Living with another person can be a great way to save money. But while splitting expenses may cut down on your bills at the end of the month, it can lead to awkward conversations and misunderstandings over money.
So whether you just got a new roommate or you’re now living with your significant other, here are a few strategies for talking about money with those you live with:
Understand that everyone has a different personality and history with money. The first step toward financial compromise and finding common ground is to acknowledge that everyone is different with money. If you’re living with a roommate that grew up in a upper class household and never had to earn money growing up, he or she may treat her finances a lot differently than you do. One way to ease the tension between two people with different money personality types and backgrounds is to take a money personality quiz online. You can use that information to discuss how each of you view your finances.
Have a conversation about money when you’re both in a good mood. It’s easy to want to talk about important financial issues when a problem comes up, but you’re both probably going to be in the heat of the moment and say something you’ll regret. Plan to have a conversation about money when you’re both relaxed and ready to talk, not when either one of you are angry.
Come prepared. If you’re going to have a sit-down conversation with your significant other or roommate, ask that each of you do some homework and prep work beforehand. Write down what your goals are for your home, what financial concerns you have and what you anticipate your common expenses could look like. If you come into the conversation having given it some thought, you can more clearly articulate your needs and wants.
Come up with a system. If you’re living with someone for the first time and sharing finances, you’re bound to run into money problems and miscommunications. So before your mutual spending gets a little too crazy, you’ll want to come up with a system and some ground rules that you both agree on. Talk about how you want to split the electricity bill, how you plan to pay rent and how you’ll split up the costs for shared goods like paper towels and soap. Keep the conversation friendly but practical. And if things do fall apart financially between you two, you can always revisit the system and use that as the touchpoint for your discussion.
Remember that you have the same goals. If you’re living together, you probably have the same goals for living in a comfortable environment that meets your needs – regardless of whether or not you’re friends with your roommate or you’re madly in love with your significant other. If you keep this in mind – and you begin your conversations with this reminder for the other person as well – you can begin your money discussions from a very positive place.