There are necessities, like running water, and then there are "necessities," like HBO and a weekly pedicure. When you're single and supporting only yourself, you have every right to declare keeping your toes in the latest shade of blush a priority. But once you join budgets with your partner, it's important that you both agree on which expenses qualify as non-negotiable.
When my husband and I recently re-evaluated our budget, I was ready to slash the cable bill—we have Netflix, and I tend to watch shows a season or two behind. He balked; he's an avid Atlanta Braves fan and I didn't realize that without extended cable he couldn't catch the games during the (never-ending) baseball season. Similarly, he was willing to eliminate our home telephone, while I hesitated at not having a landline in case of emergencies. Having to make these kind of joint decisions just comes with the territory of a shared address, but compromising can be tricky. Toni Coleman, licensed psychotherapist, relationship coach, and founder of Consum-mate.com, offered this advice about creating a household budget you—and your partner—can live with. The Frisky: How To Buy Your First Home
More from YourTango: Three's Company: 8 Valuable Lessons From Having A Threesome
Make sure you're both aware of the big picture. Often, when one person in a relationship is in charge of paying the bills, the other can lose sight of how much goes out every month. "If one person usually handles the bills, they often have a better idea of the overall picture. In this situation, both people should sit down and have a frank conversation about money," says Coleman. This may seem elementary, but if you haven't had this basic money talk before, don't spend another dime before you do. Even if you have, it never hurts to revisit your budget. "Put together a spreadsheet with your earning and overall expenses. Now you can prioritize expenses with a solid view of the bottom line." If you aren’t the one submitting online payments every month, you may be surprised by what it costs to keep the lights on and the DVR set to record True Blood.
Evaluate your contributions. While you and your partner should establish a budget that you both feel is fair, it's unrealistic to expect everything will be split straight down the middle. "This is a relationship. Your partner is not your roommate, and this is not a business arrangement. One of you probably earns more than the other, and one of you may contribute more to the running of the household through tasks like laundry or cleaning," says Coleman. You need to consider these contributions and your needs as a couple. Look at what you can both contribute, and consider each putting a certain percentage of your income towards the joint expenses. The Frisky: We're Buying A Home—But I'm Covering The Down Payment