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When do you know you’re officially a couple?
The start of a new relationship can be an exciting time, but how do you know when the person you’re dating officially becomes your partner? Are there certain things that you associate with the beginning of a relationship?
New research* carried out on our behalf found that 1 in 4 Brits believe that joining finances with a partner is confirmation of a relationship – whether that’s moving in together, opening a joint bank account or sharing a PIN number.
Taking risks in love
Although not very romantic, it’s a good idea to talk about your attitudes and approach to money before deciding whether to move in together or join finances. If you can figure out whether you’re on the same wave length, or have completely different ideas on how to look after your finances from the start, it could save some headaches in the future.
It’s also good to understand that you see the same future – is marriage on the cards, do you want to buy a house, or is having a baby on the horizon? It’s also good to know each other’s current financial situations too – do either of you have any debts, savings or assets? Getting a good grip on each other’s finances means that, if you do decide to combine finances or move in, you’re entering it with your eyes open.
When you make the decision to move in with your partner, one option to look at is drawing up a Living Together Agreement – which is also sometimes called a Cohabitation Agreement. This agreement protects you and your partner should you ever split up. It’s a record that sets out what you and your partner have agreed to do about your home and your possessions, as well as any shared debts or bills that you have, in the event of a break up. These agreements aren’t binding unless you write them as a formal legal deed, but the court will usually go along with them if they’re fair and you’ve both agreed to the arrangements. If you seek legal advice whilst writing them, the court is even more likely to uphold the agreement – you can take it to your solicitor and ask them to write it as a legal ‘deed’, though they will charge for this.
Another thing to discuss before moving in together is how you’re going to pay the rent or mortgage on your property, so that there are no grievances about this once you move in. To do this, you may decide that it would be more convenient to pool your money together in a joint bank account. This will make life a lot easier while in a relationship, but in the case that you do split up, the bank can ask either one of you to pay off the total debt on the account. So, if you do decide to draw up a Living Together Agreement, make sure this is covered.
Giving your partner access to sensitive information, such as your PIN, depends entirely on you and your relationship, but it is important to remember that a PIN number is meant for your eyes only. If you break up with a partner who knows your PIN, make sure you change it as soon as possible, even if it’s not an acrimonious split.
As is the case with love, there is some risk involved with combining your finances, but the extent of this risk will depend on you and your partner’s attitude towards money and whether you both share the same approach. Making sure to bring up the topic of money in the early stages of your relationship could help you to protect your finances later down the line.