(Love + cohabitation) + money = total disaster?

My gentlemanfriend is moving in soon, and I am freaking the f**k out (FTFO, as I’m reclaiming it).

I’m not FTFO because I don’t love this guy. Because I do. Clearly. Or he wouldn’t be moving in to the home I’ve safeguarded from all male influence for several years. In fact, cohabitation with a man has only happened the following number of times in my entire lifetime:

0.3*

I am FTFO, because of money. I know – from countless people reassuring me – that my life will be “easier” with someone to share the load. I’m not worried about him as a contributor since he’s gainfully employed and also a hard-worker. What I’m worried about is how we’re going to manage our money.

My parents married when they were both 22 years old, and then they built a financial life together. In 1971**, you started from nothing and made it into something. Together. With two incomes. My mom worked outside the home, as did most of the moms I knew. She even supported my dad during his last year of university with her $350/month secretarial job. There was no “her money” or “his money”, only “our money” – no matter who earned it.

In 2012, you have to prove yourself as an individual before you are deemed long-term partnership material. By the time most people are “ready” to marry, they come with a home, a car, a career, some savings (hopefully) and a lot of debt (unfortunately).

This makes no sense.

I’m not condoning child-brides – which at 122 lbs. my mother obviously was – but I am a bit mystified at the way our culture works now. How do two adults with lives already built bring those two lives together? It’s like trying to attach your house to your neighbours’ and then expecting to live in total harmony.

My 30-year-old gentlemanfriend, who has next to no financial responsibilities, is partnering up with a 33-year-old woman with many, many, (many) financial responsibilities. I’ve had a job since I was 12, and I’ve NEVER had to answer to a single human being about how I spend my money, just as neither has he, since he’s also never really lived with a romantic partner.

Oh ya, and did I mention he HATES talking about money? That he openly shudders when the subject comes up because he believes it’s a rude conversation topic? Meanwhile, I am baring my financial soul to the entire World Wide Interweb (or at least the people nice enough to click on my homepage).

How are we supposed to make this work? No, really…how? I have no answers. Please offer your advice as to what’s worked and what’s bombed for you. I need help so this shit doesn’t hit the proverbial fan, because did I also mention I really, really love this guy?

~ HS

*I lived with my daughter’s father for about three months, and it didn’t go so well. I spent most nights at my parents’ house. Hence, the 0.3 number. It represents, in mathematical terms, just how dedicated both he and I were to this particular scenario. 

**That’s the year my parents decided to marry, and they stand by their decision to this day. Seriously incedible. If I had to stick with the decisions I made when I was 22 years old, I’d be a pink-haired poet living in abject poverty in the Northwest Territories with a guy who sells weed for the Hell’s Angels and plays Call of Duty 12 hours a day. Uh, no thanks. 

Photo:Dreamstime Images

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5 thoughts on “(Love + cohabitation) + money = total disaster?

  1. Cordell says:

    I am so using FTFO now. Where has that abbreviation been all my life?
    Part of the problem with financial fusion is the realization that NO ONE comes with equal obligations in terms of debt, childcare, or house care. When I first decided to mesh bank accounts with my significant other I had virtually no debt, several thousand dollars in savings, and no significant bills to pay each month. He, on the other hand, had thousands of dollars in student loans, significant bills each month, and no savings.
    Part of learning to love someone is accepting that what happens to them financially happens to you, and that it is in the best interest of both parties to get debt paid off faster and savings accumulated. By treating both of your incomes as a single entity you’d be surprised how well everything just kind of… flows.
    For us the most important thing was assigning one particular person to manage the finances, including setting the budget, paying the bills, and communicating to the other person what is going on. It saves you the hassle of two people trying to make sense of a few pieces of paper. You can switch off if that’s what would make the situation more “balanced,” but having one person handle the finances just makes everything clearer.
    At the end of the day, once all of the bills have been paid, groceries bought, and savings put away, then you can decide how much each person has to spend. Taking in to account of course that you have a child that you need to buy misc. items for.
    I could go on for days, but essentially communication is key.

  2. Erin says:

    Tell me about it… when I first moved in with my LL(Latin Lover) I used to freak out about splitting everything. If we bought a box of juice for $1.33, I would panic, saying that we have to make sure we add this to our expenses and split the cost!! What a lamo… After several months of my LL trying to convince me that all will even out in the end, I realized he was right. Every month we do our expense of what each has spent and sure enough it almost always evens out that we both spent the same. And when my car needed some tune ups recently and I had a freak out that it was so much money, he said without hesitation that we will split it because its all the same. And if something happens to his car one day, we can split that, so it will all even out in the end. What a beauty! Moving in with someone can be tricky. But for sure talking openly about money is key. And make an effort to make it even so that one person does not end up with all the burden. Keep it even in relation to what each person earns. The one who earns more should pay more of the bills.

  3. Karolyn says:

    We put everything together because we trust each other. All major purchases are run by each other, not out of obligation or control but rather out of respect. I also like that we keep each other in check. Maybe I don’t really need that new pair of shoes! And there are things he concludes that may be an impulse purchase. In a previous relationship we did things opposite and all parts of it failed, miserably, I might add. He was a control freak and I wouldn’t give in to him controlling my finances. Now, I would totally let my husband take the reigns but he doesn’t desire to control me. Equal contributions and mutual respect. It totally works.
    KG

  4. Rebekah says:

    My income has been sliced to not-so-many hundreds a week since I went on maternity leave. When my husband and I were both bringing home bacon of comparable quality, we allowed or finances to even themselves out at the end of the month. Now that my bacon comes from the discount shelf, we are looking at prorating our monthly contributions to bills based on our individual earnings. If I am making half as much as him (which I now do), I will pay half as much as he does. Letting finances flow is nice only until one half of the partnership is doing without while the other half is making gains. I trust my husband completely, but I win the always-polite “Let me get this” argument all to often, and without a plan to keep things fair, my sense of justice is disrupted.

  5. saskboy says:

    Good thoughts to have. I hope your partner reads this and understands why it’s important to talk about money dispassionately if possible.

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