the weekend, so let’s discuss: how do you split expenses with your partner or spouse? DO you split expenses (or are you Common Potters)? If you’re not partnered, how do you plan to do it? It’s been far too long since we talked about married money management methods and whether one person is completely in charge of finances.

{related: how do you and your partner talk about money?}

There are a number of different methods that I’ve heard about through the years, and I’m curious to hear from you guys (particularly those of you who are the breadwinners):  what is your family’s method for sharing money?  There was a great series in Slate many years ago (now available as a Kindle book [affiliate link]) that defined these main types:how to manage your money once you get married -- image of a couple hugging and laughing

house ad for readers' most-bought items last month; photo shows a collage of women wearing 1) a pink blouse with a ruffle collar, 2) a navy floral v-neck puff sleeve top, 3) a navy blue sheath dress with an asymmetric hem, and 4) a white short-sleeve sweater
  • Common Potters – people who combine all of their money
  • Sometime Sharers – people who have both separate and joint accounts (usually with an automatic percentage going into the joint account)
  • Independent Operators – people who have completely separate accounts

As I’ve mentioned before, I never wanted to feel like I was “chasing” my husband for “his share” of the bills, so when we first got married we tried to be Sometime Sharers (with 80% of each person’s income going to a joint account based on some old Suze Orman advice), but it got complicated quickly:

…if I bought him a sweater, was that our money? Or my money?  (What if it was a really, really good sale that I totally couldn’t pass up?) If he went out for drinks with our best man (who is my husband’s friend, but is now like family to both of us) and bought him a round or two of drinks, was that his money? Or our money?  It felt like the questions were never ending. 

After a few months of marriage we decided to just keep all of the money in a joint account (Common Potters), and we haven’t looked back since.  (It probably helps matters here that I am both the primary spender in the family, as well as the person who manages our finances.)  That said, I do still have separate investment accounts that I opened before we got married […] but all new investments have gone to jointly held accounts.

We are still Common Potters, and I have no regrets — but I recognize that there are LOTS of ways to do this! I think things got a bit complicated for some friends after kids came along — people who had been Independent Operators became Sometime Sharers or Common Potters in order to pay for childcare, as well as “family” type things like vacations.

{related: who manages the money in your house?}

So let’s discuss, readers — how do you split expenses with your partner? If you are Sometimes Sharers, how do you break it down — percentage of income or fixed dollar amount? If you are Independent Operators, who pays for vacations and home/kid-related expenses?

{related: how married couples split finances after having kids [CorporetteMoms]}

Stock photo via Deposit Photos / dangubic.

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