Moving in with your partner represents an enormous step in your relationship. Whether that step is forward or backward depends on how well you get along, but you've chosen this person for a reason. You see a future with them, and you're ready to show your commitment with matching keys.
Before you live happily ever after, there's something you'll need to address – shared finances. You'll have to master the basics of money management within the context of your new apartment, with all the complexities involved in coordinating cash.
It's no simple task, but we've compiled some actionable advice to guide you in the right direction. You'll find that finances are a nonissue when you account for them.
When it comes to preventing issues, a simple conversation is often all that's necessary. Sit down with your significant other to determine the details of your arrangement, making mutually beneficial decisions as you listen to their concerns. Whatever problems they might have, you can tackle them together.
You should begin with an overview of which expenses you're going to share. Most couples split the cost of their weekly groceries, utility bills and rent. As you move through different items, work toward finding an equal balance where neither person feels like they're paying more or less than the other.
After you've outlined shared expenses, it's time to proceed to your personal ones. You can choose from any one of a dozen different programs and apps to assist you in budgeting, and it's critical you don't exceed your limit. Spending money you don't have will cost you in many different ways.
According to a 2016 study, 88 percent of millennials claimed their financial decisions caused tension in their relationship with their significant other. With that statistic in mind, set aside cash for haircuts, gas, clothes and other items. You don't want to ask your partner for money if you don't need to.
You shouldn't rely on your memory to store all the financial agreements you've made with your partner. Use a laptop or notepad to document how much you've contributed to shared expenses, maintaining records you can reference in the future. This holds each of you accountable for your own spending.
Even a seemingly insignificant receipt can prove useful down the line. If you're arguing over who purchased what or the sum of money they paid, all you have to do is return to your neatly organized files to find the answer. It leaves no room for interpretation, and your evidence can effectively end the dispute.
To sustain the trust you and your partner share, you can't hide anything from them. This includes debt, savings, obligations and your long-term financial goals. In response to your transparency, they'll feel comfortable sharing the same sensitive information with you, and you'll build from there.
A relationship can't survive with secrets, especially if they pertain to personal finances. Even if the truth is difficult or embarrassing, put everything out in the open and have faith your partner will accept you. It's a solid litmus test to see if they're the right person for you.
As you make the transition from your former living space to a shared apartment, you'll experience an incredible range of emotions – from excitement and happiness to anxiety and doubt. You might begin to feel hesitant about your choice, and that sensation is perfectly natural. It's human nature.
Just know as you continue, smart money management makes a happy couple. Invest in each other, and you'll be able to work any awkward finance issues out.
Holly Welles is a real estate writer and the editor behind The Estate Update, where she shares tips on making the most of any space. Her work can be found on Homes.com, Porch and other places around the web.