Four financial topics you should discuss with your partner before moving in

Moving in with your partner is a natural, exciting step. Perhaps you already spend a lot of time at each other’s homes, so it makes sense to ditch the rent on one. Or, you’ve only been able to see each other on weekends because of distance and you’re ready to find a place together to deepen your relationship. Whatever the reason, finding a home to share is a milestone experience in both your own life and your journey with your partner.

However fun getting your own key cut or choosing furniture together is, it’s not a step that should be taken lightly. Living together represents a significant financial commitment as you share bills, rent and make purchases for your new home. Whilst conversations about money can be tricky and take some of the edge off the fun, it’s vital that you have them so that you’re on the same page.

To make things easier, we’ve pulled together a list of four key financial topics you should discuss before you move in.

What’s your financial history like?

Living together brings a deeper connection to your relationship that you may not yet have experienced. There’s no place to hide, and this includes financially. Before you move in, it’s good to talk to your partner about both of your financial histories, including any debts that you owe (such as credit card bills or student loans). This allows you both to understand what impact this might have on your budget, but also gives you an idea of what kind of spenders you are.

It can also be helpful to learn about your partner’s general attitude to money. Perhaps they’ve been through a hard time in their life, so they’re nervous about using credit or making big purchases. Or, if you’re both moving out of parental homes, this might be the first time you’ve both needed to manage your finances.

How will you manage your finances?

There’s so many different ways to manage your finances when you live with someone. You may want to set up an account where you both deposit a certain amount of money each month, or perhaps you’ll each take responsibility for certain expenses. Some people choose to pool all their income into one pot and pay bills from this account, although this is more common once you’re married. You could use a bill sharing app to keep track of expenses and settle up any differences with each other at the end of the month.

If you choose to go down the route of contributing a percentage of your income to a shared account, you’ll need to decide who gives what. You may both decide to contribute equally, or proportionately if one partner has significantly less income than the other. This can be an uncomfortable conversation, but both parties should make sure they’re on board with what’s been agreed upon. If you can’t agree, go away, think about it, and come back to it. It can be helpful to consider why you feel that way too, so you can talk through this with your partner.

Setting a budget

Setting a budget is a key part of managing your money, and this is even more important when you live with someone. You don’t want to find that they’ve spent all your funds on new furniture, leaving you with nothing left for groceries. Because it’s not practical to double-check every transaction with each other, it’s good to agree to some rules ahead of time so that there’s no issues.

When you first move in, long-term goals might be off the table. But as your relationship lengthens, you’ll need to be comfortable with having bigger conversations about saving to buy a property, getting married or for holidays. Starting off cohabiting with a mature attitude towards budgeting can set a strong foundation for things to come.

Planning for hard times

Whilst things might all feel rosy now, there’s unfortunately no guarantee that hard times won’t happen. One of you might lose your job, or fall ill, reducing your income (and therefore the amount you can contribute). You can’t plan for every scenario, and there’s no need to worry unnecessarily, but it can be good to understand where the boundaries are should something happen.

Is there a set amount of time after which you’d expect your partner to look for a job if they left theirs? Could you (and would you be happy to) financially support them if necessary, and would you want them to pay you back by a certain time? Do you want to set up a shared emergency fund that you both contribute to, to cover unexpected expenses?

It can be hard to have this conversation, but knowing where you stand early on means you don’t have to discuss these issues at a time of heightened stress.

Start with a clean slate

You might be nervous about having financial conversations, or feel that they take some of the sparkle off this exciting time. However, money is one of those day-to-day things that you just have to deal with. Having an honest talk and making sure you both agree on how you’ll proceed gives you the best chance of avoiding financial arguments further down the line, so you can focus on enjoying this chapter of your life together.

Photo: Ketut Subiyanto

The Coach Space

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