Moving in with a significant other is a huge step and one that can be beneficial for both of you. However, I’ve seen my share of partners struggle with the addition of financial confusion to their already complicated relationship. It can be a rocky transition, even when you love each other.
If you’re on the verge of moving in with a partner and beginning to merge our finances, there are a few things you need to consider. Here are my top tips for making the transition as smooth and painless as possible.
You Need to Have a Real Financial Heart-to-Heart
In today’s society, talking about your financial mistakes and secrets can be as embarrassing as talking about that secret mole on your back or that time you threw up in class during high school. Unfortunately, no financial merger can survive if you both refuse to air out your dirty laundry.
The period before you officially combine finances should serve as a platform for an intense discussion about the good, bad, and the ugly aspects of each person’s money situation. Now’s the time to reveal that your credit score is low or that you’re facing 70 grand in student loan debt.
Although you might be nervous about opening your financial situation up to scrutiny from your partner, there’s nothing worse than unearthing money problems later on in the relationship. Rip the bandaid off now and have a frank, kind conversation with each other in which you’re completely honest about your finances.
Some topics to cover in this discussion include:
- Any outstanding debt
- Credit scores
- Savings accounts
- Big financial goals
- Subscription services or other monthly expenses
Talking About Your Responsibilities Beforehand Is Essential
Since you’re merging finances for the first time, it might not be very clear as to who is in charge of what. Who will pay the rent each month? Who is responsible for handling grocery shopping? What about monthly expenses like electricity, internet, and water?
Don’t wait until later to clearly define both of your goals. This will make it easier to start things out on the right foot. Plus, you’ll spend less time fighting about who let things slip between the cracks. You don’t want to wind up resenting each other because you never clearly outlined fiscal responsibilities.
Establish a Method for Checking In With Each Other and Your Finances
Although you definitely need to have a conversation about your finances upfront, the communication can’t stop there. Deciding to merge your finances means that you’re committing to sharing things with your partner, including when you splurge on a new toy or a fancy pedicure.
Between keeping up with your budget and re-evaluating savings goals, there are many topics to continuously discuss with your partner. That’s why I suggest setting up a time once a month where you can both sit down and review your situation.
Things to talk about at this meeting can include:
- How much you both spent over the past month and where you overspent
- Any financial changes you may face in the next month
- Big expenses that are coming up in the near future
- Saving goals and what needs to be done to achieve them
- Any issues you have encountered, either with each other or with your finances
- Ways to improve your financial situation in the coming months and years
Combing your finances can certainly seem scary, but what’s scary is entering into a monetarily bound relationship without making boundaries and expectations clear. Take time to thoroughly explore your financial situations together before they become intertwined.
You’ll thank yourselves later as you watch other couples fall apart over budgeting arguments and hidden bank accounts.