Tips for Couples Moving in Together
Moving in together as a couple is a different dance from dating, and you'll have to learn some new moves and practice some old ones to make sure you don't step on each other's toes. You can defy some traditions — like carrying your significant other over the threshold of your new apartment — but you'll have to follow others, like paying rent.
Broaching the Subject
You may think the two of you speak the same language, but wait until you start chatting about money. People can have such widely different experiences and views about money that you may need a translator to understand each other. Don't limit your conversations to income. Getting a sense of your other half's financial attitudes is critical. Does he spend everything he earns? Does she know how much credit card debt she has? Does he indulge in high-risk investments? Does she insist that the entire place be redecorated and hang the expense? When you learn how each of you thinks about money, you'll be better equipped to live together.
What Do You Mean, Half?
Rent isn't a loner. It has lots of friends it hangs out with, including water bills, electricity bills, gas bills, garbage, parking, food expenses, cleaning services and Internet coverage. Think through all the bills associated with your new place, and then decide how you're going to split them. Fifty-fifty may sound good to one of you, but you might want to think about paying proportionate shares based on an income comparison if your incomes differ significantly.
Don't Let Your Money Cuddle
Uniting your bank accounts and assets isn't always a great idea when you're first tiptoeing into the reality of living together. It might be smarter to keep things separate, at least for the first few years. States have rules to equitably divide married couples' assets when they call it quits, but you won't have any status other than roommates. Above all, don't sign up for joint debt quite yet. If you cosign a loan for a vehicle, for example, you might find that you're stuck with the entire bill if he stops paying, even if he's still driving it.
Give Yourself Credit
You may think of yourselves as a unit but credit reporting companies see you as two individuals with different credit scores. Don't shrug all the bill-paying off on your significant other or your own credit may suffer. Keep a separate credit history going by maintaining at least some bills in your name only and paying them punctually. Protect your credit score — it'll be with you for a lifetime.