You’re moving in with your sweetheart, and all is going fine… until the first utility bill. Each of you pays half, but your job doesn’t pay as well, so you end up spending half your weekly income on it, while your lover only pays a fifth of their income, and has extra spending money.

By the time a few months have passed, the rich member of the couple is getting richer, and the poor one is getting poorer, just like much of the world. This is a surefire recipe for disaster and breakups, often nasty, messy ones. Worst of all, the situation could have been avoided had you done some research beforehand!

When you and your boyfriend or girlfriend are moving in together, you’ll want to have the “money talk” sometime… preferably as soon as possible. Nobody likes talking about it, but you have to if you want to have a successful, harmonious household.

The first method by which you can avoid money fights is by paying for things as a couple. You combine your bank balances and everything comes out of one account. Of course, if you aren’t serious or married, this isn’t really a viable option, and even then, many married couples prefer to keep separate bank accounts.

Instead, you can try dividing up expenses depending on each partner’s income. If one earns $1,000 a month and the other earns $3,000 per month, the first partner should be responsible for 25% of the bills and cost of running a household, while the other should be responsible for the other 75%. This way, each of you is spending money according to your income, which is more fair than a 50/50 split.

Some couples still prefer to work on this 50/50 basis, however. If this is the case, you’ll want to decide who is responsible for paying which bills, and who will pay back the other person when. The more you have laid out clearly, preferably in writing, the less there will be to fight about later. When expectations grow unclear or you aren’t aware of each other’s financial situations, fights are more likely to arise.

Check in regularly about each other’s financial goals and your shared goals – if you’re both saving for a trip, make sure one partner isn’t falling behind, or the one who has saved properly could end up resentful and angry when the trip can’t go ahead because the other person didn’t save up enough.
You’ll also want to make sure you’re clear about how to approach financial topics with other loved ones and relatives. All too often, someone promises to pay for their uncle’s plane ticket so he can visit, without consulting the other partner. This is worse still when some or most of the money for paying for the ticket will be coming from the other partner. Always consult each other on major financial decisions well in advance and come up with a shared stance on money to present to others.

Money isn’t everything, but it can allow you two to have a happy domestic life as long as it’s an open topic and not taboo.