If you and your significant other (SO, for short) have made the decision to live together, congratulations! It is a very exciting time and a huge step in any romantic relationship. Living together brings a whole new wave of intimacy, partnership, and information into your relationship and is a ton of fun! However, before moving in together, there are a few topics you absolutely must sit down and talk about together.
With so much change underway, it’s easy to get frustrated or confused in your new living arrangement. Instead of facing that, have the conversations below to ensure you are both on the same page! Open communication is key!
These higher-level conversations about money will help you understand your SO a little better. Their money habits will likely start to affect you more directly than they did before moving in together, so it’s best to be prepared! It’s fine to keep these conversations general as you get to know your SO’s financial situation and financial goals.
- Bank Accounts: Are you planning to share one bank account? Keep your split accounts (recommended!!)?
- Money Habits: Are you a saver or a spender? Is your SO?
- Current Pay: How much do each of you make? What comes out for mandatory bills?
- Budget: How do you like to budget your money? Where do you track your expenses?
- Future Plans: Do you want to save money for something in the future? Will it be shared between you and your SO (house, vacation), or for yourself (car)?
Bills & payments
Now’s the time to get into the details: How are you going to pay for everything in your new apartment? There are varying ways for couples to budget their money, either by splitting all bills 50/50 or by applying percentages to each payment (i.e. If my SO makes double what I make, he could offer to pay more of the bills each month). Instead of making it complicated, consider “assigning” one of you to the task of paying the majority of bills each month. Or, consider splitting the online payments!
No matter what, this is where you should plan a HUGE conversation. Make sure that both of you are comfortable with your agreement and work together to adjust it over time if one member feels overburdened or worried about money.
- Budget: Where will you track expenses so both members of the relationship can monitor?
- Responsibility: Who will pay each shared bill every month? Think about rent, utilities, cable, Internet, electricity…many of those will have individual payments!
- Logistics: How do you balance the money between the couple?
- Fairness: Who should pay for shared expenses? Groceries? Dinners out? Date nights?
This is not as an exciting topic, but is crucial nonetheless. Instead of letting chores fall to the wayside or watching one member of your relationship take on most chores, talk about who should do what! Consider making a list of the basic weekly chores you’ll have to do, then each of you can select the ones you don’t mind doing and split the ones that neither of you enjoy! (If both of you work long hours, you may want to consider splitting the cost of an occasional cleaning service.)
The key here is that both members feel that the agreement is fair. If you both work full time, consider splitting chores 50/50. If your SO is home 2 days a week due to part time work, perhaps they are willing to take on a bit more while you’re at work.
- Major chores: Laundry, Vacuuming / sweeping, Dish
- washing, Grocery shopping, Cooking, Kitchen clean-up
- Minor chores (less often): Dusting, Washing sheets & bedding, Organization, Bathrooms
Also take this time to define how clean “clean” is to you. If your SO is a neat freak and you’re a bit of a slob, find an area to compromise. Perhaps your SO hates plates with stuck-on food, but doesn’t mind clothes on the floor. You don’t know until you ask. Talk it over!
Take time to set expectations of the independence you want to retain before moving in together. Do you have a girls night once a month that you don’t want to miss? Does he want to hit the bike trails on weekends? Talk over schedules, things you’re passionate about, and how to get it all done to avoid losing your personal identity.
- Hobbies: What hobbies do you participate in? Are the activities on certain days or times?
- Friends: Are there standing events you want to continue? How crucial are your friend relationships to you?
- Work Schedules: When do you like to wake up? Leave for the office? What time do you generally get home?
- Weekends: Do you plan to spend most of them together? Is one weekend-night dedicated for “Date Night”?
Most importantly, have fun and keep your communication open! Ask for feedback, share how you’re feeling, and enjoy yourselves. Before moving in together, have the intense conversations so you can sit back and relax after the moving boxes are unpacked!