How much should I contribute to my boyfriend/girlfriend’s utility costs?

Moving in with your significant other is a hugely exciting event for anyone, but like anything, it comes with a unique set of challenges that need to me met if you’re both getting the best out of your new living situation.

Years ago it was pretty uncommon for people to live together before marriage, but it’s fairly commonplace for couples to become roommates (and vice versa) long before they walk down the aisle. This is particularly true for those living in expensive areas, such as London, who find that moving in brings down individual living costs and helps them build a future together.

Working out the specifics of how much each person will be contributing early is crucial to making your arrangement work without causing unnecessary arguments.

How much to contribute to your boyfriend or girlfriend’s utility costs depends greatly on your joint lifestyle, your respective incomes and the needs of your relationship. Luckily, there are a few different options for splitting household costs for unmarried couples.

Equal share

One of the most customary ways of divvying up the utility bills is to split the cost directly down the middle. Although not necessarily the fairest way of dividing up each person’s contributions if you don’t earn the same amount, going 50/50 on expenses is by far the simplest method, requiring little-to-no mathematical skill or adjustment as your respective incomes vary over time. Within the ‘equal share’ arrangement, there are a few different approaches you can take.

Joint bank account

It’s fairly commonplace for couples to set up a joint bank account when they move in together designed to pay for utilities, repairs and perhaps even rent. What happens in this case is that every month you each move money from your individual bank accounts over to your joint account. The account, however, will have to be in one person’s name.

No one can tell you whether your relationship is ready for you to have a joint bank account—that’s your call. Generally, when you move in with somebody, you’re in it for the long haul. Depending on whether you’ve moved in to bring your individual expenses down or you consider it a step towards long-term, lifelong commitment for the two of you, opening a joint account might be the right decision.

Accounts in one person’s name

If you’re moving into your partner’s home—as opposed to the pair of you getting a new place of your own—they will already have utility bills in their name. In this case, you might choose to simply pay half the bill into your boyfriend or girlfriend’s account every time it’s due to alleviate the burden and ensure they’re not out of pocket.

The downside of this arrangement is that if the person who isn’t the named account holder is forgetful or doesn’t always pay on time, this can cause significant tensions in your relationship. With one paying the cost of the their partner’s lack of organisation, expect the atmosphere to get a little frosty.

Bill splitting apps

With the rise of app technology, apps have come to be used for everything from finding a date to planning a holiday. Now, you can even divide up household costs fairly and equally from your smartphone.

Bill splitting apps like acasa allow you both to pay in your fair share for every bill without one person having a greater share of the responsibility and offer more transparency than some of the other options.

They’re a great way of keeping the peace, especially for couples in the early stages of living together or who have made the move to keep costs to a minimum.

Dividing per bill

Some couples prefer for each person to be responsible for their own set of expenses. This is less about splitting costs equally and more about lessening the administrative burden, so to speak, on one partner being the named account holder for every bill you pay. For example, one partner might take charge of the rent while the other handles all utility bills.

In deciding to spring for this option, it’s important that you understand there will likely be an imbalance in the amount each person is paying towards your shared property. If money isn’t your main concern and your motivations instead are linked to managing stress, this could be a great choice for you. However, be wary of arguments this could cause later down the line.

Proportional to income

It’s sometimes the case in relationships that one person will be a significantly higher earner than their partner. Although you share your life, this can cause discrepancies in lifestyle, sometimes requiring the higher earner to make concessions on some luxuries they may want to avoid burdening the other partner or the higher earner subsidising their other half on meals and holidays.

This clearly becomes far more prominent after you move in. Some would argue that the fairest way is to pay a percentage relative to income, meaning that one person may pay 70% of the bill while the other shoulders 30%, for example.

Again, this needs to be managed properly to avoid turning ugly, and stands to be adjusted as your respective incomes change over time. Joint banking, nominating each person for the bill and bill splitting apps are all options here, although the latter offers the easiest calculation, transparency and adaptability over time.

Use acasa

acasa is designed for anyone sharing a house, from students to young professionals to couples. With acasa, you can avoid unnecessary conflict around splitting utility bills with our direct billing and balance tracking systems.

Get a free quote for your property and enjoy a more stress-free approach to managing your shared house.

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