Monday, February 10th, 2020
The first time my wife and I had a serious conversation about sharing finances in marriage was when we got married and started working.
We met in India and while dating, every time we went out for dinner or a movie, we would split the bill. When she first joined me in Canada after marriage, we didn't initially give much importance to finances, but this all changed when we both started earning an income. Luckily, we didn't have any individual debts. But I wanted to make sure that I contributed enough towards household finances so that my wife—who earned more than I did—didn't get overwhelmed.
Here's how we decided to tackle the expenses and split bills.
1. Separate Accounts
My wife and I have three savings accounts: one we share, one only for her and one only for me. Doing this helps us keep track of our respective payments and prevents us from accidentally dipping into each other's accounts to pay the bills. It makes splitting expenses less confusing compared to if we were paying for everything from the same account.
2. Dividing Expenses
The decision to share every household expense was trickier than we had thought. We could each cover a percentage of each expense proportionately based on our income, or she could pay the larger bills and I'd pay the smaller bills. We decided on the latter. That meant I took care of groceries, car insurance, phone bills and our son's extra-curricular activities, and she paid the mortgage, hydro and other utilities.
3. Travel and Dining Out
Since travelling for vacations can be expensive, we split travel costs 70/30. If we plan a staycation, the costs are split evenly. We tend to dine out weekly, so we split the cost of those meals 50/50. But it's not exactly a hard and fast rule—sometimes I spend more on meals, and sometimes she does. We try to be flexible.
4. Contributing by Doing More Household Chores
When I was not working and looking for a job, I contributed more by cooking and doing other household chores. This took some pressure off my wife, and also meant I could contribute in a non-monetary way. We also stopped sending our son to daycare during that lean period since I was at home and could take care of him. This helped us save a lot every month.
Every couple needs to decide on their own how best to share expenses or split household costs. What's worked for us may not necessarily work for everyone. The most important thing is to discuss it and figure out what will work best for you.
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