Let’s be honest, There is a really good chance that you won’t find your financial soul mate. Opposites attract and that couldn’t be truer when it comes to our Financial Freedom goals and spouses. After all, this CNBC survey found that 35% of all relationships deal with some sort of financial stress. It’s also not easy to figure out the best way to be fair when it comes to money. You might both earn different amounts and have a different mentality when it comes to your bills. It took me a while to figure out the method that worked the best for my wife and I but since we began this method, we haven’t fought about money again. This will help on how to avoid money stress with your spouse.
First of all let me start by saying, my wife and I are probably like most of you. My wife agrees with the goal of retiring early… But she loves shoes and going out to eat and shop. But since she generally agrees with the idea she is willing to let some of those things go (or at least be more mindful). She relapses every now and then and goes on the “I’ll pay it off soon” mentality and we gotta sit down for a family ‘budget meeting’ to refocus.
The first thing we did was add up all the bills we have in the house. This included everything from car insurance, cell phones, Daycare, Baby’s School Fund, Mortgage, Etc. Anything that we both contribute to, was added on here. Our total came out to $4,557…Ouch! By the way, if you haven’t looked at ways to cut expenses, you should check them out here.
There are things we didn’t include though which leads to our next section:
I was very clear with my wife when we started this. She works, and since she is earning money, she should have some freedom. As long as we put the required money into our bills account, how she spends the rest is up to here.
So with that said, there are some things we don’t add to the bills account. Food for lunch (We should be cooking at home). Car and Gas (You decide how much you want to spend on a car and how fuel efficient it is).
We have a ‘base rate’ we agreed on this. It is exactly the same for both of us, but it doesn’t mean we have to spend it. For example; if your base rate for a car is $300 a month, but you find a car that you only pay $180, then good for you! You’ll have an extra $120 to spend or save monthly!
Add Up The Take Home Pay
You should have two lists at this point. The first will tell you your household joint expenses. The second how much each person is spending on their own.
Now you’ll need to add up your take-home pay. This can be tricky for some people so let’s talk about different pay methods.
Commission: I earn salary + commission so it would be unfair to not add this on. My commission comes in quarterly, so I average them out and revise them every 6 months in the budget. You can average it out as often as you’d like to get a good idea of what your take-home pay is.
Hourly: As with commission, look back at the last 6 months and average out this pay. This should be your take-home pay.
Start Your Calculations
On your main chart (or spreadsheet table), you’ll have both of your incomes, and will subtract the base rate of the discretionary spending for each of you to get your ‘LEFT OVER’ (LO) money. Now add those numbers together, subtract by the house bills, and divide by 2. This is your ‘LEFT OVER AFTER BILLS’ (LOAB) number. Now for the final step, subtract the ‘LOAB’ from the ‘LO’ money for each person, and the result is how much you should be adding to the bills monthly.
Still with me? Yeah, there are some tricky calculations here, but the numbers make sense! Whats more is that now we really enjoy when either one of us earns more money, If she gets a raise, I’m left with more money, and vice versa!
All That Extra Money?
Well, I’m a huge fan of the famous zero-sum budget, so most of the extra money goes towards our spending accounts. I include them in my Net Worth so you can check out what they are here.
This is definitely not the only way to split bills, just a way that worked out for us. I feel good knowing I’m not taking advantage of making more money. She feels good because she can contribute her part and still have a few extra dollars. There is a lot of stress of living with someone, so if figuring out how to avoid money stress with your spouse or significant other helps you, then go for it!
What methods do you use in your household to split the bills?