Thursday, September 13, 2012

The money talk – part 1

This week, after almost a year of living together, my boyfriend and I had the money talk.  This is a talk that I have never had with anyone, never feeling the need or urge to show my finances to my significant other.

It started the other night, when my BF came home very discouraged about his finances. 

He makes a decent salary, but pays a hefty amount of child support, which gobbles up roughly 40% of his net income, meaning that when all is said and done, he takes home less than someone on minimum wage.

I had been aware of his income, and he of mine, because we did have a discussion at the beginning of our relationship about how we would handle the bills and whether or not he was ok with me bringing home more than him.  I earn an above average but not huge salary for an admin assistant.  At this discussion, he said that he would have to deal with it since pretty much any woman with any job was going to out earn him because of the child support.  We decided that we split everything 50/50, since he had already been in the situation of supporting someone else (the ex) and did not want to be on the receiving end of that.

There are only 4 areas where bills that are not divided evenly
·         Food – I am a vegetarian, so he pays 100% for all his meat, unless we are having guests over for dinner, in which case I pay half.
·         Apartment insurance – since I own more of the stuff in the apartment than he does, we based the bill on percentage of total value, with a stipulation that in case of a claim, we each receive that same percentage of the payout.  This bill is split 65/35
·         The cleaning lady – we both agree that she is a non-negotiable expense, and forego cable to pay her. She comes for 3 hours every 2 weeks, mostly doing the heavy duty cleaning, leaving us with laundry, dishes and general picking up.  In order to ease his finances a bit he pays 1/3 of the bill, but he does more of the day to day cleaning.  I do laundry.
·         Kids expenses – If the item is necessary to the kids (ie: food, clothes, primary bedding) he pays 100%.  If the item is optional (ie: toys, books, extra clothes, bedroom decorations) we pay 50/50.

As you can see, we already had a big part of the financial talk done, but we had kept two things private: debt and spending, and we realize now that it was very stupid of us to not have had this discussion.

Me, I’m about 9000$ in debt from various sources, with about 750$ in my accounts.  I’ve had this amount of debt for a while, and the main reason it hasn’t budged is that I would often buy something for the both of us and not ask for his part, because I felt guilty.  I’m not sure if I felt weird for earning more, or that it just felt so much like I was spending my hubby’s money like some 50s housewife, but in reality, I assumed way more expenses than I should have.

Him, well, he’s mostly been overspending and underplanning. He’s in debt around 2500$, but has about 1500$ in his bank account.  He makes enough money to pay all of the concrete bills, but doesn’t plan for any extras, even though he spends on those extras anyways.

So after he came home, the other night, worried about how he was gonna pull off living the lifestyle he wanted, paying his own way etc. I saw an opportunity and jumped on it.  I told him that I too was not in the best of circumstances, and that maybe we should just lay it all out in the open and hash it out.  Then work together on a plan to help us both gain a better financial stability.

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