*Sponsored post – as always, all opinions are my own!
Not too long ago, I did some work with Tesco Bank sharing my tips and advice when it came to moving in together, sharing finances, and trying not to kill each other in the process!
And okay, yes, I’m jesting, but sometimes, as a couple, going from hand-holding, secret kisses, dates, and the honeymoon period, to working out which direct debit comes out of which account and how you are going to afford a broken washing machine – well, it’s hard work.
You start off as two separate people. With your own interests and hobbies, and guilty splurges (online shopping, I’m looking at you), and then when you do come together, it can be hard to work out how to sacrifice things, or how to make it work.
Do you go 50/50 down the middle? Or do you work it out based on who earns what? What do you cut back on? Netflix even though you love it? Or Sky Sports because he’s football mad?
Moving in together
Mark and I moved in together on the 1st November 2014. I remember that date because it was one of the happiest days of my life (and tiring!) but it was special all the same.
We had to do a lot to prepare. I already had a mortgage on this house, and I was managing it on my own, but money was very tight.
We had to:
- Be honest with each other and put our finances on the table – he had credit cards, I’d never owned one, he had a season ticket to watch Preston North End, I had a bit of a thing for online shopping. I had a son, he was willing to provide for him too. We listed all our incomings and outgoings, and we divided the total in half and paid in enough, plus a bit extra, every month. And then we also had money set aside for Charlotte Things and Mark Things and it gave us some freedom.
- Be flexible – I had my own ways, after living with just my son for a while, so I had to learn that not everyone was just like me. Mark didn’t like my television and internet provider, and I thought it was pointless trying to change it. But he’d left his friends and family behind to move an hour away to live with us, so I relented. I also had to factor in extras for things like extra toilet roll, extra food, extra electricity usage. One person makes a lot of difference!
- Revisit our providers – We had to add his name to everything anyway, so we spent a lot of time renegotiating things like home insurance. We actually saved money, and it was worth the time it spent in the end. The only annoying thing, for us, was people not being able to understand that we had the same surname, but weren’t married. No we aren’t related. And no that joke wasn’t funny.
- Downsize – We had double the amount of things in some cases, so we sold things on, and saved the money, and we also gave things away and made our house feel like our home, not my home that he was moving into, as some sort of room mate. It helped a lot. And made the little changes more special.
- Set up a savings account – We actually have two savings accounts now! With different aims in mind. And it gave us a sense of a future together, and something to work towards. Weirdly, today, Facebook told Mark and I that we had now been friends for four years! Just four years. We’ve done a lot in that time, and I think it’s because we planned ahead and worked hard to make it happen.
- Be honest – Sometimes, we did (and still do) argue about things. I am more frivolous with food as I’m a total foodie and I’m always going to the shops for bread and milk, and buying ten other things. So we actually mostly shop online. And yes, the Tesco team will be pleased to know that they are my supermarket of choice too! I find watching the amount tot-up in the corner of the screen makes me spend less. And I can quickly check the kitchen cupboards for an ingredient if I need to too! All in the comfort of my pyjamas. Anyway, my point is, Mark had to take me aside and pull me up on that. Because he was right. And it just means that we have more spare money for things we’d like to do with the kids, or meals out. And I’m glad he was honest with me.
So, eventually, you might find, just as you’ve sorted the balance of being a team of two, the team starts growing and you eventually become a team of three of more. And that’s where it gets really interesting, because you feel like you need a small loan just to buy a pram (they are like tiny cars I swear) and you can’t believe how many nappies you are going through.
And that’s kind of where we are at right now. I can’t believe we are expecting another baby. It’s such a huge thing. Our third and final child.
It’s huge because it’s exciting. It’s huge because it’s the last time. It’s huge because we are nervously hoping that this baby might be okay. And it’s huge because, well, we have to change a lot of things as a result.
Our house is a three-bed. We extended it from a two-bed dormer bungalow back when I was expecting Daisy. So when she was born, she already had a gorgeous nursery waiting for her. The plan was that we’d wait and try and have a baby and time it so that he or she would be due when Daisy was nearly three. Of course, we were surprised and instead, Daisy won’t even be two when this baby is born.
The plan was also that Daisy and Bill would share a room for a while – they get on so well and would love it – and we’d save up to extend our house again, or decide to move to somewhere that was already big enough for us all. But now we’re not so sure that we want to torture Bill with a cheeky two year-old just yet. So we’re back to the drawing board on that one. Suggestions welcome?
As well as thinking about bedrooms, we have to get a double-buggy, and we’ve already ordered it, but my goodness it is ridiculously expensive! I’m just glad we’ve spread the cost out.
And then there is the fact that we will need a bigger car that accommodates three car seats comfortably, and will see us through until our three are big and grown.
It’s incredible how a third child, a fifth family member, can impact on so much.
Especially when it comes as a surprise.
We’ve got our trusty spreadsheet out that we have used for years (life-saver), we have a savings pot building up, Mark has alerts set up for the car he’d like and he’s waiting until December as they are supposedly cheaper towards Christmas. I’m trying to find a way to part with my prams that I no longer need, or can use with two under two, and I’m also dying to find out the gender of this baby so I can do a baby boot sale and sell lots of clothes that we no longer will need (sob!).
We both have our bank apps on our phone so we can check on the go, and we both have savings targets and a pot of money aside for rainy days – especially necessary when you are self-employed like I am, I’ll be honest.
We’re determined to make it work though.
Becoming a couple, in a serious ‘grown-up’ relationship, is one of the most exciting things you can do. There’s the moving in together, and making it home. Getting a pet maybe. Going on holidays. Maybe marriage. Kids? It’s an amazing time in your life, where you feel like you have a partner in crime, a team mate, a buddy for life.
But it can have its challenges too and that’s more than okay, because we all have them, and I like to think that nothing worth having is ever easy!
So if you want my advice on managing joint finances, moving in, coping with change, planning for new experiences, and the tips I have. I’d love you to head on over to the Tesco Bank site and have a look. It might even be useful too!