|Managing your personal finances is difficult enough when you’re single, whether it’s simply balancing your checkbook or saving up for vacation. But once you add another person with additional expenses of his or her own, everything can double, from grocery lists and utilities to big-picture responsibilities. Living with another person, especially one you’re in a relationship with, requires a great deal of compromise.
When it comes to money, spending should be a team effort.
Rule of doubles
On average, women spend twice as much on everyday living expenses, beauty products and “nest egg” purchases, while men spend twice as much on entertainment and tech gadgets, travel expenses, and “luxury” restaurants.
In his article “Men and Women Spend and Save Differently” (Bankrate.com), Jay MacDonald discusses the different ways men and women view money, noting that, as consumers, women tend to be driven toward purchases that make their home more comfortable and welcoming.
“Women, trained to nurture and seek acceptance, view money as a means to create a lifestyle,” MacDonald writes. “Women spend on things that enhance day-to-day living. Theirs is a now-money orientation.”
Men, on the other hand, typically view their money as a means to support themselves and their families in the long run.
“Men, trained to fix and provide, view money as a means to capture and accumulate value,” MacDonald explains. “Men don’t spend, they invest. Men don’t want something, they need it. Theirs is a future-money orientation.”
Not every couple will have this dynamic from the start, but a healthy balance of now-money spending and future-money spending can help you manage your finances both short- and long-term.
Share Your expenses
Whether you currently live together or you’re gearing up to settle into a new home after the wedding, you will need to discuss your living expenses as a couple from here on out. If you haven’t already agreed upon a set system for mutual expenses in your shared home, start with the basics.
Make a list of your own monthly expenses, tally up the costs, and compare it with your partner. For a more precise total, it may be helpful to collect a month’s worth of receipts for food, toiletries, gas and any other everyday expenses, and gather your monthly bills for rent or mortgage and utilities. Once you have compared your lists, discuss how you can afford your expenses as a couple, rather than as two individuals.
If one person cannot financially contribute as much as the other, you may want to consider a system that delegates more domestic responsibility to that person in place of financial responsibility. If one of you tends to spend more on your home or on simple purchases like food, you may want to consider a system that delegates more saving responsibility to your partner in place of spending responsibility.
Whatever works best in your relationship, the most important thing is that you discuss it. Talking openly about money in terms of daily responsibilities will pave the way for future, more complicated discussions regarding your finances. It also can help you avoid the most inane fights about who used the last bit of toilet paper.