How and Why to Talk Finances When You’re Moving in With Your Significant Other
I want to start this post off by saying that different approaches work for different people. I am writing this strictly from my own perspective and experiences.
People have all kinds of reasons for moving in or not moving in with their significant other. One of those reasons that could land on both the pro and con list is money. It could be a plus because sharing expenses and paying for one apartment rather than two sounds great. Especially if you’re at the point where one of you stays at the others place most of the time. It could be a con if you’re not ready to talk about money with someone other than your tax guy/gal.
For me, if I’m thinking about marrying someone or moving in with them, I want to know all of their financial successes and failures and they should know mine. We’ve all made mistakes and bad choices, so let’s just put it all out there so we can decide if we can find a common ground. The following are topics Trevor and I talked about when we moved in together, and continue to talk about all the time. They’re a big part of sharing a home with someone, so do yourself and your partner a favor and start talking.
1. Decide What Expenses Each Person is Responsible For
There are infinite financial gray areas when you move in with your significant other. From paying the rent/mortgage to buying groceries – there needs to be a discussion and understanding for everything. If you try to wing things and take them as they come you’re bound to end up in an argument every other day (trust me on this, I learned the lesson and now I’m sharing the wisdom).
If you know what’s expected of you every month financially then there will be fewer surprises that could negatively affect your relationship.
Debt is tricky because it can sometimes be embarrassing to admit you have it. Most young people have some form or student loans, but if you racked up credit card debt also, you should come clean about that.
Even if you aren’t marrying this person right away, you are moving in with them and sharing some of life’s biggest responsibilities. In my opinion, that means letting the other person all the way in. The skeletons in the closet need to come out and there shouldn’t be any secrets. In my relationship, I was the one who had to admit that I had credit card debt. We talked about it and Trevor has been super supportive in keeping me focused and I’m happy to say that today I am credit card debt free!
Some people might not want to admit their debt to their partner because they’re afraid their spending habits will be judged. I definitely thought after I told Trevor about my credit card debt that he might watch every penny I spent. What I quickly learned though, is that Trevor trusted me to make the right choices and didn’t get upset with me if I went and got a pedicure or bought myself something. However, a major piece of advice that I will put out there is that if you’re not ready for your partner to have a say or at least an opinion, in how you spend your money, you may want to reconsider moving in together.
3. Savings Goals
Once all your dirty laundry is out there and you know what household bills you’re responsible for; it’s time to talk about savings goals. Maybe this doesn’t sound like something you need to talk about, but it’s actually super important.
Trevor is a saver and I’m a spender. He focuses pretty hard on putting his money away, while I wonder how many pairs of shoes I can buy with my leftover paycheck money. I’ve always loved reading about retirement and IRAs and preparing, but my actions have never really reflected how much I feel like I care. Needless to say, Trevor and I were on opposite ends of the spectrum, so now we try to meet in the middle. He tries to not be so stingy and I try to remember that retirement will be here before I know it. If you can’t find a common ground, you’re going to argue for the rest of your life about each other’s spending habits. It’s a lot of work, but Trevor and I do a pretty good job of staying on the same page.
4. How You’ll Handle Money in Your Marriage
As my grandma always says, different strokes for different folks, which exactly describes money and marriage. I think the most important thing here is that you and your partner find an arrangement that works for both of you. Some people keep things completely separate, others have only one account. Because Trevor and I want to get married eventually, we’ve started talking about this and I have so much confidence that because we’ve been able to figure out all of these other things, we’ll be able to figure this out too. When you start the finance conversation at the beginning of your relationship, by the time you get to moving in and then on to marriage, it’s that much easier to discuss and come to an agreement.
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