The commitment of moving in with your significant other is fun—like breakfast in bed, housewarming parties, or decorating together. It’s a big step for your relationship; also for your stuff. Sort out things beforehand for a smooth move.
First, build a strong foundation for your finances. Financial aspects of your new life together can affect everything from rent or mortgage payments to grocery expenses. Create a plan to manage your debt, expenses, and credit. Then outline living arrangements such as chores. Take these steps to get a handle on matters and smooth out details ahead of time, so you’ll avoid disagreements and hard feelings later.
BUDGET Disclose your gross income and your liabilities, and what you afford for household expenses. Then outline the budget for your combined monthly living expenses. Include these items.
- Rent (or down payment and mortgage)
- Utilities- Gas, Electric, Water, Cable, Network
- Household Insurance
- Food and Supplies
- Miscellany – including saving for repair, lean times*
- Entertainment – hosting a party, decorating
Also figure out when your monthly bills are due to avoid late payments. Track your spending as a couple (apps and online programs can link to your bank and savings accounts, as well as sync yours and your partner’s app accounts for these). Stay aligned with your financial commitments and goals.
ACCOUNT Open a joint checking account, and an attached joint savings account. Savings* is where you keep a minimum of $1000 and aim to have enough money to cover 3-6 months of expenses should an emergency strike. Commit to ante up for share of bills on a certain date monthly or weekly (if one of you brings home a significantly larger paycheck than the other, you might choose to divvy up the responsibility differently).
Maintain separate accounts for personal savings, investments, clothing, cellphone, medical, treating one another, dates, and etc.
CHORES Outline chores. Split them. Be flexible.
ROLES Define roles will each of you play in running the household. If you rent an apartment, both partners should put their names on the lease. If one of you is renting and the other is the owner, clarify responsibilities of landlord and tenant.
STUFF Living together likely means you won’t be able to keep all the stuff you both have so take time together to choose what stays and what goes. Invest in a storage space for personal items that don’t fit in but you desire keeping.
Rearrange your space together.
- Keep track of furniture and household goods ownership for.
- For major purchases that are separate, keep them documented.
- Make joint purchases in both names.
Remain unattached to most things. Focus on what is most essential. Be respectful of one another.
COMMUNICATE Consider how you will manage disagreements. Remain objective when discussing perspectives about spending and saving and sharing. You don’t want to resent your partner because you ended up paying for something you didn’t think was fair. Check in with one another always. Express appreciation to one another for everything.
AGREEMENT The above outlines your agreement and reflects validation of the importance of your relationship by your willingness to put in writing your rights, responsibilities and obligations to that relationship, and to one another. Be firm and flexible as you commit to the well-being of your partner and your relationship.
Summarize how much each partner will pay for rent, who will cover what household duties, when bills are due, and other space-sharing arrangements. Revisit this agreement whenever necessary, such as when one partner’s income level changes. Revise it as you require.
Merging household and finances can be stressful. With planning and open communication, you can smooth the merger. Should moving in together expand to marriage or children, you may require taking budgeting to another level. Evaluate and re-evaluate finances as a couple under one roof as a practice that will ensure staying aligned.
Designate responsibilities to make sure that one person isn’t taking on more housework than the other. Then move on to the fun of setting up your household. Manage expectations and set up ground rules before sets you up for a smooth move.