Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Couples, Money, and Moving: Just a Thought

I just had a great idea, and I wish K and I had done this for our moving-in process (I guess there's still time, actually...maybe I'll discuss it with him). We've bought a ton of little, under-$20 kinds of things: drawer organizer, doorstop, shelf extender, skillet, curtains, etc., not to mention the big Ikea run we did, and it's really been difficult to keep track of the money side of it--who owes whom what. Next time around, what I'd do is this: at the outset, go halfsies on a gift card to the store where you do the bulk of your shopping (Bed Bath & Beyond, Target, Home Depot, wherever). That way, when someone needs to pick something up, they just take the gift card and go, and no accounting is necessary.

But our new place is starting to look really beautiful! I'm almost ready to invite people over for a housewarming party (not that more than 15 people will be able to fit at the same time...), and I do think that spending some money to get moved in comfortably and in an aesthetically pleasing way has been worth it. (Remind me I said that when I have to dip into savings to pay my credit card bill.)


Anonymous said...

You could just get a VISA or Amex gift card and then you could use it anywhere!

That is a great Idea. When my friends and I travel we all put an equal amount into a huge manilla envelope and we keep track of expenses on the outside of it (taxi fares, a pizza we share, hotel rooms, etc).

It works out well! And then at the end you can divide out the left over money.

Madame X said...

That is a great idea-- so is Penny's about the Visa or Amex gift card. Perfect for traveling or going out to eat or any other little couple expenses that you want to keep equal...

.d. said...

When the boy and I moved in together, we opened a joint checking account. Now we each put in the same amount of money each month and use it for rent, utilities, groceries, and Ikea trips... it's worked out quite well for us.

diningoncents said...

have you and your bf always tried to keep everything this equal? my bf and i never kept track of money in that manner. we simply just keep a running tally in our heads (or a good guess) and see who has the money to pay at that particular time. as for bills, he pays rent (all utilities included) and i take care of groceries and most of our eating out which is hardly ever. i'm just curious about other couples & how they care for their finances.

Jen said...

I'm with .d, wondering if you've considered the joint checking account idea (though the gift card idea is a great way to do some short term finance sharing!)

My boy and I moved in together last fall and decided to open a joint checking and joint savings account. All of the money that goes in to each of these accounts is meant to go out eventually (the savings is simply for shared vacations, etc). Weekly, we each contribute a set amount according to our income (it's about 60/40, I am the higher earning partner ... it was also important to us that we each save about the same amount over what each of us was paying individually). We each have a debit card and use this account to pay for rent and utilities, groceries, eating out/going out together, and pet care. We still pay all our individual bills our of our personal accounts (car, insurance, cell phone, clothes, eating out alone ...)

I LOVE the way this has worked out for us. No more awkward "who is going to pay this time" at the store or restaurant ... plus if b/f wants to be a "guy" and pay every time at the restaurant it's fine because I know it's been split fairly in advance.

There is some risk involved with having a shared account ... I suppose he could run off with all our money, but because it is all meant to be spent on regular, recurring expenses not all that much money is actually kept there. Also, even though we are not married (though we plan to be eventually) it reinforces that we are partners working towards a shared goal.

A lot of these ideas came from the book "Shaking Up: The Smart Girl's Guide to Living in Sin Without Getting Burned". A humorous and informative read, my local library even had a copy!

Jen said...

oops ... that book is "Shacking Up ..." (not shaking up ... that would be something different)

Kim said...

The Boy and I are not living together, nor are we at the combining-finances stage, but I like Jen's idea. I had always thought that when it gets to "that point in the relationship," opening up a joint account for shared expenses, with contributions going in relative to income, would be a good idea. The Boy would have to do the math on that one, but it seems logical to me.

When will we get to see pictures of the new place?! :-)

Money Maus said...

Great idea, EM! The other ideas by those who have commented are fantastic, too. Good luck with finishing up the move!

eking out said...

As I've said before, I'm going through the exact same thing right now. I just moved in with my boyfriend last month, and we've been keeping a running tally of who pays for what, but it's still so difficult. I get Lean Cuisines for lunch, for example, which he shouldn't have to pay for, but I shouldn't have to pay for his deoderant and beef jerkey. It's hard not to get caught up in those little details, and it makes me not want to deal with it.

Bryan said...

That really is a great idea. Gift cards are a simple way of blocking expenditures and allotting money to use for certain purposes (could be used for fast food, groceries, movies, etc). Keeping track of little expenses are, as eking out points out, irritating, but well worth it in the end.

Musical Chairs said...

Gift cards are the way to go, and online freebies/giveaways. Even little things like free Ringtones Every little bit helps, and comfort is key!

SJ said...

we did the joint checking/savings thing, while keeping our own independent ones, and established a set amount to contribute each month. We also got one credit card together and used that for "joint" purchases - it saved a lot of accounting. 6 yrs, marriage and 2 kids later, it's all combined, but having that joint acct for the first few years and still our separate accts allowed for a lot of learning about each other's habits.

Motorokr said...

ouch! Dipping into savings always sucks!

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