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March 26th, 2008

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01:02 pm - Thoughts and Questions About Household Finance
A few weeks ago, lupagreenwolf made a (locked) post about household finances, where she mentioned that she and teriel pooled their money. I know several other couples, communes, and long-term housemates who do the same thing. I've never done that and have no interest in ever doing that, and know other people who feel the same way. However, I have absolutely no idea which approach is more common or even what the relative percentages are. So, I'm interested in learning the relative percentages of my f-list.

The approach that Aaron and I worked out many years ago, and which teaotter also very much prefers (I'm less clear on amberite's preferences, but zie has no trouble with the current arrangement) is for each of us to split bills for rent, utilities, and food purchased at the grocery store for group consumption. All other purchases are handled individually with our own money. For example, if I buy a book, a snack, or go out to a restaurant, that's paid solely with my own money. In the event that someone has considerably less money, there are two options. For bills, the others simply loan the person the money until that person can pay them back, with the assumption that this will happen in no more than a year or so. Alternately, if someone wants to go out to dinner, a movie, or some entertainment and the other person or people don't have the money, then that person or people asking usually offer to pay for that person to go along as a gift and for the pleasure of their company. I've been doing this for the last 22 years, first with Aaron, then with Aaron and Daire, then with teaotter, and now with teaotter and amberite, and it works out exceedingly well. This works especially well for teaotter and I because the problem (from our PoV at least) is that pooled finances means that someone else is spending money that partially belongs to us, which can breed resentment.

The mainstream cultural standard was for shared finances, but given the impressive amount of sexism and inequality inherent in mainstream het-relationships, I ignored that idea when I first considered this idea. However, I also know a number of people who are part of collective households that are as non-standard as my own that use various methods of pooling expenses and so clearly the range of opinions and practices on this is quite large.

So, here's a poll. This is both for people involved in romantic relationships (both married and not) who live together, and for people who are not romantically involved, but who consider the people they live with to be important parts of their life who they consider to be close friends.
Poll #1161014 Share finances

When dealing with household finances you

splits shared bills equally. Everyone keeps their remaining money to individually pay for non-shared expenses.
Pool all money to pay necessary expenses, then split the remainder equally between all members.
Pool all money to pay necessary expenses, then split the remainder based (to at least some degree) on how much each person earned recently.
Other - please explain
Ticky box

Current Mood: curiouscurious

(40 comments | Leave a comment)


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[User Picture]
Date:March 26th, 2008 08:07 pm (UTC)
We pool our money, and pay all bills and operate out of the joint acct.

I also have a personal account that I use for games & comics.
[User Picture]
Date:March 26th, 2008 08:15 pm (UTC)
In theory, we would pay the bills first, then pay out an allowance to each of us, then pool the remainder and divide it up among savings, gift purchases, etc. In actuality, money is tight enough that the "pooled" money consists of the amounts we put toward the credit card.
[User Picture]
Date:March 26th, 2008 08:16 pm (UTC)
I selected the first option as it was the closest fit.

Split communal bills evenly or accordingly to income. I was making a lot more than Mike initially when he moved to Boise so we would split rent 75/25 or 60/40. But our accounts have always been separate.
[User Picture]
Date:March 26th, 2008 08:17 pm (UTC)
Pooling finances did more damage to my last long term relationship than almost anything else.

The only difference in our current model from your own, is that sometimes people who make more money take a slight higher level of responsibility for living expenses. Totally voluntary though.

