SUCCESSFULLY COUPLE LOVE AND FINANCES
Having a heart to heart with your mate about finances allows you both to learn each other’s economic circumstances, limitations, expectations and goals. Without this knowledge, your relationship is bound to suffer both emotionally and economically. To avoid undue surprises, and unnecessary problems, now is the time to communicate, and to take steps at opening up both your hearts and wallets
VOW TO OPEN UP BOTH YOUR HEART AND CHECKBOOK
Couples are not always in simpatico when it comes to money. Often, we do not realize how disparate our views and priorities are until we are faced with a major financial decision. To avoid sparks that are far from romantic, communicate, learn attitudes, and ask questions. Delaying money talks may only compound your problems. Questions to embrace include: 1) what assets do you have; 2) do you want to put everything in joint names, or do you want to maintain separate accounts; 3) who will handle the checkbook and household bills; 4) will you both have the freedom to spend as you please, or will you have to answer to each other each time you make a purchase; 5) if there is only one wage earner, will the non-earning mate have access to the checkbook, and does the earned income belong to both of you equally; 6) do you have a plan for putting money into savings, and will you set aside savings for emergencies, and towards education and retirement?
DON’T BECOME INDEBTED
Do you know if your mate carries a slew of debt, such as student loans, car payments, credit card bills, etc? If you do not have a handle on his/her financial picture, now is the time to take a snapshot of how much your partner owns, and how much your partner owes. Your mate’s debt can hamper your joint financial goals, such as applying for a mortgage, or obtaining a loan together. Any joint credit accounts that you have, such as auto loans, credit cards, and mortgages will show up on both of your credit reports. If your mate does have credit problems, it may be a wise idea to keep all of your accounts and assets separate. How you choose to own and title your property and other assets, establishes what you can do with your property, how protected it is from creditors, and where it goes when you die. Even if your significant other does not have a problem with debt, it is sensible to have some credit and assets in your own name, since not every relationship works out. You always want to ensure that you have a credit history of your own, and a degree of financial independence. If you do want to merge your finances, consider having a joint account for living expenses and joint purchases, and separate accounts for personal purchases.
JOIN HEARTS AND MINDS
When it comes to love and money, you must use both your hearts and minds, and exercise common sense. Consider developing a plan for long-term financial goals, like purchasing a home, raising a family, paying for college, and planning for retirement. You also want to create a budget, and establish a realistic plan for saving and investing toward your goals. You should ensure that you have sufficient health, life, and disability insurance to provide your partner with some financial security in the event of a death, illness or injury. You want to be sure to exchange information with your partner about the location of important papers in the event of an emergency. If you are both employed, check your insurance policies to make sure you are not paying for duplicate coverage that you do not need. You should also prepare an estate plan that includes preparation of a will, a living will, and a durable power of attorney. Joining hearts and assets can also have tax implications that you may want to discuss with a tax advisor.
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