Whether you’ve been cohabiting with your sig-o for years or are just taking the leap now, you know how I feel about The Talk. It’s that essential conversation in which you both share your financial situation (the good and the bad) so you can align your lives, financially and otherwise. Cohabitation has increased in the United States by more than 1,500% in the past century. Yes, you read that right: 1,500%! If living together it is indeed the right thing for you, then why not go about it like a rockstar? Being open about money with your sig-o will help your relationship. It doesn’t have to be that serious or scary. Get familiar with The Dos and Don’ts Of Shacking Up; then touch base and get on the same page with these three money things:
- Have “The Talk”: If you haven’t already discussed and split up who is paying for what, start there! Write down all of your combined household expenses (rent, utilities, groceries, pet costs, etc.) as well as how much you spend on each monthly. And no, you’re not necessarily drawing these expenses from the same account, but if it makes it easier to have a joint account for these household expenses, this is a good time to discuss that. Spreadsheets or even a simple checklist are super helpful here. (link to tool from site that perhaps is being used by those participating in the Challenge.)
- Split it up and come together: Follow this useful household adage: “What’s mine is yours, what’s yours is yours, and what’s mine is mine.” In a word, you should have both types of accounts, joint and separate. Here’s an easy sample breakdown of “yours and mine:”
- “Yours” will include his own personal expenditures like his gym membership, sneaker collection, or trip to Vegas with the guys for the Fantasy Football Draft. Also personal debt, like credit card and student loans.
- “Mine” will include your own personal expenditures, like your yoga classes, monthly mani/pedi, or tapas night with the ladies. Also personal debt, like credit card and student loans.
- “Ours” will include all household expenditures, like rent, utilities, car maintenance, groceries, pet supplies, etc. Also shared debt, like a mortgage or a car loan.
Making sure to stick to what’s “yours and mine” will help the household run more smoothly as no one has to wonder why you’re $30 short for pet food that month.
- Take a Financial Selfie–Together: Remember, housing expenses should never exceed 35% of your monthly income, whether you’re living on one income or two. If your financial selfie reveals a higher percentage, it’s time to cut back. Spending tons of money at Costco since you’re now shopping for more than one? You may think you’re saving big, but there’s really just a bigger chance of items being wasted. Maybe a farm-share from a local farm is a better (not to mention healthier) fit instead. Forgetting to plan out grocery trips and ordering in way more than you should be? Make a plan to go together once a week to make sure your moolah is being spent wisely. This is also a great time to negotiate your internet or cable bill (assuming you have them.)
Things come up, and they will…that’s just part of the crazy world that is love (and money). I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: money is THE numero uno for relationship strife. But if you’re being proactive vs. reactive by remembering to have “The Talk” and checking in on your household finances frequently, it’s pretty simple to get things running smoothly. So get organized—and get a happier home!