Jared Soares for BI
I’m in a poly relationship with my husband and my boyfriend; we all live together.We have two checking accounts and don’t split our bills evenly.By combining our three incomes, we’ll be able to buy a house.
This is part of our series Splitting the Difference, which examines the financial lives of couples.
I’m a millennial, which means I, like so many in my generation, have had a rough time financially. I’m facing student loans, high inflation, and stagnant wages. The cost of living is high, and unfortunately I’m not a trust-fund kid with wealthy relatives.
While other people my age may be sacrificing dreams of homeownership, children, and a career they love, one trick up my sleeve has helped me more than anything: polyamory.
My husband, Daniel, and I agreed to try polyamory in December 2015. We’d married in 2008 and had two children by 2013. It was certainly an adjustment from our conservative upbringing. For the first few years we tended to date other people who were also in primary relationships with other people. We didn’t think we’d live with future partners.
But when I met Ty in 2018, my perspective began to change. The five of us became very close-knit, like a family.
To be clear, Ty and Daniel don’t date; we’re not a throuple. We’re what’s called a “vee” in the polyamory world. I date both men separately, and they don’t date each other.
At the beginning of 2020, after much planning and discussion, we decided to all rent a house and move in together. Finances were a big reason.
Until this summer, I was a breadwinner
Early this year I made around $70,000 a year. But this summer I quit my full-time writing job and started working part time as an editor so I could work on a book about polyamory and Christianity while taking on more freelance work. Now my salary is inconsistent and much lower: closer to $25,000 a year, give or take.
Daniel, a teacher at a private school, makes about $55,000 and carries health insurance for me, the kids, and himself. This job is recent, and it enabled me to follow my freelancer dreams and write my book.
Meanwhile, Ty takes home about $75,000 as a local banking corporation’s process manager. He decided to get his bachelor’s degree in software engineering a few years ago. Ty has no student-loan debt thanks to a higher-education program with his company, where he’s worked for almost a decade.
Jared Soares for BI
Daniel’s and my finances are entangled
Daniel and I have had a joint bank account for over a decade. We file our taxes jointly, and we share a savings account and a credit card.
Meanwhile, Ty is legally single and files as such. We don’t share a joint checking account; he has his own. Still, Ty and I have several credit cards and a savings account together to show financial attachment in case we run into legal issues involving polyamory.
In much of the US, children can have only two legal guardians — we want to make sure that if Daniel and I die, Ty can continue parenting our children. Additionally, Ty wants to make sure the kids or I would inherit his assets if he were to die. Since he’s not their legal guardian and I’m not his legal spouse, shared finances over a long period would help in court.
Our finances don’t need to be evenly split, but they need to be fair
While there are three of us, there are only two checking accounts: one is Ty’s, and the other belongs to me and Daniel.
We split the rent — $1,537 a month — with Ty. Daniel and I pay $837, while Ty pays $700.
Daniel and I cover the cellphone bill — we’re all on the same one — and the groceries, while Ty pays for utilities and WiFi.
We all contribute to gifts, healthcare costs, and our kids’ needs and pay individually for our cars or clothes. Occasionally we may make a slightly bigger purchase — such as a video game console, laptop, or TV — and whoever has the most extra cash typically pays. We always discuss it with each other.
So far, we haven’t had a substantial disagreement about money, as we have similar views about spending and saving. Ty will occasionally cover an extra bill when we’re struggling or let me know if he needs help with any expenses. We have a weekly family meeting to discuss chores, scheduling, and finances.
Recently we’ve begun the process of buying a home
As we started looking to buy a home together, things got a bit complicated.
It’s not finalized yet, but Ty and Daniel are on the mortgage application. I’m not because my income as a self-employed freelancer is too recent for the mortgage company to consider; it requires two years of self-employment. But putting Daniel and Ty on a loan together is another way to ensure we’re connected legally and financially.
Jared Soares for BI
Polyamory has been life-saving to me financially, especially as someone who’s married and had kids young. Until a third person was contributing to my family’s budget, I never dreamed of being able to own a house. With three incomes, it’s easier to get by.
Sharing your resources among loved ones, whether you’re romantic or not, might seem scary, but it’s a great way to support each other.