I’ve been with my boyfriend for three years. He’s wonderful, and he’s an incredible partner. When it comes to emotional support and foot rubs, he’s got it on lock. I love saying that we’re partners, because that is what we are — in all but one way. We don’t share money.
We live together, and we split most expenses 50/50. (We recently switched to him paying 70/30 on utilities.) We keep our incomes totally separate. His money is his to spend, and my money is mine.
Our financial pictures are very different. He makes about $16,000 more a year than I do, but carries a sizable amount of student loan debt. I’m debt free, and own my own business. He’s at a salaried position, and I’m a freelancer. We pretty much have opposite financial pictures.
I’ll be honest: sharing finances would make my life easier. Going 50/50 puts more of a strain on my finances, especially since I make less money than him. Combining our finances would mean we could pay down his debt faster, and make moves toward joint expenses. It’d be great if he picked up the rent check every so often. But that’s just not the way we work.
Why isn’t it the way we work? I’m a personal finance nerd, and he is the most flexible, caring person in the world. It would make sense for both of us to share finances.
We haven’t combined money yet for one main reason: We’re working towards different financial goals. My priority is beefing up my retirement and travel savings, and his priority is living a stable and comfortable life while he works on paying down his debt.
I was late to start saving for retirement for someone at my income level, and it’s very important to me that I have the equivalent amount of my annual salary saved by the time I hit 30. Which is in a one year. I don’t want to compromise any of my income or money-related decisions to reach that goal.
Similarly, I’m definitely the more frugal one in the relationship. He doesn’t want to have to check in with me each time he goes out to lunch, or when he wants to buy a new piece of musical equipment. (He plays guitar and piano.) For each of us right now, there are personal goals and projects that we each want to achieve individually, before we combine finances.
Plus, I just started a business, which was 100% my choice. Bravely is my project — what I make from it is my money, and it’s my work that goes into it. I own the company in full. I’d never ask him to shoulder joint expenses while I chase a dream, especially when he carries his own debt. It was my decision to start a business, and so I carry the financial responsibilities associated with that.
It’s odd to have my partner be truly a partner in everything but my finances. And, of course, as we continue to move forward as a couple, it’s just a matter of time until our financial goals merge.
We spoke recently about combining finances one day. We agreed that I should give my company at least one year to sort out income streams, and that he would focus more on his debt payoff. We also agreed that we need to come to a more firm money plan before we take any more concrete steps together.
For now, we’re fine where we are. Neither one of us is financially insecure, nor making financial compromises we don’t want to make. It’s definitely a bit of a money limbo, but I’m really ok with it. I like being in total control of my finances, and I appreciate the chance I have over the next year to focus on Bravely.
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