If you’re planning to set up home with a new partner or spouse, it’s important to discuss how you’re going to manage your personal finances.
Both of you are likely to have different views on this issue, coloured by experience. One or both may prefer to hold the purse strings, or not, but it will be down to you to find a solution that works.
Before you take the step of moving in together, take time to consider essential outgoings, including mortgage payments or rent, groceries and utility bills and agree who will pay what.
Make a budget on your computer and agree it so that neither party feels hard done by, and so you have a record later on should one of you start to question the financial arrangement you both decided on.
Joint bank accounts
If you are both good with money, opening a joint account may be worthwhile, as it is easier to keep track of outgoings.
However, it can become a problem if one of you overspends. Remember, you will both be liable for repaying any overdraft, for example.
You may decide to keep separate accounts – if so, ensure you keep each other aware of any potential drops in income or unexpected expenses.
Alternatively. you might like to keep separate accounts and open a joint account that you both pay into monthly to cover bills and holidays - that way, you'll have your own pot of money to dip into for treats, or presents for your partner, without feeling you need to seek permission from your other half.
If you both earn about the same, you might like to contribute the same amount; however, if one of you earns significantly more than the other, you might like to look at each contributing a percentage of your earnings so that the lower earner doesn't end up struggling to pay their half.
The best approach would be to have regular chats about how your arrangement is going and be willing to tweak as required.
Breaking down the cost of heartache and divorce
You are both fully liable for repayments on joint loans, and any late payments will be logged on both your credit files. To avoid this problem, you can set up a direct debit to ensure minimum repayments are made on time.
If you have a joint credit card, stick to the overall limit and keep a central record of all purchases.
Does your new partner have children? Read our tips for step parents.
Joint mortgages and tenancy agreements
If you are buying or renting a new home together, and both of you are named on the mortgage or tenancy agreement, both of you will be totally liable for repayments.
If you’re taking on a new mortgage together, you might want to think about being tenants in common rather than joint tenants. Being a tenant in common means that you can pass on your share in the property to whoever you want after you die. This may be important if you have children from your previous relationship that you want to provide for. If you’re a joint tenant, the share automatically passes to your partner.
If the mortgage or tenancy agreement is only in one of your names, the other person has limited housing rights if your relationship breaks down.
Remember to review any life insurance policies when your circumstances change to ensure you have the right level of cover.
Prenups and postnups
If marriage or a civil partnership is on the cards you may want to consider taking out a prenuptial agreement (or a postnuptial agreement if you’re already hitched). Both offer a way of protecting your assets if your relationship fails.
You might want to think about using a prenup if one of you owns all of a property or a business, or has significant investments.
A postnup could be an option if one of you comes into an inheritance or starts your own business. It’s best to discuss these agreements in detail and to take independent legal advice.
If you’re living together, but don’t plan to marry, you could draw up an agreement that sets out who owns or contributes what. This approach may help resolve conflict if your relationship fails – and help avoid unnecessary legal costs if there are disputes.
Are your children struggling to accept your new partner? Read our tips.
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