Conscious by Chloé

Chloé Lepeltier - Conscious By Chloé

A Sustainable Lifestyle Blog focusing on Zero Waste, Slow Living, and Ethical Fashion.

Creating Harmony in Your Relationship: 4 Essential Tips for Living Together

Creating Harmony in Your Relationship: 4 Essential Tips for Living Together by Conscious by Chloé

As we're approaching the mid-year mark, a time when Octave and I meet for what I call our "Life Meeting", I thought I'd share an update of an article I published 6 years ago about the systems I implemented to do life with my significant other. As we all know, the mental load is real, but a little planning (and technology) can help alleviate some of it.

Seven years ago, I was asked by my local Minimalists group to give a talk about "Conscious Cohabitation". It was an interesting exercise for me to reflect on what it's like to share a home with Octave. I got a chance to discuss with the attendees about their own experience of sharing a home with their parents, significant other, or roommates and learned a lot!

Since then, I've updated my presentation according to their comments and thought I would share it with you here as well.

First, there are a couple of things you should know about me:

  • Octave and I have been living together for 10 years. So far, we've lived in 5 homes in various countries, States, and cities!
  • I grew up an only child.
  • My parents live together but were never married.

This should give you a better idea about how and why I decided to implement the following system at home. I divided life at home into 4 categories: admin, finances, scheduling, and housekeeping.

And last but not least, please bear in mind that I am here presenting a system based on my own experience and that I in no way assume that it's a one-size-fits-all.

Creating Harmony in Your Relationship: 4 Essential Tips for Living Together by Conscious by Chloé

1. Admin

Raise your hand if you've ever been in this situation where you think you're super ready for a meeting with your banker, real estate agent, or mobile provider and they suddenly ask for a document they totally failed to mention before.

Based on this scenario, and on the fact that Octave and I moved overseas and had no intention to pay for the shipment of all of our admin archives, we digitized the majority of our papers. And here is how I organized them.

Google Drive

I've been using Google Drive for as long as I can remember, so I just created the following folders and shared them with Octave.

  • Create one shared folder that will contain three shared sub-folders (two personal, one common).
  • In each of the two personal folders, scan and add the following personal documents for each person: ID, driver's license, passport, visa, birth certificate, and ID picture.
  • In the common folder, scan and add the documents that are relevant for both parties: marriage license, rental agreement, insurance, and accounting spreadsheet (see Finances). You can also add another subfolder and name it "Old" where you will archive items that are no longer relevant (previous car insurance, former lease agreement).


If you've been following me for a while, you've already read this article and know how much I love 1Password.
Long story short, this app will create complicated and safe passwords for all the websites you use, will remember all your important info (SSN, credit card number), and will even autocomplete forms online (oh the time you'll save not having to type your name, date of birth, address, bank info, etc.) and all you have to do is remember one. single. password. or use the Touch ID on your phone.
We installed it on our phones, tablets, and desktops and shared the passwords that are useful for both of us (car insurance, home insurance, health insurance, Internet, utilities, etc.).

Creating Harmony in Your Relationship: 4 Essential Tips for Living Together by Conscious by Chloé

2. Finances

Before we moved to the US, Octave and I each had our own bank account. We meant to open a joint one, but the timing was never right, we had different banks, worked in different cities, and never got around to being able to meet at the bank before it closes (this was pre-Internet banking).

But as soon as we moved to the US and met our banker, we opted for the following system:

Two personal bank accounts

One for each. That way we don't mess with the other one's expense. The household/family is on track, the rest is personal.

One joint bank account

  • Open one joint bank account.
  • Select the paperless option.
  • Set a monthly automatic payment from your personal account to your joint account (calculate and estimate your monthly household expenses and divide it by 2).
  • Opt for automatic payments for rent, utilities, Internet, phone, home insurance, and health insurance.
  • Get one debit (or credit) card for each and use it to pay common expenses: groceries, common hobbies, restaurants, trips, and home improvement.

Side note: To differentiate our personal card from our joint one, Octave drew a heart on the joint one while we were still at the bank. My heart melted.

Two savings account

As responsible adults, and as we are both freelancers and do not know what the future holds, we each opened a savings account.
We set a monthly automatic payment from our personal account to the savings account so we save without even thinking about it.


As our income fluctuates, sometimes one of us is not able to make the scheduled monthly automatic payment. So the solution I found to keep track of our accounting is to:

  • Keep a shared accounting spreadsheet in the common shared folder and keep track of expenses related to the household (the payments made by each of us to the joint bank account or extra expenses for the household that we paid with our personal account)
  • Meet twice a year to keep track of your common finances.

Side note: I usually set up a "Life Meeting" date in our shared calendar (see Scheduling) well in advance and choose a café in our neighborhood with a wifi connection. Being outside of our home helps us focus on the task to accomplish.

Creating Harmony in Your Relationship: 4 Essential Tips for Living Together

3. Scheduling

Once again, our freelance life pretty much shapes the way we have to organize our lives. With our irregular schedules and off-location assignments, I felt like we needed a platform to let the other know of major commitments. As we are both Apple products users, we decided to use the Apple calendar and:

  • Share our professional calendars with each other.
  • Create a common calendar for reminders, invitations, events, trips, family visits, and cleaning-up days (see Housekeeping).

