How To Budget As A Couple? – The Best Tips

There are many important topics to discuss with your other half when working out what your life will look like together. One of them will eventually be money and how to start a budget that corresponds with your goals. Learning how to budget as a couple will be crucial.

Money is often a topic of discomfort. Many people find it had to be open about their finances; however, it is dangerous to ignore. Many relationships and marriages fail due to money issues caused by not knowing how to budget as a couple.

Just like with everything, communication is essential when thinking about how to budget as a couple. Ensuring that both individual and mutual goals are achieved and common ground is found will take care of a potential burden from your relationship.

Why Do You Need To Budget Together?

With money being an uncomfortable topic leading to many disputes in a relationship, it is always interesting how couples manage money or how they don’t. However, I believe that couples who budget together stay together.

Learning how to manage money as a couple can not only avoid many fights but also bring you closer together and build more trust. For example, setting your financial goals as a couple will provide you with a target you can work together towards and make sure you can reach financial security faster.

Taking time to understand how to budget as a couple also allows us to set standards and agree on the topic of fairness. For example, some couples might split their expenses in half; however, if your income levels are wide apart, this might not work, and you would like to look and agree on alternative methods.

How To Budget As A Couple?

To budget as a couple, you must first discuss the money with your partner and know each other income and expenses. Then you both need to set individual goals, split bills based on your income, place spending limits, and set savings expectations. Finally, you both select and try a budget together and then evaluate and readjust if necessary.

how to manage money as a couple

Talk With Each Other About Money

Communication is key to success across all life paths, especially when having a partner by your side. Even though we might think we know what is on other people's minds, talking about it either reassures us or changes our approach if we find something different from what we initially thought was the case.

Starting a conversation might be a bit tricky, especially if you both do not enjoy the topic of money. Before entering a relationship, you might have managed money alone, but now you have to share a lot about your situation and learn how to budget your money as a couple. However, you should be open and honest to feel comfortable going forward.

When thinking about approaching this, make the first step and let your partner know in advance that you would like to talk about money, giving them enough time to think everything through before your conversation. Then, plan a sit down with them where you won't be distracted, and allow yourself enough time to talk everything through.

Know Your Income And Expenses Together

Just like with an individual budget, it is essential to know your income and outgoings. You should calculate how much income you receive from all the different sources and add those to know exactly how much money you will have to spend as a couple.

Start a Budget by adding your income

It would be best if you then worked out how much you spend. This should include all the bills and necessities, which are the expenses you cannot live without, and non-necessities which are the expenses you can live without but enjoy consuming.

Start a Budget by adding your expenses

A good starting point will be to look at past bank statements and any receipts where you might have paid in cash. It might be worth making a note of shared vs. individual expenses to ensure that your budget is split accordingly and everyone feels comfortable with the situation going forward.

Set Individual And Couple Financial Goals

When you know your current situation, you should set financial goals that you want to achieve. You should include individual and couple goals. It will help you to have something to work towards together where you can motivate each other.

Set Individual And Financial Couple Goals

Having individual goals recognizes that your wants or needs might differ from each other's; therefore, it leaves room for you to ensure self-fulfillment and the ability to compromise on things important to you.

For example, things like holding a wedding or traveling together can be a couple's goal, while something like paying off an existing debt such as a student loan might be an individual goal. Making sure you communicate this will help you to invest yourself fully into a relationship and have the support available to you. Still, it also ensures you are not neglecting your own needs.

Split Bills Based On Your Income

Splitting is essential when aggregating how to budget as a couple. This is especially true when income levels are different in the relationship due to varying stages of your career or simply by performing another job that might pay more or less than your partner is receiving. 

You can pursue a 50-50 split where each of you contributes the same amount towards your expenses. However, this may prove tricky in a situation of unequal incomes. Therefore, you might find it fairer to adjust the cost split based on the amount of income earned.

Budgeting As A Couple - 50-50

To work out a split of expenses based on income, you will take the income of partner A and divide it by the household's overall income to get the percentage of income they earn. Then, you will repeat the same for partner B. Finally, when you have these percentages, you can allocate the proportions of the contribution towards the expenses by multiplying the percentage by the expense.

Budgeting As A Couple - Splitting Expenses Based On Income

Place Spending Limits

With goals in place, you should consider budget limits as part of your plan of managing money as a couple. This is to ensure avoidance of disappointment through the inability to stick to the plan you have agreed on and potentially failing to reach your goals.

Applying spending limits will also help you from overspending. Having an agreed amount for spending on specific categories will help you control your outgoings, ensuring you stick to a plan and help eliminate waste that may otherwise go unnoticed.

When setting spending limits, ensure that you are realistic and that your limits are achievable. For example, you can set a mutual spending limit of $750 on monthly food costs, which will help you with stopping spending more than that. By checking the best foods to buy on a budget and placing spending limits, my partner and I have managed to save $200 on food costs by limiting the number of takeaways we got.

