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November 16, 2009

Cohabitation and Relationship – Part Six: Finances

They say that money is one of the biggest problems in relationships; not having enough, not having an equal portion, what to spend it on: it’s just a big problem! When you decide to combine your lives, you’re also deciding to combine your bills. Cell phone, home phone (if applicable), rent/mortgage, food, car payments, home repairs/purchases, credit cards, student loans, child support from previous relationships; the list can go on and on. If you and your partner are not upfront with each other about your financial situation before you move in, you could both be in for ugly surprises once you are living together, and it could seriously damage your relationship.

As uncomfortable as it may be, you need to sit down and look at how much your bills cost each of you, separately, each month. Where can you save money? Switching to a family plan for your cell phones could save you a little; bundling your cable/cell/home phone/internet is another option. Once you have established what your current costs are, discuss a budget: what do you need to buy, what do you want to buy, and what can you afford to buy? For every couple it will be different, find what works for you.

What did we do? We sat down together and took at look at everything, and then decided what we thought was fair. We each have a credit card, and are responsible to pay our own. My new cell phone (when I get it, next week hopefully) will be bundled into the cable/home phone/internet, which is split between us; same goes for the mortgage payment. Big purchases, such as when we bought the living room set, get put on his credit card since his limit is higher; we work out the payment between us as is feasible. He makes more money than I do, so right now he’s paying a bit more than I am. As our circumstances change (for example, I get a full-time job), we will rework the finances again. Nothing is set in stone, but it’s good to have goals. We are putting money away for the future, while taking care of what we need right now. I hate, hate, talking about money, but I’m glad we did; it helped make everything clear for us from the start.

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