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How Do Couples Split Bills?

If you're in a relationship and thinking about splitting bills with your partner, you have options. Learn from BECU’s lead financial educator about different ways couples share and pay expenses so you can pick the one that works best for both of you.

Stacey Black headshot

Stacey Black (She/Her/Hers)
BECU Lead Financial Educator
Updated Feb 13, 2024 in: Budgeting

Read time: 9 minutes

Romance is wonderful, but have you tried splitting bills as a couple?

If you live with a partner, you might be thinking about planning for and sharing expenses, whether splitting expenses down the middle or paying a percentage based on your financial situation and income.

I'll suggest everyday expenses you might consider splitting and offer ideas for how to split bills so it works for your relationship.

Takeaways About Splitting Bills
  • Do what works for both of you: There is no "should" — only what works for your relationship and each partner.

  • Establish a process: The basic process involves agreeing on which bills to pay jointly, setting up a system for payment and delegating responsibility for each bill.

  • Consider different approaches: Methods include splitting bills in half, using an income-based percentage, a roommate approach, a joint-account approach and assigning specific bills to each person.

  • Agree on who is responsible: Make sure you know who is responsible for making payments so you don't risk paying late and accumulating fees, losing services and damaging your credit.

Is It Normal To Split the Bill in a Relationship?

In my time as a financial educator, I've seen couples use a variety of ways to split expenses. There isn't any right or wrong way to split bills. It's all about open communication and what's important to each person. It's perfectly normal to split any bill, whether an electricity bill or a dinner bill — but you don't have to split every bill every time. You can make room in your relationship for one person to treat the other to something special. 

How you decide to share expenses could also depend on your age. A 2023 survey from the Thriving Center of Psychology found that 50% of cohabiting Gen Zs and Millennials don't split the rent or mortgage equally.

Another recent study found that younger generations are more likely to think it's better if the higher earner in a relationship pays a larger share of bills.  

Also consider the financial result of splitting bills. In the survey mentioned earlier, most respondents said finances partially motivated their decision to move in together. Splitting the bills is an advantage of sharing a home.

How Should Married Couples Handle Bills?

If you're married, you could be financially and legally responsible for your partner's spending and debt. However, if you're keeping your finances separate and it works for you, there's no reason to combine your finances once you're married.

Decide Which Expenses Are Joint Bills

Before moving in together as a married or unmarried couple — or otherwise merging two people's finances — you could make a financial date night at home. Order takeout and go through joint bills you'll have to pay when they're due and ways to manage and split expenses.

You might want to hold off on splitting bills that only one person has brought into the relationship — such as student loan payments or other debt payments.

These are some examples of expenses you might consider splitting:

  • Housing payments: Rent or mortgage
  • Insurance: Homeowners, auto or health
  • Household utilities: Electricity, natural gas, water, garbage, sewer, internet, cable or satellite
  • Streaming services: TV and music
  • Subscriptions: Magazines and newspapers, online or print
  • Jointly acquired debt: Joint loans or joint credit card
  • Child costs: Child care, medical bills, insurance
  • Pet costs: Food, pet sitters, dogwalkers
  • Phone plans: Family-plan cell service
On the right is an illustration of a large circle with a spinner in the middle. Inside the circle are icons showcasing different household bills: a home in a green circle, a trash can in a yellow circle, a grocery bag in a blue circle, tools in a gray circle, a phone in an orange circle and a car in a gray circle. Next to the circles on the left are a man and a woman, holding a baby.
If you are thinking about moving in with your romantic partner, take some time together to go over shared expenses and how you both want to pay for them.

Note: Some monthly payments, such as mortgage interest, may have tax benefits. Whether you're filing separately or as a married couple, speak with a tax professional to get more information about managing your taxes.

Review Joint Bills

Review bills for joint expenses from the past several months before moving on to the next step. How much does each account come to? Is it paid monthly, every other month or annually?

List the due dates for upcoming joint bills. Put these dates on a paper or online calendar so you can both see when joint bills are due.

Next, decide how to split the amounts and who will take care of payments.

5 Ways Couples Split Bills

Methods of splitting bills range from the straightforward 50-50 approach to creative methods, such as proportionally distributed according to income. In households where one person stays home with the kids and provides household labor, the other partner working outside the house might pay all the bills.

Here are some approaches couples use:

1. 50-50 Bill Split

Splitting shared bills down the middle is one of the easiest approaches to a joint financial life. Each person pays half. This straightforward approach makes budgeting as a couple consistent. Each person pays half the rent, subscriptions or insurance from individual accounts.

This method isn't always easy from a payment perspective. Some service providers might not accept multiple payments or let you set up multiple account owners. If one partner pays late, complications can arise when the next bill comes around if late fees are involved. If only one person's name is on the bill, that person's credit might suffer if the other person pays late.

