Here's what you should do about money before you move in with your partner - according to people who have done it

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You’re in love. You’re so happy. You can’t believe you’re with this amazing person who you want to spend all your time with and you want to plan your future with them.

But sleepovers at each other’s places are getting a bit much and half of your underwear collection is at their place and you can’t find your favourite pair of earrings. It’s making your life a bit chaotic.

Or you just really want to live with the person you feel closest to and want to spend more time with them. 

But what does all that mean? This is quite serious, right? So how do you prepare for it? You’re merging your life, possibly pets and your prized possessions together so it’s a pretty big deal.

We spoke to Mariette Tappan, a financial adviser at Liberty, to give us some tips on navigating through the process of moving in with your love. 

READ MORE: This easy-to-follow savings plan helped me save up for my dream holiday!

These are a few of her tips for couples:

  • Determine and divide your physical responsibilities from day one.
  • Plan way in advance, before moving in together (establish each other’s needs, costs, and budgets).
  • Ask family to assist with old stuff you no longer use and request that your birthday gifts include the household things you still need so you can save in the long run.
  • Avoid spending lots of money on household basics that can be obtained in a different way (buy second hand furniture and appliances).
  • Develop strong communication skills in the relationship in order to develop better coping mechanisms to manage financial challenges.
  • During the first few months they have to communicate regularly about sticking to the budget and what your responsibilities are towards the finances and what you agreed to.

Great advice, but we also thought some real life experiences and responses from people who've already moved in with their partners would also have some great tips.

READ MORE: "Our childhood home was repossessed - now I'm a homeowner at 29"

Cathryn 

She's been with her husband for about 12 years now, but she still has some great advice for those who are thinking of moving in with their partners. Here’s what she says:

“Well this is going back now, but when we moved in together my then boyfriend (now hubby) had JUST started working and I was very aware it was his first time having real disposable income. 

“As I was already in my place and I was the one driving us to live together, I proposed us sharing expenses like food and telephones etc, but that I would pay the rent (as I was going to pay this anyway). 

“We signed our prenup last week and we will continue to maintain separate estates and live this way when we're married. It works for us”

“I can't remember how long we did this for but when it became clear we were settled [on] living together, and that this was clearly going to be a permanent thing, we started splitting the rent as well. I suspect it was when we moved into a bigger flat together (our first major joint decision). 

“We have been keeping spreadsheet of monthly expenses since forever (we still use it today) to make sure expenses are split equitably. However since we bought a home it's become largely academic as all our money goes into the bond and we share everything equally (so yes, he is subsidising my frivolous purchases every now and then). The spreadsheet is now a reminder of when and what to pay and to track our savings, rather than to make sure we are splitting things 50/50”

READ MORE: 4 important money questions you should never be afraid to ask

Is there anything that Cathryn wishes she knew before they moved in together?

“Perhaps that space would be at a premium? But I am so fortunate to have literally the most considerate and level-headed partner in the world. So it was such an easy transition for us both. We were very young though so hadn't developed too many selfish habits (I don't mean that derogatorily - I just mean we hadn't experiencing living on our own and being set on things our way). We still sometimes disagree on minor things like how much toilet paper to buy in one go, but really it's so mundane it doesn't even register on the argument scale!”

“A solid relationship includes discussions about money, because if this is not discussed, it can lead to tension and misunderstanding that will cause a lot of imbalance in the relationship."

Tallulah 

About to get married to her long term partner, this is what she shared with us:

“Graham and I are very abnormal I think. We keep entirely separate budgets. We divided household expenses so that I pay for half the stuff (rent, Netflix, Google music and groceries) and he pays for the other half (everything else). 

“My parents always had money issues growing up so I know I can be weird when it comes to other people having access to my money. This way he can buy whatever he likes (games or takeout or whatever) and so can I and we don't get in each other’s way unless someone can't pay their bills, which has never happened. 

“The weird part is that we actually split groceries even when we go shopping together (the tellers are often amused/confused). He pays for the stuff that's just for him (toiletries and gluteny things, and for some reason drain cleaner which somehow became his thing), I pay for the rest.

“We signed our prenup last week and we will continue to maintain separate estates and live this way when we're married. It works for us”

READ MORE: Is your cash crashing? Here are 11 tips to help you set financial goals

Our expert, Mariette, also agrees that it is very important to keep a track of your finances when you’ve decided to live together:

“Keeping a budget is absolutely important but keeping to it is critical - including a 3 month buffer. People spend more than they earn in general because of the euphoria but when reality hits home it is quite devastating.”

Mariette also agrees that talking about your finances is very important for a good relationship. “A solid relationship includes discussions about money, because if this is not discussed, it can lead to tension and misunderstanding that will cause a lot of imbalance in the relationship.  

“Normally people don’t discuss financial issues because they are defensive about their income and protective of their financial status. It is normally a taboo topic and most people are not always honest about their hidden money. Rather have a separate OUR account. Depending also on our backgrounds and personalities, some people might find it easy to disclose their financial status and others may not.”

Talking about money might be an issue, but it’s important to understand your partner’s financial situation. So make sure you and your partner have a good talk and really get down to business with drawing up a budget and a set of rules that works for you.

Moving in together seems all lovely and sunshine and roses at first, and you’re excited to wake up next to your lover every morning, but not dealing with the adult stuff will come back to bite you in the butt.

Do you live with your partner? How did you sort out your finances when you decided to live together? Tell us about it.  

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