Decided to move in with your significant other? You'll want to talk about money—and negotiate how your joint finances will be handled—before it becomes a problem.
Agree on how to split the bills Just as with any roommate, you and your partner should agree how much each person will contribute to the monthly bills.
Will you split everything 50/50, or will the partner earning more pay a larger share? Will you pool money in a joint account to pay the bills or simply pay certain bills from each of your individual accounts?
Decide who owns the real estate Renting is no problem, but cohabitation can get complicated if you or your partner owns the home.
For example, if you own the home and your partner pays half the mortgage each month, he or she will not legally own half the property unless you change the title. That said, it's NOT smart to add an unmarried partner to the title of a home; if the relationship goes south, your ex will legally co-own the home but, unless he or she was also a cosigner on your mortgage, you will be solely responsible for the loan.
It's best to agree that the non-owning partner will simply pay the other rent. Otherwise, you can draw up a simple contract that you both sign indicating the non-owning partner will be entitled to equity equal to the principal he or she contributes over time.
Avoid joint debts
Nobody in love wants to think that their relationship might someday end in tears, but we should all acknowledge that anything's possible. Dealing with heartache is hard enough without adding financial problems to the mix, so avoid them in the first place.
Avoid taking on debt with somebody before marriage. Remember that if you break up and your ex stops paying the loan, you’re responsible for the entire balance (even if, for example, he or she still has the car!).
David Weliver is the founding editor of
Money Under 30 . He's a cited authority on personal finance and the unique money issues we face during our first two decades as adults. He lives in Maine with his wife and two children.
Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America (TIAA) has sponsored this post for information purposes only. David Weliver is unaffiliated with TIAA, College Retirement Equities Fund, and their affiliates and subsidiaries (collectively TIAA-CREF), and TIAA makes no representations regarding the accuracy or completeness of any information on this post or otherwise made available by him. Mr. Weliver’s statements are solely his own and are not endorsed or recommended by TIAA. We suggest that you consult an attorney before entering into any contract.
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