There’s a lot of talk in the financial world about the singleton’s penalty. Economies of scale, you know. Two is better than one when you can split the bills and buy in bulk. And so on and so forth.
The thing is, while that may be true for some, my relationship actually costs me money. Here’s how:
Things I’ve helped him pay off
The recession wasn’t kind to us. He lost his job, and I (a full-time student) had to shoulder the bulk of our financial burden—bills, his car loan, repairs, etc. I can tell you no money was saved as a result of us being a couple during that time. Some of that I took on the shoulder, some is earmarked for repayment, though not with interest.
Yep, we pay for cable TV to the tune of $50 a month. I held out as long as I could, but after a stint in a shared house where pay TV was just one of the bills, there was no going back to the desolate world of free-to-air channels. The boy is one of the few people I actually know who watches channels like History, Documentary, BBC, CI, National Geographic and Animal Planet. (I suppose it makes up for his total lack of interest in books. Don’t worry, he also gets in plenty of brain rottage through wrestling and cartoons.) We also add on the movies package (about $20) from time to time as we see fit, which really, equals pretty darn cheap entertainment.
We’re also in the odd place of having higher utility bills in the summer because he has the fan on constantly. Me, I’m cold year-round, winter or summer, and I’m used to bundling up and ignoring the shivers.
Were I not living with him, I’d still be living with flatmates. We moved to our current place (a 1.5 bedroom with garage) at his behest, mostly, and it costs $320 a week. I could probably save up to $40 a week on rent if I was still single and living in a shared house, but I’ll be honest, it’s so worth it not to. Don’t get me started on the flatmate horror stories I’ve accumulated over the years.
I didn’t have my license when we first got together, let alone a car. Public transport and I are tight. I was all about living within 10 minutes of a bus stop and knew the bus and train routes and timetables like the back of my hand. But now, we have one car between us, which he uses the vast majority of the time (he drives to work, I walk) and we split the costs of running it—petrol, insurance, maintenance, registration, etc. Because I am a total nerd, I tracked all our spending for the year in 2010, and calculated that our car cost us about $4,000.
Obviously, I have some rather miserly tendencies. (That’s not to say I never spend money—but it’s usually on food, travel, or both.) But I’m happy with all the choices above-property prices are insane in Auckland, and there’s no way I’d ever rent a one-bedroom alone. Life here is pretty tough without a car, and sharing one is the perfect solution for now. Did I mention that I really, really hate driving? Having a built-in chauffeur is excellent. I highly recommend it.
Due to the current gap between our incomes, I’m essentially paying for more than half of our expenses at the moment. (I hasten to note that while I was studying and he was making more than me-before the Global Financial Crisis and the Great Layoff that followed, that is-he paid for most things, happily.) This is fine by me, though given that I’m naturally a saver and he the spender, I won’t lie: It does cause problems from time to time. If it was the other way around—the person earning more was also the bigger spender-then hey, it’s your money, your decision.
Our financial styles are different, and occasionally we clash, but by and large we’ve developed a system over time that works. Would I prefer he made more money? Of course, and it’s a goal of his too-the more we can bring in the better. Would I prefer he was more frugal? Sure, but then he wouldn’t be who he is. Since we’ve been together, he has gotten a lot less impulsive about spending money and conscious of value as well as price. If he was as big a penny pincher as me, I doubt we’d have much fun. What’s the price of love and companionship?