The temptation to move in with your boyfriend or girlfriend is real. Living with my boyfriend initially seemed practical, but it ended up costing me much more than the financial resources I hoped to save. I found myself in a much worse position emotionally, relationally, and financially than I had been in before cohabiting.
When my relationship ended after four years, I was devastated. Moving forward seemed unbearable and overwhelming. I was heartbroken, but I also had to find a new place to live, untangle my bank account and finances, and remove myself from our previously shared social circles.
I learned how to support myself the hard way, but I think I’m better for it. If you are considering moving in with someone with whom you are romantically involved for financial reasons, consider these suggestions first:
1. Get creative with your housing. (And be willing to swallow your pride.) When my live-in boyfriend and I broke up, I realized I needed a place to live immediately. I wasn’t really sure what I could afford on my own, so I moved into my parents’ basement. It wasn’t glamorous, but it was affordable and safe. Temporarily living in their basement gave me time to figure out my finances and kept me from making a quick decision with potentially hurtful long-lasting consequences. Just a couple months later, once my life had settled down, I was able to find a small apartment in my price range.
Now, moving in with your parents might not be an option for everyone. But there may be someone else in a similar situation looking for a healthy living environment. Find them! Roommates are an obvious way to cut back on housing expenses, but there are other creative ways to do this too. Maybe you’ve had one too many roommates or you feel like your options are slim. Do you know of a family with a spare bedroom? Living with a healthy family can allow you to gain instant family yourself and witness a strong relationship in the context of marriage.
The cost of rent in many places prohibits singles from living alone. While this is unfair, try to see it as an opportunity to create strong relationships with other people. They can provide essential support and encouragement—especially when life’s challenges seem overwhelming.
2. Learn to eat inexpensively. My boyfriend did most of the cooking. So when we broke up I suddenly had to fend for myself when I really didn’t know how to cook. The worst part was how much it cost. Eating out was really expensive, but I also wasted money buying food that went bad before I ate it. I borrowed a few cookbooks from the library and started planning my meals ahead of time. I learned how to spend my money on food I actually planned to eat and learned to cook meals I knew I would enjoy.
Learning to cook can be a simple, effective way to save money. (And you’ll probably be healthier for it too!). Some libraries offer free cooking classes. You can also ask around to see if there is anyone in your family or at your church or work who loves cooking and would be willing to teach you. Hosting a potluck with friends is another way to save. You are likely to save money by splitting the food costs and time since you aren’t cooking a full dinner on your own. Plus, meals are almost always better when they are shared!
3. Make the hard decisions to stay financially afloat. Moving in with my parents was a temporary arrangement and I wanted to keep it that way. I realized I had to get a second job. I didn’t want to work more than I already was, but temporarily giving that time up for the sake of my independence was worth it.
Learning what you need to do to keep yourself afloat is an important skill, no matter where you are in life. Maybe for you this starts with tracking your spending for a month to determine where your money is going. Most of us think we know, but you might be surprised once you start keeping track. Should you spend that much money on entertainment or clothes? How does the rent in your neighborhood compare to rents in other parts of town? Could you get by with a smaller space? It may seem like just a few dollars here and there, but those dollars add up.
It wasn’t easy, but being creative and willing to make sacrifices paid off! I gained a lot of confidence because I realized I could take care of myself. By the time the man I eventually married came along, I brought skills to our relationship that I didn’t have before. We’re better together because I learned how to be on my own.