Set Savings Expectations

As with spending, you will want to speak and agree on the savings you want to make and the goals those savings will help to fulfill. But, again, you will want to keep your goals realistic and for them to be agreed upon by both sides to make sure you stick to them and motivate each other to stay on track.

Other than putting money aside from your regular income source, you can both take actions such as bringing your lunch to work or commuting using public transport instead of a taxi. Your savings can go towards goals like a wedding, a house deposit, or a nice holiday together.

Select And Try A Budget Together

There are many budgeting methods for deciding on how to budget as a couple, with the most popular being the 50/30/20 rule budget. Depending on your circumstances and needs, you will want to choose a budget that will work for you both as a couple. The last thing you will want to do is choose something you cannot stick to.

50 30 20 rule budget example

What you might find, especially when income levels between partners are not the same, is that a method that previously didn't work for you as a single individual might work when you put your budgets together. This might be due to having much more disposable income than before; therefore, it is essential to review all options to make an informed decision.

Evaluate And Readjust Your Budget If Necessary

If you try something out one month, but it doesn't work, review what went wrong and try again with maybe a different budgeting method. On your way to learning how to manage money as a couple, some common budgeting mistakes are inevitable; however, it is important to stay persistent and support each other so you can achieve your financial goals faster.

What Is The Best Budget For Couples?

When deciding on a budgeting method, there are lots of different alternatives out there. What worked for you before might not do when budgeting your money with someone, and ensuring you are both on board will help you stay on track.

A simple monthly budget will allow you to list your income, expenses, and other money outflows, such as debt repayments, investments, and savings contributions. Using this budgeting method will let you both see your current situation and make things a little bit less complicated to start with.

When beginning your budgeting journey as a couple, you might not know precisely what your money situation will look like even after analyzing your previous spending. This may be due to reduced food shopping spending as you might cook more at home together or increased spending on date nights. Learning the best places to grocery shop on a budget also helps.

The 50/30/20 rule budget is a popular budgeting method that helps answer how couples manage money. It brings structure to your finances and allows you to allocate money for needs, wants, and savings toward your goals. Then, you can combine your finances and assign the funds to those buckets.

Common Questions On How To Manage Money As A Couple

These are the most common questions on managing money as a couple.

What Is The Best Way To Budget As A Couple?

To be able to budget as a couple, you will usually need to reach some compromise with which you both agree and feel comfortable. For example, many couples opt for a joint account that takes care of the bills and expenses incurred together while keeping individual accounts for their own needs.

How Do I Put My Wife On A Budget?

The key to success will be communication with your partner. Sitting down to analyze your current situation, including income and expense, and then agree on mutual goals you will aim for. Each party must know what role they are playing with clear expectations to ensure your partner sticks to their commitments.

Who Should Pay The Bills In A Relationship?

There is no set rule of who should pay for the bills in a relationship, and it should be decided individually. However, it is crucial that both partners feel comfortable with the arrangement made and no one feels overburdened by their position. To make it work, you might split the bills in agreed proportion or agree for one to pay the bills while the other pays for everyday expenses.

What Is An Average Monthly Budget For A Couple?

According to the Food and Nutrition Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a couple will spend between $561.88 and $989.34 monthly on food. Those figures are averages and will depend on individual circumstances; however, averages will vary when taking into consideration the gender and age of the partners, as well as the place of residence.

Is There A Budgeting App For Couples?

Honeydue is one of the apps offered where both partners can add their separate accounts to the app and track their spending together. Couples can set up a joint financial plan with goals they can aim for. Goodbudget, based on an envelope budgeting method, is another alternative available in the free and paid version. With the ability to sync the information between devices, you and your partner can manage your budget simultaneously, making budgeting less hassle. Also, check the digital envelope system.


Communication, mutual understanding, and compromises are essential when considering how to budget as a couple. You want to choose a practical method that works for both of you and that you are likely to stick to. This way, you can motivate each other to stay on track and ensure you achieve your financial goals together.

Money makes many people uncomfortable talking about it, especially at the beginning. Making the first step might be challenging, mainly if you are used to managing your finances independently. However, I am a big believer that couples who budget together stay together!

Having the other person's support and aggregating on the way forward will be critical. Remember that on your journey of budgeting as a couple, you might initially meet some hurdles and make some mistakes. When that happens, don't give up; instead, review what went wrong and try again. Having a mutual goal will make things easier and help you to support and motivate each other.

Author: Michael Dinich

Title: Journalist

Expertise: Side Hustles, Passive Income, Investing


Michael Dinich is a journalist, personal finance expert, and a true geek at heart. Michael founded Wealth of Geeks in 2017, and he's the executive producer of the Wealth of Geeks podcast. He's known for his relatable financial advice and passionate discussions about all things geek.