A woman in a green shirt and a man in a red hoodie are standing across from each other with a table in the middle. They are each placing a dollar bill inside an envelope in the center of the table. The envelope has a bill inside.
50-50 Bill Split: The easiest way to split shared expenses is for each person to pay half of your joint bills.

2. Income-Based Percentage

In some relationships, one partner's income might be far higher than the other partner's income. It may feel unfair for the lower-earning partner to contribute equally.

So, if Partner A makes $60,000 and Partner B makes $40,000, you might split bills using a 60-40 division. If, for example, the water bill is $100, Partner A pays $60, and Partner B pays $40. 

On the left is an illustration of a red arrow with an "%" inside. Below the arrow is a small stack of cash. On the right is an illustration of a slightly longer red arrow with a "%" inside. Below the arrow is a large stack of cash.
Income-Based Percentage: Each partner pays a percentage of joint bills based on their percentage of total household income.

3. Roommate Approach

In more complicated situations, consider splitting bills as if you were roommates. That's what I did with my boyfriend. I own a three-bedroom house. My sons take up two bedrooms. My boyfriend and I share another bedroom. So, when my boyfriend moved in, I asked him to pay one-fourth of the monthly mortgage payment as rent. I pay the other three-fourths to cover my family members.

Illustration of a floorplan of a house. Two of the bedrooms are shaded blue and one of them is shaded green. Below the floorplan are the phrases "Roommate 1" in blue and "Roommate 2" in green.
Roommate Approach: Pay for what you use. If you take up two rooms in a three-bedroom house, pay two-thirds of the mortgage.

4. Joint Account Approach

Using one of the methods above, you can also use a joint account to pay household bills. Add up your shared bills, then each partner adds money to the joint checking account according to an agreed-upon amount. Automatic bill deductions can come from that bank account, so you can set it and forget it.

Another option is to put all income from both partners into one shared account instead of individual bank accounts. This approach will require budgeting for spending, saving and conversations around your joint and individual financial goals.

An illustration of a pink piggy bank with six bills spread out above it in an arc, with dotted lines connecting them to the piggy bank.
Joint Account Approach: Each partner adds money to a shared checking account to cover the total cost of your shared expenses. Bills are paid from the joint account.

5. Yours-and-Mine Approach

If splitting each bill is a hassle every month, you can divvy up bills into "yours and mine" piles. Partner A might pay for water, sewer and garbage, while Partner B might pay for electricity and streaming services. You want amounts somewhat, even if you're going for 50-50 equivalents. This approach might need more fine-tuning from month to month. 

Important: With any of these ways of splitting bills, discuss your backup plan for bad news. What if one or both of you get laid off and lose income? Do you each have an emergency savings account, or do you have a shared emergency savings account?

A man and woman stand in front of a whiteboard. They are close together, with the man on the right putting his arm around the woman. The whiteboard features two lists: on the right are the words "utilities," "cellphone," "internet" and groceries" and on the left are the words "rental payment," car insurance" and "car payment."
Yours-and-Mine Approach: Divide up bills into “yours and mine” piles, so each partner is responsible for specific expenses.

How To Pay Joint Bills

To do the math for splitting bills, you can use a free website like or an app like Splitwise or Honeydue to track accounts and bills you split. You can also keep track of joint monthly expenses in a spreadsheet and track payments.

You can use payment apps like Zelle® to repay or send money to your sweetheart. My boyfriend and I use Zelle to reimburse each other for bills we split.

Agree on Who Is Responsible for Payments

Sometimes, one partner in a relationship is better at paying the bills, managing money and meeting deadlines. Another person might be better at finding ways to save money. Discuss strengths and weaknesses in advance and how to pay bills on time from your shared bank account or personal accounts.

You may decide one person is "in charge" of paying all the bills, or you might split duties with each person responsible for specific bills from a joint or individual account.

It's a critical step to decide this and ensure bill paying happens. After all, forgetting a bill or not budgeting for a bill could lead to a missed rent payment or getting your utilities turned off. You might also have to pay late fees or fees to reconnect service, and late payments can damage your credit.

Check In With Each Other Periodically

Try using your bill-splitting approach for several months, then schedule a check-in to see how things work. You might decide to merge everything in the future since managing it can be easier and less stressful.

Continue to have conversations and create a system that works for you, no matter how you split the bills. It's important to avoid hiding information, purchases or missed payments from each other. 

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Zelle and the Zelle related marks are wholly owned by Early Warning Services, LLC and are used herein under license.

Stacey Black headshot

Stacey Black (She/Her/Hers)
BECU Lead Financial Educator

For nearly 30 years, Stacey has taught adults, college students, teens and children through the BECU Financial Education program.