How To Have Those Uncomfortable Money Convos If You're Moving In Together

Michela Ravasio

I don't know how it happened. I don't really know when it happened, either. But baby, it's happened.

Yes, us gorgeously wild, fabulously single, free-wheeling, hookup-culture obsessed, madly selfish Millennials are starting to fall in love and move in together.

It's terrifying, but it's true, honey.

One rainy, hungover Sunday afternoon, you're having a recovery brunch with bae. After Bloody Mary number one, they ask you to move in with them.

Since you're getting sick and tired of bouncing from bae's uptown apartment to your Brooklyn loft, you enthusiastically agree.

And then, that extra spicy ~Bloody Mary~ becomes a celebratory drink. But when the buzz wears off, the fear sets in. You have to start talking about the most unromantic subject of all subjects: MONEY, HONEY.

So how do you do it? "How do you and your SO talk about money?" We're all silently wondering. This "grown up" shit is new, and we have no idea what we're doing, do we, sweet kittens?

Plus, according to a new Elite Daily survey, the majority of men (64 percent) and women (53 percent) in relationships say they talk about money with their SO "only when necessary."

Hmmm... thinking on the cusp of moving in together counts as a "necessary" time, right kittens?

So, I turned to the experts at Stash Invest — a pretty badass investing app that "looks to empower the next generation of investors" (aka you and me) — for money and moving in advice.

Here, Stash Invest's content manager, Erica Bentley, offers a step-by-step guide to starting those uncomfortable money convos when you've decided to move in with bae:

Step 1: "Before you chat dollars, chat childhood."

Oh, we can never escape our roots, can we? As Bentley says, our relationship to money when we were kids has everything to do with how we approach it as adults:

Everyone had a different upbringing with money, and if you hated the way your parents did it, this is a chance for you to do it differently. Did money conversations get heated between your folks and it made you uncomfortable? Share that. Was money never talked about and swept under the rug? Talk about it. Did your parents share their bank statements with you on a monthly basis? Strange... but talk about it. If you just assume that your partner had the same experience with money as you did, you're setting yourself up for failure.

Um, can I get a "Yas, queen!" The number one mistake I've made in all of my relationships is assuming we all grew up with the same fiscal values.

My British mother, for instance, would always harshly "SHUSH" my father when he complained about the dinner bill in front of us.

"We must never discuss MONEY in front of the CHILDREN," she would warn my dad under her breath, just as he was about to bitch about the exorbitant price of the truffle fries I had ordered.

As a result, I find money talk to be wildly unromantic — which is not realistic. (Have I mentioned I hate reality?) But I don't want to die alone, so I better clean up my act.

Bentley says having this open conversation about how we were raised is crucial because it makes us more understanding of our partners:

When a simple conversation about buying avocados blows up into a full-fledged argument about budgeting, you'll understand why and can swoop in with constructive conversation.

Step 2: "Don't morph into the same person" (aka, stick to your own money mindsets).

I have a huge fear of losing my identity in a relationship, so I'm very comforted by any kind of "stay true to yourself" advice.

Luckily, there's some that applies to your money mindset when you're about to move in with your SO — especially if theirs is different.

As Bentley says,

Someone who is uber thrifty might need to be pushed to actually save up some money and spend it on a treat. If you're just a little bit too good at treating yourself, your partner can help you learn some thriftiness where it counts. Recognize and understand that both of you have something to bring to the table, maintain your awesome single money qualities and be open to learning from the other.

I've recently moved in with my partner, and I'm definitely the less thrifty of the two of us. I will have to accept that I will always be the one encouraging her to "treat herself."

And at the same time, maybe her money mindfulness will be a good thing for me?

Maybe I'll save a buck or two for the first time.

And rather than totally changing ourselves, maybe two people can, instead, create the perfect financial balance.

Step 3: "Fully disclose what you each make, then work those percentages."

My British heart may be fluttering, but Bentley says, yes, it's actually best to lay your income out on table so you can get an accurate and clear picture of how you may go about splitting your shared bills once you move in together.

If you're hesitant, know this: According to Elite Daily's survey, 45 percent of women and 43 percent of men say their SO makes more than them, "but it doesn't bother me."

So don't fret about letting it all out.

However, after you talk about how much you make, don't make the mistake of planning to split bills evenly down the line — that's a recipe for disaster if you're making different incomes.

Bentley suggests,

Instead, if you both put in the same percentage — say 20 percent of your individual salaries towards rent and bills — that total is the most accurate amount you can both comfortably afford. You will both feel good about the agreement, and you may even talk money less and talk about goals and life more.
Another idea to make this easy is to set up automatic deposits into a joint account to pay for bills, and still keep separate checking accounts for your own things. You don't want to start being silently angry about your partner's spending spree on new pants or that special bag. They may have stopped drinking lattes for three months to afford that, and dammit, that deserves a reward!

That's right, dammit! I earned those personal splurges, and so did you, Kittens.

You shouldn't have to forsake those just because you'll be living with bae now.

Step 4: Open up that baggage, baby.

OK, this is the part that makes me the most nervous.

"Before you make that next-level commitment, it's just as important to know your partner's cash baggage as it is to know and understand their relationship baggage," Bentley advises.

I know it can be much easier to discuss talking about your parents' financial mistakes than it is to confess to your own overdrawn bank account. But it seems worth it.

As Bentley says,

Everything is temporary. If you're in debt, the worst case is hiding it and ignoring it. Talking leads to solutions, and so many options are out there to give you access to decide what is best for you. If you haven't developed great cash skills and habits, or you live in a city where living costs you everything, [try] budgeting or researching money tips to bring down your debts, like credit card balances, or consolidating student loans.

It's true. I mean, if your partner can't swallow the fact you're a human being with some credit issues, maybe it's not the right relationship for you.

Plus, isn't being transparent with one another the very thing that bonds us?

I've always been very open about my emotional baggage, and I think now it's time to come clean about my financial baggage.

Talking openly with your partner leads to active solutions. Secrets only fester inside us, making us paralyzed with anxiety. And when we're frozen in fear, no solutions are made.

As Bentley says, "Learning from each other to better yourselves individually will only better your relationship for your long-term goals, like traveling the world, starting a family or becoming your own boss."

Now that's looking towards the future! Moving in together is really own step one, kittens.

So having these important (but, OK, really awkward) money conversations now will set you and bae up for a stress-free, happiness-rich life together.

Kylah Benes-Trapp