Right now my finances are completely separate from all my relationships, but I am also living alone now.
[User Picture]
Date:March 26th, 2008 08:19 pm (UTC)
well, when we both worked, we split household expenses 50/50, and pretty much did things are yous appear to do now, aside from one of us usually treating the other [without regard to keeping records or balancing it] to foods/gifts/etc.

nowadays however, i am unemployed and in exchange for mostly [about 90% i'd say] keeping the house [well, working on that] and doing errands/cooking, mark takes care of the finances. i am working on various self employment things, and if i ever make enough out of them to make a dent on expenses, then we will rework things. of course, when we were both working full time, i still at that point did roughly 75% of the housework/errands/cooking...now, it's just a bit more acknowledged/arranged for ;)
[User Picture]
Date:March 26th, 2008 08:26 pm (UTC)
Shared bills are split by percentages based loosely on net and available income. As no household to which I have belonged has had truly joint accounts, approximation includes parties taking full responsibility for smaller bills by income/usage, and rent/mortage being paid out of reserve by one party who is reimbursed by percentages by the other(s). Other expenses are solely the responsibility of the individual, though in the case of joint outings, they are often covered wholesale by the instigator or more affluent party, and occasionally include an adjustment to the next rent reimbursement. Since Pod and I legally married, our income tax expenditures throughout the year have also been handled in this way.

Percentages are readjusted when bills change significantly, net income for any party changes, or available income for a party changes significantly, say, when someone finishes paying off student debt or takes on a car loan. It would be horrifically complicated if any of this changed often, but in reality, even when I was living with three other questionably-employed students, it wasn't that bad.

Edited at 2008-03-26 08:30 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]
Date:March 26th, 2008 08:38 pm (UTC)
Ideally, each person would pay a percentage of the house expenses according to their income; if, pooled, i make 70 percent of the money and he makes 30 percent, he pays a 30% portion of the bill and i pay the other 70%. That money would go into a household account, which each person would make a regular transfer to.

Everything else would be under one's own recognizance, though in practice, if i'm making the money, i tend to buy the fripperies, since i can't seem to keep my wallet in my pocket when someone else says, "ooh, i'd like that." Call it Daddy syndrome. Xp Or being an Aries, whatever you prefer.

I don't really understand any kind of relationship, no matter how many people are involved, where you pool all your income and keep no discretion or independence. No matter how well people get along, that just seems like painting a target on your collective ass. More power to anyone it works for, but no thanks.
[User Picture]
Date:March 26th, 2008 08:38 pm (UTC)
My wife and I pretty much pool our funds, buy the small things we want, and discuss anything large that we want before we get it. If the house equity line is at a nonzero state, we postpone most of the large stuff, and if we have to actually carry a balance on the credit cards longer than a month, we get careful about the small stuff. We don’t really keep track of who bought how much vs. who earned how much because it would be a nuisance; thanks to the tyranny of the fashion industry, it’s inconvenient for her to carry credit cards, so I usually play sugar daddy while we’re out and about.
[User Picture]
Date:March 26th, 2008 08:48 pm (UTC)
We do something similar to the first, except instead of splitting each bill equally, we are in charge of different bills that end up approximately the same cost.

So, I'm in charge of Internet and garbage, my partner is in charge of electric. (my company refunds DSL, so it ends up about equal.) I don't pay any of the electric bill, he doesn't pay any of the garbage or Internet.

Otherwise, what we do is very similar to what you do, and we're generally very happy with it.
[User Picture]
Date:March 27th, 2008 12:32 am (UTC)
Don't forget the communal treating estro to tea fund! ;}

(And thank you. )
[User Picture]
Date:March 26th, 2008 08:59 pm (UTC)
My setup is pretty thoroughly outside the norm, I'm sure, since I'm functionally a socialist in household situations. However, I'm not always living with other people who are as socialist as I am (although ability to be comfortable in that living situation is a high priority in roommate selection, as is mutual trust), and I live this way because of my beliefs, not as a quid pro quo, so it's generally best if I'm the highest wage earner in the house (which works out well with my fondness for boarding hippies and artists). I generally ask housemates to contribute some percentage of income toward the basic household expenses, although that's radically flexible when life situations change. That, combined with my income, equals the household total pot. In some cases I've entirely merged finances (such as with Becca), in others, we only merge to the extent of that shared household pot (such as Mark, Caleb, and Matt). Beyond that, it's exceedingly free-form. Basically, the money goes for the most important things first, and we tackle things as a household team in terms of prioritizing beyond that. The household pot can also be used to cover both necessities and luxuries for the other housemate, and often is, because it's part of how I redistribute the household wealth, and live in a way that feels fair to me. Overall, it works surprisingly well the vast majority of the time, and I wouldn't trade the occasional stresses of evaulating what is and isn't fair for the stresses of maintaining strict boundaries that feel very unnatural to me.

