When it comes to serious relationship questions that have been depicted in rom-coms for decades, "Do you want to live together" certainly seems to be up there with, "Will you marry me?" But after the butterflies and excitement about new relationship transitions pass, you might notice some questions to ask your partner about money that begin to come to mind.
After daydreaming about the perfect apartment, or scrutinizing over what color bedspread you and your boo should get, there may be a few topics of discussion that aren’t super fun nor easy to address — but are necessary all the same. From gas bills to internet providers, to discussing how to split the rent, money can be a grey cloud amongst the sunshine of excitement that living with your partner creates. But it doesn’t have to be!
A shared living space means your boo is going to see you all the time. Like, no makeup, rolling on the floor of the bathroom with your tights half way down your legs after the new sushi-burrito fusion place gave you food poisoning, all the time. With that type of openness, a shared living space means conversations about money demand the same amount of transparency. But don’t sweat it — through communication about your monetary goals and financial wellness, love truly can conquer all.
Here are seven questions to consider asking your partner about money before you shack up:
1How can we make talking money less stressful/more comfortable?
No matter your upbringing, money can be stressful to talk about. If you and your partner are going to be living together, navigating rent and bills will become an inevitable part of home-sweet-home.
In order to insure that you’re having productive and honest money talks, you may want to check in regularly with your partner about how you’d both like to discuss money. If you know it makes you nervous or causes stress, find out ways that your partner can support you.
Whether it’s establishing that your relationship is a judgment-free zone, or scheduling specific times to talk about money and never bringing it up spontaneously, discovering what you both need to feel supported and able to be authentic and open about money cam be the first step in really breaking down the bills.
2What are our money boundaries/priorities?
Are there aspects of your finances that you are not willings to talk about? What are the expenses that you are not willing to compromise on?
Establishing your money boundaries is paramount when finding financial harmony with your partner before moving in together. If you know what your boundaries are or what things you cannot live without, establishing that first step can help configure your budget and direct your conversations.
3Do you have a "safety net?"
I get it — money stuff can be deeply personal and private, and can be difficult to disclose to anyone. But if you’re sharing bills with your boo, it may be beneficial to disclose what you are and aren’t paying for, as well as whether or not you’re living paycheck to paycheck.
There is no shame in being financially supported, having occurred a large savings account from working odd jobs, or to have zero money in a 401K. Honestly, there’s no need to publicly broadcast where your money comes from and how much you currently have. There is, however, a demand for authenticity and honesty within your relationships, especially when moving in together.
Being honest about finances can mean opening up about your relationship with money, past and present. Whether or not your ready to disclose that, talk it out with your partner in a judgment-free setting.
4What is your spending style?
Do you like to save up for one nice thing over time? Do you spend $12 every time you enter a dollar store? Knowing you and your boo’s spending styles can help breakdown how you’re going to manage rent and bills.
This can also help to establish your priorities when it comes to spending. If your boo is a total sneaker-head or you love going to live shows, that knowledge may help to allocate your income each month, before rent is due.
Of course, knowing each other’s spending styles can help when creating healthy boundaries around money. Some examples can include: No judgment about how much makeup I buy, or purchases over $200 need to be discussed. When in doubt, talk it out!
5What are your splurges?
Do you like to have the fancy toilet paper, but don’t care about what kind of shampoo you use? Is it essential that all your food is organic?
Establishing what you like to splurge on and what you like to save on can provide a glimpse into your boo’s spending style and can help inform, you guessed it, healthy boundaries when it comes to money.
Knowing what your monetary priorities are, where you’re willing to cut costs, and where you demand to go all out, can help you both to find your money zen.
6What are our expenses?
It may seem like a basic question, but sitting down and establishing how much you both make and what expenses you both have is no small task. If you have, say, student loans, credit card debt, children, or an ill family member that you take care of, your expenses may look completely different.
Case-in-point: Being honest and authentic about what you need to spend money on can help determine some financial common ground.
7What do we both make and what makes sense for us?
Depending on your combined incomes, what works for you and your relationship may look different from other couples. Maybe you pay rent and your partner pays utilities. Perhaps your partner’s family pays for both rent and utilities. Maybe you’ve both decided to split it down the middle, 50/50.
Being transparent about what you and your partner are able to contribute (note: This is different from what you literally make or how much money you have) is a key aspect of financial harmony. Being clear about how much money you are able to contribute to rent, food, and utilities can make sure you’re living within your monetary comfort zone.
If you and your boo are thinking of shacking up, talking about money can be an important first step. Establishing the best ways to have healthy conversations, understanding that money can be a stressful and sensitive topic, and being honest about what your each can contribute, are all important practices. Maybe love can’t pay the bills, but an open dialogue about finding financial equity can surely combat some spending stress.
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