Money Talk: Moving in With Him

Playing house requires making adult decisions – like not spending your rent at Sephora. Here’s what you need to do before taking the plunge.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel
Playing house requires making adult decisions – like not spending your rent at Sephora. Here’s what you need to do before taking the plunge.
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Shacking up can be as dreadful as it is delightful. While you’ll get to spend more time with that one person who makes you sickeningly happy, you’ll also have a host of new challenges to face. Whose house to move into? Who does what in the household? And more importantly, how will the bills be split? 

Nothing drowns out romance faster than conflicts over money. In fact, an anecdotal survey by HerworldPLUS in 2015 suggests that it’s the top reason why couples divorce in Singapore.

Financial issues are bound to crop up when you’re living together, so here are some tips for managing money before you call a moving van.

Talk it out

Money can be tricky to discuss, but if you’re going to commit to such a big merger, you’ve got to talk about how this arrangement is going to work out. Have an honest conversation about your respective attitudes towards money and what your financial goals are. Does he know how much you earn and vice versa? He should, especially when deciding how to split the bills and living expenses. Are you in debt? He has to know as well.

Since your lives are now also shared on a practical level, it’ll be helpful to set a maximum amount one person can spend without telling the other. While having to account to someone about your expenses can take a while to get used to, it will not only build trust, but also make you think twice the next time you want to splurge on something you don’t need. There’s no fun way to have a money talk, but it’s part of adulting. Sit down and have a serious discussion about finances – if some feelings were hurt, you can kiss and make up after.

Keep your own stash

Having a joint bank account is convenient as that’s where money for all shared expenses can come from, but as we never really know how things will work out, you should still maintain a separate account to protect yourself – the last thing you need is to have your money spent against your will. Many couples still retain individual accounts even after marriage, so if you haven’t tied the knot yet, it’d be wise to refrain from putting all your money with his. Besides, it’s much easier planning a surprise getaway for him if you’ve got your own pot of gold.

Note it in writing

A written cohabitation agreement can put an awkward calculative spin on the relationship, but it’s a wise move that will do lots to prevent future trouble. The document should state who’s covering the regular financial obligations – rent, utilities and groceries, among other things – in addition to other big future purchases, such as a house or car. 

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