Starting the Financial Conversation: Moving In
Five Things to Do Before You Move in Together
- TALK! Talk about your financial expectations in the relationship. Talk about how you are going to handle money. Who will pay for what? Will you split expenses fifty-fifty? Or according to how much each earns? Have you shared complete financial information? Or do you want to keep certain things private? (I would recommend an open book relationship.)
- Talk some more: Whose name is on the lease/mortgage? What will happen if someone loses his/her job? If one of you ends up moving out? Now is the time when you want to consider how to protect and care for each other, to consider a range of future scenarios, even those that seem remote.
- Frame your money conversation around how you will agree to protect and support the other in all ways — emotionally, physically, and financially — through your anticipated life transitions. It’s fair to also talk about what’s yours, but start with the easy stuff. Retreating into self-protection can set you up for a defensive response, closing off a conversation before it gets started. If you can stay open to listen to your intended, your conversation can reveal what you value.
- Educate yourself about how to share and/or protect assets with your partner. You may unwittingly create community property or a third party interest in separate property if you’re not careful. If you get married and later divorce, the time living together could be factored into what would be considered a meretricious/common law relationship.
- Find a facilitator, whether an attorney, or couples counselor, faith-based advisor or secular guide. An objective party can be helpful not only for the necessary financial conversation, but to help you communicate and manage other negotiations you will have as time goes by.
It can be difficult to have these conversations, but if money conflicts are at the root of the majority of couples’ crises, don’t you owe it to yourself to tackle the questions that will help you establish a strong foundation from the beginning?