Moving in together with your partner is a big step in a relationship. It is also a big step in regards to finances. Moving in together can ease the burden on both of your wallets as household costs will more than likely be shared by both of you. Advance planning is necessary for a smooth transition.
Running a household can be expensive and there are many different factors to take into consideration. The first thing you need to figure out is whose name the utility bills are going to be under. Utility bills include water, heat, electric, and phone and cable service. If only one partner is on the lease, then his or her name will have to be on the utility bills. If both partners are on the lease, the utility bills can be in either name.
Splitting the cost of the bills is the usual way for unmarried partners. Each month, when the bills become due, both of you will split the total cost in half and one will be responsible for paying the bills. This requires attention to detail. Keep the bills where they are easily accessible so both partners can view the bill for themselves and keep track of expenses for the month.
Some partners choose to set up a joint checking account for the purpose of paying bills. Even with a joint checking account, it is always good to have only one person in the house handle the finances to prevent too many hands dipping into the proverbial pot. A joint checking account will allow both partners to keep an eye on the finances and track which expenses clear. One major bonus is that both partners have access to the account and can verify expenses and debits.
A joint checking account, however, is not for everyone. If you are not comfortable with this idea, then discuss alternate payment plans with your partner. You can always ask for your partner’s share of the bill when you sit down to pay them.
The only downfall to this is that your partner may not have the money readily available. If you do not have the money available to cover your partner’s share, you run the risk of paying the bill late and incurring penalties. Another potential problem is having a partner who does not pay their portion of the bill. In this case, it is important to have a discussion and work out a plan.
Moving in together is a big step and requires planning, especially in the area of finances. It is not necessary to combine incomes, but an adequate payment plan has to be set up to cover the rent and utilities. Both partners need to work together to successfully run the household finances.