Are you planning on moving in with your romantic partner, or perhaps already taken the plunge? No doubt it’s great fun tailoring your new nest to your Pinterest ‘dream homes’ board, but then there’s also the ‘less fun’ parts.

Like when your design plan is just starting to look like ‘something’, and the annoying little fella of joint-finances shows its head to complicate things. There’s his ratty furniture that absolutely needs to be replaced, and then there’s the matter of the kitchen garden you’ve always dreamed of… And what to do with that drum set?

Integrative counsellor and psychotherapist, Liz Gough warns that conflict surrounding finance can have an enormous impact on the health of a relationship. “It’s vital, from the very beginning, that couples are able to honestly discuss expectations, hopes and fears around money (and any existing issues or debts). This kind of early and open communication enables both parties to be on the same page from the start, vastly reducing the potential for future heartache."

Practical Tips for Creating a Joint Financial Strategy

Learning how to talk through the very personal, and generally tense topic of finance is obviously important, but definitely not easy. So, to help you tackle it with a productive and practical strategy, Life Coach, Christelle Kuhn offers the following practical tips.

  • Before taking the leap, it’s worth making doubly sure that it’s the ‘right next step’ for your relationship. Could it be that you’re mostly driven by reducing expenses, e.g. by sharing rent and cutting the costs of travelling to see each other? Once you’re living together and potentially even sharing in homeownership, it’ll be much more challenging to end the relationship. Many people continue relationships that no longer serve them because of the inconvenience of having to move out and the financial burden they might have to face, or cannot afford. 
  • Personality traits are not likely to change (even though they can, with effort), so it’s important not to go into the relationship believing that you’ll change the other person in some way. For example, if one person is very thrifty and the other is extravagant with their expenses, you might be steering towards a train wreck.
  • Even though you’re in the mood for fun and romance, it’s essential to begin the conversation about finances early on. The discussion should include each person’s income and how financial responsibilities will be split. A general approach might be to split the weight of expenses proportionally to each person’s income, so each person is left with a fair amount of disposable income.
  • Although you’re living together you’re still individuals, and you should keep your individuality. Joint accounts are not recommended, and as long as you contribute to your part of the household, you should agree that each of you can spend your disposable income on your own needs, hobbies, activities, etc.
  • Always make provision for unforeseen circumstances - each partner individually! If either of you loses your jobs, you should be able to cover your own expenses for at least 6 months, so you don’t become a burden on your partner while you’re looking for employment. New relationships are difficult enough to navigate without additional financial strain.
  • If you struggle to talk about finances sensibly, or emotions get in the way, it’s a great idea to approach a professional, like a life coach to help you facilitate the conversation.

Liz Gough adds the following:

  • To enable healthy and positive conversation about money, it’s vital that we understand that each one of us brings different financial wants and needs to a relationship, which may differ enormously depending on experiences and family culture. Money may be seen as a foundation for security, a symbol of success, or as a source or fear. Before looking to our partners, it’s good to consider our own financial concepts carefully. What do you need? What do you want? What’s the difference between those things? Then take the time to understand one another’s ideas and hopes, to really listen and develop compassion for each other’s thoughts and feelings. From this place, shared aims and expectations can form. 

Live and Learn

As you’re working towards creating a joint-financial strategy, take heart in knowing that you’re probably not going to get it right from the start. Relationships, and relational finance, are active and evolving, and the goal is to help each other grow into better versions of yourself, instead of arriving at ‘happily-ever-after’ from day one. 

As long as you keep your financial independence (the infamous ‘fuck off fund’?), you have the bitter-sweet of experience to look forward to, instead of the bitterness of

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