The man or the woman? Who pays the bills in a relationship/marriage? This is one of the more intriguing social media topics I’ve seen recently. A certain percentage of women believe that men should pay all the household bills (because that’s what a man’s role is—to provide). The same women believe that if they “split” the bills (expenses), they go from being in a relationship to being roommates.

Of course, the men have a perspective on this. Some believe women should divide the bills equally (or as close to equal as possible) to ensure mutual financial investment. Others say that they don’t mind paying all the bills.


Income & Bills

Based on data from the *U.S. Census Bureau community survey 2012… The average median income (married couple family) in the U.S. is $65,914. This varies depending on what data you’re looking at, but overall average median income typically falls somewhere between 65-70k per household.

That breaks down to about $5,500 per month (gross) between two (or more) people.

**The average annual consumer expenditures of consumer units in the U.S. is $57,311.  This includes rent/mortgage, utilities, household food, etc.

That leaves approximately, $9000 (annually) to work with outside bills and other necessary living expenditures.


That being said, without making this about statistics, I’ll state my case.


Women have to contribute

In this country, the vast majority of households aren’t making 80k per year.  By households, I mean a home with two or more people living in them (which could include children).

Why would you place all of this pressure on one person (typically the man) to carry the weight, and stress of all the bills? Why wouldn’t you work together? It makes far more sense to do it together, vs placing all the weight,  and stress on one person, right?  Sure there are still traditional relationships happening where the woman stays at home, and the man is the breadwinner (and makes really good money). However, those relationships/marriages are in the vast minority and are slowly fading into obscurity with the millennial generation mostly opting out.

Women are still not getting paid what they deserve

Especially black women (and black men)

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (here we go with the stats again)… the fourth quarter of 2017, men earned a median average of $49,192 while women earned only $39,988 or 81.3 percent of what males earned. Let’s combine those two salaries, and we’ll come up with (if we round up) a household income of $90,000. pretty good right? Not really… because black men earned a median salary of $35,412, which is only 69.3% of what white men earned on average ($51,064). In addition, the difference for women was a bit less. Black women’s median earnings were, on average, 82.7% ($34,008) of white women’s median earnings ($41,132).

What does it all mean?

It means, living off one person’s salary isn’t fiscally smart.  That is if you’re expecting one person to carry the weight of the bills while you simply support it. However, if you’re truly living off one person’s salary while using the other person’s salary to invest, save for retirement, and go on trips, that could work as well. I believe the biggest issue with some men is the divorce rate, and the perceived lack of success a lot of men have in divorce proceedings.  The fear of being, “taken to the bank” has a lot of men asking women to contribute financially as they would.

Teamwork makes the dream work

It’s a proven fact that working together financially helps sweeten your relationship. Versus expecting one person to do it all alone (which is stressful). While the other person simply, “supports.” What does that mean anyway? “Support?” If you know what that means, please comment below.

I don’t split bills. That’s ridiculous! Regardless of the income, the man should provide for his household. She can support.  I DON’T split bills and he will know this upfront. Call me a traditionalist. I’m not putting money into a pot either. He should take care of the major bills for the household. Period. He’d have those bills whether we’re together or not.

Being Traditional

The quote above came from a young lady whose father, grandfather, and uncles all, “provided” as she put it. Meaning, whoever she decided to marry, had to do what [they] did. I wouldn’t tell someone to—not follow such solid examples of leadership. However, each relationship deserves its own set of rules that are created by the two people involved. Versus one person dictating what another person should do. All this based on men who have absolutely nothing to do with said relationship.

I believe this is a mistake a lot of new couples make. They use their parents, or grandparents’ example as “the way to do things.” Instead of building a new life, with this new person, we’ll go into the relationship with preconceived ideas, and notions of what the other person should—do (or be). All of these ideas have been created in our minds before having a discussion with the new person. Understanding both upbringings, and creating a plan based on a mutual understanding, is how a successful relationship is created and sustained.


How Do We Pay These Bills? 

I recently conducted a survey where I polled 1000 men ages 25-50 (variable races), and 1000 women ages 25-50 (variable races).

I asked them, “How would you like the bills in your household to be paid?”

  • Split (I pay half, you pay half)
  • Unbalanced (The man pays the bulk of the bills, including all the large bills like the mortgage)
  • All (The man pays all of the bills)
  • One-Pot (all income goes into one pot to pay the bills)


25% of men stated that they’d prefer to share expenses with the woman, vs being the sole provider (this includes dating). I asked them to explain why they felt this way. The overwhelming response was that women are making almost as much (if not more) money than men (this is not true, but they didn’t know that). They also said that opportunities are more abundant, and the provider “role” was created when women couldn’t work or had very little opportunities to do so. Clearly this has changed.

I have always felt that a relationship/marriage is a union (at least that’s what it’s supposed to be). That also translates to a partnership. In business, partners work together for the overall well-being of the business’s bottom line. The partnership in business is similar to the union in marriage.

If two people are sharing the weight of financial responsibility, how can they be roommates? Roommates don’t romantically love each other. They also do not plan on getting married. Roommates typically live together for [independent] financial agendas and eventually move on.


Breaking Down the Numbers

  • In the area of splitting bills, men were 10% more likely to want this type of relationship.
  • While the vast majority of men did favor the “one-pot” rule, women favored this practice 7% more than men.
  • 10% more women wanted men to carry the financial burden in an “unbalanced” manner.
  • Surprisingly, 7% more men than women preferred to take care of all household bills.

Based on these numbers, women and men prefer to put all their money into one-pot and share financial responsibility.


Bills Bills Bills

The one-pot philosophy is how I prefer to manage any relationship I’m in and is also the style I recommend. However, you must do what works for your relationship. Make sure you discuss rules of engagement, once you meet. Do not come up with the rules beforehand. Consider the feelings of your partner, and be open-minded to the possibilities. Doing so will put you in the best position to succeed

In today’s economy (unless you’re both making a ton of money), you will need a solid financial plan if you don’t want to be working full time until you’re 90. This probably means both incomes will come into play. Keep that in mind when you decide how to pay the bills.


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