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We are a young family of two, both working and having comparatively equal income. The question is how do we budget our common expenses (relatively equally) and at the same time preserve our freedom to spend some money on personal needs.

I would like to have this system as transparent as possible and to store all transactions for further analysis. So maybe someone can suggest an app that satisfy this requirements?

So basically the question consists of two parts:

  1. Concept of finance management for two people with equal income
  2. Means to efficiently sustain this finance management system

Thanks in advance to everyone for having time to read and suggest a solution. I am also very interested and will appreciate if you share your own experience in solving this problem.

marked as duplicate by Grade 'Eh' Bacon, Dheer, MD-Tech, Hart CO, Michael Sep 20 '17 at 14:56

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My wife and I have close to equal incomes, and are not young. What we have is this:

  • We consider her income equally mine, and mine hers.
  • We have separate checking accounts, but each is a joint owner on the other. My income goes to my checking account, hers to hers.
  • We have a monthly budget meeting where we agree on the bills to be paid and the spending that is to occur. I have bills that I pay, and she hers. An equal break down really isn't important.
  • We each have a spending allowance budgeted that does not need to be accounted for. It can be spent however one likes. That being said, if a person has a line item to put $100 into savings, then at least that amount should be put into savings, emergencies not withstanding.
  • We also have a monthly "business meeting" where we go over our financial stance and if we need to adjust things.
  • Finally we have a yearly goal meeting, where we talk about our goals for the year and one of those areas is financial.

Some people would classify our system as a bit draconian as we each have "allowance"; however, it makes sure spending does not get out of wack and we work together to meet our goals.

  • I wouldn't call it draconian. It sounds like your separate checking accounts are merely an accounting detail, not a factor in what each spouse's allowance is. – chepner Sep 20 '17 at 12:43
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Obviously, there are many approaches. I’ll describe what we do and why we think it is successful.

I have seen many couples having disagreements and even divorce over money; it seems that this is a typical reason to fight and sometimes fight badly. The realization is that different people have different preferences what to spend their money on, and if you are not rich, it continuously leads to disagreements - ‘did you really need another pair of shoes?’, etc.

Our solution is a weekly allowance. First, all our money goes into one pot and is considered equal. Many couples find that a difficult step, but I never thought twice about it - I trust my spouse, and I share my life with her, so why not my money?
From this, we agree on an ‘allowance’ that is used to cover any non-common cost; this includes all clothing, dining out, buying things, etc. The amount was chosen to match about what we spent for those things anyway, and then adjusted annually.

The main point is that there is no critique allowed about what this is spent on - you can blow it all on shoes, or buy books, or wine and dine, or gamble it away, whatever. We are doing this since 23 years now, and we are very happy with the results; we never have financial ‘fights’ anymore.

Disadvantages are the effort - you need to keep track of it somehow. Either you use a separate credit card, or hand it out in cash, or have a complete accounting (I do the latter, because I want to).

Regarding all other spend, we use the accounting to plan ahead for at least a year on all cost and income that are expected, and that shows us the available cash flow and where it might get tight. It also shows you where the money goes, and where you could cut if cutting is needed (or wanted). Again, there is some effort in collecting the data, but it is worth it (for us).

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