Moving in with your significant other is a big step in your relationship—and that often means combining finances. Take some time to explore your comfort level in the relationship and decide what’s best for you.
Sometimes couples have a hard time talking about money, especially if you approach finances differently. What if you’re thrifty, but your partner lives paycheck to paycheck? Or your significant other made some smart investments over the years, while school or job changes kept you from doing the same? Here are some tips to start the “money talk.”
Find a “calm” time to talk
Schedule a time when you’re both free of distractions and have each other’s undivided attention. If the conversation gets off track and emotions cloud your ideas, take a 10-minute break and engage in some deep breathing. Collect your thoughts and resume the conversation with a clearer head. Or consider writing out your thoughts to express your feelings.
Set some hard bottom lines
Moving in together can be an expression of commitment. Still, it’s okay to set bottom lines or limitations on how far you’re willing to go when combining your finances. Be clear about your intentions. Say what you’re willing to do. And let your partner know what you’re unwilling to do.
Plan for the short term
Express what living together and sharing expenses means to you. Think through and calmly express what moving in together means to you, including why it’s important that you contribute jointly to living expenses. And consider what this suggests about your commitment to one another. Talk openly so you both understand that this isn’t just about money. It’s about teamwork.
Think about the long term
What are your hopes for the future? Moving forward, what’s the plan for merging finances and your lives? Think about the circumstances and timeline that can take your relationship to the next level. Share your thoughts and ask for your partner’s feedback. Repeat back what you heard to confirm you're listening.
Brainstorm options together and think outside the box
Talk openly about splitting living expenses and combining money fairly. Perhaps you’ll both contribute a lump sum to a joint account on paydays. Or, if one of you earns significantly more—or less—it might be better to contribute a certain percentage instead. You also could each take responsibility for specific bills. For example, you pay the electricity bill, while your loved one pays the water bill.
Good problem-solving includes exploring all possible solutions, talking them through, listing the pros and cons, compromising, and then deciding on a path forward.