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Forget waiting to say “I do” before moving in with your beau.  Studies show that the idea of cohabitation isn’t as taboo as it was back in the day.  In fact, 65% of adults believe it’s a good idea to live with your partner before getting married, per a Barna survey.  Whether you’re shacking up short-term or in it for the long haul, money will play a big role in the arrangement.  Protect yourself from getting the short end of the stick by following our money rules for moving in together.

Be open about your finances

Before packing up your belongings, talk to your partner about any and everything money-related.  You need to have a good idea of how they manage their own finances before putting yours at risk.  But don’t just stick your nose in their business, you need to be upfront about your spending habits as well.  This means discussing financial obligations, views on money and life goals.  You can even go as far as asking to see each others credit reports.  Talking about money isn’t an easy thing to do so try to stay calm if you uncover any bad news.  Rather than getting upset, ask for more details and look for solutions to potential money problems.

Discuss how the bills will be split

In theory, splitting the bills 50/50 sounds fair but that’s not always the case.  When deciding who pays for what, take each others salary and debt load into consideration.  If one person earns a much bigger paycheck, have them put more money towards the bills.  Just make sure both parties wholeheartedly agree so no one feels used or uncomfortable.  Don’t make the mistake of thinking this conversation is a one and done type of deal.  You need to revisit the topic every time someone gets a raise or takes a pay cut to ensure you stay on the same page.

Keep track of major purchases

Moving into a new place means you’ll be dishing out a lot of money on furnishings, décor and appliances.  But who gets to keep the stuff if you guys break up?  One way to nip issues in the bud is to keep track of major purchases.  Anytime a big-ticket item is bought, write the payers name on the receipt and put it in a safe place.  It might seem petty but it will keep disputes to a minimum if the relationship doesn’t last.  It will also be easier to come up with an asking price if your mate offers to buy the items from you.

Create a cohabitation agreement

While married couples have laws that protect them and their property, the same cannot be said for unmarried couples choosing to shack up.  So it’s important to come up with a cohabitation agreement.  The purpose of the contract is to protect both parties during and after the relationship.  Cohabitation agreements typically cover issues such as:

  • Who’s responsible for day to day expenses
  • Any property bought or inherited during the relationship
  • The division of property if you die or breakup

Don’t worry about spending an arm and a leg on fancy legal documents.  Most people can create their own cohabitation agreement using an online template, many of which can be found for free.  You’ll just need to have the contract signed by both parties and your witnesses.  However, we do recommend seeking a lawyer’s input if you have a lot to lose.