Moving In Money Matters!
Have you had the move-in talk with your significant other yet? This discussion usually occurs when one person’s lease has expired and their rent is going up. The opening line is always, “it’s silly to pay two rents when we’re together all the time”. Throw in the fact that we’re talking about the crazy real estate market of Hong Kong, and the decision to take such a huge step in a relationship seems pretty sensible.
Read more about the Top 5 Insider Tips for Finding a Flat in HK here.
Yes, it’s silly, but moving in together is definitely taking the relationship to a new level. This is when you have to deal openly with the practical and emotional aspects. On the emotional side, you’re really assessing where this relationship is headed. On the practical side, you have to decide where the money is headed. Guess which one is easier to tackle? Let’s talk money and how to split the financial responsibility when you move in together.
Separate but Equal
You already have your own banking account. Keep it that way. Just because you’re moving in doesn’t mean everything has to merge. We’re all about those independent women!
However, it might be helpful to set up a separate joint checking account. This can become the household fund. Even though you might be transferring money into this account just to pay for a specific bill, it will be a lot easier to track. Plus, you don’t have to provide “full disclosure” for your own accounts. Yes, you love that person, but you might not be at the place where they need to see everything.
Establish the Budget
You’ll definitely want to set up a budget. Money in and money out — that’s all a budget is. With regard to shared living expenses, there are certain monthly hard costs you can’t get away from. These include rent, utilities and cable — aka the living trinity. Those are the bills that should probably be split in half. Things like your mobile phone, credit card and loans will still be taken care of by you.
It might be best to avoid the “I’ll pay this bill and you pay that bill” scenario. Even though some of those bills are fixed, others vary. You could have a month of heavy heat use, which sends that bill skyrocketing, or there could be a binge on pay-per-view movies. You don’t want to feel like you’re suddenly paying more even though you’re sharing. That’s the kind of resentment issue that can cause a problem down the line.
Also, unless you both make the same amount, you won’t contribute evenly to rent. This advice actually comes from a financial advisor. If you make $180,000 HKD a year while your partner makes $250,000 HKD, is it fair for you to pay the same amount in rent? It’s wise to calculate the rent by percentage and find a place where both of you will be able to comfortably afford the rent – regardless of the different percentages.
Set Some Saving Goals
Part of the new merge could be a savings account. You might be able to agree to both put in the same amount each week. This can become your “rainy day fund” to be used only in emergencies. Of course, booking that romantic vacation in a sexy beach hotel could be deemed an emergency. With your couple savings, it will be easier to pay for those vacations and unforeseen expenditures.
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You could also make the agreement that this year, you’ll take a staycation instead of a trip. That will help you save a bundle, and it’s good for the environment. Plus, there’s plenty to explore in Hong Kong that you might not have gotten to yet!
Have the Food Talk
Here’s where things can get a little dicey. Obviously, you’re going to be sharing the food, paper products and all the other grocery sundries. Some couples use that joint savings account to cover this shopping. Others try to make it work with one person buying this week and the other buying the next week. This only becomes an issue if one of those people feels like they’re doing all the grocery shopping. It might not matter if the money is flowing and all is good. However, if one person is making less than the other but is buying all the food, it could become an issue. The easy fix is to split the grocery bills each week. Just save those receipts for a Sunday reckoning.
Once you get over the financial talk, you can move on to the bigger issues, like what to do with his Lan Kwai Fong street sign and neon beer sign. Good luck with that…