It’s no secret that financial planning, spending habits, and debt management directly impact your choices, lifestyle, and relationships. Specifically, when it comes to finances and dating, there are many gray areas about what is good financial practice and what could potentially end up being a relationship dealbreaker. 

If you are ready to take that next step and live with a significant other while dating or preparing for engagement, it’s important that you discuss your financial goals both personally and as a couple. By taking some time to review these common yet critical pieces of financial advice prior to cohabitating with a significant other, you can avoid some major issues in your relationship when it comes to financial management. 

Prioritize regular communication 

In general, to have a successful relationship, it’s very important that you communicate well. When it comes to dating and finances, it’s imperative to be open and honest about your financial goals so that you can be respectful of each other’s needs. If you’re interested in finding an apartment in the lower price range to allow you to afford other things such as travel, vacations, dining out, and other luxuries, you should communicate that to your partner. In the same sense, on the opposite end, you should also communicate if your preference is to invest money in a more extravagant and high-end home. Discussing your interests, preferences, likes, and dislikes should be an opportunity to bond and learn more about each other and not the cause of stress. Moving into an apartment together requires a lot of planning and preparation. It’s not a change that should be taken lightly as moving costs add up more than you’d think. It is important to regularly discuss these things so that you can continue to build your connection and avoid misinterpretation about what the other wants in the months of transition ahead.  

Share personal and professional financial goals 

In addition to preferences regarding your residence, it’s also necessary to discuss your personal financial goals and what they look like – whether you hope to pay off debt, go back to school, change jobs, or save up to invest your money in a future home. No matter what your plans are, it’s in your best interest to communicate that to your significant other and have regular conversations when it comes to your financial endeavors. 

If you prefer to keep financial conversations with your significant other to a minimum, consider scheduling a specific time to check in with each other to see if plans have changed or finances need to be reallocated. This way you can make sure you’re aligned but won’t feel the pressure to constantly ask one another how you each want to spend your money. Scheduled discussions can allow for freedom and flexibility, yet concurrent intentional financial management. 

Live in the moment but prepare for the unexpected 

If there is one significant takeaway from this past year, it is that nothing should be taken for granted and life can truly be unpredictable. Although this has always been true, the world has seen the way life can change in an instant, how we can all unexpectedly experience economic hardship, and how financial turmoil is not something to take lightly. In order to allow yourself to spend more time enjoying life in the present and feel less worried about the future, it’s important to be financially prepared. 

It’s a good idea to look into the cost of life insurance and consider securing a policy before making any major life transitions. It will be responsible and affordable to maintain coverage earlier on in your adulthood, especially if your goal is to buy a home in the future or start a family. Doing so allows you to lock in lower rates while you are young and healthy and gain peace of mind knowing your finances are protected even if an unexpected situation occurs. 

Discuss shared expenses 

When it comes to co-renting your apartment with a significant other, understand that not everything needs to be a split cost. When you do not have to worry about children, a mortgage, or mutual investments, it is always an option to maintain separate savings accounts and differing spending habits without creating any issues. Discuss with your significant other any expenses you plan to share and what you intend to keep separate. For example, you might cook together and therefore agree to split grocery costs. On the other hand, if one of you likes to go out to dinner with friends a few times a week and charge it to your credit card, you should be mindful that the restaurant change might not be included in your regular grocery expenses. Being clear with each other should not be stressful, but instead, facilitate a connection to avoid gray areas or arguments down the road.

It’s likely that you’ll plan to split expenses such as rent, WiFi, cable, streaming services, electricity, etc. On the other hand, if one of you is responsible for paying the cable bill and WiFi and the other is covering rent, make sure you both investigate all accumulated costs and ensure that you are both in agreement with what you each plan to cover each month. Again, communication is key and the more intentional you are about your preparation, the less likely you will end up arguing or stressed about finances. 

Create some general cohabitating financial rules 

Creating general boundaries and rules for co-renting should also go along with your financial responsibilities and bill agreements. Of course, you will want to purchase new items for your new apartment, meaning you will have to decide how to cover these costs. Will shared items be split 50-50 or will they be purchased on a case-by-case basis depending on who will use the item and how often? Typically, high ticket purchases should be discussed ahead of time. Expensive furniture such as a new bed, couch, kitchen table, or high-end appliances should potentially be a split cost and therefore such purchases should be a mutual decision. 

Upon moving into a new apartment, you may potentially be gifted items, furniture, or property. It may be important to decide who would keep such items if you and your partner were to split up for any reason. These types of conversations can be tricky and particularly fun, however, it’s helpful to get them out of the way early on so there are no surprises in the future. Being open and honest with one another can actually help build trust and establish your commitment to each other. Don’t avoid financial conversations because you fear they might come across as selfish or materialistic. Discussions of finances are part of your future planning process. If you intend to be with a partner long term, it’s healthy to start having these conversations before moving into a home, starting a family, and fully committing to shared finances. 

Taking the steps to move in with your significant other is an exciting experience and a time of great transition and growth. Although it can be easy to get wrapped up in the planning process, it’s also important to take your shared finances seriously. By discussing financial goals with your significant other and communicating about the ways you plan to handle these issues while co-renting together, you can avoid potential downfalls and dedicate your positive energy to the excitement of the shared opportunity.