At first glance you may notice this post instantly has the same ring to it as my post “His House or Our House?” about who’s house you’re living in is which you can read here if you haven’t already. You’d be right. The most important thing to remember in a relationship that escalates to living together married or not is that once you dedicate to living in the same home, you are dedicating to family. If you can’t dedicate to family, family ideas, family planning or family centric values then you should NOT make the leap to living together or even stay in a long term relationship. In fact, every relationship you involve yourself in you should be honest from the first day you go on a date. I want a family or I do not want a family. If you want a family at any point in time you must enter EVERY relationship as a family oriented person, otherwise your relationships will fail. You don’t have to have kids right this second but you need to be open and honest and realize most women are not in the habit of waiting around decades for men to grow up and finally be family centric.
When it comes to the family finances remember it’s not yours, mine and ours. It’s always OURS. Your money is your families money, and therefore you are not being a good family member by withholding it from your family. A family must thrive on trust. If you feel you cannot trust your partner with money and need to hide it, or take it away, withhold it, or have separate accounts so the other can’t get the money then you have a serious problem. It’s one thing to be the adults and not let children have access to the money because they are not responsible enough to use it wisely, but if the adults must hide money from each other then aren’t they really the children here?
It is a huge misconception by people that not having children or not being married negates a man’s responsibilities and means they don’t yet have a family. Family is what you make of it and consists of people you hold dear and love. A man or woman should not view each other as just “that other person I have sex with and hang out with when I have time to.” If you are not going act as family it is probably just best to date but not commit to anyone. It is best not to live together. Even if you do not live together it doesn’t get you out of your responsibility to take care of each other. You cannot really be honest and say you truly love a person if you are unwilling to share your income with them.
If you live with a person you feel you have to hide money from because they are irresponsible and won’t pay bills, or will take it and buy things they don’t need like drugs or alcohol, then you need to consider the better alternative which is leave the relationship for a person who is trustworthy. You cannot keep hiding from your own mate to keep the peace. It is better to end the relationship than to constantly have to fight off your irresponsible mate.
So what if we both want to have a family budget but also our own money? Ok then my suggestion is that you take ALL the income of the family and pool it together. You should NOT let so and so have more extra cash because he or she brings in more money than the other. Make a monthly budget to allot money for the bills and needs of the family. Then assign any funds to things such as savings for vacations, education or whatever your personal goals are with the pooled money. Make a categorical discernment between needs and extras, this way if you can’t reach every goal each month you can at least hopefully make the needs goals and not worry so much about extras. Set actual dollar values to these. For example allot $100 each month to your vacation fund, categorized as extras. For bills which fluctuate set the minimum set aside to the higher end of the bill. Example the water bill is anywhere between $40-$75. The water bill is a need to pay. So set the minimum set aside which should be untouchable, to $75 per month. You should never trade your needs for your wants, no matter how hard it is sometimes. Always make sure to assign which bills will be paid from which paychecks as sometimes you may have to save this months last paycheck to pay next months rent. Once you have made that monthly budget for the year, you have your monthly guide. So once ALL bills and goals are met, then take whatever is left over that month, and split it in half. Now each adult has their own personal cash to do whatever they want with free and clear of worry about bills and goals being met. This is a proven method and I believe every family should have a budget every month.
I have personally used this method before and was eventually complimented by my partner who did not want to do it but gave it a try. He found that he had way more money than he had before and was doing better because money was being allotted wisely. Yet he had more to spend on things he didn’t need because he followed a budget. It really does work. You may not need such an advanced budget yourself but for two people you really need something like this. Make sure your partner is actually physically following the plan, and that both people are either presenting physical cash or placing all funds into a joint account until goals are met and then only transfer money out to each partner when you have assessed all monthly goals are paid for. If that means you need to transfer some funds to a savings account go for it but pool money together first.
It’s important that both adults be equals. One partner shouldn’t have to pay half the bills “equally” adding up to 80% of their income while the other pays half the bills equal to only 20% of their income, and then get to have 80% more personal cash than the other. It will cause resentment.