It's All About the Benjamins: Managing Money and Your Relationship

Chris and I moved in together two years ago this month, and that fact kind of blows my mind. How did we get so old? Seriously. When we first moved in together, I was pretty nervous we might kill each other over who takes the garbage out, who leaves their crap on the bedroom floor, and things of that nature. I was pleasantly surprised to find that household duties are easily split up, and we’re both about equal on the slob scale (somewhere between sloppy pig and nuclear bomb). But the thing they don’t tell you about moving in with a significant other is that you’re going to have to talk about money.

To me, money is a dirty word when it comes to relationships. Actually, I think money is just a dirty word in general. I don’t like trying to negotiate money at work, I don’t like talking to my mom about how much I’m saving or not saving (I try, okay?), and I don’t like talking to my friends about how much I (don’t) make. To me, talking about money is about as comfortable as walking into a room of strangers with your dress over your head. Probably okay if you’re drunk, otherwise no. Just no.

But when you live with someone, share expenses, and don’t have a ton of money, you have to talk about what you’re working with. Chris and I have gotten some of our finances down to a science. For instance, he pays the rent, then I write him a check for my half. Done. But we’re still working the kinks out of some of the financial stuff. I’m the one who does most of the grocery shopping, so I’ll buy the groceries and then he’ll reimburse me. But when you’re going to the store once a week (we like to eat, okay?) those receipts get confusing and that amount of money shuffling can be overwhelming. It was getting to the point where someone always owed someone money. Very Sopranos-esque. Bad news. Lots of broken knee caps. Stupid joke. Moving on.

To take care of this problem, my ever-wise mom (seriously, smartest lady ever) suggested opening a joint checking account just for expenses we share. Originally when I heard this idea I heard squealing brakes in my head. JOINT CHECKING ACCOUNT!? But that’s for…for…married people! We’re young and fun. We don’t do that. Then I realized it was actually a great idea. Instead of paying for something then waiting for him to give me money (or vice versa), I can just take the money from the joint account that we both contribute to. The account will strictly be for groceries. No buying of DVDs or concert tickets with this money. Both parties understand this and we trust each other to use the account for good not evil. It’ll be good because now no one will feel like he/she is taking on all the financial responsibilities of the apartment, and we won’t spend two hours every Sunday trying to figure out who owes who what.

As long as we both agree that the account is only for groceries and we put in equal amounts, we will be good to go. We can also have money automatically deducted from our paychecks, so we’re guaranteed a certain amount of money each month to spend on groceries. Good stuff. I’m excited to get started with this solution. I know a joint checking account sounds scary at first, but if you’re trying to balance finances with your significant other it may be a good solution for you too. Have you tried it? How did it work?

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  1. I always wondered how couples living together managed spending their money on groceries! I’m looking to move in with my boyfriend (hopefully) within the next few months, so I loved reading this.

    • ljmlevine says:

      Hi Rachel,
      Thanks for the nice comment! I think this system is going to be a lot better for us. The constant check-writing and cash-giving was getting out of control! We both agreed that this checking account is just for groceries, and won’t have much money in it and we both have access to it with a debit card. I’ll make sure to post an update. Good luck with the move! If I can offer advice or help in any way, e-mail me whenever! Moving in with a boyfriend is definitely an adjustment, but it’s a lot of fun!

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