To Share or Not to Share Income and Bills ...

When you move in with your partner, one very important consideration is how you're going to manage your finances. Should it all go into one pot, or should you retain your own bank accounts? How do you split bills? What if one of you earns more than the other? Here's some points to help you decide what to do about finances …

1. Retain Your Independence, Just in Case …

There's a lot to be said for keeping separate accounts. While we always hope that our relationships will last, you can never be absolutely sure. If all your money is in joint accounts, you could be in trouble if you break up. It's not unknown for people to find that their partner walks out, having emptied joint accounts. Protecting your own financial interests is smart.

2. What Each of You Earns

Having a joint account can be helpful though if only one partner works. Otherwise the non-working partner relies on the working partner to give them cash or transfer money over. A stay-at-home parent can take money out of the joint account without feeling like they're begging for money.

3. What Have You Each Contributed to the Purchase

If you buy a property together it can get a lot more complicated, especially if one partner is contributing more of the deposit. There are also issues to consider if one moves into the other's property. Some people choose to pay the bills if the partner owns the house. But always consider legal issues and get advice.

4. 50/50

Is a 50/50 split on all bills fair? If you earn similar salaries, then probably. It's silly (and not very romantic) to quibble over a few dollars. But if one of you earns a lot more, or one of you has an irregular income, then it's not really fair to split the costs evenly. Work out a reasonable percentage for each of you to pay.

5. Having Separate Accounts Doesn't Invalidate the Relationship

Some people say 'why be in a relationship if you don't want to share your finances?' But keeping separate counts doesn't mean the relationship is any less real. However much you're in love, you should still keep your head on straight when it comes to financial issues. Too many people have found themselves in a mess because they gave up control over their own finances.

6. You Can Control Spending from Your Own Account

The problem with only having a joint account is that you can't control it. If your partner is financially irresponsible, you could find that they've spent too much and there's not enough to meet the bills. With your own account, you can be sure exactly how much is in it at any time, and not get any nasty surprises when you check the balance.

7. You Can Have It Both Ways

It's perfectly possible to each have your own accounts, while still having a joint account. What many couples do is have a joint account for bills and their own accounts for personal spending. Have your salary paid into your own account, and set up a standing order each month to transfer your share of the bills to the joint account.

Deciding on how to manage joint finances can take some negotiating, but always look after your own interests. You shouldn't carry a partner who is bad with money though (if they are, it may be best for you to control the cash). Do you think that couples should share everything?