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How to Split Expenses With Your Partner

There’s no “best” way to split expenses when you and your partner live together — but there are some things you should consider before picking a method.

By Nora Biette-Timmons


Published 6.20.2024

When it comes to splitting finances with a partner, millennials are evenly, well, split: 39% of cohabitating partners have fully merged their finances —— but another 39% keep everything totally separate.

As that divide indicates, there’s no “right” or “best” way to handle expenses if you live with a partner; the crucial thing is just that you’re on the same page. 

For couples just beginning their financial journey together — or for those revisiting the topic and re-thinking their strategy, we’ve put together a basic guide for what to consider when it comes to developing your approach to shared expenses. 

What to split 

First, take stock of what your split costs are. Think in terms of your monthly fixed charges (rent/mortgage, subscriptions); those that vary month-to-month, like utilities; and those on less-frequent time tables, like quarterly or annual charges.

This is also when you want to decide what your split costs aren’t. Do you want to use your pooled resources to pay off each other’s student loans or car payments? Again, there’s no right answer here, just make sure you’re not avoiding elements of your full financial picture in this discussion.

The different ways to split 

There are only so many ways you can split expenses, and they all fall roughly into three broad approaches. (Depending on which you choose, you may need to open a joint account, which we’ll also address below.) You can choose to…  

  • Merge everything together — the “what’s mine is yours” route. This means you’ll both put all your money in the same pot, and use that to pay for everything, including shared expenses. If you haven’t already, you’ll want to open a joint account if you go this route.

  • Split everything 50/50. With this approach, you can proceed in a few ways. There’s the old-school route — a spreadsheet that you update manually — or you can easily split your transactions and create a category for each partner in the Origin app. A joint account isn’t necessary for this approach, but certainly can’t hurt.

  • Split everything proportionally, based on your incomes. There are a couple ways to do this: You can both deposit the same percentage of your paychecks into a joint account, and use that to pay your shared bills; just make sure the total amount you’re depositing covers your expenses and then some.

  • Or you can be more exact, which requires a bit more math:

    1. First, figure out what percent of your combined income you each make. Say you make $70,000 and your partner makes $55,000, so you make $125,000 together.

    2. Divide each income by that total, then multiply the result by 100 to determine that percentage. That looks like: 70,000/125,000 = 0.56. Now multiply 0.56 by 100 and throw on a percentage sign, and you get 56%.

    3. Follow the same process for your partner’s income, which, in this case, you’ll determine is 44%.

    4. From there, figure out what 56% and 44% of your combined expenses are, which you can do by multiplying that amount by 0.56 and 0.44, respectively.

    5. Then deposit that amount of your paychecks into a joint account that you use to pay your bills. (Some payroll systems will allow you to deposit portions of your paycheck into different accounts. Otherwise, you can set up a recurring transfer of the correct amount the day your direct deposit hits.)

The next step

Finally: follow up! Plan regular financial check-ins with your partner. Talking about these subjects often and tackling any discomfort early is important, because finances can cause major rifts in relationships. According to a 2022 poll for the American Psychological Association, 41% of Americans said that money causes “a lot of the fights or tension” in their families. 

These conversations should be based on the method of sharing expenses you picked: Is it still working for you? Have other financial commitments or goals come up that may impact its efficacy? 

Set aside time to discuss other elements of your finances, as well, and check in on your financial accounts to see how you’re both progressing on things like savings and investing goals. Origin makes this super easy with partner access. Once you invite your partner, you can see your combined net worth and spending all in one place.

Learn about Partner Access(opens in new window)