If you’ve already made the big step of deciding to move in with your significant other, congratulations! I can tell you that living with your boyfriend, girlfriend, or partner is one of the best things in the entire world. Unfortunately, you probably won’t be smoothly sailing into Bed Bath & Beyond together just yet. Before you move in together, you need to discuss your finances. Which, according to every advice column ever created, should be 100 percent transparent (!), easy (!), and totally NBD! Well, that’s bullsh*t. Money is a big deal, and you should treat it accordingly. You don’t have to make a ton of money in order to feel empowered and in control of your wallet, but you do need to be strategic.
Moving in together, right next to getting engaged, is one of the biggest commitments you can make in your relationship. Don’t do it unless you’ve flushed out the logistics. Super romantic? Not so much. But necessary? Absolutely. You have the most leverage and the best opportunity to set the tone for your new living situation before you move in together. Here are the best ways to go about talking about your finances with your significant other:
Set Aside A Specific Time To Have The Conversation
it has been a few months and my boyfriend still likes to venmo me $5 every tuesday as a “girlfriend subscription”
— natalie (@natatruthh) October 16, 2019
Most people, no matter how much money they make, get a little uncomfortable discussing it. Try to coordinate a time with your partner when you know the both of you won’t be as stressed out (read: avoid doing this Sunday night before the work week) so you can be entirely focused on the conversation at hand. Set aside a good 30-minute window to really review everything about your new arrangement. Make an agenda and sample expense list of what the both of you anticipate to spend month to month. Treat it just as you would a work meeting. If you don’t come up with an exact cost or answer for something, be sure to follow up.
You should also decide on who will be listed on contracts or leases as the person responsible for each expense and how/if you’ll go about splitting certain costs. Will one of you cover cable while the other handles internet? Is Venmo your go-to? Or will you open a joint credit card to share expenses?
Figure out your money personalities. Is one of you more into going tit for tat? Or is one of you a Virgo and needs to split everything down the middle by the penny? Decide now and be clear with what you choose. It pays, literally, to be meticulous now versus later when one of you starts holding a grudge for being the sole purchaser of your apartment’s toilet paper.
You Don’t Have To Tell Your Partner Exactly What You Make Or Go Into Details About Unrelated Spending
After moving in with my boyfriend we had a talk about what money should be spent on and what it shouldn’t… i just spent $300 on my hair.. let’s not tell him 🙂
— Destinyyyyyyy (@LaLaDessie) November 21, 2018
Unless you two are tying the knot and have decided to share 100 percent of your finances, you actually don’t need to divulge exactly how much you make or exactly how you spend your money. Realistically, you two have been together for a long enough time where you have some idea about the other’s paychecks. If you’re clear with what you can afford or are willing to contribute with your monthly expenses, then whatever you have left over is your business. It may seem like a great idea to be super transparent because it comes off more trustworthy or open about your relationship, but it’s not required. In fact, you may even be a little relieved to have more independence over how you spend your money. Your boyfriend need not know that you accidentally spent $250 at Sephora when you were tipsy after happy hour. (Heh, sorry babe.) If you want to, that’s cool too. But if you’re not into that idea, don’t feel like you have to.
Be Prepared To Negotiate
The only bad part about living with my boyfriend is that I can’t just spontaneously get another dog. Like I have to get approval this time? So rude tbh
— ashh (@ashh_olmsted) October 15, 2019
As any couple who lasts longer than two weeks can attest to, relationships are all about compromise. You exclusively watch reruns of Law & Order: SVU on Hulu. He needs every single sports channel known to man. All of a sudden your single girl binge watching expenses have blossomed from a cool $11.99 to $100. Find the middle ground. There will be some expenses on both sides that one of you won’t want to cough up for. (I mean, do we really need 20 different channels of ESPN?) And if you can’t reach an agreement for something the other person wants, then be prepared to pay for it on your own.
What If Your Salaries Are Completely Lopsided?
Whether you make a lot more (I love living in 2019) or your partner does, I’m a big believer in paying your portion. If your partner is making a quarter of what you do, or vice versa, again, negotiate. Just because you’re sharing a space does not mean you have to share expenses 50/50. There are also other factors to consider outside of just income. Is one of you more inclined to clean? Is one of you the dedicated pet parent? While some of these things aren’t factorable into an Excel spreadsheet, they do matter when it comes to sharing a space.
Bottom line, the most important thing to do when talking to your partner about sharing your living expenses is to be honest and realistic. The more you can stay in front of your finances and any additional expenses or problems that might arise, the less likely money will ever cause a problem in your relationship.
