Many people have expenses that are shared with a partner, and creating a joint budget is just as important as creating a personal budget. Here are some steps to get you started in creating a budgeting plan for two.
Determine all of the shared monthly expenses. Make a list of all the expenses. Examples are utilities, eating out, groceries, gifts, cable, phone, Internet, credit cards, gas, rent/mortgage, among others.
Determine how these expenses will be split up. For example, split everything 50/50 or split it up based upon each person's income. If one person has a higher income, she may take on 60 percent of the expenses. Plan ahead by calculating in extra money to create a buffer. This will reduce the risk of the account running out of money.
In order to determine how much each person should contribute to the joint checking account each month, you may choose to base it solely upon monthly expenses, which could change from month to month due to holidays or special occasions. For example, if your monthly expenses are $1000 for January, and $1200 for February, you would deposit different amounts of money into the joint checking account each month.
Another option is to add up the total yearly expenses and then divide the total by 12, which will give you the average monthly expense. This way, you will be putting in the same amount of money each month, but you may spend more or less of it depending upon each month's total expenses. For example, if you go out to eat together once every three months, spending $60, you may decide to put $20 a month into the joint checking account, or you may decide to only put in the $60 for the month you plan to use it.
Once you have determined how much each person will contribute towards the joint expenses, decide the best time for each person to add their contribution to the joint checking account. Add each contribution at the beginning of each month, at the end of each month (for the following month), or when you get paid.
Pay for all joint expenses from the joint checking account. Each person should have a card to use, and all automatic withdrawals should be set up to come out of the joint checking account. Keep personal expenses personal, and pay for them out of your personal account only
Put any leftover money into a joint savings account to save up for a vacation or a high priced item.
Reevaluate the joint budget if one person gets a raise or takes a pay cut. Expenses can change over time, so review the joint budget annually, every six months, or whenever you decide is appropriate.