The views expressed here are those of the essayist and not the LearnVest staff, but we look forward to opening the floor to debate and discussion, so tell us what you think. This Money Mic is part of a conversation about living with your partner—click here for the opposing view.
When my aunt moved in with her boyfriend in 1988, it caused quite a stir in our family. The perception was that she was “giving up the milk for free” and must be on the losing end of the equation.
In fact, however, living with your significant other can be a winning formula for both parties.
Living Together for Money: A Growing Trend
Over 7.5 million unmarried couples lived together in 2010, a number that the U.S. Census surmises jumped due to the recession. This is backed up by the fact that the partners in these newly cohabiting relationships are less likely to both hold jobs.
Witnessing my boyfriend’s financial decisions shows me where he places value and helps me feel comfortable about our financial future together.
The decision to move in with your significant other should obviously be based on love, but that doesn’t mean we should ignore the fact that, when done right, it can also be a financial boon.
When my sweetheart and I moved in together, our joint housing costs decreased by almost half. I’ve also been able to save more toward retirement, and the fact that we both care about our joint financial health has drawn us closer as a couple. Witnessing my boyfriend’s financial decisions shows me where he places value and helps me feel comfortable about our financial future together.
(For what you need to know before moving in together, read this.)
Here’s What I Mean …
More evidence: For my friend Shelby, letting her boyfriend move in with her improved both of their finances. “We were saving his rent payment plus utilities and gas going to and from his place,” she says. “And we were able to cook our own meals more since we were coming home to the same place.”
Similarly, Kaylie, a project manager from Ohio, attributes her ability to eliminate credit card and student loan debt to moving in with her boyfriend. “When you go from supporting two households to one, there is likely going to be a certain amount of flexibility when it comes to finances.”
Ready to Move In?
Learn more about cohabitation agreements
How to Do It Right
Of course, you can’t expect your finances to magically clean themselves up once you decide to move in with your sweetie. The key is to be strategic about what you do with the money you save from moving in together.
Rather than increasing your daily latte intake or becoming a regular at your favorite clothing store, use your extra cash to jettison any long-term financial worries. Nothing spells financial freedom like knowing you can take care of yourself if things don’t work out.
As long as you maintain honest communication, moving in together could be the ticket to long-term financial success and freedom for both of you.
* All names have been changed to protect privacy.
Kelley C. Long is a Certified Public Accountant and personal financial coach who works with people on the day-to-day aspects of money like spending plans, reducing debt and setting long term savings goals. She combines practical advice with personal service to help clients break free from money concerns and get their finances on track. Learn more about her at www.kclmoneycoach.com.
The debate’s not over! Read the opposing view explaining why cohabitation will ruin your finances here, and post your own opinion in the comments section.