After six years together, 23-year-old web developer Caroline and 27-year-old screenwriter Vincent took two big steps in their relationship—they moved in together, and decided to blend their finances with a Simple Shared account. Up until this point, the pair hadn’t shared money past the typical “you get this dinner, I’ll get the next one” common currency that folks in relationships tend to have, but now, they’re faced with organizing rent, bills and savings together. We sat down with them to find out more about this new chapter—how they’re managing their home, money, and the financing of toothbrushes.
Getting financially acquainted
Despite keeping their money separate for so long, Caroline and Vincent felt like they knew a lot about each other’s finances, thanks in part to communicating regularly and honestly about what they earn, what they owe, and what they value.
Caroline says, “Vincent and I basically knew everything about each other’s financial situation before we got a Shared account because we went through sort of a similar education, and have been together for a while and know each other really well at this point. For instance, we have similar interests and values on certain things, like cooking, so we both agree to spend a bit of extra money on nicer things when they’re kitchen-related.”
The comfort with which they speak about an otherwise taboo subject can be put down to a number of factors—being together so long, knowing their own finances enough to speak about them, and being taught to understand money from a young age.
Caroline says, “I was lucky to have smart role models in my family who were happy to scare me out of living beyond my means, and that gave me a good baseline to go from. Now, I’m purposeful with where and how I spend money. That’s not to say I don’t ever buy lunch or a latte, but I’m careful to keep track of how much I do, and to spend from a budgeted goal. Together, Vincent and I have made a real effort to never have our Shared account empty, and to set aside a basic-needs budget at the beginning of every month. It makes getting dinner out, or a piece of home decor, pleasant and worry-free.”
Building a life together with Shared
Caroline and Vincent joined the Simple Shared beta program around the same time as they moved in together. Getting the account meant that the pair could organize their expenses and savings Goals easily and collaboratively, all while learning what it would take to run their household together.
Caroline says, “We knew we’d have bills like utilities and internet, and that we’d have to buy furniture together. Getting the Shared account made it easy to start saving jointly before we even moved in together and set the apartment up. It felt like we were putting our ducks in a row and figuring out what it would be like to actually live together.”
When it came to bills and expenses, the pair started by setting Goals for rent, utilities and the internet, as well as a fund for household items and furniture. Now that they reside under the same roof, Caroline and Vincent’s Shared account Goals are set to stash money away daily, leaving them with a Safe-to-Spend® amount that they can dip into when small-ticket items need to be bought.
Caroline says, “I enjoy Goals a lot in general, especially how they can build up progressively, but probably my favorite thing about Simple is the Safe-to-Spend amount, because it’s nice to know that if I ever see it and worry that we only have $500 in our Shared account, I can tap Safe-to-Spend and see the total of all our savings Goals. Seeing it broken down like this makes me feel like I’m planning responsibly, I guess. I’m not gonna fall behind on utilities or something else this month, or any other month, because everything’s planned in our Shared account.”
While they didn’t entirely meld their money when they moved in together, Caroline says they figured out how to divide shared and individual expenses easily.
“It was pretty easy to figure out what would go under the umbrella of shared or personal expenses,” she says. “We’re going to share things like groceries, but recently Vincent bought socks on his personal card, because there’s not a good chance that I’ll be using his socks.”
“You say that now!” says Vincent.
The taboo of money
Caroline and Vincent seem to find talking about money very easy, which is a welcome change from the usual feelings of fear, shame and plain ol’ misinformation that many couples admit to feeling when talking about money. They freely admit that their ability to communicate confidently about money is strange, and have even caught themselves asking if they’re missing something.
Caroline says, “When we’re asked if we’ve had hard conversations about money, we’re often left wondering if we should be having a hard conversation! But I don’t think these types of talks have to be hard.”
Vincent agrees, and says, “We’ve been honest with each other all along, which I think helps us avoid tough conversations.”
If they end up overspending in a month, they’re happy to sit down with their Simple Reports open and figure out how they did so, and work out ways to change their habits in future. While these conversations are easy for Caroline and Vincent, they do recognize that money talks can take a lot of effort and practice.
Vincent says, “You have to get used to talking to each other about money, I think, and get used to the idea that there’s a certain amount of transparency in both of your finances.”
Caroline says, “I think one way that might help people avoid negative feelings when it comes to sharing money is to start treating any shared funds as genuinely both of yours, even if you contribute different amounts. Part of the ease and transparency of sharing money is that you both take accountability for the expenses you share, and what’s leftover; you shouldn’t have to worry about who’s contributing or spending more.”
As Caroline and Vincent settle comfortably into living together, they’re starting to collect their thoughts on what future goals might look like. While it’s early days, Caroline says she’s looking forward to taking time away from their home to explore the country, and the world.
“I love traveling, but I’ve only ever gone on family trips,” she says. “Traveling with Vincent would be great, but I’m not sure of how to even start saving for it; it still seems very far off to me.”
For now, their Simple Goals are much more achievable (and definitely relatable).
“We’ve got Goals going that aren’t related to our monthly expenses” says Caroline. “I mean, I set up a Goal for new toothbrushes without Vincent’s permission, but I think the money’s still in there, and he can take it out if he disagrees.”
Vincent replies, “So I guess that answers that question. What does our future hold? Toothbrushes, apparently!”
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Disclaimer: Hey! Welcome to our disclaimer. Here’s what you need to know to safely consume this blog post: Any outbound links in this post will take you away from Simple.com, to external sites in the wilds of the internet; neither Simple nor our partner bank, BBVA Compass, endorse any linked-to websites. Caroline and Vincent are Simple customers, and were not paid, bartered with, or bribed to appear in this post.