Very free-flowing, very odd, and I wouldn't necessarily recommend it to others, but it suits me and mine quite nicely.
[User Picture]
Date:March 26th, 2008 09:05 pm (UTC)
There are good reasons to follow each method. And a lot of it comes down to independence and how you feel about your money and your earning power. Part of my marriage, and I suspect Lupa and Teriel's is about supporting each other through poor times so that in turn each can increase their success.

For that reason, when both are working, and money is good, the success is shared. When one wants to retrain, try something new, take time off, go to school, etc. The other will support them through it. And chances are their turn will come to be supported. Even if only one partner does the initial supporting, it is an investment, because when the other does become successful and times are good again the success is shared. The success is shared in terms of wealth and in terms of credit.

Now of course there is no guarantee on payback, or even that the person will stay with you, it is a risk. But joint success is quite a nice reward if it works. Many couples do this, one puts another through school and they do more chores and such because they have more time available. And then later on when the good job and such comes from that then the other gets their chance to either take it easy, have kids, or go to school themselves.

I suppose the philosophy is that of community property. It doesn't always work, both people in the couple need to share the philosophy and be grateful to each other. When I was fully supporting my ex, he didn't do extra chores, or any for that matter really. And when he was through school, he didn't end up getting a good job. He did feel a little indebted to me, and he gave me some money when we broke up, several thousand dollars. He does have his student loans so I don't feel like he owes me anything more. But the investment didn't work out. But sometimes it does. There is a possiblity my husband is going to be supporting me for a little while in the near future, I might take a part time job and finish school over the next 6-9 months. I know I will pick up more chores and things to help out, and make him feel appreciated. The other option, which I am looking into is taking two part time jobs, or taking one full time that might be a pay cut from my current wage. However, without his support, I don't think I could get into my new career. Also, when I have achieved my goal of being a well paid paralegal, I will support him while he goes to school. Though I really won't count on him doing more chores, it is something about a lot of people, they just won't do more chores.
[User Picture]
Date:March 26th, 2008 09:07 pm (UTC)
Split all bills, split major household purchases, use own money for own purchases, usually just alternate who pays for things like dinner/movies, pay for big fun things based on ability (i.e., if we go on vacation, I'll pay everything but her airfare or I'll pay all the airfare and hotels but she'll get the food, as I have more money).
[User Picture]
Date:March 26th, 2008 09:08 pm (UTC)
In the few household I have been in where this is relevant, this has varied.

My parents have a model that seems to work well for them as it is trust based but with fail-safes. Essentially they have three accounts: hers, his, and theirs. The 'theirs' gets some base percentage of their income and whatever more they feel like chipping in. Bills and basics get paid out of the theirs, and all other uses of the communal funds get discussed. Having their own individual nest-eggs means that there is no stress of financial dependence or beholdeness and gives them the opportunity to "treat" each other even if it ends up being a net split anyway.
[User Picture]
Date:March 26th, 2008 09:09 pm (UTC)
I've basically just split shared expenses up evenly between everyone living in the Home. This is rent, groceries, cable, etc. Everything else is done on an individual basis, but I'm lucky enough to be in a situation currently where there is very open communication with one of my best friends for over a decade. There is a lot of generosity on both ends, so we like to "take care of" things like when eating out together, etc.
[User Picture]
Date:March 26th, 2008 09:10 pm (UTC)
We are a rather traditional arrangement. I pay all the bills and both checks go into our joint account. I keep the other half informed when we run low and he keeps me abreast of more "fun type" expenses like gifts, dinners and wahtnot...

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