Images: Joshua Ness / Unsplash; @ashh_olmsted/Twitter;@LaLaDessie/Twitter; @natatruthh/Twitter
Before I moved in with my boyfriend, I interrogated everyone I knew who lived with their partner. I’d read plenty of horror stories about couples breaking up after living together too soon. They were all frustratingly vague about how and why exactly things went wrong. My friends, sadly, were similarly unhelpful. “It’s just different” was the most common offering, with “the first month was the worst” being a close second. Six weeks into living with my boyfriend, I’d agree that both those things are true. But because I’m
paid to write this not a terrible friend, I’ll actually explain why. Here’s what to actually expect when you move in with a partner.
1. Laundry Will Kind Of Rule Your Life
This aspect of living together is particularly true if you live in NYC and the closest laundry to you is a laundromat that only takes quarters. Totally random example, NBD. But, even if you have a washing machine in the comfort of your home, or go full bougie and get it picked up, there’s just going to be a lot more dirty clothing existing in your home. Especially if your partner plays sports and/or is a guy and therefore inexplicably goes through six T-shirts a day. Either way, I miss only thinking about laundry every few weeks. And of course not having anyone judge me when I used my laundry bin as a “backup tees” drawer.
2. Food Is Now A Shared Entity
If you’re not already, I highly recommend listening to every episode of the Diet Starts Tomorrow podcast. They spend one episode talking about how hard it is to control your eating in a relationship. I loved it so much that I made my boyfriend listen to it. In the year and a half we dated before moving in together, I’d complained plenty about his constant desire to post up at beer gardens, or his tendency to make the whole box of pasta whenever we cooked. Now that we live together, I deal with all those struggles, plus the fact that he fills our kitchen with chips, Gatorade, and sugary cereals. Not to mention that he buys everything in bulk as though we are a family of seven.
Clearly, many of these problems exist because he also does most of the grocery shopping. I should be more grateful. But I have a late-night snacking problem, so I am instead furious that I now have such binge-able food on hand at all times. Anyway, whatever your weird food needs are (and you def have some), prepare to spend a lot of time arguing about what groceries you actually need. And/or screaming at your partner when you come home hangry at 10pm and the only food available is a microwavable corn dog.
Me to my boyfriend:
3. “Clean” Means Different Things To Different People
I’m very lucky with my boyfriend—for many reasons, but in this context, I mean because he’s relatively neat. He does the dishes, he vacuums occasionally, he’s kind of a freak when it comes to crumbs, you get the idea. HOWEVER. Things that I never realized are very, very important to me—like wiping down the bathroom sink/mirror, or having a designated place for shoes—won’t even occur to him. This leads to a lot of arguments where I become convinced that he’s actively trying to piss me off. And he has literally no idea what I’m talking about. Or where he tells me he cleaned the apartment and I come home and think he’s joking. Basically, you’re going to need to sit down a few weeks in and tell each other plainly what’s important to you in terms of maintenance.
4. You’re Probably Grosser Than You Realized
It’s not like my boyfriend and I went from seeing each other once a week to living together. But I do think I underestimated how much I used my time in my own apartment to do all the weird stuff I don’t think about. Like eating a block of cheese in bed, trying to get a good view of what feels like back-ne in my bathroom mirror, trying on 16 different shirts and flinging every reject on the same chair. All of these activities are made way less fun by being in a room with anyone else. And they’re made UNBEARABLE if that other person starts commenting on it, which they definitely will. You are now doing it in a space that they equally live in.
Ultimately, this isn’t the worst thing in the world and will actually probably curb some bad habits. But I def had a few moments of deep shame on this road. Like when my boyfriend came storming out of the bedroom demanding to know why there was almond butter on his pillowcase.
All in all, the biggest thing I’ve noticed about living with my boyfriend is space, plain and simple. Even with roommates, there’s always a spot that’s yours alone. Not having that is more of a shift than I expected. There are lots of fun parts too, like the fact that you can be naked all the time, pay way less rent, and just feel smug and happy every time you can reference OUR apartment. So as long as you’re willing to have a few screaming fights, a few cool-down conversations, and a few ugh-compromises, I wholeheartedly recommend it. If you try to treat the living arrangement like one of you is renting a room and the other one owns it, I guarantee that won’t work out.
Images: bigkidproblems / Instagram; Giphy (2); Unsplash/Jeremy Banks