Sometimes when we open up our hearts, we also open up our bank accounts, hand over our assets and even offer to take on our loved one’s debt.
Being part of a couple should not mean giving up your financial independence. Here are some relationship do’s and don’ts.
Discuss spending decisions. You don’t need to track every $5 purchase, but major outlays should be discussed with your spouse upfront.
Be involved in the household finances. If anything happens to one partner, you should be able to take over.
Know each other’s debt situation and credit record early on, and make plans to deal with it. Decide whether you will repay pre-couple debts from separate, or joint, accounts.
Designate a bill payer. That way the phone won’t be cut off because you each thought the other had paid the bill.
Budget rather than drifting from one pay day to the next. Having two incomes gives you the opportunity to power ahead – so use it.
Set goals and discuss how you will achieve them.
Assume that it will all work itself out. Relationships Australia provides a counselling service that covers financial issues. The Australia-wide number is 1300 364 277.
Be a victim of “sexually transmitted debt”. This often occurs where one partner agrees to act as guarantor for the debts of the other. If the relationship sours and the borrower shoots through, the guarantor is left responsible for the full amount of the debt. Be especially wary about agreeing to be guarantor in a short-term relationship.
Have all the debt and all the assets held in the name of one spouse. You may be part of a couple, but it is still important to have your own savings and credit record. Without this, if you divorce or your spouse dies, it will be difficult to get a loan or credit card.
Forget to set aside money for fun. After all, you didn’t become a couple just to get wealthy.