How To Deal With Relationship Finances When You’re Not A “Relationship Person”

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I’m not a relationship person. In fact, my first and only relationship started this year at the ripe old age of 25. I’m also very weird about money. My parents didn’t really talk about money, and raised me to be very financially independent (outside of my immediate family). My siblings and I are very generous when it comes to paying for other people, but when the reverse happens, we are very uncomfortable. I hate borrowing even 50 cents from a close relative or my best friends.  

So when it came to money in my relationship, my anxiety skyrocketed. Not only do I have to deal with feelings now, I have to think about how to divvy up shared expenses, too?! Suddenly a flood of questions just came to the periphery. Should I pay for everything? Do I let him pay? Do we split? If we split the bill, is that weird? Basically, I was so confused on how to handle any situation where money was involved.

Because I’m just so clueless when it comes to all of this, I reached out to my siblings, friends and Google to see how they do it. After listening to their advice, I came to the conclusion that it will be different for everyone.

Here are the different ways they deal with finances within their relationships:

1. Split everything right down the middle.

Initially, this option made me cringe. The thought of asking for separate bills or paying separately when you’re out just doesn’t seem right. Growing up, I never witnessed any of the couples I was surrounded by paying separately or splitting the bill, so the thought of going 50/50 feels unorthodox and unromantic to me.

Another way of doing this without the whole paying separately is just to take turns covering the bill. You would think this would work, but speaking to some couples, this can cause some resentment towards one another. Because it’s never really 50/50. One person will always pay a little bit more.

So after all of this, this option sounded like a definite no…at least until a friend of mine recommended getting a joint credit card. This is a big step but if you trust your partner and think this could work; then logically, it ticks all the boxes. The monthly balance gets paid 50/50, you earn points to fund future dates by getting either a great travel credit card or cash back credit card, and most importantly, you don’t have to ask for separate bills or calculate which food items are yours and which are your partner’s.  

2. Proportional splitting (based on income).

This seems like the fairest option, especially if there is a large salary discrepancy between you and your partner. Basically, instead of paying 50/50 for everything, you pay the same proportion of your income. For example, if my boyfriend and I wanted to move in together, we would agree that we’d contribute 30% of our monthly net incomes towards rent. If I make more, then I would pay more in rent, but at the end of the day we’d both be paying the same proportion in terms of our income.

If you’re interested in this strategy, a couple I know does this by using a joint bank account. Every month, they deposit their contributions for travel, dates and house expenses then take money out of this account when they have these shared expenses. #easypeasy

3. One person becomes the sugar daddy.

This option is great and works if one of you is a baller shot caller, doesn’t care about money, or both. Jokes (or not) aside, this option also seems to work in situations where you and your partner are simply at different life stages at the moment (e.g. one is in school for a degree with high earning potential and the other has a stable career). Many of my friends who have temporarily found themselves as the “sugar daddy” of the relationship say they don’t mind because they know in the future it’ll even out once they’re both in the same life stage.

Personally, I would never be okay having someone pay for my life, or vice versa; but honestly, whatever works for you and your boo! #NoJudgmentHere

After all of this, even though I hate it with all my being, my boyfriend and I pay separately and for the most part, split everything down the middle. We will take turns paying for dinners (these are the best days), but many times we find ourselves correcting the waitress when she drops one bill onto our table. It’s the way that works for us right now — and you know what, our romance isn’t dead.

How do you and your partner deal with finances within your relationship?

Kayla Reyes is a marketing professional based in Toronto who spends her free time stressing about her favorite sports teams, inhaling all the bread in the world and obsessing over her two-year-old nephew, Grayson. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Image via Unsplash

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  • Summer

    I’m married and my husband and I still regularly split expenses. When we lived in the States, we’d do our weekly grocery shopping somewhere like Bi-Lo or Publix, and at the register we’d just ask to split the total in half and we’d each swipe our cards. Sounds ridiculous but it took all of about 30 extra seconds and was an easy way for us to divvy up costs without getting nitpicky about who chose what or who paid last week and how much more (or less) was this total, etc. Same with restaurants, we’d often just throw down two cards and be done with it.

    Living in Germany now, things have shifted, primarily because until about a month ago I didn’t have a German bank account yet and many places either don’t take cards at all, or only take German debit cards. We have progressed to a somewhat unspoken agreement about bills; electricity, our cable/my mobile, etc are deducted automatically each month from his bank account. I give him cash for my half of the rent, and I’m the one who pays for the majority of the groceries and household items. We generally take turns paying for dinner when we go out, though I would say he probably spends more in that department as he usually picks up the check when the bill is a little steep or if it’s a place that only takes German cards (which I do have now, but I have a very limited amount of freelance income going into that account so I try not to touch it much as I’ve yet to figure out my tax liability). I pay for the majority of my purchases with my Capital One Venture card so I can get those sweet, sweet points. When we travel, the hotels and flights and such usually go on my card, then whatever his half of those expenses are is deducted from what I’d normally give him for rent.

    I try to keep things as even as possible, but my husband does make more than I do, and I have student loans whereas he does not, so I feel very grateful that he’s willing to spend a little more on entertainment and gives me a little leeway on when I can pay him for my portion of our expenses.

    Anyway, that was a really long way of saying it’s not weird or unromantic at all to split costs!! 🙂

  • Steph

    All I have to say is thank goodness for Venmo!

  • Judith

    I live with my partner and was a student till a few months ago, so I was pretty much dependent on him. I could always pay for my lunch but had a very limited budget that was not already going towards things. If we had split everything 50/50, we couldn’t have gone anywhere, so it obviously wasn’t gonna work.

    Since I started getting a good salary (for my country, at least), I’ve been able to sort of even out the things he did for me by picking up the check more and it’s an awesome feeling that I can finally do that.

    So, for me, splitting expenses sounds right, but I do think going a straight 50/50 road is too dry, while the “sometimes he pays, sometimes I do” works just fine for us and we get to feel both being treated to things and taking care of each other, both of which have their emotional bonuses, which is nice.

  • Emma

    There was one option you didn’t mention which m husband and I do: we don’t pay 50/50, we each pay exactly what we spent. We each pay for our own dishes. When we go grocery shopping we pay for our own items and split the shared items. We don’t do this at the time, we pay on a joint credit card and sort it out when we pay it off. It means we never argue about money.

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