The art of sharing finances

BF and I moved in together in August 2010. Technically, he moved into my condo. I like to think of it as our place now (and I’m sure he does too), but the reality is if we broke up, this would still be my place, not his.

So, moving in together meant navigating our finances to some degree. Here’s what we agreed on:

  • He pays me $500 in rent per month
  • We split our food/shared toiletries/household stuff 50/50
  • Certain improvements (like replacing our broken microwave and buying an extra bookshelf) are also split 50/50
  • He covers the extra channels he ordered from Rogers and he pays for half of HBO/TMN charges, which works out to be about $17/month
  • Sometimes I put gas in his car, since I get to borrow it when I need to go outside T.O. (or when it’s gross out and I’m lazy and I’m going to the movies at the Varsity)
  • We share entertainment costs pretty evenly; sometimes we treat each other

Some of you may be thinking that $500 to live in a condo in Liberty Village is pretty cheap. It definitely is. It costs me about $1900/month for my mortgage, property taxes, condo fees, hydro, and telephone/TV/internet. However, I do make a bit more than him. And, as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, it’s ultimately my place, so I’m the one with the safety net. So $500 seemed fair to me.

Plus, part of the agreement is that he put that money into the shared savings account we opened when he moved in. On top of that, he puts in another $500 each month. This is our nest egg for a new, bigger place (with the man room he insists on having). I asked why does he get a room just for him? His response: The rest of the house would be yours. Point taken.

We’ve saved a total of $8,469.76 since September. We should be at $9,000, but we had to replace our microwave because the handle broke, and it was going to cost over $200 to fix. A family member works for a high end appliance company so we got an amazing deal on an over the range microwave, and we decided to buy it now, rather than wait until we moved. This way we get to enjoy our purchase. I was also sick of looking my makeshift solution to the broken microwave: a duct taped handle. We also bought a bookshelf/side table thing from West Elm, to hold some of our books.

Since everything that goes into the account is 50/50, if the relationship ended, we could split the money in the account. When it comes to all the other little bills, he usually owes me money (I do more of the grocery shopping) so he pays down a portion of one of my bills, like my credit card.

We still have our own personal accounts, and we focus on our personal saving too. We try to talk about money every so often, because I know money can be a BIG source of problems in relationships. I also love to talk about money, and there’s not too many people you can do that with in our current culture (except online, of course!).

Eventually we’ll do more financial merging. In the meantime, this works pretty good for us.

Young and Thrifty wrote a great post a few months ago on the pros and cons of joint and shared accounts, so if you are contemplating your own financial situation with a significant other, you should definitely check it out. Ultimately it comes down to personal preference, and what works best for your particular situation, but communication is the key, as Young and Thrifty points out.

A quick update on the broken closet – it turns out that even grown ups need parents sometimes. I’m hoping we can fix it this weekend with the help of my mom and step dad.

How do you and your partner handle shared expenses/savings/etc and why? Do you have any tips to share on what works and what doesn’t work for you?

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2 Responses to The art of sharing finances

  1. Thanks for your mention Daniela!

    My boyfriend’s sister has the same situation- her fiance is living in her condo and he pays her $1000 month rent per month.

    I’m not sure if you know (and perhaps you already have a co-hab agreement in place) but if it shows that he is contributing to your mortgage (e.g. pays rent) then he is entitled to a portion of your home if you break up and if you live together for one year (I believe). If he pays you in cash, that might be fine as there’s no paper trail.

    I have a post on this that goes into more detail http://youngandthrifty.ca/relationships-money/cohabitation-agreements-and-living-together-common-law-what-you-need-to-know/

    • Obsessive Compulsive Daniela says:

      I was actually talking to someone about this today and they said the same thing about the cohabitation agreement. We don’t have one at the moment. The optimist in me says that it’s not necessary, but the realist says I should look into it. Thanks for the info, it’s something we will definitely consider.

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