Finances mean something very different from one millennial couple to the next.
Take income, for example. The median annual income for employed millennials ranges from $18,000 in Montana to $43,000 in D.C., according to a recent survey. Also, millennial couples manage money together in very different ways. Some wing it. Others use a mix of joint and separate accounts, spreadsheets, and apps.
We asked 3 millennials couples in different income brackets and parts of the country about how they do it. Here’s what they told us.
Jon and Allie – 26 and 27, Philadelphia, PA
Occupations: Financial analyst and market researcher.
Approximate household income: $60k.
Family status: Together 3 years…living together for 6 months. No kids. Not married.
What’s your system for splitting expenses? We’ve been splitting all apartment-related expenses based on our income split. I (Jon) have a slightly higher salary, so I pay a bit higher percentage of rent. I also pay for the standard utilities (e.g., electric, internet) and then Allie pays for food-related costs (e.g., groceries, restaurants).
Do you keep a joint budget? We don’t. It’s one of the things we wish we did but just haven’t gotten around to it. We actually tried to when we first moved in together, but then we got busy and didn’t stick to it.
If money was no object, what’s the craziest thing you’d buy yourselves? We’d both like to travel for a while. It’d also be great to have a nice little place in the mountains or at the beach that we could escape to when the city gets a little too much to handle.
What’s the most annoying part of managing money together? Probably just the monthly requirement of paying bills, rent, etc. It also frustrates me a bit that I don’t feel like we’re saving towards anything specific…just saving for savings sake. In the long run, I’m sure we’d want to buy a house, start a college fund for our kids, etc. But right now we’re just focused on near-term goals like a vacation.
How well do you think you and your partner handle money, on a scale of 1-10? 5ish. We’re generally pretty good about day-to-day purchases – it’s the longer term goals that I think we need help with.
What’s one creative way you stretch your last dollar? We’re pretty good about selling old stuff, whether its clothing, electronics or furniture. We’re also into DIY (e.g., we built our dinner table) so we’ve been able to save a good amount of money that way.
Ray and Carol – 32 and 33, Charlotte, NC
Occupations: Consultant and Entrepreneur.
Approximate household income: $80,000.
Family status: Married, 2 kids (another on the way), living together.
What’s your system for splitting expenses? We don’t have a very good one. We split the rent 50/50. After that each of us takes certain expenses (him: utilities and groceries; her: childcare, healthcare). It works out about even for the most part, but some months it doesn’t. For all other expenses we’re on our own.
Do you keep a joint budget? We don’t. We’ve tried a few things but it just doesn’t stick. Either we get too busy with our day to day lives or it’s too complicated. We also can’t agree on what is a good budget.
If money was no object, what’s the craziest thing you’d buy yourselves? Private Jet to travel around the world.
What’s the most annoying part of managing money together? Figuring out what a good plan is and then tracking it. We don’t want to spend hours of time with receipts and spreadsheets.
How well do you think you and your partner handle money, on a scale of 1-10? 6. We’re generally pretty good about handling money. But we wish it was easier to talk to each other about it. We’re both passionate people and sometimes we get more heated than we’d like.
What’s one creative way you stretch your last dollar? We’re fortunate that it doesn’t happen very often, but when we were younger we’d look for meetups where lunch was provided! Pretty clever, right?
John & Sophie – 30 and 33, San Francisco, CA
Occupations: Both lawyers.
Approximate household income: $120,000. But we both have student debt. 🙁
Family status: Married for two years. 🙂 No kids. Yet.
What’s your system for splitting expenses? We have a joint checking account that we use to pay for everything, including our individual credit cards. We merged all of our finances just before we got married.
Do you keep a joint budget? We created a joint budget in a spreadsheet. But we only loosely track our progress (mostly with Mint) because it’s hard to quickly tell how we’re doing. It’s also easy to lose motivation, if we miss our targets.
If money was no object, what’s the craziest thing you’d buy yourselves? Easy. A pig. They are cute and smart. What else could you ask for?
What’s the most annoying part of managing money together? Two big ones: (1) figuring out who spent what between us and (2) quickly understanding whether our day-to-day spending is on track.
How well do you think you and your partner handle money, on a scale of 1-10? 7. We’re pretty good but it has taken work. We both have student loans, so we’ve had to sit down and budget early on, which was stressful. But now we’re mostly on the same page.
What’s one creative way you stretch your last dollar? Two words: slow cooker. We use our slow cooker to make stews, chili etc. and save money on lunch/dinner during the week. We love it because the recipes are usually simple, the food reheats well, and we only need to make meals once or twice a week instead of every day.