If people asked me what my blog Frugal Turtle was about I would say that it’s about my long, slow journey to financial independence. I’m a 30 something woman who lives with her boyfriend and cat and longs to be free of a job she doesn’t like. I try to keep my expenses as low as possible so I can throw as much money as possible towards early retirement. I’m aiming for financial independence in 7 years with early retirement following soon after. Thanks for reading!
How To Successfully Manage Money As A Couple
I started dating Mr. Frugal Turtle four years ago. The topic of money and debt didn’t come up until a few months later.
We were sitting in his car in the parking lot of the local grocery store, of all places.
I don’t remember how the topic was brought up, but I remember telling him how much student loan debt I had left to pay off. I also remember telling him how much money I had saved up at that time.
Then he told me what he had saved up so far.
I was shocked, and impressed.
He had about 3 times the amount that I had saved up. Looking back from where we are now, it wasn’t that large of an amount. Well under $100k.
But he was 27 at that time, and in my head, young guys that age were supposed to spend all their money, right?
How could he have that much saved up? It turns out, I was dating a saver.
Once that financial conversation was over, money has been a breeze to talk about.
We’ve had all sorts of money talks since then.
We’ve talked about how our parents handled money when we were growing up.
We’ve talked about how our friends spend their money (and what they should do different).
And we’ve talked about how the two of us spend money.
This is probably the most important talk. Somewhere along the way, I mentioned that I want to retire early. He must have really liked that idea, because that has been our goal for about the past 3 years.
But in that 3 years there is something we haven’t done yet that a lot of couples have at this point in their relationship. Combine finances.
To Merge Or Not To Merge
Now, to be clear, Mr. Frugal Turtle and I are not married. We aren’t even engaged. But according to this article by USA Today, half of all couples merged finances before they were married.
So why haven’t we combined finances yet?
There really isn’t any reason why.
It’s not a trust issue. We both trust each other completely.
We are both pretty frugal and “usually” don’t spend money on frivolous items, so it’s not because we have different spending habits.
We love each other and have zero plans on breaking up, so it’s not that.
Honestly, I believe we will merge finances at some point in the future. Right now, though, things are pretty great between us. So why change things up if they’re working for us?
How We Live Together While Keeping Finances Separate
I pay Mr. Frugal Turtle $400/month for rent. His mortgage is something like $800/month, plus he pays for the utilities. However, he makes more than I do, so we are both happy with the amount of rent I pay.
We both pay for groceries. We don’t write down every cent that each person has paid. It’s more of a “You paid for most of the groceries last week, let me get them this week” kind of agreement. And it works!
We have that same agreement when we go out to eat (which isn’t very often).
One situation that will happen in the future, but hasn’t yet, is a major house repair. We haven’t had to replace any appliances, remodel, replace the roof or windows yet. How would we handle that?
I could go the “It’s your house. I’m just a renter. I’m not paying for that” route.
Which I totally would NOT do!
When it does eventually happen I imagine that Mr. Frugal Turtle will pay for the cost up front and then I would just pay him a little more when I transfer money to his checking account for rent the next month.
The Best Thing We Do Financially As A Couple
In the four years that we’ve been a couple, we have never had an argument about money.
Is that because we keep our money separate? Maybe, but probably not.
We don’t fight about money because we are a team that is on the same page. Being on the same page, financially, is the BEST thing for our early retirement goal. We have the same goal and we are helping each other get there.
The little things we do for each other add up.
He keeps my rent low so I can throw as much money as I can towards savings/investments.
I make sure he has a delicious lunch to take to work almost every single day so he doesn’t need to go out for lunch. Before I moved in with Mr. Frugal Turtle the employees at the local Subway used to know him by name, he went there so often!
Mr. Frugal Turtle has helped keep my 2001 vehicle with 190,000 miles running. He has saved me hundreds by doing repairs himself. Expensive mechanics would normally fix my car.
It all adds up!
When you have a goal of early retirement but don’t make a six figure income, stopping those little money bleeds makes all the difference in the world. That’s why working together as a team is so important!
Working together as a team is going to speed up this journey to early retirement. If we were both working towards separate goals, it would probably add years to my working life. Luckily, our goal is the same-to accumulate enough money to quit mandatory work as soon as possible.
Talk to Each Other About Finances
Part of working together as a team towards the same goal is communication.
Mr. Frugal Turtle and I are very open about our finances and we don’t keep secrets. When I went on a small clothes shopping spree a couple of months ago I told him how much I spent. There was no hiding bags of clothes in the closet (I can’t believe people actually do that!).
When Mr. Frugal Turtle went to Thailand with his family a couple of years ago, he told me how much he spent on the flights, hotels and shopping. But, maybe that was because everything was super cheap there!
Since we don’t have our money merged, we are always keeping each other up to date on our finances. Every few months, we’ll compare what we’ve made at our jobs for the year. We’re also extremely open about what we have in our 401ks, IRAs, saving accounts, and checking accounts.
We are financial “open books” in our relationship. áAnd it’s awesome!
We both pay off our credit cards every month and the only debt that either of us has is Mr. Frugal Turtle’s mortgage. I’m debt free (Yay!).
I just want to conclude by saying that no matter how you handle finances in your relationship, by combining or keeping them separate, it’s important to have the same goals. Communicate with your partner to figure out a goal that both of you are excited to work towards.
Having the same goals and working towards those goals together keeps both members happy!
How do you handle money in your relationship? Do you think it is better to combine finances, or keep them separate?
ThefutureFIT here. I’m very appreciative that I got to work with Frugal Turtle this week. Frugal Turtle is an amazing blog author. She has been blogging for much longer than me and is really killing it with the financial freedom goal. Check out her blog here. Subscribe to hers and mine to keep up with each of our stories.