Splitwise – The Reluctant Budgeter’s Guide to Cohabitation and Equality

Splitwise – The Reluctant Budgeter’s Guide to Cohabitation and Equality

A few years back I was living with my sister at home and our budget for the most part was my salary. As she was still in high school, that wasn’t a problem. We didn’t have a strict budget or something, but I kept track of everything we spend. Even back then, I was kinda reluctant to budget.

In my personal and dating life, I was always chasing the idea of equality. However, I never thought about how that will happen when you are cohabitating with someone that isn’t family. The way I imagined was pretty simple – I buy this, you pay for that and we’re even. Yet, somehow I always felt like I’m not doing enough on my side.

I was and will probably always be reluctant to budget

I never felt like budgeting was my thing. It felt too restrictive. Like, I have to determine the total amount of money I’ll spend on groceries this month, keep track of it, and be careful to not overspend. Or the total spendings on going out. I can’t do that. I know that if there’s a very cool event this Saturday I just can’t miss, I will lay low during next week and balance things around.

This was my mantra in my early 20s and it didn’t change much up until now. With one exception: I started to pay myself first. Yes, that’s right – I am taking out 20% of my income on payday and putting it into my savings account. That money would be for an emergency fund, sinking fund, travel fund, etc. 

Yet, I still feel like budgeting isn’t my thing, I just feel reluctant to budget. I know that if I was having a very low income (or far too many expenses), I wouldn’t have a choice. Probably.

Cohabitation and money

When I started dating my partner, it was in my late 20s, and she in her early 30s (and still is). We were already old enough and grown-up enough to think about how to do things easily and without any anxiety in terms of equality. When we moved in together, that situation became a bit more complex.

I wanted everything to be as equal as possible but also wanted to have a healthy relationship in terms of the whole cohabitation thing. My partner suggested we use an app called Splitwise. With that app, we are able to log every expense and spending and keep track of things. Just like a home budget, but without actually being a budget.

With Splitwise it’s far easier for us to track spendings on going out and buying alcohol for example. We both aren’t heavy drinkers, but we love and enjoy wine and rum, so this app helps us analyze our spending habits.

Equality and money

Cohabitating with my partner, meant for me that I want everything to be equal. I’m fine with me spending more on things, I’m just not fine with her doing so. As we’re living in her apartment, I don’t see her utility bills for example, but I’d like to avoid her paying them in full. 

That’s why she is logging these into Splitwise, so I know that I can take a look at the app and see if it’s okay to pay the bill in the restaurant on Saturday. Also, speaking about equality, it goes vice versa. My partner doesn’t feel comfortable about me paying for everything, so she needs to look at things the same way as I do.

This app helps us quite a lot to feel more confident in today’s world. We know that when we use the app, we’re doing it not only or ourselves, but for the other person as well. I’m taking good care of her, she takes good care of me.

What is being reluctant to budget?

We don’t put a cap on our going out or groceries budget. Yet, we track our spendings and limit ourselves when we’re close to going above what we spent last month. Splitwise is pretty good at showing total spendings in a certain category.

By limiting ourselves when we’re close to what we spent last month, we are actually thinking about what we spent all that money on. I’m not much into that tracking, but my partner looks at it frequently and we discuss it a lot. Talking about what we spend our money on helps us to understand if we really needed this or we were just pampering ourselves.

Talking about money at home is good

Using Splitwise in our daily lives helped us quite a lot to normalize talking about money. We know how much each of us is paying for stuff we’re both doing. Is it a movie ticket? Log it in there. Is it dinner? Log it in there. Do we need a new dishwasher? Log in everything.

Knowing how much we spend on things, normalized us talking about salaries, promotions, bonuses, etc. We’re planning a home renovation now, which involves a significant amount of funds. From where we’re going to take that money? Do we have them? How much can we do at this point? All of these conversations, plus conversations about buying a new car, dishwasher, or investment property are far easier now. 

Yes, I’m kinda reluctant to budget, but my partner isn’t. I know that if needed, we can both commit to a budget and turn things around.

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