Thinking about shacking up with your plus-one? It’s probably time to talk money. You don’t have to open a joint bank account if you’re not ready, but you do need to learn how to manage money jointly once you start sharing expenses. Sometimes it’s easier to learn from other people’s mistakes, so take a look at these common errors made by couples over money.
1. Skipping the Household Budget
When you’re in love, you see the world through rose-colored glasses – and this view may extend to your financial life. Being distracted by one another can lead to some dismal days at the end of the month, like, say, running out of money for rent.
When you move in together, you should sit down and figure out your budget as a couple. #Adulting. There are a lot of ways to do it, from splitting every expense down the middle to dividing up the bills by expense (I’ll take the utilities; you take the groceries) or proportionally (I make more, so I’ll pay 70% of the bills and you pay 30%). The method you choose isn’t as important as the act of sharing responsibilities and deciding who’s in charge of what.
2. Not Communicating About Your Cash
Ever notice how the biggest fights often start because you push off actually talking about an issue and then it just explodes? Money works like that, too. If you’re swimming along without regularly checking in about money, you’re likely in for an unpleasant surprise eventually. No – that 30-second conversation, in which you observed that “it seems like we’re doing fine” – does not count as checking in.
If you don’t think spending $750 on gadgets in one month is reasonable but your partner does, you’d better raise that pronto. And if you share a bank account, you both should normally know about how much is in there to avoid getting into trouble with an overdraft or bounced check. We suggest touching base at least once a month, but ideally, once a week. If you’re talking money often, the discussions can be quick and less painful overall.
3. Not Having a Common Goal
Couples that save together stay together. You’ll feel a real sense of accomplishment as a couple if you both contribute to a common cause, whether it’s a weekend getaway, a new car, or a down payment on a house. You don’t necessarily have to contribute equally if one of you is a stockbroker and the other a barista, but make sure the contributions feel fair.
Having a savings goal also ramps up the pressure to save faster – and that’s all for the good. When you get off on the right financial foot together, there’s nothing you can’t accomplish.