There are several seriously good reasons for sharing expenses with your partner in a joint account. Splitting the bills usually means lower living costs, which means you can afford more than if you were living on your own. You might be able to save a larger portion of your paycheck or pay off your debt more aggressively - cheers to that!
But it also means you have to actually talk about your money habits - the good, the bad, and the ugly. This might be the first time that one or both of you has ever had to talk openly about money! And that can be scary - especially if you’re not quite sure if you’re doing it right.
Take a deep breath - we’re here for both of you! Managing money as a couple is all about honesty, transparency, and respectful communication - and having the right budgeting tools to make it easy to stay on track (that’s where we come in!). If you’re looking to start sharing monthly expenses with your partner, this post is for you!
Have a real money talk.
If you haven’t haven’t had real conversations about money until this point, this is the time to get started.
Even if you only plan on sharing a few bills, this could be the beginning of your financial life together. So before you bust out your spreadsheet, sit down and have a real talk about money. Establish a strong foundation for your relationship by being transparent. Talk about your income, debts, habits, and beliefs about money.
Make sure you’re on the same page around why you’re opening the Shared Account, and what you plan on using it for. Talk about what you do and don’t consider to be shared expenses to make sure you’re on the same page.
If you both still feel good about sharing Expenses after your conversation, move on to the next step!
Figure out how to split the bills.
One thing you’ll need to figure out before you start paying your bills together is how you’ll be sharing them. There’s no ‘right’ answer for how to split Expenses as a couple, only what’s right for you. Here are a few things to consider:
- Does one person make a lot more than the other?
- Does one person have more debt or other obligations that limit their available funds?
- Does one person have more expensive taste, or freer financial habits than the other?
- Is one person benefiting more from sharing Expenses than the other?
- Does one person contribute more in terms of unpaid labor (such as housework or caring for children or family members) than the other?
It might be helpful to talk about these questions as a couple and compare answers to see where you might disagree. Make it your goal to understand your partner’s perspective, instead of trying to defend your own.
List your Expenses (in detail).
If you feel good about how you’ll be contributing to your Expenses, you can dive into the nitty-gritty: What exactly are you paying for together - and how much will it cost each month?
Take a moment to write down all of your recurring or routine purchases, no matter how big or small, including the amount spent and how frequently you make that purchase.
Be sure to think beyond the basics, and include Expenses related to:
- Your home: Rent, mortgage payments, association fees, insurance, taxes
- Utilities: Water, electric, trash/recycling services
- Your car (if you share it): Car payments, insurance payments, gas, maintenance
- Other transportation costs: Rideshare surveys, bus/subway tickets, etc.
- Subscriptions: Netflix, Spotify, coffee of the month club, etc.
- Services: Grocery delivery services (Instacart), takeout delivery services (Postmates), etc.
- Pet ownership: Food, medications, vet appointments, daycare, toys and treats, grooming, etc.
- Health/wellness: Gym memberships you share, health apps you both use, etc.
- Debt: Credit card payments, student loans, other debts
Write down when these bills are due each month, how much they cost (on average if they vary), and who has been paying for them up until this point. If the total varies month to month or year to year, choose an amount on the higher end, so that you’ll have enough set aside for those more expensive months. Anything left over at the end of the month can go toward the next month’s total.
Chat about your Goals.
Do you plan on taking a trip together, buying a new piece of furniture, or buying a house together one day? Is there a wedding in your not-too-distant future?
If so, you might consider saving for those larger Expenses in a shared Goal, and adding the monthly contribution amount to your contributions each month. In Simple, you can earn interest on your Goals, so it’s a smart idea to stash your money there. Plus, you get the satisfaction of knowing that you are building toward your future, together.
(Note, and sorry to be a bummer: Be sure to talk about what you will do with these shared funds in the event that you two break up.)
Agree on a budget.
Create an estimated total budget for the month by totalling all of your monthly Expenses and Goal contributions. Figure out how much each of you will be contributing each month, and when you want to deposit your contributions into the account.
One smart idea to avoid future conflict is to each contribute some additional funds to use as your account buffer. This gives you a safety net in case your bills are unusually high one month, or you decide to make a larger one-time purchase together that doesn’t fall within your usual Expenses.
Consider adding a month and a half’s worth of contributions to your account as your account buffer. Once you’ve created your Expenses and funded them, create a Goal where you can stash your account buffer (you can even name it “Account Buffer”).
Pick an official start date.
As you can see, there are several steps you’ll need to take before you can start paying bills together. Not every bill is paid on the same day each month, and some bills aren’t even paid on a monthly schedule.