Side note: I recently discovered that you could export your Facebook Events (and Facebook friends' Birthdays) to your calendar, check it out!

Creating Harmony in Your Relationship: 4 Essential Tips for Living Together

4. Housekeeping

Utilities, etc.

We deal with things together, mostly, but we have a tacit understanding that he deals with all things related to the phone and insurance and I deal with the utilities.

Side note: Choose what you have interests in or knowledge of and share the tasks equitably.

To-Do Lists

We share lists on our iPhones through the Notes app. We used to use Wunderlist and I bet there are many user-friendly ones on the market now.

We mainly use the Notes app to share our grocery list. It synchronizes the data in real-time so that we both know what to get when one of us decides to stop at the store, even unexpectedly. I have to admit that we use it less and less now that we both work from home and usually shop together but it's still there in case we need it.

We used to have a general to-do list (mostly home improvement) and a bucket list of all the places we'd like to visit someday (2-day trips in Oregon/Washington). I don't know where it went! It might be time to recreate it...

Grocery Shopping

Post-pandemic, and post-move to a small town, we don't shop in bulk as much as we used to...

In our small town, our options are very limited. We usually go to the local grocery store together once a month for a big resupply (we try to time it with the occasional member discount days) and otherwise just pop in when we need something fresh.

Between May and September, we buy seasonal veggies at The Stand or the Sisters Farmers Market.

We keep market bags in the entryway and in the car so we're always ready for a shopping trip.

Side note: If you're curious about shopping in bulk, check out my Zero Waste Shopping Kit article, and my Shopping in Bulk 101 article.


Octave and I keep sending each other recipes that we want to try. I used to compile them in an app but now simply keep a list with links in my Notes app (separating them into "done" and "to do" categories.)

Octave is an amazing cook and has been collecting cookbooks over the past three years (we couldn't really invest in books before, because of our regular moves...) He has developed a special interest in Japanese cooking, He now makes his own shoyu, miso, and crafts his own knife handles!

Side note: I am very happy to have a dishwasher in my house for the first time in my adult life because our deal has somewhat always been "You cook, I do the dishes".


By now, you should everything about my Cleaning Routine.

Whether it's a deep-cleaning session or routine cleaning and, more importantly, if you share this task with a partner or housemates, knowing that a special date or time in the week or month is dedicated to this task makes the decision-making way easier. No arguing, no convincing, no debating, it's on the calendar so that's when it should be done!

I used to follow a schedule for quick maintenance:
Monday - Bedroom
Tuesday - Bathroom
Wednesday - Mudroom/Pantry
Thursday - Kitchen
Friday - Living Room
Saturday - Office

Now I vacuum and clean surface on an as-needed basis, and mop and deep clean once a week.

I also keep a list of home improvement or seasonal cleaning tasks in my Notes app (check sink gaskets, clear pipes, clean windows, clean oven, wash cushions, etc.)

Side note: We had a robot vaccum for a couple of years. You take some time to program it, figure out when's a good time to have it running and your house magically cleans itself. After moving to a two-story house and because we're home most the time, we eventually upgraded our cordless vacuum and vacuum the entire house once a week.

Trash, Recycling, Compost

Since becoming a Master Recycler, I've set up a sorting and recycling station at home. Ours is currently composed of:

  • 1 recycling basket (paper, metal, plastic bottles, and tubs).
  • 1 trash basket (yes, we still produce some trash).
  • 1 glass crate (to bring to the recycling center) + one green Bottle Bill bag (to bring to the Redemption Center).
  • 1 compost tray that I keep in the freezer and empty outside into the compost tumbler once a week.
  • 1 box for special items: soft plastic, corks, batteries, lightbulbs can be brought to specific locations for safe disposal, recycling, or reuse.

Side note: This sorting station is designed according to our local infrastructure. Get in touch with your city or trash hauler to learn about curbside recycling, etc. You might also find this article interesting if you're looking to compost.


We keep a donation box by the back door where we put items that we no longer use and are still in good condition for donation.
I sell items on Poshmark, give items I no longer use via my local Buy Nothing group, participate in clothing swaps with friends, and donate to the local thrift store as a last resort.

Junk Mail

Getting junk mail is one of the things that frustrates me the most in my journey to zero waste. I feel like all the efforts I'm making to prevent trash from entering my house are ruined by the junk mail that filtrates through my mailbox.
Through research and experience, I came up with a list of solutions that will help you dramatically reduce the amount of junk, promotional, or unwanted mail in your mailbox.

Creating Harmony in Your Relationship: 4 Essential Tips for Living Together by Conscious by Chloé

5. Conclusion

This system is the result of years of trial and error. First, you'll need to sit down with your housemates, identify what your needs and priorities are, and build a system around them.

If you're more interested in producing less waste, focus on your pantry and the recycling station. If you're more interested in keeping your financial independence, run to the bank and open a joint bank account. You do not need to do it all at once. Start small, see what works for you, and adjust along the way.

The one thing that I found very important in this endeavor was to balance the roles. Sharing a house is sharing responsibilities.

I hope you've enjoyed reading my conscious cohabitation tips and hope they will help you make your life simpler, greener, and happier.

Now, I'd love to read your comments on this subject. What systems have you implemented at home? How do you distribute the roles? Who's in charge of what? Do you hire a house cleaner? Roommates, how do you deal with rent & utilities?