Worries woman in new home

Can I Afford My New Home?

“I’ve just been accepted for a new place and I’ll be moving in with my fiancée in the next few weeks. We’re really excited about making a new life and home together but also dead scared that we’ve bitten off more than we can chew. I’m on jobseekers right now and just cannot find a job but I totally think I’ll have a better chance once we’ve moved in.” Sarah P, London

Well, Sarah,

Congrats on getting your first place and moving in together. I’m sure you will do just fine and it’s quite normal to be both excited and worried at the same time. Sorting your finances out is so important. So, before you start nest-building here are my 10 top tips:

  1. Get a benefits check. Moving in together may affect your entitlement to benefits and could well trigger a move onto Universal Credit. You can check what you’re due online and there is advice on this website about how to.
  2. Once you know how much money you will have, sit down together and draw up a budget, then agree to stick to it. Again, there’s advice online about this.
  3. Talk about how you will share out the bills once you live together. I normally advise basing this on who’s bringing in what. So if your partner is earning a bit more, they could pay a bit more.
  4. If either of you has debt to deal with, some advice before you move in together might be useful. There’s nothing like money worries to poor cold water on your romantic life.
  5. Set up a joint bills bank account that each of you pay into, then all your shared bills can come out of that. Sometimes direct debits coming out the day after you get paid is a good idea, but if you are going struggle you may be better making card payments when you know the money is in the bank.
  6. Keep your own separate personal accounts for spending money left over. After all, you don’t want your other half knowing all your secrets. Nor you, theirs!
  7. Make sure you are on the cheapest deals for things like gas, electric, water and broadband. Check here for ideas on shopping around and here for suggestions to minimise usage and keep bills down. Money Saving Expert is another place for advice on getting your bills right down.
  8. Set spending limits for things like food shopping. Or just take cash to the supermarket, then when it’s gone, it’s gone!
  9. It’s a good idea to put a bit aside for unexpected costs like car repairs or even Christmas. Check out your local Credit Union or Post Office for a regular saver account. One that isn’t too easy to get access to means you will be less tempted to spend the money there.
  10. If you need to buy furniture, it’s best not to rush out and buy new stuff until you know how your money is going to last. Usually family and friends can come up with donations. You could also try freecycle.co.uk or your local furniture recycling centre, (see Quids in!’s tips here). But if you really need new stuff, ask your landlord or an advice agency if they can point you towards grants and schemes you may be able to apply to.

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