Expenses after Co-Habitating

Our newlywed custom t-shirts!

Despite all the potential financial disadvantages of marriage, there are some upsides to co-habitating as well! Since monthly expense reports seem to be all the rage on those personal finance blogs, I thought I’d do one myself, comparing expenses before and after my partner moved in, to see what has changed. I’m not planning on making this a regular series, as there are approximately 1024 other blogs if you want to read other people’s net income or expense reports 😛 This is just a financial glimpse into our lives, as I weirdly enjoy reading these reports on other peoples’ blogs.

Cost Before ($) After ($) Commentary
Immediate Obligations
Mortgage + HOA + property taxes 1200 1200 Roof over our heads (900 sq ft condo). HOA to maintain the green, green grass for the dogs to pee on (nothing against dogs! Just saying that the main people I see using the grounds are dog-walkers). As you can see, we live in a fairly reasonable cost-of-living area in CA.
Electricity, gas  80  90 Started using more heating after my partner moved in. I used to use a space heater because it felt inefficient to heat up the whole condo for 1 person, but now it makes more sense to turn the central heat on.
Internet, streaming  65  85 Slight bump because our Netflix wedding gift card ran out, and Spotify charged because I forgot to cancel after the trial period (found it’s not that useful, except for yelling at Alexa to play random songs, which I’ll kinda miss 🙂 ).
Cell phone  70  70 We share a family plan with 3 other people ($70 is our share). It’s kind of a hassle because my friend is a bit scatter-brained and I have to chase him down to pay sometimes. This is a holdover from our grad school days, which we’ve kept going since then.
True Expenses
Groceries  200  450 A little more than double, seems reasonable. My partner has a really strange habit of visiting Ralph’s every day at the late night and buying ____. Usually the list includes Honest Tea, bags of baby carrots (he’s on a healthy kick), or random Easter chocolates (backlash against the healthy kick).
Personal care  300  80 The “before” is much higher because of an optometrist visit. Not much difference here in terms of regular expenses. The gym increased from $40 (1 person) -> $70 (2 people).
Car  280 130 Before: parking during Christmas vacation, regular maintenance, oil. After: new parking pass for my partner, oil. Hard to tell if this has increased in terms of recurring expenses or not.
Bike  30  100 Before: Reflective vest after I almost got run over by a car in the rain 😡 After: New lights and basket for my partner’s bike now that he’s started biking too. This will probably go back to near-zero.
Just For Fun
Eating out  150 900 ?!??? To be fair, the “before” month was probably the lowest I’ve ever spent on dining out. Usually it was more like $200-250 for just me. Living together has made us more likely to go out, because I no longer feel lame for asking for a table for one. Also, it’s been hard adjusting to cooking enough food for two rather than one, so there ends up not being enough leftovers, and we go out.
Shopping  300 300 Clothing, shoes, board games (hellooooo Game of Thrones Catan), etc. Seems pretty stable.
Home  200  100 Before: Tax software, random stuff from Amazon. After: mini-fridge for my partner’s office. Seems pretty stable.
Entertainment  100  350 Before: Knitting stuff. After: Beyonce+Jay-Z tickets!!! Can’t miss! Also my partner’s Hearthstone cards and Pokemon Go upgrades ($50 for digital cards? ok, no judgement), and cozy movie rentals at home 🙂
Pets  20  15 Cat litter and food.
Gifts  60  10 Some small gifts. Not much difference.
Work expenses (to be reimbursed)  1300  600 This is not counted in the total, but our work is pretty annoying because we have to pay out of pocket for a trip, then wait til after the trip (months later) to be reimbursed. It doesn’t affect us that much, but I feel for the grad students who have to put down these large sums of money.
TOTAL  3055  3880

The difference between and after doesn’t seem so bad! I was a bit concerned after seeing our massive eating out expenses, but it doesn’t seem to have made much difference to the bottom line.

S (<– my partner’s new blog name, typing “my partner” was wearing out my fingers 😛 ) and I discussed eating out, and he’s more of the mind that as long as we can comfortably afford it (which we can), then eating out is fine. I agree with this, but I would prefer to eat in more because honestly, the food options are not that hot around here. The area we live is not exactly the hippest urban town (my mental image of a typical resident is a grizzled old man riding a Harley), so it doesn’t have great/diverse food options which reduces the temptation to go out. Especially for our lunches – the campus food options are pretty limited (food truck burritos or Panda Express poke, which gets old fast), and I swear that home-brought food tastes 10x better when eaten at the office 🙂

Did you expenses change after co-habitating with a partner or roommate? How much do you spend on eating out?

