New York Eleven million people in the United States live with an unmarried partner, according to the 2000 census. With at least half of current marriages being preceded by a period of cohabitation, it's important to set some financial ground rules before moving in as a couple.
While this doesn't seem the most romantic of notions, you need to have a break-up plan as you won't have many of the legal protections given to married couples.
When moving in together, here are some tips to remember:
¢ Keep separate bank accounts. It's tempting to want to pool resources towards your shared living space, but until you've established a history of stability as a couple it's better to keep your money separate.
¢ Support yourself. Maintain your own financial identity as long as possible and don't borrow money from each other. In the event that you and your partner do break up, you need to be secure in the fact that you're still able to take care of yourself financially.
¢ Don't buy things you don't want. People want different things in their living spaces, but can't expect their partners to pay too. For example, if your partner wants to splurge on a new plasma TV but you can't afford it, you're not obligated to help pay for it, even if you do end up using it.
¢ Do the bills together. Take time, once a month, to sit down and figure out who owes what. This will assure that you aren't paying for charges that aren't yours, like phone calls.
¢ Take things one day at a time. Avoid making financial promises until you and your partner have established a stable living arrangement. If you eventually end the relationship, you don't want to be caught in any legal situations where your partner holds you to those promises.