If one of you is new to Simple, you’ll need to fund your account, which can take a few days. If you plan on using your Shared Simple cards to pay your shared bills, you’ll need to wait for those to arrive before you can add them to all your online bill accounts.
For these reasons, it’s a smart idea to give yourself some time to get everything settled and sorted before you start actually paying your bills together - at least a few weeks.
Since most bills are paid on a monthly basis, decide together which month will be the first month that you use your Shared Account. Agree to continue using whatever system you had been using until that point. If either you have an outstanding credit card balance, this will also give you time to pay that off before you have to make your first contribution.
Create Expenses for each bill.
Once you’ve determined which bills you’ll be paying with your Shared Account, and you’re in agreement about how much each person will contribute and when you’ll officially start, you’re ready to start setting up Expenses! If you’re familiar with Expenses from using your individual Simple account, you’ll find that the experience is pretty much identical. (You can learn more about creating and editing Expenses here!)
Work together to create Expenses for each of your spending categories. Make sure you use names that make sense to both of you, and that you select a start date that’s after when you plan to officially start splitting the bills.
Automate funding your account.
There are lots of ways to move money into your Shared account. We’d recommend automating this if possible so you can set it up once and be done!
If you’ve had your individual Simple account for a little while, you’re probably already familiar with most of the methods available to fund your account. To use these methods with Shared, just make sure you’re logged in and viewing your Shared account before you get started.
- Set up Direct Deposit: You can find your Shared account number and direct deposit form by logging in, switching to the Shared view, and checking out your Account Settings.
- Deposit checks: You can submit deposits directly into your Shared account through the mobile app with Photo Check Deposit, or you can deposit by mail, Just write your Shared account number on the back when you endorse it!
- Move money to and from your other bank accounts: Use External Accounts to link any other accounts you own. Then, move money back and forth. Fun fact: if you link another bank account to Simple, you’ll be able to transfer funds in and out, but your partner won’t be able to see your linked account or make transfers.
Splitting up your Direct Deposit.
If you already have Direct Deposit set up for your individual Simple account, you have two options. You can either manually transfer money to your Shared Account after you get paid, or you can ask your employer to divide your paycheck between your individual and Shared Accounts. (To learn more about how to set up Direct Deposit, click here.)
If you go the manual route, just be sure to create an automated reminder for both of you to transfer funds in each month. Then, use the “Transfer” button to transfer money into each of your Expenses.
Add your Shared Account info to your online bills.
Setting up your Expenses in Simple is half of the process; the other half is adding your Simple Shared Visa® Card to each of the online accounts of the bills you’ll be paying.
If you plan on using your Shared Simple debit card to pay your bills, you’ll need to wait for it to arrive before you can complete this step.
Once you have your fancy schmancy cards, it’s time to divide and conquer! Take that list of bills you created earlier and decide who will be responsible for going in and adding your Shared Account info. You can even make a date of this! Take your new cards and your laptops to a coffee shop and work your way down the list.
Add your Shared Card or Shared Account info to all of your recurring bills, as well as any online stores you might make shared purchases in the future. Once that’s done, you’re ready to officially start sharing Expenses!
Schedule a regular money date.
Schedule a money date for about a month after you first begin using your Shared Account. Talk through how it’s working, how budgeting is going, and anything you’ve learned along the way. A few action items to consider:
- Take that original list of bills that you created, and make sure that all of them are actually being paid out of your Shared Account as expected.
- Go through your Activity Feed in your Shared Account together to make sure that you didn’t accidentally use the Shared Card for an individual purchase.
- If you have money leftover in any category, decide what you’d like to do with it (keep it there for the next bill or transfer it into one of your Goals).
After that, decide how often you’d like to meet to review your budget and make adjustments as needed. This is also a great opportunity to discuss your financial goals, both as individuals and as a couple.
Start sharing Expenses!
Disclaimer: Hey! Welcome to our disclaimer. Here’s what you need to know to safely consume this blog post: Any outbound links in this post will take you away from Simple.com, to external sites in the wilds of the internet; neither Simple nor our partner banks, The Bancorp Bank and BBVA Compass, endorse any linked-to websites; and we didn’t pay/barter with/bribe anyone to appear in this post. And as much as we wish we could control the cost of things, any prices in this article are just estimates. Actual prices are up to retailers, manufacturers, and other people who’ve been granted magical powers over digits and dollar signs.
The Simple Visa® Debit Card is issued by BBVA USA pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. and may be used everywhere Visa debit cards are accepted.