6 thoughts on “Expenses after Co-Habitating

  1. Our food spending is actually pretty similar to yours! I like to split it into quite a few categories, based on intention. I find that helps me to feel less “bad” about eating out being too high. For January through May, we averaged $1,130.76/month on food:
    $505.30 groceries
    $254.07 fun food out together (aka intentionally eating out together: brunches and usually 1-3 dinners out per month)
    $118 Lunches for me (my husband does the cooking and I don’t feel like making lunch for myself all the time)
    $85 Sweets (fancy donuts, cupcakes, cake slices, ice cream, etc.)
    $70 Take Out/Delivery (unintentional eating out, haha)
    $40 Lunches for my husband (his work covers his lunches, so this is just when he doesn’t feel like eating what they’re serving)
    $39 Coffee subscription: we get two bags of coffee delivered per month for my husband’s espresso machine
    $19 Coffee Shops (for my husband – I don’t drink coffee)

    Separately counted (in other categories):
    $37/month average social food for me without my husband
    $100/month average social food for my husband without me
    $22/month average social food for both of us out with friends

    So I guess our grand total comes out to $1,289.76/month on “food”. That’s about $645 on average for each of us. It looks like back in 2012 (single), I averaged $466/month on “food”: $172 on lunches, $127 on groceries, $52 on unintentional eating out, and $115 on social eating. We eat way more meat and complicated meals than I ever cooked for myself before, my husband eats twice as much food as me, and I ate way more fast food then than I do now. I don’t think this is an unreasonable amount to spend on food for the two of us at our income/asset bracket.

    When my husband moved in, we were dating and keeping our finances entirely separate, so I kept paying all of the housing expenses. That meant he was able to save his $2000/month in rent, but I didn’t save much money myself from him moving in. It looks like I spent $45k in 2013, $48k in 2014 (he moved in December of that year), $49k in 2015 (we took a four week trip to New Zealand, though much of it was paid for in 2014), $69k in 2016 (getting married while in the middle of a living room remodel will do that), $46k in 2017 (we started splitting the housing expenses this year, but my husband fully took the mortgage payment on, which was then about $12k, so still saved money over 2017 even with the wedding). This year, I’m estimating my half of the expenses to be about $32k, ignoring the mortgage. I am curious to see how things fall! So it seems that maybe moving in together eventually reduces expenses, but once you get past the wedding and remodeling stages and so long as you don’t look for a bigger place? (I don’t really count the mortgage in spending any more because 3/4 of the payment goes to principal and we have enough liquid to pay off the balance.)


    • Ah, it’s great that you break it down! Then you can really see what fraction is more planned rather than just out of convenience. I especially like the “Treats” category – that sounds enjoyable 🙂 I don’t really have a good idea of what is a reasonable number overall though. I always vaguely feel that I should cut it down, but maybe that’s because I don’t have a reference point. The USDA charts seem extremely low, and my mom would definitely be horrified by all the eating out. I guess I can only compare to my own past averages. It’s nice to know that someone else spends a similar amount on food, though, and thinks it’s reasonable!

      I think I spent about that per year when I was single. We don’t have any yearly data yet as a couple though. I think it should be like you said; after the initial bump of the wedding and house things, the spending should settle down to a lower level. Except for the fact that my partner eats way more and also produces amazing quantities of laundry, haha. But those don’t cost much compared to the savings of living in the same home and avoiding two rents.


      • The $900/month in dining out doesn’t bother me by itself, other than that it’s too large of a number to not break it down further 🙂 The Treats category is very delicious! For reference on me thinking it’s reasonable, our household income has varied between $300-500k while we’ve been together.

        Avoiding two rents saves so much money! So long as it doesn’t result in getting a bigger place…


  2. Our total food spending, both restaurants and groceries, is too big and shameful to disclose, haha. (And I only really know my number, but his is almost certainly about the same.) I’ve realized that food is the only area I can realistically make significant monthly cuts (>$100) and I shouldn’t even feel deprived if I tried it, but I don’t seem to have the inclination to do so. I’m very good about cutting expenses by meal prepping lunches for an entire week if the local restaurant selection is not tasty or priced appropriately, but when I have all the options I do in NYC, I can’t bring myself to prep my lunches and actually eat them! A pity, because that alone would definitely save me around $34 a week (~$44 for Sweetgreen or Pret a Manger four days a week versus ~10 dollars for enough chicken and kale or broccoli for four days, to be eaten with quinoa or lentils I already have).

    I do find that living together increases some of our restaurant and household good expenditures. For some reason, once we moved in together, we seemed to use up things like dish soap, tissues, and paper towels far more than twice as fast compared to my usual rate. And when I live alone sometimes I’d rather scrounge up a weird meal with a bunch of snacks and other little things I already have at home instead of cooking a real meal or ordering one from a restaurant, but I don’t do that anymore when there are two people who must be fed!


    • Back when I was living in the city as a student, I spent about $600 per month on food/eating out, and it was worth it! Such a great variety of awesome, authentic food. (I deleted my Mint account and lost all the historical data though, grr…) Maybe the appeal of lunches out is the variety and change of scenery? My colleagues are awesome and we usually get together for lunch at an outdoor table, which helps curb the desire to walk across campus and pick up something from a cafe. But in the long run, I haven’t decided whether lunch in is worth it or not. It’s more the overall $ number of eating out tends to scare me, but maybe that can be cut more easily by reducing the number of dinners, rather than lunches.

      Hahaha I totally agree with the “weird meals” thing. I would previously just have a can of soup or something. But now there’s *pressure*. And the issue of not cooking large enough quantities for leftovers the next day, which is a doubly expensive mistake compared to before. Ah well, that’s what Costco frozen pizza and Trader Joe’s frozen Indian food is for!


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