My husband and I have been together for almost a decade. And for the majority of that time, we’ve made the same amount of money.
When You Make the Same Amount, It’s So Simple
When you make the same income as your partner, managing your money together is pretty simple. When we were dating, we kept everything separate and paid for ourselves. When we moved in together and then married, we split everything down the middle 50/50. That was it. Nothing to argue about. It was great.
Then we bought our first place together. If you want to learn more about our experience as new homeowners, make sure to check out my New Homeowner Diaries video series all about it.
It’s been incredibly chaotic moving into a townhouse from a small apartment and figuring out the differences between being a renter and homeowner.
Luckily, we’ve been in our place for just over 2 months now and things have calmed down quite a bit. So much in fact that we finally had time to sit down and have a good long money chat.
But Things Get More Complicated After a Big Life Change
I’ll write a post soon about what the big financial differences are between owning a home compared to continuing renting, but for this post I wanted to focus on adjusting your budget after a big life change.
Buying our first place was a major life change. I’d say marriage was the only thing that could top it. But similar to marriage, we didn’t realize how big of an impact it would make on our lives.
It’s funny, I still remember people asking me after my wedding if anything felt different. Right after the wedding, definitely not. But 3 years after the wedding, oh heck yes! Everything changed. We started thinking of each other as family. We started making longer term plans together. And overall, we just felt more committed to each other.
The same goes for us becoming new homeowners. Honestly, we just thought that buying a place would mean having more space and finally getting into the property game. Oh how naive we were.
Buying a place has really made us look at our budget and income streams. There’s no denying that owning a home, and being on the hook when things break or die, is expensive. We’ve also got more bills to pay than we had as a renters, and basically our cost of living has close to doubled.
Being Equal Doesn’t Have to Mean 50/50
The thing is, my husband’s income hasn’t doubled in the past year. But for me, since I rebranded back in January, my income has increased significantly. I still have my day job, but so far I’ve also made 5 figures off my personal brand. I may reveal some hard numbers before the start of the new year, but if you’ve been a long time reader, you know I’ve never done income reports (I do like a bit of privacy after all).
With all that to consider, I told my husband that I didn’t want to do 50/50 anymore. It wasn’t fair that he had to spend a larger percentage of his income on living expenses than I did. I just knew that if something didn’t change soon, we would end up arguing about money, and that’s something that we’ve never done before. Sure, we talk about money all the time, but it’s always been a big priority for us to never fight about it.
At first, he wasn’t really on board. And I get why. This would mean we weren’t on the same level anymore and we’d both be acknowledging that I made more. I’ll be honest, it was a hard and awkward conversation. I certainly didn’t want to hurt his feelings, but I knew in the long run it made the most sense.
Here’s How to Find Out How Much Each of You Should Contribute to Joint Expenses
Have any of you ever watched The Joy Luck Club? I remember watching it years ago, and a scene that has always stuck in my mind was the one where Lena explains how her and her husband manage their money. They do everything 50/50 so their love is always equal. Their 50/50 system of course causes a lot of resentment down the road because her husband makes 7x what she makes.
I never wanted to be like that couple. Being equal shouldn’t mean just 50/50. It should mean looking at your joint expenses, looking at your individual incomes, then figuring out what percentage each person should contribute. Here’s the formula we used with some example numbers.
Partner #1 yearly income = $50,000
Partner #2 yearly income = $75,000
Total yearly income = $125,000
$50,000 / $125,000 = 40%
$75,000 / $125,000 = 60%
And that’s it. Just look at how much you both make and combine those numbers to find the total. Then divide your individual incomes with the total to find out the percentage each of you should contribute to joint expenses. It’s what we now do, and I’m happy to report it’s working out really well!
How do you and your partner manage your joint expenses when one of you makes more than the other? Let me know in the comments!