Cohabitate? Struggling to manage finances with your live-in love? Use these six suggestions. They will help you remain financially sound and maintain a level head about your money.

It’s come time and you and your partner are ready to move in together, and take the relationship to the next level. More than likely you will have a mix of things that you are yours, and things that are hers and you will have some things that the two of you own. After you are living together, should you share finances – the same checking account, for example and pay bills together or should you keep your separate checking accounts?

Many couples opt to share finances, pooling the monetary earnings into one account and paying bills and using the rest of the money to save for a common goal – this can get tricky when you realize that she spent more than a week’s salary on a new bag, or a new pair of shoes. It could get ugly too, with the age of online banking you are able to check up on each other like never before and track spending habits.

Tracking finance comes in handy when you are trying to create a budget for the two of you to abide by. If you are able to track the budget together there may be some drama if one is spending more than one earns, or taking many cash transactions out of the bank without knowledge of the other.

1- Use percentages.

Don’t get caught up in the idea of splitting your joint bills 50-50. If your significant other earns 30% more than you do, he should pay for 30% more of the household expenses. By paying bills based on percentages, no one feels taken advantage of or gets tapped out. You both feel the same weight of financial responsibility in the relationship.

2- Agree on pay dates.

Manage finances with a live-in lover by mutually agreeing on the days you pay your bills. This process gives each of you an opportunity to visually see that the household bills are being paid. You also get a chance to confront a live-in lover who is dropping the ball before your lights or cable get cut off.

3- Keep a receipt book.

Some people just can’t be honest about money. If your otherwise adorable mate is one of them, keep a book of receipts. This kind of record keeping will reflect the truth and help you avoid a series of silly arguments. Word to the wise – be sure each receipt has letterhead or an emblem from the company, so you know it’s real.

4- Limit loan amounts.

Most of us know a friend or relative who lent a lover money to pay off a loan. Then, when the relationship went sour, the recipient argued that the loan was a “gift”. Avoid falling into this trap. Manage finances with a live-in lover by limiting loan amounts to a figure that won’t put a strain on your bank account. This way, if your live-in lover doesn’t pay, you will be less angry and broke.

5- Avoid mixing bank accounts.

Certain activities are best left to marriage. One of them is opening up a joint bank account with someone who hasn’t walked down the aisle with you. Unfortunately, giving a lover access to your money when there are no real strings attached can leave you bankrupt. Draw a line in the sand when it comes to this type of activity and save yourself a lot of grief.

6- Meet regularly to discuss bills.

A major key to managing your finances with a live-in lover is open communication. Meet with him regularly to discuss bills and talk about the state of your household. Your ability to talk to each other about money will reflect how well you will do in marriage on the same topic. You also can air any concerns (or delights) you have about your partner’s financial skills.

I would advise only saving money if you were sure that you were going to be together for a very long time – I would advise doing so if there were plans to get married in the future, or are at least engaged. If you are engaged than it presents someone sense of security for the relationship. After all, you must be able to trust each other to the utmost extent in order to give control of finances over to your partner – after all, it may be your reputation.

In all – it is best to keep finances separate until you are in a serious relationship. There can be serious repercussions if you do not. Make sure that you are both responsible with your finances, and honest with each other and you should be able to avoid all difficulties!

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