A few months ago I moved in with my sweetheart!! (I’ll call him my Love for his privacy.)
In the run up to the big move we had a lot of conversations about what we wanted in a place to live. We looked for about a year before we … bought something together!
That was huge and complicated (yet it is not the main subject of this post).
If you hadn’t yet heard about that, I’m sure you can agree that congratulations are definitely in order. My love is an amazing human being and we’re pretty thrilled about this whole thing. The house is beautiful and we’re thrilled.
One of the things we had to figure is … how do we intend to manage money in our relationship. And before you think this is the end all be all of money and relationship posts, it’s not that either 🙂 But this is a deeper dive into money in relationship.
And it’s not that I don’t want to tell you everything, it’s because Money is an on-going process. Money is something we use every day, day to day to meet our needs physical, emotional, spiritual and chocolate. (What? Chocolate is definitely one of my needs.)
It’s huge to merge finances with someone. Right?
It’s huge to move in with someone and trust them with your day to day well being. Great care should be taken in this process to make sure it works for all parties involved.
If it doesn’t work for one of the parties, ultimately it works for no one. (Most of us have been there before.)
I want to share with you the questions we asked and a bit about the structure that we have created for our money needs.
We decided that we wanted to have a joint account but that primarily our money was ours. We decided to keep our personal accounts, my biz accounts, and add to the mix a joint account.
We picked his credit union because I’ve been trying to figure out how to divest of big banks and that felt delicious and nourishing to us.
Now I’m a member of a credit union! Yipeeee!
We looked at what we’re spending money on and shared our numbers from the last year.
I supported my Love in getting bookkeeping support and in tracking his numbers. My bookkeeper and I tracked my numbers.
And we’ve been slowly setting up a joint chart of accounts – a list of categories of things we spend money on. As well as things we do not want to spend money on.
I’ve gotten rid of thousands of dollars or expenses this year in this realignment. I was surprised frankly at how much taking a deep look has shifted things and refocused my intentions.
Our money feels complicated.
- I have a 21 yo son who lives in Oakland and we contribute to his financial well being (meaning: we pay his rent).
- I have a business but I’ve been recovering from a serious accident and so my earnings and his are not on par.
- He works a job and his income is stable
- I own a company and mine definitely has seasons
- We now have a house!
So we asked ourselves and each other:
- Do we want to help each other financially?
- How much?
- Do we want to help C (my son)?
- Does my Love want to support my business a bit while I’m in transition?
- What’s our monthly spending cap?
- How much money can each of spend in a month/transaction without telling the other person?
- Who’s going to pay for what?
- Where are we going to bank?
- What if someone needs to leave the home/relationship?
- How do we make space for that?
We got really transparent and that’s been really vulnerable.
In fact, it’s vulnerable in an on-going way.
This whole process has reminded me that money is not a ‘one and done’ thing. Money is a practice. It can be a chore, like the laundry. Or delicious like meditation or a weekly massage.
As a result of diving in, we’ve been sharing our money stories, our money goals and dreams and creating the deeper alignment about our whole lives.
This alignment is what I want! I want to fall deeper and deeper in love with my Love. It’s one of my deepest dreams and desires to have an on-going love affair with my partner.
And for me this is what’s at the heart of money work: aligning our whole lives with how we spend our money. And giving ourselves margins for when that doesn’t work or needs to shift.
I notice that so much of money work I see others doing in their lives and business seems to come down to one transaction or one big thing.
But that’s … urgent. It’s last minute, it’s painful. And it’s not true.
That happens when we’re disengaged. When we only pay attention sometimes or we go a long time without paying attention at all.
It also happens as a result of systemic poverty and our culture’s de-prioritization to shift that. We can shift it. And that’s what I want: for us as a society to be able to have a healthy and loving relationship with money.
When we engage in an on-going financial process and check on things regularly and check in consistently, the last minute bumps and bruises ease up. We can pre-mept them, and we can have backup ready to support us when we need it most.
One of the surprises I encounter is when I tell people that we talked about what happens if/when the relationship ends.
If I’ve learnt anything though, planning for the hard times transforms a lot of anxiety into calm groundedness.
I know we have a plan, we agreed and I’m going to be ok no matter what.
I don’t want to lose my Love for any reason. AND things happen, people change, the divorce rate is high… who knows? What I can do is take care of as much as I can and hold myself and my needs as valid and important. And that means that I can show up more fully.
In doing some reading on divorce, the most commonly cited reason for divorce is “lack of commitment.” So even doing the planning shows us both that we’re committed now and into the future. That we can rely on ourselves and each other. That we are building a partnership not just a relationship.
How can you commit more to your money and your relationship with it?
You’re homework (should you choose to accept it):
When you’re looking at building a financial secure life, what’s important to you? What does it mean to you to be financially secure and what contingencies do you have for when life doesn’t go to plan?
Share that with the people you care about. And ask them what’s important to them as well! Have open discussions about money and what it really means to all of you, individually and collectively.