Thinking about moving in together? It’s a big deal. You are considering merging your life and finances with someone and trusting them to hold up their end of the bargain. There are a few things you should consider my friend. Let’s look at them together.
Moving in together talk 1: Finance history
This was the first place I went wrong. After almost two years of living on my own after my divorce, I had been dating a beautiful boy, we got engaged and it felt right to move in together. But we never talked about money. He had a house and two roommates but he was a homeowner so I figured everything was ok. I mean, he had a good job, he had a car, a house, we went out to eat and have fun and whatnot. My assumption was that if we could do all those things, that he must have money, right??? Wrong.
This is a common thought process fallacy when it comes to money, that if you have the money to spend you must be doing ok. Not true. It could just mean that you are spending money that should be going to things like the mortgage or bills. This never occurred to me though because I would NEVER spend money on things like a night out if my rent wasn’t paid. But I was soon to learn that was not true for everyone.
So you HAVE to have the unsexy talk about finance histories! Talk about how you grew up. What money means to you. Do you like having some money in the bank? Do you like to spend it? These things are important and while you won’t cover everything – other money issues will only come up after you move in – it is a positive thing to start having these conversations before moving in together.
Talk 2: Bills and debt
Not only did I not realize what bills were not getting paid when I moved in with my fiancee, but I didn’t realize just how many bills he had either. Frankly, I don’t think he knew either. You cannot manage your finances if you don’t know what your bills and obligations are. Period.
Sit down with your beloved and look at a full list of what kind of bills you are each responsible for. All of them. Talk about your income, talk about what other kinds of things you intend to use your money for. Do you like to save for travel? Do you have debt you are working hard to pay off? All these financial goals are important to discuss now because you want to get on the same page.
Talk 3: Budgets and bank accounts
Next up you need to get together a budget for yourselves. Now at this point, you may not be fully joining all your bills together – that’s fine. You still need a budget. You each need to understand what you are covering together and what you may be choosing to cover separately. Then, you need to know exactly how much that leaves each of you with regards to any leftover income. Basically, you need a plan.
You also need to know how you are going to pay for joint bills. Are both of your names going to be on the bills? Should you then pay for it out of a joint account? Will each of you keep a separate account still for other things?
My mistake was that I merged everything right away. We didn’t discuss anything about how we were going to do things. I assumed we would do what I always did, which was to sit down on payday, pay the bills and see what was leftover. His method was to check the bank account on payday, see how much money there was to spend and have fun. Not exactly a good match. Together we made over 80k a year and we were broke, over-drafting our account and feeling strained and that was crazy to me. It was also really stressful for our relationship! Do not be like me.
Moving in together talk 4: Bill paying
The last talk you need to have, hopefully before moving in together, is to talk about who will be responsible for paying the bills you share. It can be one or the other or both. It doesn’t matter what you choose, just have a plan and make sure you both feel confident with it.
I recommend at first that you consider doing it together so that each person really understands what the bills ARE and what doing them entails so there is no misconception about where this money is going.
One more bit of advice about moving in together
It’s never too late to have these talks. Even if you’ve been living with someone for years, if you don’t feel like you are on the same page with them; it’s time for a chat.
We all know the statistics about how much money factors into marriage ending. I whole-heartedly believe that it doesn’t have to be true. Most money disagreements come because we don’t talk about money enough and we don’t plan together.
I know that it can be tough – in fact, I did a whole podcast guest appearance (Which you can check out here at Real Love Real Stories) about how to talk with your spouse about money. Included in that podcase I offered up a free conversation guide as well and you can get yours below. The sooner you start having these conversations the sooner you and your beloved will be facing down the financial battles together.